Most of us will travel alone at some point. Many will do it more often than not. It might be a client meeting in another city. A conference overseas. Or that bucket-list vacation that you’re taking even though none of your friends can get time off.
Whatever your reason, if you’re hitting the road solo, these apps and tricks make great travel companions.
An easy way to get the lay of the land on your own is to download a mobile walking tour. Detour has gotten a lot of buzz — created by the founder of Groupon, it has location-based audio guides in cities around the world. Other map-based tours, like Google’s Field Trip, point out interesting landmarks and local tidbits as you walk by.
Looking for a travel buddy, or someone to show you around? There’s an app for that. Actually, there are many. Some aren’t even really made for travel. Take Tinder. Yes, Tinder, as a travel app. Widely used in 196 countries, the dating network can be a great way to swipe your way into suggestions or conversations with locals.
For those of you who are off the market or want to steer clear of dating apps, there are non-romantic apps that pair up travelers. Type in your destination and dates, and Tripr will connect you with other travelers (and residents) who will be there the same time. Outbound acts similarly, and offers suggested nearby events and Wi-Fi hotspots. If want a little more structure, or something more group-oriented, Meetup has you covered, with events ranging from internet startup happy hours in Buenos Aires to trivia nights in Washington, D.C.
Many solo travelers are fine doing activities on their own, but one of the toughest hurdles with this type of travel is dining alone. There are a few options if you don’t feel comfortable with that table for one. First, eat at the bar. You can usually order from the same menu, but without the awkwardness of the server removing the extra table setting. If you’re not sure about the scene, apps like Yelp, Foodspotting, or LocalEats can clue you in on what spots might have good dining bars.
Another option, if you have a spare evening, is to share a meal with locals. There’s a new crop of apps like EatWith and Feastly that slot you into special meals hosted by chefs and amateur cooks. The idea is simple: join a dinner party made up of strangers, eat homemade food, and swap stories with the other guests around the table. You can find events in restaurants and homes, from Tel Aviv to San Francisco.
Feeling more anti-social? Stay in; room service isn’t your only option. Check with your hotel to see if they allow delivery to rooms. If so, you can order from Seamless or GrubHub in the comfort of your robe.
If you’re vacationing solo, Couchsurfing and hostels are a great way to save on lodging and meet other travelers. Traveling for work? You probably don’t want a six-bunk room. But you don’t have to stay at a hostel to take advantage of its social scene. Hostel bars are ground zero for solo travelers, so even if you’re staying elsewhere, browse WeHostels or HostelWorld, find a backpacker hub nearby, and head there to start the night.
Prefer to stick closer to the hotel? The app HelloTel creates a social network among hotel guests. Check in, log in, and see who’s online. You never know who’ll be up for a drink at the lobby bar.
Photo credit: Moyan Brenn/Flickr