Finding a Travel Buddy

The Stuttgart IAESTE guys in Rothenburg ob der Tauber

“Hi, I’m John” is the normal greeting I use to introduce myself. It’s a simple greeting that opens up a world of possibilities, especially when you are traveling. When you have traveled solo like I have, it is a great to make travel buddies along. A travel buddy can make a trip that much better. They can share in your disaster story of getting lost, open up new activities you would never have thought of to do, and be a general foil to whatever mischief you can conjure up. Here are some of the tips you can make a travel buddy on your trip.

1. Get to know the people who share your dorm room

When you book a hostel try to opt for a room with at most eight beds. Anymore than eight will start to feel like a barracks. Why eight or less? Because that is what I found to be the optimal number for socializing with fellow travelers sharing your room. There is bound to be at least one person you get along with. In my opinion, this is probably the best bet to get a travel buddy as you are technically living with these people. I have met some really awesome travelers this way.

2. Eat breakfast in the morning.

Most hostels offer some kind of kitchen area or dining area. If you’re an early riser or at least an early-riser when you are traveling, then you’ll definitely meet like-minded people when you eat breakfast. It easy to strike up a conversation about activity plans for the day. Most people open up pretty easily and would willingly offer an invite to join them.

4. Hangout at cafes

Cafes are a good spot to strike up a conversation, according to one of my sources. She swears that people will just talk to you. I think it’s because she’s an attractive girl. My success rate at meeting people at cafes is mostly miss rather than hit. But the times they do hit, it usually happens when it’s at a cafe close to a lot of hostels or a cafe recommended by a hostel.

5. Places with internet

In this modern age, almost everyone is updating their friends and families about their trips. They can be uploading pictures to facebook, researching their travel destinations, or video conferencing via Skype. Unless they’re doing the last one, it’s almost always okay to strike up a conversation.

6. Waiting for the car/bus/train/plane/boat

Fellow backpackers are easy to spot. Just look for the huge backpack or the guidebook in their hands. Since you are probably going to the same location, it’s one of the easiest ways to make a travel buddy for the entire stay of that destination. You have loads of time to chat when you are waiting on a train platform or airport terminal.

One very important thing to remember about your travel buddies is that they can become long-term friends too. Write down their e-mail addresses in a safe place. I have already lost a few too many from my travels because I wrote them down in a tiny notepad. So if you are the French couple at Angkor Wat, the German guy in the van ride from Laos to Cambodia, or the Thai/Italian couple in Muang Ngoi, then hit me up.

Parting Words

Having an open attitude is the best way to socialize. Be yourself and you’ll probably find like minded people. People on the backpacker trail are social by nature unless they are in a big group. You never know what a simple conversation could lead to.

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About the Author

John is always trying to find his way back to the road. He has an affinity for Germany due to his three years studying German at Cal, and a year working as an intern in the Stuttgart area. He also likes chocolate cake and good cheese.