It’s pretty easy to make friends when traveling to a new place. Everyone is out of their element, feeling a little overwhelmed and eager to meet new people who want to share similar experiences. I’ve said it before - traveling, especially solo-traveling, leads to that kind of kindergarten atmosphere again where everyone’s walking up to each other asking if you want to be friends. It’s amazing and so easy to bond with the people you meet at your hostel or on your group tour.
I’ve had a lot of good experiences using this theory, whether it’s been checking out local pubs in England with backpackers from our hostel or becoming close with the group I explored the rainforest with in Australia, so I decided to give it another try in Copenhagen. I arrived at my hostel around 10 a.m., but check-in wasn’t till 2. I had some time to kill, and even though I was running on about 3 hours of sleep and wasn’t feeling super outgoing, I decided to strike up a conversation with a couple guys I could tell were American who had just checked-in as well.
Funny story, turns out we were on the exact same flight from Toronto to Copenhagen, and they had just happened to book the same hostel about 30 minutes before arriving. I guess my “making friends meter” was pretty accurate because they were as eager to make friends as I was, and we quickly began touring the city together.
We struggled through the cultural barriers of finding lunch in a new city and bonded over the shock of paying $20 each for a lunch we weren’t quite sure about. We struggled to read a map and found a random tower to hike up, followed by a much deserved nap. After passing out for a few hours and struggling to dry my hair under the hand dryer, we decided to meet-up for the evening at the hostel’s happy hour, which seemed to be the go-to scene for everyone staying in the hostel. Drinks were good and cheap, and the atmosphere was amazing.
Everyone was eager to explore Copenhagen and make new friends, and it became easy to walk up to some random guy sitting by himself on a couch and strike up a conversation. Which is exactly what Blake and Jeff did, and it worked out in our favor because we made a new British friend. And it turns out he’d already made friends with a bunch of guys from Belgium, Portugal, etc. That one chance encounter of meeting a random Brit led us to a group of 5 more friends who we spent the night hanging out with.
Traveling alone can be awkward and intimidating at first. It makes you feel vulnerable in a way we typically avoid as adults. Make it easier on yourself - take a group trip or stay in a hostel. If I hadn’t branched out and talked to the two guys checking in at the same time, I would have missed out on so much. I might not have ventured out of my room at night, I wouldn’t have spent my few hours in Sweden laughing as one of the guys fell in the river, and while my trip would have still been great, I probably wouldn’t look back on it with quite as many fond memories. So don’t be afraid to travel on your own and don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone by talking to new people. It might just change your trip for the better.