How to Make Friends While Traveling As An Introvert
Curious how to make friends while traveling as an introvert? You probably opened up Google and typed in something about traveling alone and making friends. The results came up, and I’d be willing to bet good money they all talked about hostels and CouchSurfing. Not exactly what an introvert needs.
See, I love socializing, but the inability to get away exhausts me. I need time alone. I have to recharge after spending time with others. I’m an introvert at heart. So I don’t stay in hostels any longer. And CouchSurfing isn’t exactly what it used to be. I wouldn’t recommend using it.
Not to mention – traveling fast and staying in hostels isn’t the most conducive to getting work done. Difficult to be productive when you’re always socializing, drinking, and the environment isn’t ideal for sleeping.
P.S.: These tips can be used by any travelers who doesn’t want to stay in hostels or use CouchSurfing to make friends – introvert or extrovert.
So how to make friends while traveling as an introvert? It’ll take some effort, but it’s not too difficult. Here’s how:
Open Your Mouth
The best piece of advice I can give you while traveling is this:
Open. Your. Mouth.
Like when parents tell their toddlers to, “Use your words.” Just talk to other humans. Everywhere. On the bus. At the mall. At the gym. In the hostel. At the bar or party. Anywhere you see someone you want to talk to – open your mouth.
It doesn’t matter what you say, especially if you’re trying to speak their language. And if talking to strangers stresses you out, don’t worry. There’s one way to make it seem completely natural. Act like a dumb tourist. Because you’re new in their city. You are a dumb tourist.
While I don’t have first-hand experience with this one, my mate was taking Spanish classes full-time in Colombia. He had made a number of friends and got invited to some incredible parties, too. Then he invited me to these parties.
And they were some great parties. I’m talking pool parties at mansions of former drug dealers filled with gringos, Colombians, swimming, salsa dancing, and much more.
If you’re planning to learn a language and want to meet a lot of friends, then language classes are great – especially for introverts looking to get out of their shell.
Activities are another great way to make friends while traveling. Anything active is an easy way to start a conversation and make travel buds. When people are moving, there always in better moods. We’re all addicted to endorphins. Think about it – it’s incredibly easy to chat up surfers while learning how to surf. People attending yoga classes are always friendly. Hiking with others always fuels conversation.
Continuing with my endorphin theory. Before my injury, I used basketball as a way to meet people in a number of cities around the world, including:
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Bocas del Toro, Panama.
In the Dominican Republic, there was a stadium across the street from my apartment. I walked in one day with a raging hangover and checked the gym out. I saw some guys who looked like they were about to play. I decided to open my mouth. And luckily, someone spoke English.
It turns out they played in a league every Saturday and were about to have practice. Then they invited me to practice. I sprinted up to my apartment, chugged two Gatorades, popped an ibuprofen, and changed. Then I went and hooped.
I ended up playing ten games or so with them in the league. And it was a great time. I even learned that Dominicans don’t drink water or Gatorade after a game. They drink Presidente beers. Post-game was always fun, as I tried to pick up as much Dominican slang as I could.
In nearly every city around the world, you can find some type of sports to play. Maybe you don’t like basketball. That’s fine. Soccer is the most popular sport in the world. You can also find MMA and boxing in nearly every country, too.
Alcohol generally makes it easier to make friends. If you struggle making friends while traveling, then get drunk. I’m serious. Go out alone, get drunk, and open your mouth. Unless you’re socially autistic, you’ll meet a number of people. And you’ll start to make friends.
When I was in Costa Rica, I wasn’t having a great time. I loved Panama City, Panama – and Costa Rica just wasn’t living up to my expectations. I had a small social circle in Panama, but I didn’t know a soul in San Jose. So I started going out alone.
My routine consisted of heading to the gas station and grabbing two 32 oz. beers. Then I’d chug them while walking to the club. Binge drinking alone puts a lot of things into perspective. I knew I needed to get out of my introvert shell and talk to some people.
So waiting in line – I chatted people up. Then I continued talking while inside. And I met a ton of people. I did this for a few weeks at the same club. I became a regular. Soon, I had people texting me seeing if I was going on certain nights. I now had a group of friends to go out with any night I wanted.
Traveling alone can be rough. You can go days at a time without having real human interaction. Once you make gym friends, this all changes. If you’re the gringo who comes to the gym every day, people will start to notice. Many times a natural conversation will begin because they’re interested in why you’re in their city.
While it’s rare I’ll hang out with gym friends outside the gym, it’s nice to have people to chat with for a few minutes every day while traveling alone. I’ve even made friends with a few guys in the gym, and we started working out together each day.
Reach Out Online
Meeting people over the Internet while traveling has its benefits, but there are some drawbacks, too. Many have tried CouchSurfing and online dating while traveling. That’s fine. You can also get creative with it.
For example, while researching Panama City, Panama – I stumbled on a great site about the city called PTY Life. I dug into the content and thoroughly enjoyed it. I had a few questions about neighborhoods and nightlife, so I sent off an email to the guy in charge of the site.
He sent me a detailed reply, and we emailed back and forth a bit. Then he invited me to party with him and his friends when I arrived in Panama. Unexpected, but awesome.
And party we did. I ended up going out with his group nearly every weekend and meeting a number of cool locals and travelers. It was a great time. And I never would have been able to experience the city as I did without their help. A few emails turned into a chance to make good friends while traveling.
Take Tours & Excursions
If you’re looking to meet other travelers, then being around these types of people is important. One of the easiest ways is taking a tour or excursion. It’s awkward if you don’t talk to people on your tour or excursion. Many times you’ll be riding a van or hiking around together for hours on end. I’m not huge on group tours, but I know many travelers have met some cool people this way.
Now, you may need to know someone from the hostel in order to get in. Sometimes you don’t. But if you’ve been engaged and working to make friends while traveling – then there’s a good chance you may meet someone who is staying at a hostel.
Some of my favorite travel memories involve pre-gaming at hostels I wasn’t staying at. It’s hard to be upset as you drink $1 USD beers poolside with your best bud while chatting with interesting people from around the world.
Oh, Tinder. Of course, if you’re on a short trip, you can shoot for a combination of friendship and romance on the road. While this certainly isn’t the best way to make “friends” while you travel, if you’re staying in a city for a short time – it may be your only option.
While Tinder often gets a bad rap, using the app while traveling alone can ensure you won’t spend you whole week in a city alone. Plus, many Tinder users cherish the opportunity to show a foreigner around their city. And there’s nothing wrong with having a cute tour guide on your side.
How to Make Friends While Traveling As An Introvert
It doesn’t matter whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, if you’re looking to make friends while traveling without staying in a hostel – the tips above will help. If you have any other tips and tricks to meet people while traveling alone, sound off in the comments.
Travel junkie turned blogger. Location independent. From the Midwest, but often based in Latin America. Big on beaches, rumba, and rum. Addicted to the gym. Committed to showing a different style of travel - one that involves actually interacting with locals and exploring different cultures.