How to Make Friends When Travelling Alone

As you may know, I’m a big fan of travelling and I tend to travel a lot. Over the last 6 months for instance I’ve been to Hungary, Spain, Italy, The UK, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Peru and Brazil. And my travel itinerary looks as busy for the next 6 months.

Sometimes I travel with friends, but many times I travel alone. However, I never feel alone when travelling, because I constantly meet new people, have social interactions and make friends during my trips.

If you can do this, you can travel as much as you want, whenever you want, without needing to worry about bringing along some sort of travelling companion so you won’t get lonely. You’ll find people to spend time with and have fun with while travelling. I’d like to show you 3 very effective strategies to do this, which I use personally.

1. Make Travel Plans That Facilitate Contact with New People

When setting up a trip, you’ll make plans regarding transport, accommodation and travelling style. Each of these areas offers opportunities to meet new people and socialize. So when you make your travelling arrangements, try to find and choose options that facilitate social interaction. For example:

  • Consider staying in a hostel rather than a hotel. It’s cheaper, and since you’ll share a room with 3, 4, 5 or more roommates (depending on the room size) you’re bound to have lots of social interactions. If you want more privacy, in many hostels you can rent a single room as well, and since the whole hostel atmosphere is still very social, you can still mingle a lot.
  • Another option to a hotel is finding and renting a room in somebody’s home, using websites such as AirBnb or Roomorama. It will give you the chance to meet a local, possibly their friends or family, spend time with them, and also get inside tips regarding the city you’re visiting. I use this accommodation option a lot, and I’ve stayed with some great hosts so far.
  • Take guided tours. Even if you leave on a trip by yourself, you can still do it with other people, by taking a guided tour instead of exploring on your own. Thus, you’ll be part of a group of tourists, and you’ll have a guide. So you’ll get competent info about the places you’re seeing, and you’ll get to socialize with the other people in your tour group. Two birds with one stone.
  • Take the train instead of renting a car. When moving around, like from one city to another, renting a car and driving alone offers zero social opportunities. From a social perspective, a much better choice is to use public transportation, which gives you opportunities to talk with new people and make friends. Trains are my personal favorite. I’ve met tons of people and had fascinating conversations while taking a train to somewhere.

2. Use Social Hobbies for Social Interaction

One of my top pieces of advice when it comes to making friends is to have hobbies and activities that are social in nature and permit you to interact with new people. Such hobbies and activities will become particularly useful for making friends when travelling alone to new locations.

Friends travellingFor example, one of my hobbies is salsa dancing. And I’ve met hundreds of people over the years by going to salsa classes, parties, and events, which are very social in nature. Whenever I go to a new city, I look on the Internet for salsa clubs and salsa parties in that city. In the type of big urban environments I like to travel to, there are almost always at least a couple of them.

Then when I’m in that city, I’ll go to some of these salsa parties. Where, you’ve guessed it, I’ll dance salsa, plus I’ll use this opportunity to meet new people and socialize (women in particular, since, you know, salsa is a male-female partner dance). I’ve made friends all over the world through dancing, and I’ve acquired many memorable experiences.

A friend of mine is a member of Toastmasters, which is an international public speaking association, with clubs all over the world. Whenever he goes to a new city, he finds one or more Toastmasters clubs there, and goes to their meetings. That’s how he meets like-minded people and makes travelling social.

Whether it’s dancing, or public speaking, or some other activity, the main thing is to have social hobbies. And when you travel, capitalize on these hobbies to meet new people and make friends. They will revolutionize your social life anywhere you are.

3. Get Social. I Mean Really Social

By making the right travelling arrangements and by using social hobbies, you can put yourself in environments that are conducive to social interactions. But that doesn’t mean social interactions will happen on their own. Not for the most part at least.

You can take a guided tour and not talk to anybody in your tour group. You can ride a train and not start any conversations. You can go to a meeting in a new place and just stand by yourself in a corner during the entire meeting. So being in social environments is not enough. You also have the task of being social.

