Why Travelling Solo is the Best Way to Make Meaningful Friendships

It all began on a solo trip last year, when I booked a one-way flight to embark on my farthest trip away from home, on an organic Workaway farm in Kocaeli, Turkey

I went alone, but a small group of us had all arrived within a few days of each other and we became close very quickly, learning to navigate the working days together but also planning local trips for our days off. Our summer was spent working out in the vegetable fields, singing our hearts out to nostalgic songs, and having long chats about the best places we’ve travelled to so far. One day we even choreographed a silly cucumber crop dance for the host’s social media!

full body shot of three workawayers mucking out at the vegetable garden and smiling at the camera

We were all travelling solo and none  of us had any set plans ahead of us and so, after many weeks of hard work and fun, we decided to explore more of Turkey together! And of all the places I’ve been to in 4 years of travelling, Turkey now has such a special place in my heart because of the incredible people I met there. We discovered, laughed, shared and learned so much more than I’d ever anticipated. Still today I use this to remind myself that stepping out of your comfort zone is sometimes the most rewarding thing you can do!

Here’s how a solo trip might lead to some of the most meaningful friendships and fun adventures yet…

group of travellers from around the world smiling and doing heart hand signs for a selfie

You meet travel lovers around the world who share your passions

Meeting fellow travellers who are just as eager as you are to explore new countries and cultures can really shape your trip. I’ve met so many open-minded people who are keen to talk, learn, share and grow together – there’s loads of room for making meaningful connections despite having started out your trip alone. And this is doubly true if you’re a workawayer! When choosing a Workaway, you’ll most likely be picking experiences you’re interested in. So chances are that other volunteers there will be on a similar page to you. Whether it’s enthusiasm for teaching, a passion for sustainability, or perhaps just a general desire to learn more about the country you’ve travelled to, you’ll be connecting with incredible people who are brought together with the same interests and goals.

A tip, if you’re going solo and hoping to meet friends on your Workaway: simply focus on projects that host multiple volunteers at once (you can use the ‘number of volunteers’ filter on Workaway’s host list). In this way, after challenging yourself with the journey itself, you’ll be surrounded by other friendly faces once you reach your hosts.

group of workawayers on a bamboo eco project outdoors
three workawayers sitting on the floor and preparing freshly harvested beans
two workawayers on a ladder posing in front of a recycling bin

You’re free from commitments… and free to explore potential friendships!

What I appreciate most about travelling alone is the FREEDOM that comes with it. You can be your own person and go with the flow. You are not tied to anyone else’s plans. In fact, you don’t even need to have plans of your own! You can simply take it day by day and figure it out as you go, or even change your plans whenever you want to. More importantly, just because you’re on a “solo travel” trip doesn’t mean you’ll be alone the entire time... more often than not, you’ll be travelling between countries and cities on your own, but meeting loads of people (if you want!) along the way, at backpacker hostels, local bars, and public events in busy towns.

The number of fellow backpackers I’ve hung out with after navigating public transport together in unfamiliar towns?! Essentially, anyone looking slightly lost with a big rucksack on their back is likely open for a chat. You might even be headed in the same direction and able to keep each other company for a while, or exchange some travel tips and must-see locations on the way. No matter how things go, you’ll get to enrich a part of each other’s trips in one way or another!

Related blog post: 10 Tips and Resources to Meet People While Travelling Solo

two workawayers turned friends holding hands while sitting on camping chairs outside and laughing

You will be more open to new connections

Travelling alone definitely puts you in a more vulnerable position, with no friends you can just call up for a coffee if you’re feeling lonely, or ask for a ride when you miss a bus. But for this reason, travelling alone makes you more open. That is, open to connecting with other people. 

At my very first solo Workaway, I was volunteering with a young family in Germany and found that I was much more outgoing, willing to meet people and try things than I would have been if I had a friend with me. During the trip, there were plenty of other travellers and volunteers like me – all travelling solo and more than happy to find someone else to share their adventures with. It was great being able to explore new places and try out cool vegan cafes whilst connecting with each other. Two of us even went on a little weekend trip across the border to Strasbourg to see the Christmas markets and then finally happened to cross paths again in Istanbul just last year.

This just goes to show that being alone can really help you make long-lasting and meaningful connections. It’s all too easy to rely on pre-established friendships and so it’s nice just to remind yourself what you can achieve on your own too. Some of my closest friends today are those I’ve met on the road and, although it’s not often that any of us are in the same country for long, we’ll always be sure to reconnect and treasure the time when we are!

back of three workawayers walking through the street into the sunset
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About Ellie

Having caught the travel bug after finding the perfect first Workaway Hosts in Germany, travelling around Europe for the last few years has not only boosted my confidence but also made me some of the ... show more...

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