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I enjoy my time alone so much that I mostly travel alone. But what most people don’t know is I love meeting other people and learning about them and where they are from as well. Traveling alone gives me a sudden surge of confidence and congeniality. It also gives me a boost of independence and uncertainty.
As mostly an introvert, I still find it hard to meet other people. One, because I am awkward with small talks. Two, because I am better in written English and would rate my spoken English 7/10 which makes me kind of conscious. Three, I admittedly sometimes don’t understand what they say because of the different accents hahaha!
I got better at meeting and mingling with people over time and I’d like to share my five tips on how to easily meet people even when you’re awkward and introverted like me.
1. Stay at hostels
Staying at hostels is a great way to meet other travelers. I was intimidated the first time I tried staying in a hostel in El Nido because I thought most of the people were traveling in groups. Turns out, they all just met in the hostel too. The next time I stayed at a hotel, I had a GREAT time. I definitely recommend Murals Hostel if you’re in Cebu and HOP Hostel if you’re in Coron. Check out some more hostel recommendations if you’re in Siargao in this blog post.
I made so many friends in HOP hostel and I’m still following a few of them on Instagram (my Instagram was still a personal one during this time). I shared a dorm room with 5 other female travelers from the UK, Norway, US and Netherlands. I just find the courage to say “Hi, where are you from?” or “Hi, are you also traveling alone?” and ta-dah! We get acquainted. I also managed to move my butt to HOP’s rooftop bar during my first night. At first I was only talking to the bartenders because they are Filipinos, next thing I knew I was playing my first game of Beer Pong, and then doing other drinking games with more people. It rained at 11:30pm but we didn’t care and a guy from the UK taught me a Scottish traditional dance while we waited for midnight to struck as it was my birthday. I also managed to gain lots of friends while hanging out in the mini-theater room. I stayed there all day during my second day at Coron because I was hungover AF. Cool huh?
2. Join events from tour organizations or your accommodation
Hostels are trying to become as friendly and sociable as they can. They now strive to be a cool hangout place so that travelers won’t have to hop from one hostel to another to enjoy a province. Some have trivia nights, karaoke nights, board game nights, etc. I personally have never joined any of these as I can be super competitive. I did make friends watching lots of movies in the common rooms.
Some tour organizations also host activities for groups or joiners. A roommate from one trip joined a 3-day camping trip with other strangers. Our hostel hosted a firefly watching night where we would be having dinner afterwards.
3. Do Joiner Tours
Some people like exclusivity when doing a tour but it can get really expensive especially when you’re alone. So in order to cut my expenses, I join group tours and make friends. I usually stay silent in the first few hours but then I become so hyper that I’ll ask my co-tourists to take photos of me, or I’ll volunteer to take photos of them. I also make friends with boatmen and ask questions about the islands. It’s a great way to meet friends because you’ll be with them for a whole day and you’ll find yourself warming up to them eventually.
4. Use Instagram
For a traveling account, most of my followers are also travelers and I would sometimes let them know through stories that I am going to this place at this time. If I’m lucky, some would have the same plans. If I’m not, I still get tips from other people who went to that particular place. It’s like having a bit of your itinerary or guide written for you. I’ve had an Instagram friend who basically wrote a travel guide and recommendations for me when I went to Bantayan. His suggestions were so helpful that it wasn’t so hard to get around.
5. Have a night out
Now, this could be different for each of us. My night out means I am going to eat alone, walk around the streets, and then go to a bar to have a drink or two. I find my resting bitch face a problem when trying to make friends as I don’t seem approachable hahaha but if I find someone drinking alone or eating alone and my judgement says go for it, I do. I met this girl from Denmark because she was drinking alone at a bar too and I asked if she was a solo traveler. She then invited me to sit next to her and we talked for hours. You could also go party at famous places in the area, but make sure to do your research well first. And as a solo female traveler, always be cautious. Trust your instinct.
Bonus: Social Media / Dating Apps
There are a few apps for meeting other travelers in an area, one of which is Travello. It’s basically a Facebook for travelers. Personally, I haven’t had luck with apps except with Tinder once in Cebu. My bio immediately said “travel buddies only” but I was on an island surrounded with couples. I talked to this guy who was so awesome but our itinerary didn’t match. It was a shame because he seemed like the person I would want to do tours with. Other apps you could try are Backpackr, Meetup, Couchsurfing, TravelPal and Fairytrail. I also found that Facebook travel groups are good venues to meet other travelers or if you just want to find more recommendations about a certain place.
TIPS and TRICKS
- Be open minded and embrace the new experience. I can really be a loner but I always tell myself that I can’t pass up the opportunity to learn about other people and culture.
- Be cautious, alert and attentive. If something doesn’t feel right, just get out of there. It’s always better safe than sorry.
- Ask your hostels for group tours or activities. This way, you are being pointed to a legit group activities and your travel buddies will most likely be from the hostel you’re staying at too.
- In Filipino culture we have this thoughtful saying “magtira ng pang-uwi” whenever we drink outside. It basically just means to don’t drink more than you can handle.