By being social I understand having social initiative and doing a range of things that help you relate and connect with other people: starting conversations, asking questions, being chatty and opening up, keeping conversations going, having a positive vibe and being friendly.

When travelling alone, it’s even more important to do these things. I am generally pretty social, but I’m extra-social when travelling by myself to a place where I don’t know anybody. Because I don’t have any pre-built relationships. All I can rely on for social interaction is new relationships, and these develop by being outgoing.

Many of the persons I coach are somewhat timid about doing all of this stuff. It often seems intrusive, weird. And although I understand this perception well, I also know that realistically, there is no reason for them to be timid. People are generally eager to meet other people. Plus, if you’re new to a place and others know it, they tend to be even more open towards you.

Nevertheless, if you’re shy or socially anxious, you probably lack the well-internalized social mindset required for you to be outgoing with new people, without feeling nervous or inhibited. And your conversation skills may be lacking as well, mostly due to inexperience.

So you will need to work on changing your mindset, as well as improving your conversation skills. This is, of course, easier said than done. It’s not my intention in this article to teach you how to perform these two fairly elaborate tasks. However, I recommend you to join my free social confidence newsletter, where I will teach you just that.

As soon as you join the newsletter you’ll receive from me a free instructional presentation in which I’ll show you my step-by-step process for developing a deep-rooted mindset that makes you socially confident, and then as a member of my newsletter you’ll receive weekly, tried and tested advice for improving your conversation style and making friends.

Go here to join the free newsletter right now, and I’ll talk to you some more there.

Photo taken in Rio de Janeiro during World Cup. 

‘I Have No Friends’ Help

Some of the people I work with as a social confidence coach have a decent social life and they’re just looking to enhance it, while some will tell me right off the bat: “I have no friends and barely any social life. I need help.”

When you’re in the ‘I have no friends’ category, you’re in a deeper hole than most people and there is a lot more work to be done in order to lift yourself out of it. However, don’t presume that this makes it harder. Rather, it simply makes it longer.

Why Do I Have No Friends?

If the number of friends in your social circle is zero, you are probably wondering: “Why do I have no friends?” This is a key question to answer. One thing I’ve noticed is a recurring set of characteristics that people with no friends share.

If you’re in the “I have no friends’ category, one or more of the following explanations are probably valid for you:

1. Shyness. Almost every individual with zero friends that I’ve coached or met struggled with shyness or social anxiety. This made them uneasy about meeting new people and expressing themselves authentically, which makes friends making almost impossible.

2. Poor conversation skills. It’s also common for individuals who have no friends to lack certain conversation skills. This is usually shyness related. They often have a hard time keeping a conversation going and moving it beyond fluff. Thus, it’s difficult for them to create a connection with others.

3. Being too nice. Contrary to popular belief, being a very nice person who always listens to others and never says a rude word doesn’t make you the popular person everyone respects. In fact, you come off as needy and desperate; not the kind of person one wants to be close friends with.

4. Having a one-dimensional life. Often, people who have no friends whatsoever not only lack a social life, but they have a one-dimensional life altogether. They may only focus on study or on work, so they find it nearly impossible to carry a meaningful conversation on any other topic.

Now that we know what the roots of the problem are, let’s take a look at the solution.

Focus Primarily On Social Confidence

As a person with the “I have no friends. What to do?” dilemma, the single most important step you can take is to overcome your shyness and boost your social confidence.

Commit to making this transformation, as it will have the most resonating impact, in your social life and beyond it. With more social confidence, it’s easier to get involved in social activities, meet people, make conversation, develop and edge and be yourself.

The process of boosting social confidence basically involves two forms of actions:

1. Getting out of your comfort zone. Interestingly enough, you typically don’t gain confidence first and go meet people second; you go meet people despite lacking in confidence and this helps you develop it. Your internal reality follows your external one.

