Taking off on a solo adventure with a Working Holiday Visa? Welcome to the ultimate guide on how to make friends and overcome homesickness while on this incredible journey! Get ready to receive all the tips and tricks to help you cultivate a vibrant social life and build meaningful connections while navigating the exciting world of solo travel.
You’ll gain valuable insights from experienced travellers—Drew, a digital nomad from Toronto, who caught the travel bug after living and working in Taiwan for a whole year on a Working Holiday Visa, and Geneviève from Gatineau, who completed not one but three Working Holiday Visas in Japan, Australia, and Chile.
If you’re between 18 and 35 and Canadian, International Experience Canada opens doors for you to travel and work in over 30 countries. With the Working Holiday Visa, you can immerse yourself in your selected destination for up to one, or even two years, engaging in lawful employment and earning income to extend your adventure.
1. Making friends as an introverted solo traveller
When you’re more on the reserved side, navigating social situations can be a bit tricky. You and many others might resonate with Drew and Geneviève, both defining themselves as introverts.
They’ve got some savvy strategies to share on how to make connections, whether it’s establishing a safety net online before you even arrive or making the most of platforms like Meetup or Bumble BFF.
Nomad tip: Bumble BFF is basically the friend-finding side of the dating app. So, you can meet people out there looking for friends, just like you.
2. Connecting through shared interests
Follow what you like—it’s your pathway to forging real connections with people who share your interests. Don’t underestimate the importance of using social media groups and apps to find your tribe.
Geneviève’s experiences in Japan and Chile show how connecting with coworkers and fellow newcomers can create instant bonds.
Whether it’s music, open mic nights, or niche activities, leaning into shared interests can bridge those cultural gaps.
3. Coping with homesickness: creating familiarity abroad
Homesickness is a common phase during a Working Holiday Visa experience, but it doesn’t have to overshadow the experience. You and other travellers can take a page from Geneviève and Drew on practical tips for dealing with homesickness.
Create those forever conversations with friends at home through WhatsApp. Small acts, like savouring a familiar meal or watching a TV show, can also give you that comforting slice of home.
4. Crafting your travel playlist
Bring a sense of familiarity to your travels by curating a playlist of your favourite tunes from home.
For example, Gen typically listens to music in English. However, when she starts to feel a bit homesick, she has a playlist of French Canadian music. She listened to it while walking on the beach in Australia and found that it helped alleviate homesickness.
Music also has a unique way of creating comfort and can be an excellent conversation starter when shared with new acquaintances.
5. Embracing cultural experiences
Imagine immersing yourself in extraordinary moments that define your Working Holiday Visa journey.
Geneviève’s tales from a tiny Chilean town showcase the magic of embracing local traditions or her connection with a sushi chef in Japan proves that human bonds can transcend language barriers over shared meals.
You’ll find that these cultural encounters are the heart and soul of your travel experience.
6. Discovering the satisfaction of doing things solo
Don’t hesitate to venture into the world on your own. You’ll realize how fulfilling it is to do this on your own schedule and pace.
Engaging in solo activities not only fosters personal growth but also presents you as more approachable to fellow travellers or locals, creating opportunities for organic connections.
When you’re travelling solo, you’re more likely to be open to spontaneous conversations and invitations, making it easier for others to initiate contact.
This openness can lead to shared experiences, whether chatting with a local at a cafe or joining an impromptu excursion with fellow travellers.
7. Cherishing unforgettable moments
As you set off on your Working Holiday Visa adventure, remember that the real treasures are the people you meet and the unique experiences you encounter.
Take a cue from Geneviève’s reflections on homemade plum wine in Japan and Drew’s encounters with friendly locals in Taiwan.
These genuine human connections will shape your travel narrative in profound ways—you’re in for something special.
8. Mastering solo travel: practical tips
Meeting people while travelling can be intimidating. Here are 8 tips to help you connect with others on your solo trip:
- Choose a hostel stay: Whether you opt for a private room or a dorm, staying in a hostel provides numerous opportunities to meet new people.
- Join a table during free dinner: Take advantage of the social atmosphere in hostels by joining a table during the free dinner sessions.
- Sign up for free walking tours: Major cities often offer guided walking tours, a well-kept secret for meeting fellow solo travellers.
- Participate in hostel activities: Whether it’s a cooking class, an open mic night, or a pub crawl, sign up for hostel-organized activities.
- Inquire about other travellers at reception: Feel free to inquire about fellow travellers from your home country, like Canadians.
- Engage in various activities: Join activities like diving, guided tours, or climbing, as shared interests foster connections.
- Mix with diverse groups: Look for diverse groups of travellers to join, as a mix of backgrounds enhances the richness of experiences and shared laughter.
- Wear a beautiful smile: Keep your head up, put your iPhone aside, and make eye contact—sometimes, a friendly smile can be your best conversation starter.
Bonus tip: Say “Hi” in person
In a world of screens, a simple “Hi” in person is like a supercharged connection button.
It’s quick, it’s real, and it can turn a moment into a memory. So, go ahead, break the ice, and see where that friendly “Hi” takes you!
Friendship can blossom in the most unforeseen locations if you’re open to them!
- HOSTELS: If you’re backpacking in Canada (in Ontario or Quebec), don’t forget to use the promo code “NOMADJUNKIES” when booking a stay at Saintlo Hostels. You’ll receive a 10% discount on your reservation, allowing you to save money for extending your trip!
- TRAVEL INSURANCE: If you’re looking for the best travel insurance for your Working Holiday Visa program, take a look at soNomad, the most affordable travel insurance in Canada.