Should I Travel With Strangers While Abroad?


To travel with strangers or not to travel with strangers, while abroad. That is the question. Imagine that you are staying at a hostel and the person in the bed next to you asks to travel with you tomorrow. How will you reply? Do you kindly accept his invitation, or do you reject his offer?

Keep in mind, you don’t know him at all. You met him today for the very first time. He seems nice, but you aren’t sure.

Today I want to give you some insights that will help you understand the PROS and CONS of this particular situation and help you to come to a conclusion.

meeting strangers abroad is a wonderful experience
Surrounded by a group of villagers off the coast of Gujarat, India. The man with the green hat and orange beard invited me to his house for tea.

How To Determine If You Should Travel With Strangers Or Not

  1. Identify the Stranger’s Personality
  2. Weigh the PROS & CONS
  3. Make a Decision

1) Identify the Personality of Travel Strangers

While on the road, there are two different types of Travelers that you may meet. It is very important that you take the time to determine their personality as soon as possible. You may be interested in inviting a stranger to travel with you, or, they may be interested in inviting you to travel with them.

Before you immediately blurt out a request or even a response to their request, it is important that you fully understand what you are getting yourself into. 

sometimes when you meet strangers abroad the experience will be amazing
The person on the left was a flight student. He invited me to fly with him and his instructor. This photo was taken above the clouds in Michigan, USA.

Foreigners 

Foreigners are similar to you. They left their home country to search for food, culture, entertainment, and other things within a new country. Generally, they will know little about the country and/or the specific location that you are both in. Each foreigner is different.

Sometimes their primary focus is drinking and partying every night. Sometimes their primary focus is walking the streets to learn more about the culture (that’s me!). Sometimes foreigners have a focus of going to museums all over the city. Sometimes their goal is to go on Mountain Trek for a couple of days. Take a few moments to judge what type of individual they are. 

Questions that will help you cumulatively determine their personality:
  • Where are you from?
  • How long have you been in this country?
  • How long will you stay in this country?
  • What are your plans while you are here?
  • What did you do for the last few days while you were here?

Again, these types of questions will only help you determine their personality.

sometimes when you meet strangers abroad they will invite you to dinner
This man helped me for 2 hours to file documents in China. He invited me for dinner with his wife at a nice restaurant. Neither of them spoke a word in English.

Locals

Locals are a little bit different. They are from the country that you are currently traveling in, and generally, they know a lot about the country and possibly even the local area that you are currently in.

Most likely they have a job and they are typically traveling for a week or less. The personality of these individuals could be similar to a foreigner. It is possible that their main desire is to party and drink. And it is possible that they have a desire to go hiking on a nearby mountain…or something in between. Obviously the sky’s the limit.

Questions that will help you cumulatively determine their personality:
  • Which part of the country are you from?
  • What are your plans in this particular area?
  • What type of fun did you have yesterday?
  • What type of work do you do back home?
it can be so much fun to meet strangers abroad
Walk walking through a squatter’s area in Manila, these kind people invited me to hang out with them for a 3 separate nights.

2) PROS & CONS of Traveling With a Stranger

In order to determine whether or not you want to invite someone to travel with you, or, accept someone’s offer to travel with them (foreign or local) – it is important to first understand the PROS and CONS of traveling with a stranger.

PROS

New Friends

It’s always nice to make new friends. Who doesn’t want more friends?

Loneliness 

Depending on the way that you travel, you may feel lonely while on the road. If you travel with a friend, you will reduce the chances of feeling lonely to basically zero. Here’s what I think about Solo Travel & loneliness.

New Perspective

When experiencing something new or different, you may start to think about it from a different angle. While you are with another person, they may think about a situation in a slightly different way than you. Their mindset may start to rub off on you which may start to influence the way that you think and make decisions. Being exposed to different perspectives is usually a good thing. 

sometimes when you meet strangers abroad you will travel in a large group
A group of people in GuangDong, China invited me to hang out for an entire day with them.
Safer 

Generally, it is safer when you travel with another person. Traveling alone makes you an easier target. The more people that you are with, the greater the chances that the thieves will avoid you entirely. It is also safer when two minds are working together to achieve a result.

