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While solo traveling can be lonely at times, opportunities to meet new friends are everywhere. As a solo AND sober traveler, I’ve had just as many social occasions as my drinking days, but without any hangovers the next day! In this blog post, I’ll share 11 ways to make friends as a solo & sober traveler!
I’ve definitely met more new people traveling solo than traveling with friends and family. As a solo traveler, I am more open to new connections than traveling as a group. Whether you are shy or extroverted, amazing new friends are waiting on your next solo trip with these tips!
11 Ways to Make Friends as a Solo & Sober Traveler
1. Use Reddit as a Resource
I highly recommend using Reddit as a resource for trip planning! While I was planning my trip to Japan, I practically lived on the Japan Travel subReddit. The thread is separated by Trip Reports, Itineraries, Recommendations, Questions, and Advice. On top of that, the moderator bots start a Tourist Meetup mega-thread that is pinned to the top of the subReddit each month.
I traveled to Japan in October 2019 and posted my dates and locations to the mega-thread. I then joined the Line Group chat for October 2019. This group chat was SUPER active and people frequently used it to meet! I went to dinner with multiple people from this chat, explored Akihabara, tried new foods, and had a great time with these fellow Redditors.
Most notably, I met with a fellow solo female traveler from Denmark at a kimono rental location in Gion, Kyoto. After being fitted and clothed in kimonos, we explored downtown and the Yasaka Shrine. This day worked out perfectly because we were able to take photos of each other!
Reddit can be a weird place sometimes. However, everyone I met from this group was kind and ready for an adventure. As a sober traveler, I skipped out on a lot of the nights out that this group had. Nevertheless, the main way that I met people on my Japan trip was Reddit and the Line Group Text.
2. Book a Walking Tour
If you are not taking free walking tours when you travel, you are missing out! Most cities around the world have some kind of free walking tour. The main reason I love a free walking tour is to learn the history of a location and get local recommendations. Make sure to bring some cash because the tour guides are paid through tips! I am a super curious person so I am definitely that person in the tour that is asking any question that comes to mind.
I’ve experienced free walking tours in Washington, D.C., New Orleans, London, Paris, Tokyo, and Kyoto. On the free walking tour recently in Tokyo, Japan, I met a fellow solo female traveler and we hit it off!
Meeting fellow solo travelers is amazing because not only can we be each other’s photographers along the walking tour, but we ended up hanging out the rest of the day. Our walking tour was a history tour of Tokyo through Ueno and Akihabara. After the tour, we tried out a maid cafe, met up with friends from the Line Group off Reddit for lunch, shopped at Don Quixote, and explored a vintage video game shop.
3. Try Out Airbnb Experiences
If I had the money to explore an Airbnb experience every day, I would. I consider myself a hobbyist, so experiencing unique tours and taking uncommon classes is too much fun for me. I had to limit how many Airbnb experiences I went on during my recent trip to Japan!
Taking a mini food making class in Kyoto may have been my favorite activity that I experienced in Japan.
This workshop was unlike anything I’ve experienced before! I loved getting to know the host Mayuka and trying something so creative and unique like creating tiny food. The walking tour, lunch, and the workshop were all very informative and fun. I think I found a new hobby!
I had so much fun at this Airbnb experience and highly recommend it. Our host was so kind and informative, that we have kept in touch since meeting. I asked her for many recommendations and at all of the restaurants that she suggested. You can follow her on Instagram here!
I also went on a bike tour of Kyoto on an Airbnb experience. We saw six highlights of Kyoto throughout the day, which I never would have been able to do if I wasn’t on the tour. We also enjoyed a green tea ceremony and a 6-course meal at his family’s restaurant.
The host was so kind and even drove me to my hostel after the tour so that I didn’t have to find a cab. He noticed that I said “y’all” (because I’m from the Southern U.S.). Of course, I taught him how to say, “Bless your heart!” and we laughed a lot.
4. Stay at a Social Hostel
Solo travelers staying at hostels are usually down for an adventure. If you want to meet people while on your solo travels, make sure to check out the reviews and book a social hostel! I made sure to book a social hostel in Kyoto. The Mosaic hostel in Kyoto has daily social events and even more events while I was there, like watching rugby world cup games and the hostel’s third birthday.
Of course, drinking and partying surround much of the hostel culture. As a sober traveler, I definitely had to set some boundaries for myself. I made a point to be social (i.e. taking a water shot while everyone else drank tequila). However, I met an amazing group of people in Kyoto. We even made an IG group chat after our night together and have kept in touch!