2. Changing your self-image. I’m willing to bet that if you have no friends, you have a pretty screwed up view of yourself. Thus it’s important to improve your self image and self esteem directly, by changing the way you habitually think about yourself.

If you want to learn how to skyrocket your social confidence in just a few weeks, check out this presentation, where I’ll show you my proven method for building social confidence.

Tune-Up Your Conversation Skills

As you regularly push yourself out of your comfort zone and become more outgoing, this creates more opportunities to practice your conversation and people skills. You’re accumulating social experience and you’re training your social muscle. And just like any other muscle, the more you train it the more it grows.

In addition to this, if you want to accelerate your progress, learn and apply specific principles and techniques for improving your conversation and people skills. For example: learn to read body-language better, learn to communicate expressively or to lead a conversation smoothly in any direction.

Get a Life, Not Just a Social Life

Last but not least, keep in mind that the people who find it the easiest to make friends commonly have a rich live overall. They travel, read, meet lots of people, have hobbies and try new things on a regular basis.

When you live this kind of a life, making conversation, being interesting and connecting with others happens effortlessly. On the other hand, when all you can talk about are a rather repetitive job and a tedious TV watching experience, that’s not a lot to go on.

So don’t wonder “Why do I have no friends?” and dwell on this question too much. Instead, get out there, get a life in general and your social life in particular will flourish organically.

I’ve seen people achieve incredible progress in making friends and improving their social life. The overall blueprint is laid out for you. Put it into practice, learn to calibrate the fine details and keep at it. You’ll see some stupefying results.

Image courtesy of Bert Kaufmann

Are Your ‘Friends’ Holding You Back?

A few years ago, I was learning to be more spontaneous in social interactions and practicing saying whatever popped into my mind without thinking twice. I ended up saying a lot of witty and creative stuff, combined with even more goofy and retarded stuff.

I remember that during that period, there was one condescending comment I would get once in while from some of my friends and other people who knew me. Or at least they thought they knew me.

“This Isn’t You”

That comment was like a subtle sting: “This isn’t you”, those people would say.

I was puzzled by the remark. What did they expect? I was getting out of my comfort zone and trying new ways of behaving socially in order to sharpen my people skills. Of course I was acting somewhat out of character!

I later started to notice that some of my communication coaching clients were getting the exact same comment from some of their friends during their conscious growth process. Often it was phrased in the exact same words, like some sort of popular slogan.

Why People Reject the Changes in Others

Let’s take a look at the psychology behind this occurrence. What you’ll learn may surprise you.

I think that most of the time, the people who make this kind of a remark, especially your friends, are not ill intentioned. It’s just that they are not used to people consciously changing and it’s something that goes beyond their comprehension.

You see, the average Joe or Jane out there barely changes anymore in terms of personality after the age of 18. If they do change, it’s not a voluntary change; it’s the involuntary results of an external change in their life: new job, promotion, marriage, breakup, business failure, etc.

They are used with adult people having a fixed and predictable personality. So when a person in their social circle voluntarily behaves in a new and unpredicted way, this can actually be anxiety producing for them. They don’t understand what’s going on because they don’t understand conscious growth, so they reject it.

There is another common explanation, and this one has less to do with ignorance. It has more to do with self-interest or envy.

It’s important to realize that for some individuals, your change is not in their interest. The friend who brags all the time doesn’t want you to start teasing them for being such an attention-seeker. The colleague who is less competent than you doesn’t want you to become more self-assured and advance your career, while their career is stalling.

The fact is that most people, as kind and noble as they like to seem, are actually quite egocentric. This is not necessarily bad for them, but it can be for you. On top of that add all the envious people out there, and it all makes sense.

Smart Comebacks for Dumb Comments

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to not take comments like the one I’m talking about too seriously. From my perspective, the best thing you can do is to just let them slide.

