By Nico Crisafulli
One of the main problems solo travellers have about being on the road alone often stems from the very nature of their solo travelling, that they’re alone, and how being alone sometimes dampens the traveling spirit – you’re stuck with your own dirty mug the entire trip.
If loneliness is getting in the way of enjoying the rest of your travels, fear not, there are places to go to where meeting other like-minded travellers is easier than hoisting on your own damn 50-litre backpack.
I’ve listed below five spots around the world with a great community of fellow travellers/backpackers perhaps helping to give you a sense that you’re not so alone in your wandering shoes.
Please note: this list was put together to help the solo traveler potentially meet other travellers and to share a common space or a coffee or two. This list can also be looked at as a selection of places to avoid at all costs if seeing other backpackers makes you foam at the mouth.
Just because you’re solo doesn’t mean you’re not travelling as well as the group of folks laughing it up at the table next to you. You may actually be travelling better.
The city of Cuzco is the gateway to Machu Picchu and a mecca for travellers waiting around to start treks out to the famous ruins. The city’s elevation of 11,200 feet makes the city prime for solos looking to meet other travellers – people tend to do a lot of hanging around gasping for breath, waiting to acclimatise to the elevation, which means they’re also likely to want someone else to do the talking for a change.
Still having trouble? Sign up for an Inca Trail trek. Hit it off with some of your good-looking hike-mates and get a chance to commune with them in a setting that will never cease to dazzle you. Not only that, commiserating over the agony of lifting your foot one more time and your amazing ability to overcome that agony makes for close bonding.
Like Cuzco, much on a much grander scale, Kathmandu is the launching point for trekkers of all sorts. Gravitated here by the vast Himalaya, it’s easy to make connections with those who are on a similar quest to see nature’s chosen landscape.
Most treks out of Kathmandu are greater than four days, which gives you ample time to develop close relationships with fellow travellers, avoiding that so common nice to meet you, goodbye trap. And being in the midst of breathtaking scenery develops bonds than won’t be easily shaken.
Visit the backpacker zone of Thamel, a classic traveler neighbourhood, filled over with cheap hotels, restaurants and bars.
When you say the words “backpacker ghetto,” the first thing many people think of is Bangkok’s Khao San Road. The world’s most notorious slumming backpacker haunt also means solo traveller connections aren’t far off.
All one needs to do is have a dusty bandana around your neck and your eyes all a-smolder with that distant, well-travelled stare and you’re bound to become the center of a carnival of questions about your life. They’re sure to be enthralled to hear that you’re travelling alone – the rugged, loner-against-the-world type is pretty hot.
English is easy to come by here as well, making those awkward miscommunications that are so embarrassing when you’re alone seem far off and forgettable.
4. Chiang Mai
Northern Thailand is fast becoming the go-to destination for expats living as digitally-enhanced nomads. Inexpensive accommodations, food and drink, and readily available high-speed internet has drawn hundreds of travellers here to take the edge off a lifestyle overcompensated by repacking.
Show up in town, visit walk around inside the moat, or more specifically the CM Blue House, and you’re sure to make acquaintances quickly. Still having a hard time? Visit Chiang Mai Expats Club and connect with some folks who’ve been there a lot longer.
Not so much a town but a region on the southwest coast of India, Goa has a high density of foreigners to chat up. Upon arrival, the sheer amount of cheap amenities and crystal blue sea front, may make you feel like you’ve found a lost travellers’ paradise – lots of folks just relaxing doing not much at all.
Numerous beaches for daytime sunning and open-air restaurants populated by idling travellers abound by night. Some beaches are more populated than others, and the ones along Goa’s northern shores are more geared toward the party vacationing set. Try Palolem for a nice balance.
Pro tip: Ask a cute member of the opposite sex to go for a motorbike ride to a secluded secret beach. It’s how memories are created.
As a solo traveller, one thing to remember is that meeting other travellers is easy if you are, in fact, seeking that. Starting conversations is as close to a natural act as you’ll find any time in your life. The hostel scene is a normal place to start – packed with people that would be psyched to have you join them for the day or to their next stop.
Nine times out of ten an introduction and a “mind if I join you guys,” at a restaurant table will be received warmly. Most likely they’ll be happy to have a fresh face to gaze upon, in other words, you’ll be a pleasant distraction from their own dumb friends. Cosy up to a friendly face and start in on finding common travelling destinations. Ask lots of questions, and let them talk. Be looked upon fondly by letting people tell you how great they are.
Want to make even more friends? See our guide to How to Make Friends in Hostels.
Author bio: Nico is the primary writer for the blog at AirTreks.com, a place to find your dream RTW ticket. He’s a proactive traveller and smitten with a love of airplanes, an affliction he will soon pass on to his now four-month old son.
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- The Best Beach Parties in the World
Thanks to Tropfest, pandrcutts, kudomomo, martigarri and Christian Haugen for the images off Flickr. Please note, all images were suitable for use at the time of publication according to the Creative Commons License.