5. Go to a 12-Step Meeting (if That’s Your Thing)
Going to 12-Step meetings has become one of my favorite things to do while exploring new cities. I have been to AA meetings in Japan, England, and Japan. I also attend meetings when I visit other places in the US.
The people in meetings are friendly and welcoming. Any time I have felt down or tempted to drink, a meeting has helped with those emotions. Since I attend meetings back home, I enjoy the familiarity of hearing the same stories and phrases.
When I was visiting Tokyo, I made it to an AA meeting. I cried my eyes out because I was overwhelmed to be able to speak English and share how I was feeling! Attending meetings is a powerful way to make friends as a solo & sober traveler.
Check out my full post about How to Find a 12 Step Meeting While Traveling for more info!
6. Ask Your Instagram Followers
Meeting a fellow traveler could be as simple as posting on your stories: “I’m going to be in (your destination) on (these dates). Anyone want to meet up?” I’ve met many digital friends from my Instagram! These ladies are always just as nice IRL!
7. Reach Out on Facebook
Facebook may be dying off a little bit as a social media platform, but the travel groups are going strong. Here are a few that I have used for recommendations and meetups: Girls Love Travel, Girls Who Travel, Female Digital Nomads, and more!
Most of these and other travel Facebook groups allow members to post destinations and dates so that members can meet up! Many groups even have a monthly meet-up thread similar to Reddit. If the group doesn’t have a meet-up thread, you can make your own post with your travel dates. Another tactic is to search the group for your location and message others with your similar dates in a private message.
Another tactic is to post your travel dates or look for suggestions as your status. (Be careful sharing your exact dates for safety reasons.) You never know which of your 1000 random Facebook friends might live in an exotic location now!
8. Work at a Coworking Space
Are you a digital nomad? Then a coworking space could be the perfect spot to find like-minded individuals. Coworking spaces are popping up in cities around the world. Visit for the wifi and complimentary coffee, stay for the new friends and events! Here is a list of Top Websites to Find a Coworking Space internationally!
9. Surf the Couchsurfing App
The Couchsurfing community is not something that I have used personally, but I have heard many positive stories about the community and events around the world. Couchsurfing is something I want to explore in the future!
My friend Falguni Patel from Fly Falgu has had many positive experiences using the “Hangout” feature on Couchsurfing. Here’s her experience:
“My first time using the hangout feature on Couchsurfing was in Cusco, Peru. I was feeling really lonely and I wanted to meet some new people so I went online, updated my status and could see a girl from Wisconsin was traveling solo too. She was looking for someone to grab some dinner with so I reached out to her and we decided on an Indian buffet.
When we met up, it wasn’t awkward at all! We got along really well and spent 2 hours eating and talking about crazy stories from our travels. She invited me back to her hostel bar for drinks that same night which was fun! We swapped numbers and as we were both in Cusco for the same amount of time, we ended up meeting up a few more times after to explore different markets and have lunch.”
10. Hang Out with Your Airbnb Accommodation Host
Yes, I raved about Airbnb experiences, and staying in Airbnb accommodations is just as fun! A person who opens their home to strangers is typically a nice and adventurous person. Most often, Airbnb hosts provide a list of restaurants and sightseeing recommendations. Sometimes, they will take you around themselves!
11. Explore More Apps for Making Friends as a Solo Traveler
That was the Fun Part… Now for Setting Boundaries as a Solo & Sober Traveler
As a sober woman, sometimes I feel extra pressure to be “fun.” Traveling internationally is stressful. Therefore, boundaries are crucial! Just like back home, I know I don’t need to go out when I’ve had a rough day or having weird thoughts.
Some nights, on my recent solo trip to Japan, I went out with people that I met, and other nights I stayed in. Two nights, in particular, I called my husband to talk about whether I should go out or not… and both nights I decided to stay in because it’s not worth the risk of drinking. FOMO is real so it was so hard to make that decision! However, for me, drinking is like rolling the dice of whether I’m going to come home safely or not. And in a foreign country where I got lost regularly when I was sober in broad daylight? Not worth it!
Go Out and Try These Ways to Make Friends as a Solo & Sober Traveler!
In conclusion, there are countless opportunities to make new friends while traveling solo. The key is to be bold and be yourself! I didn’t shy away from the topic of sobriety, but I also didn’t want to explain constantly about why I wasn’t drinking. I was easily able to change the subject to travel. “Where have you been? Where are you going next? Where are you from?” Meeting new friends from around the world is one of the best parts of traveling!
I hope that you find inspiration from these ways to make friends as a solo & sober traveler! What is your favorite way to make new friends while traveling?
Need more sober travel inspiration? Check out these blog posts:
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