Traveling solo can be a wonderful opportunity for relaxation and observation. Staying positive and maintaining a sense of humor is the best strategy for your quest to find new friends while on the road.
A confirmed introvert, I've seen most of the 30-odd countries stamped into my passport by myself. But even I eventually grew tired of solitude. Solo travelers need friends, and knowing how to find, meet and keep them will make your travels richer and infinitely more fun.
The internet is a traveler's largest and most valuable source of new relationships. There are hundreds of sites dedicated to helping the new kid in town find his or her way around the local scene. Make good use of them.
CS is a global social network for lovers of travel. Log on, create an account and in less than a minute you'll have a long list of locals offering their couch or guest room for free to passers-through. There are also hundreds of city-specific CS groups that regularly host events where it's perfectly okay – even expected – to show up knowing no one.
Traveling domestically? Meetup is a surefire way to find new friends with whom you almost certainly have something in common. Search your destination's Meetup groups for people who share your interests. Pro tip: Look for active groups that hold at least one event per week.
InterNations is a professional international online community with a presence in hundreds of cities around the world. Join your destination's InterNations group and RSVP to the next event. Restaurants, art galleries, bars and city parks are popular venues.
Don't forget to explore location-specific expat websites. Their message boards are excellent resources for information on where you can find the largest concentration of potential new friends.
On the Ground
Relying solely on technology to find friends is never a good idea. You'll need to shut down your laptop and get out there to fully experience both your destination and its people.
If you're staying anywhere for more than a week, consider getting a short-term job. Offer to do some writing for a hostel's website or provide English tutoring. Get a seasonal job; waiting tables, picking grapes and lifeguarding are excellent and fun ways to meet people.
Hang out in the common area of your hotel or hostel and introduce yourself. It may seem clumsy and old-fashioned, but taking an interest in others is a surefire way to get their attention.
Scour your friends, family and even casual acquaintances for local contacts. One introduction to someone at your destination can open endless doors.
Stay positive and maintain a sense of humor in your quest for new friends. You'll make cultural missteps, you'll probably feel slightly out of place at first and you may end up accepting invitations you later wish you hadn't. Neither a great story nor a great friendship, however, ever started with someone deciding to curl up alone in a hotel room and go to bed early.