Occasionally, you may want to have a short comeback to that kind of a comment, but make sure you don’t get into a debate. Here are some smartass comebacks to the remark “this isn’t you”, for your inspiration:

  • Me is a very slippery concept right now.”
  • “That’s because I have multiple personality disorder.”
  • “Really? Well, who the hell is it then?”
  • “You’ve noticed” (my favorite, a James Bond line).

Whatever you do, don’t let such remarks from friends or other people in your life make you feel bad and give up on your self-improvement. If you know why you’re behaving differently and you believe it’s the right thing for you, that’s good enough.

In the long run, if the people you call your friends are constantly opposing your growth through their attitudes, whether it’s due to ignorance, self-interest or envy, it’s time to consider applying your people skills in changing your social circle.

If personal development is important for you, then you want the kind of persons in your life that value it as well, not the kind that don’t even know the concept.

Image courtesy of Brian Auer

How to Make Friends

I am a firm advocate of a rich social life, in terms of quantity and quality. I believe that knowing how to make friends is one of the most important people skills one can master.

Most of the people I know who are truly happy with their lives nourish it with meaningful relationships and social interactions. These have more contribution to their happiness than just about any other external factor, money, fame and power included.

The Why and What of Making Friends

Taking your understanding of how to make friends to the next level is something I believe will benefit you no matter who you are and in what life context. However, it will interest you particularly if:

  • You have recently moved to a new town or country where you don’t know anybody and you’re starting your social life fresh;
  • You don’t have a lot of friends, maybe you’re somewhat shy, and you want to meet new people and make more friends;
  • You’ve realized that the friends you have right now are not the kind of people you really resonate with and want to shift your social circle;
  • You already have great friends but you want to keep improving your social life and turn it into a gem.

In my work as a communication coach, I often help clients to overcome shyness, enhance their people skills, learn how to make friends and effectively put this knowledge into practice.

In time, I have developed a 3-step system for making friends that I am proud to say, provides reliable results. As long as you apply it, you focus on constantly growing your people skills and you stick to it, you will see your social life thrive.

Step 1: Get Into Social Activities

Many persons ask me how they can meet new people in order to make friends. There is one way I always recommend for its elegance and effectiveness: social activities.

Basically, social activities are things you do along with other people or in the same group with other people. They get you interacting with others or they create a context where interacting with others can happen relatively easily and smoothly.

From martial arts to social dancing, from cooking classes to personal development trainings, these are all examples of social activities. Since in such activities you train with a partner, you share experience with others and so on, this means many social interactions will naturally happen.

When choosing social activities, keep in mind to pick the kind that you believe you may actually enjoy. It doesn’t make a lot of sense taking up team jogging when you can’t even stand breaking a sweat. Using your head in making social decisions and in learning how to make friends will get you a lot further than randomly filling your social calendar.

Step 2: Get Sociable

Social activities will certainly create the social context you need to successfully interact with others, but it will not get you friends on its own. Your next step is to take social initiative.

This means deliberately interacting with people in abundance during social activities and employing such activities for social bonding. You want to model the social behaviors of very sociable people, behaviors such as:

  • Using almost any reason to talk with other people in a social activity;
  • Talking about themselves and revealing themselves to others;
  • Being authentically curious and asking others questions;
  • Escalating from small talk and making conversations more meaningful;
  • Having a fun, positive and social vibe;
  • Not taking things too seriously.

If you’re not used to behaving like this it will be a stretch for you; and stretching socially is one of the probably the key things you need to do at this point to make friends and enrich your social life.

Being sociable is in fact both an attitude and a skill. So if you want to master it and learn how to make friends successfully, you will probably have to work at both ends: gain social confidence and initiative and at the same time improve your conversation skills.

By the way: I have a special video presentation for you in which I reveal the 3-step solution for gaining social confidence, which you’ll simply love. Go here to watch it right now.

Step 3: Generate Future Interactions

When two or more people interact frequently and they get along well, if they are socially confident, they no longer let the context give them occasions to interact, they generate such occasions on their own.

