I started my second working holiday year in Australia without any traveling companion or friends to hang out with. That year has been my biggest solo travel experience this far, and I can assure that I was nervous. How can one find friends? Am I condemned to a year of loneliness? In this post, I will share my personal experiences about my working holiday year in Australia and tell how I found friends. Even though this post is mainly about Australia, you can use almost all of these tips on any solo travel.
Hostels are the number one spots in Australia to meet other travelers. Spend some time in finding a good place that has the right ambiance for you. Other hostels are good for finding party people, other places are better for finding long deep conversations. I prefer booking a bed in a small dorm of 4–6 people because then I feel it easier to get to know my roommates.
Several hostels organize pub crawls, and they are great places to meet new people. I know that it can be a bit awkward to make up some small talk in the beginning but after a glass of wine, it will get easier. They also often have paid staff there with you to make sure that everyone is having a good time.
I can’t emphasize enough that finding good roommates is extremely important. They can really make or break your experience. Just follow your intuition and listen to your gut feeling. If a person feels weird, he or she probably is. I was so lucky in Australia where I lived with great Indian (+ German, British and Russian) girls. We made dinners together and had endless talks about life and relationships. I miss those lovely girls!
Nothing brings people together like working on a farm, especially if the farm is located in the middle of nowhere. You spend time together marveling the stars, talk endless hours without the distraction of social media, play music and sit next to a bonfire. You work together, cook together, wash your laundry together, spend your days off together. In just a couple of weeks, you become this one big close-knitted family. Working on a farm can be a great way of making new friends.
I haven’t used this method myself but I know people who have searched for a non-dating related companion on Tinder. You just write to your profile that you are traveling and tonight in town X and looking for someone to show you around or explore the place with you. Of course, it is only a plus if you happen to meet the love of your life this way…
Work (for accommodation)
Work for accommodation means that you basically for as a cleaner or receptionist or a bartender and get to stay at the hostel for free. I worked for accommodation during my first year in Australia and met amazing people through it. During my second year, I got a paid job (thank god) and got to know a couple workmates a bit better. You just need to be a bit active yourself and ask people out for after work or something. Usually, someone is always willing to join you.
You can also join some Facebook groups that have your fellow countrymen and -women living in Australia and look for new friends that way. Just remember that especially the ones who live permanently in the country might have their own lives, work and responsibilities and no time to show you around the city or accommodate you for free. At least if those people happen to live in Sydney and it is the New Year’s Eve ;).
Take part in a guided tour
I took part in several guided tours: one in Tasmania, one from Adelaide to Alice Springs, and one from Perth to Broome. This is a great way to get new friends at least for the duration of the trip. I know that many take part in these tours with their spouse or friend but after a day or two they usually want to chat with someone else too. So don’t be nervous going on a tour on your own.
And the last but not the least… spend some time alone
I speak from my own experience when I say that solo travels have been the most meaningful trips for my personal development. I have had time to turn inwards, do some instrospection, ponder my life choices and get to know myself without the responsibilities of my normal life. Even though you might want to find new friends, spend some time with the best companion you can have, with yourself!
Australia is one of the best countries to travel solo. You will always find other travelers to hang out with, and who knows, maybe you can find life-long friendships.