For most people, travelling solo or relocating as an expat to a new city by yourself falls into two categories. It's either one of the most daunting prospects know to mankind (if you've never done it before), or possibly one of the best experiences you have in your life. So where does the fear come from in the former scenario, that is conquered in the latter? Generally speaking, it's the fear of the unknown. The unknown of finding where to sleep, where to eat, how to get transport around are all normal things we have to figure out in a new destination, whether travelling solo or with friends/family. The real difference when travelling solo is being comfortable with yourself and being able to find new friends along the way.
From thinking that travelling solo is one of the most daunting prospects, to turning it into an almost 2 year extravaganza in which I'm still overseas 3 years on, I've been in both categories and couldn't recommend solo travel more. To help conquer the fear of meeting new people, here's some of our suggestions to find some new friends on your travels. You'll meet more people than you ever do back in your normal life and I promise there will be many you immediately click with and it will be like you've been friends forever. There will also be others you want to throw down the stairs, but you have to take the good with the bad.
The classic and by far the easiest way to meet people. Book a dorm, the bigger the better so you can immediately make friends when you walk in and see who is hanging around. Make a dorm room buddy and then expand that friendship into others in common areas.
It doesn’t take too long to get a little bored with the same scripted hostel Q&A but it's a sure fire way to meet some new people from all walks of life.
Side note, even if you’re not staying at a hostel you can usually make your way in there for drinks and hanging out anyway. So don’t let actually sleeping in the hostel be a barrier for you.
There are plenty of tours every day to take part in around Amsterdam. Often the best are the free walking tours. Here you can pay via a tip to your guide. There’s usually lots of other tourists getting involved so striking up a hello and a friendship is quite easy.
3. Pub Crawl
Amsterdam has no shortage of pubs nor pub crawls, and whilst this might not be the key demographic of people you’re chasing after, you’ll still be able to let your hair down and have some fun.
4. Go to a MeetUp
Inspired by one of our favorite travel blogs to read, Out Of Your Comfort Zone where Rodrigo successfully joined a Meet Up at Christmas and met amazing people for a Christmas adventure. Meetup.com is a great forum to see what’s going on in a city and who is doing what. It’s free to sign up most things and you can go there and strike up a conversation and make some new friends. A mix from locals to other visitors will ensure for a fun time at an event that tickles your fancy.
5. Online Dating
With a simple swipe you can meet new people in moments. Whether you want to say on your profile that you’re travelling solo, new to a city, there to meet new people, or looking for the love of your life. It’s up to you and simple to meet some new friends.
6. Language classes
Visiting Amsterdam for more than just a few days or weeks? Fancy trying to decipher the language of the Dutch people? Because who knows when you will need to ask for "bestuurdersaansprakelijkheidsverzekering" (drivers' liability insurance).
There are lots of opportunities to enrol in Dutch language classes with other foreigners butchering the language, and just as importantly, a great place to meet new people.
7. Hit the gym
One of the best way to meet locals, whilst working on your fitness. Joining in a class at a kickboxing gym, jump in on a yoga class or a run with a group of locals. A much healthier option than the pub crawl and one that will help you meet some local people in your neighbourhood.
Finding a gym in Amsterdam? The best way is to check out the best places on Gym Nomad. We’ve scoured the best spots in Amsterdam and created a platform for you to find your gym and get a flexible length membership that suits your stay. No more ridiculous day pass prices, just flexibility to suit your trip. If you're an expat, try a few and then settle on the best one that suits your needs. Amsterdam's best gyms are there in one place for you.
Nederland Cares is an amazing little setup, you can go to their homepage and set up an account and there’s a wide range of things you can do to help out. Some need you to be able to speak Dutch, but there’s lots also that don’t require this. You will meet and help some locals out and also meet some other really nice volunteers.
9. Challenge a stranger to a duel, or maybe just a chess match at Max Euweplein (near Leidseplein)
There’s a giant chess board and chess pieces at Max Euweplein. Pop down and watch some strangers battling it out or maybe challenge a stranger to a match.
10. Most importantly: Do something you enjoy doing and SAY HELLO TO SOMEONE
The last and by far the most important. Keep getting out there and keep doing things you enjoy so you can meet other people with the same kind of interest. Say hello to someone and start a conversation. You’ll surprise yourself how many new friends you’ll make just from saying hello. Most people aren't monsters, especially in the Netherlands with so many expats and the locals have such impeccable English skills and are all generally super helpful and welcoming. Set yourself a goal to talk to a couple of people a day. But not just say hello to two people, aim to create a connection where that person would stop in the street and say hello again to you. There's your challenge!
There's something special about meeting friends while you're solo travelling or starting a new life in a new city as an expat. For the first time, you can truly be yourself. If it doesn't go to plan you can go somewhere else tomorrow and no one really knows who you are. So what damage is done? Hence you can truly open up and be yourself, without fear of judgement that will spread to your whole friend's circle. This allows you to be able to create a unique connection with new people which you don't think is possible until you experience it. I've made friends around the world which I know will be life long friends because you're just able to click on this level, thanks to this unique set of circumstances. Then conversely to this, if there's people you don't click with or situations you don't want to be in, you can just leave. You're under no 'friend obligation', so you're free to be you.
We hope something in there helps someone meet some new people. But if you're still struggling then you can always email us and come do a gym session with us in Amsterdam. We're always interested to meet new people, get a workout in and hear your story. Just email us and say hello!