You can invite another person out for a coffee, to have lunch together, to go for a drink and so on. A recent coaching client of mine decided to throw small, daytime house parties at her place in order to further interact with people she had met at various hobbies. She found this kind of a social event to work incredibly well for her.

Where you invite other people is not the most important element; actually having this initiative is. As such interactions take place, provided they go well, this is when the bond gets stronger and friendships truly emerge.

This is the general blueprint you can use to learn how to make friends and improve your social life. As you put it into practice and focus on continuously improving your people skills, I can assure you that the outcomes in your social life will be very good.

Even more, as your social life will improve, you will also see many other areas of your life blossom. Rich meaningful relationships with others can have such an amazing effect.

Image courtesy of ohhector

How to Meet New People and Make New Friends

I remember many years ago, a woman told me how she is often bored because she doesn’t have a lot of friends. She was living in a city with over 3.000.000 people. I was shocked. I was wondering: “How can you live surrounded by so many people and not have enough friends to spend some quality time with?

Since then, this scene has repeated itself many times, with many other persons. After a while, I realized how common this phenomenon was and it no longer shocked me.

I began thinking how I could assist others to meet new people and make new friends; thus my current profession plus a marginal obsession for social dynamics and improving people skills.

The Loneliness Paradox

Most of us walk on the streets every day passing by hundreds of other people. And yet many of us lack a good social circle, both in terms of quality and quantity.

It’s obviously not a problem of options. As a person who at one point consciously increased their sociability factor, I can tell you that there are not only a lot of people, but also many cool people out there, eager to meet new people and make new friends. It is a problem of confidence, strategy, people skills, or any combination of the three.

The good news is that you can develop any of these and get the kind of social life you want. In this article I will give you the fundamental points to developing your social circle and enriching your social life.

Meeting New People

One great way to meet new people is, in my view, taking on social activities. These activities can include sports, classes, hobbies, volunteer work etc. There are dozens of examples of specific social activities, which is exactly why I think it’s pointless for me to give you a few.

The point is to use social activities to get in environments where there are other people and by the nature of the activity you interact with them. At the same time, you want to get involved in activities which you believe you might enjoy; not just any social activity.

The other great way to meet new people that I know is getting your current friends to introduce you to some of their other friends. Of course, this doesn’t apply if your current friends are in a faraway town or if they don’t have any other friends, but it does apply in any other scenario.

I often tell my friends to give me a call whenever they’re going out with a group of cool people or to a fun party. I’ve repeated this to a few of them so many times that now they are in the habit of thinking about me whenever they go out. It helps if at one point, you can return your friends the favor, but in my experience, it’s not a must.

Making New Friends

Keep in mind that interacting with a new person does not automatically make that person a friend. Friendships happen when two people feel connected in some way. They discover they have things in common, they like each other or they got used with being part of each other’s lives.

Once you’ve met new people, you will need to keep the ball rolling in order to develop friendships. Two things come to mind on how to do this.

The first thing is to be very sociable. When interacting with somebody: talk about yourself and open up, ask the other person questions, listen actively, make jokes and focus on positive topics. Apparently simple actions like these and mixing them the right way are a reflection of good skills with people and the very fabric of making friends.

The second thing is to take the initiative and ask people out. If you interact with a person and you’re getting along well, that’s more than a good reason to initiate future interactions.

So if for example, you meet a person in your photography class you enjoy interacting with them, give them a call sometimes and ask them to join you for coffee, or something similar. As the interactions get rolling, if you get along even better, a friendship develops.

On paper/ your monitor, it may appear very easy to meet new people and make new friends. The trick is to skillfully apply ideas like the ones above. And the emphasis is not initially on the word ‘skillfully’, but on the word ‘apply’. Most people I know with poor social lives essentially need to get off their asses more.

One of the reasons I teach people skills is because I have seen and I have experienced for myself how fulfilling a rich social life can be. We live now in a world with more social opportunities than ever. I’m convinced it’s a worthwhile task to make good use of them.

Image courtesy of MorBCN