New Friends in Barcelona

Where Do Travel Backpackers Meet? How To Connect With Other Solo Travel Backpackers?

Travel backpacking solo is an adventure like no other. It's a journey of self-discovery, independence, and exploration that allows you to step out of your comfort zone and immerse yourself fully in new cultures and experiences. For many solo travel backpackers, one of the most enriching aspects of the journey is the opportunity to meet fellow backpackers along the way. But where do solo travel backpackers meet, and how can you connect with like-minded individuals while traveling alone?

City Walking Tours

City walking tours offer a lot of benefits for solo travel backpackers seeking to immerse themselves in a new destination while fostering connections with fellow travelers. These tours provide an excellent opportunity for solo travelers to explore the essence of a city. You'll be able to familiarize yourself with your surroundings and get to know the city from a trusted tour guide. Led by knowledgeable guides, these tours delve into the heart of a destination, uncovering hidden gems, historical anecdotes, and local insights that might otherwise go unnoticed.

City walking tours are can be free (tip based) and serve as a natural meeting point for solo travel backpackers. As participants walk throughout the city streets together, its so easy to strike up a conversation as you walk from Point A to Point B on the tour. Solo travellers are easy to spot in these groups. Just look for the person who is by themselves as the tour walks or waiting for the tour to start.

Every single city walking tour that I have went on, I've made friends to grab food, a drink, or explore with. You'll want to download the apps GetYourGuide and GuruWalk.

Another word of advice is to get a money belt, cross chest bag, or a cross body bag for these walks. You'll be distracted and trying to follow a group. This makes for a prime target for pickpockets.

 

(A city walking tour through the food markets of Palermo, Italy)

 

Hostels

Hostels are the quintessential hub for solo travelers. These accommodations not only offer a place to rest your head but also provide a vibrant social atmosphere where travelers from all walks of life come together. Whether you're sharing a dorm room, cooking in the communal kitchen, or lounging in the common areas, hostels foster a sense of community that makes it easy to strike up conversations and make new friends.

When choosing a hostel, opt for ones known for their social atmosphere. Look for hostels with organized activities such as pub crawls, city tours, or group dinners. These events are designed to bring travelers together and create opportunities for interaction. You can easily scout out the atmosphere of a hostel by reading reviews on Hostel World. Some hostels are known more for their social aspect, others are more for digital nomads that are working remotely, and others can be lame as hell.

Even if you are not staying at a hostel, in bigger cities there's usually a hostel that has a bar on the ground floor. You can usually find a handful of solo travelers there.

Here are a few hostel bars that I have visited that were open to the public. 
New York City, USA -  The Local NYC Hostel
Florence, Italy - Ostello Bello Firenze 
Copenhagen, Denmark - Next Hause Copenhagen

If you plan to stay at hostels, feel free to check out our Hostel Packing List of Essentials.
(All solo travel backpackers that met at a hostel in Malaga and went on a sunset cruise together)

Couchsurfing Meetups

Out of all the apps out there, this is probably the easiest one to meet people. Couchsurfing is known as a community where people offer their couch for travellers to stay at. However, they also launched Couchsurfing Meetups. You'll simply create a profile with all the basics and set your status as available to hang out. When you set your status as available you can choose from a few options of what you are looking to do such as eat food, grab a drink, explore the city etc. You then can see all the people nearby that are also free at the moment. You'll start a Meetup and others usually request to join.

What is nice about this app is that there isn't much small talk via the app like other apps have. People leave reviews about people on their Couchsurfing profiles so you'll know right away by the reviews if this person seems normal. I also like how on the app you can set the Meetup point so if you accept any others to join, they can easily see where you are.

One thing to note about Couchsurfing, is there is a small fee of around $2.50 USD per month to use the app. Which is nothing and worth it. However, Couchsurfing waives this fee for people from developing countries. So don't be alarmed if you see somebody who registered from a country that is different from their own. It seems like they're just trying to avoid the monthly fee.

 

Airbnb Experiences

In recent years, Airbnb Experiences have emerged as a valuable resource for solo travelers. Airbnb Experiences offers unique activities led by locals. Whether it's a cooking class, a guided hike, or a photography tour, these experiences provide an intimate setting for meeting like-minded individuals who share your interests.

I once did a paella cooking class at somebody's house in Spain and there were a handful of other solo travelers who also signed up for the class. 

 

(A cooking class I did in Cartagena, Colombia)

Other Mobile Apps

There are other mobile apps that I know people have met other solo travel backpackers though. Personally, I haven't used them since the above 4 options were enough for me to meet other travelers. These other mobile apps include BumbleBFF and TripBFF.

From what I got from people who have used them to meet other travelers is that the stars really need to align in order to meet up with folks. There is a lot more small talk and trying to find that bestie. When you're traveling, you don't need to find your best friend forever. 

Also note that BumbleBFF will have a lot more locals than solo travelers on their app and TripBFF is geared toward younger folks.

 

Social Media Platforms & Travel Communities

Social media platforms like Facebook Groups and Reddit Communities have dedicated groups for finding travel companions, seeking travel advice, and sharing experiences. Joining a Facebook group dedicated to solo travel at specific destinations can lead to valuable connections and insights.

 

Group Tours For Solo Travelers

Sometimes I like to mix up my travel backpacking trip and add in a formal group tour. These tour groups can be as short as one day (or as long as months). These are awesome ways to meet other solo travelers. If you notice an itinerary for just a few days, most likely you are joining midway onto a longer group tour. What I mean by that is imagine a group tour all around Italy that starts in Milan and ends in Sicily. You signed up to tour around with them in Rome and only Rome. So just a heads up, you'll be joining onto a group that has been traveling together for a bit; that may bother some folks.

We have a great blog about everything you to know about group tours that you can read here.

(New friends I met on a group tour in Vietnam from Australia, Canada and Scotland)


Embrace Spontaneity and Openness

Remember, you're traveling and in a city where nobody knows who you are. Live a little and get out of comfort zone. Embrace spontaneity and strike up a conversation to somebody at the park or in a cafe. Why not? You never know where a random encounter may lead or what meaningful connections you might make along the way. Remember that most people you encounter on your travels are also seeking connections and new experiences, just like you. 

 

WRITTEN BY

MARK CIPOLLINA

I’m Mark, the Founder of Generation Nomad, Avid Travel Backpacker & Digital Nomad. I am passionate about helping others discover the world through my experiences. I solo backpacked for months at a time, lived abroad, and even speak two foreign languages. Besides collaborating on the best lightweight travel accessories for Travel Backpackers, I also love sharing my travel photography.
Favorite Trips: Spain, Egypt & Vietnam 
Favorite Cuisines: Italian, Peruvian & Japanese
Quote: “Be a circle and just roll with it” 
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