For example: Maybe you are hiking up a mountain and you both have an encounter with the nearby Tiger. You freeze and have no idea what to do. Your new friend knew exactly what to do and you were able to get out of the situation safely.

Yes, this is an extreme example, but you get the idea. There are some things that your new friend will know more about, and there are some things that you will know more about. Two minds are better than one. 

travel with strangers abroad is a wonderful way to try new food
Invited by a local to travel together along the coast of Gujarat, India for a week.
Cheaper

There are many people who say that traveling solo is cheaper. I completely disagree. The most expensive parts about traveling are hospitality, food, and transportation. When you are traveling with another person, you can definitely split the costs of two of those, hospitality and transportation.

Sometimes you will be able to split the third which is food. Sometimes it is cheaper to order one very large meal and split it two ways. If the hotel is $50 per night, you can now each pay only $25 per night. If a taxi is $16, you can now both pay $8. Learn more about how you can save money while solo traveling.

sometimes when you meet strangers abroad they invite you to their home
The man on the right invited me to stay at his house for 2 months in HCMC, Vietnam. Then I moved to a small town to help at his school for 10 months.

CONS

Less Privacy

It’s no secret that if you are traveling with a stranger, your privacy will be reduced dramatically. If you are splitting a hotel, you’ll both be sharing a bathroom and possibly even a bed. This may feel weird for many westerners. 

Sacrifices

Last night, you both agreed that in the morning you would go hiking. You both wake up at 5am. You want to go and have breakfast downstairs, and your new friend wants to leave immediately and go to the mountain. You both want different things.

You can either argue and make him feel obligated to go to breakfast with you, or, you can sacrifice your breakfast and immediately start your adventure to the mountain and avoid confrontation.

As you travel with another person, sooner or later you will eventually have a situation arise in which you want to do one thing and the stranger wants to do another thing. It is bound to happen. The key to preventing confrontation is sacrificing for the other person. This is definitely not something that everyone is willing to do.

Dangerous

If this is a stranger that you just met yesterday, then you probably don’t know this person very well at all. Maybe this person is kind, maybe they are not. Maybe their intention is to go to a hostel to meet another person to go traveling with, so they can rob you while you are in the forest hiking on a mountain. Does that sound far-fetched? Yes. But is it possible? Yes. Anything is possible. Despite their friendly behavior in their kind smile, they may have bad intentions. 

This happened once to me while I was traveling. Sometimes friendliness is a cover to get close to you in order to rob you. Be sure to learn more about how to stay safe while traveling.

sometimes the strangers you meet abroad are helpful
2 police in Dhaka, Bangladesh escorted me around at midnight trying to help me find a hotel. They were carrying sawed-off shotguns.
Awkward Split

If you have started to travel with your new stranger friend, and the personality of him/her doesn’t fit you very well, then you will eventually have to break the news to them that you do not want to travel with them anymore. This is going to be an awkward conversation. “Hey, I don’t like you. Please don’t travel with me anymore.” Haha, hopeful you can come up with something better than that!

Sad Goodbye

As mentioned in my PROS and CONS of traveling the world, one of my least favorite parts about this gig is saying goodbye to the awesome people that I have met. This whole ‘saying goodbye thing’ turned out to be much more difficult than I ever thought it would be.

It has gotten to the point where I even try to avoid building deep friendships with anyone simply because I know that eventually I will need to say goodbye. Unfortunately, I have an invisible wall between me and the other person. Connecting is okay. But connecting too deep is not okay. Good-byes suck. 

sometimes the strangers you meet abroad are so kind
This woman and her son invited me to stay in her school for 2 months in Bihar, India. She cried as she hugged me goodbye.

3) Make A Decision

It is now time to make a decision. Will you travel with this stranger or not? The choice is completely up to you. I cannot tell you which one to pick. Hopefully you took the time to completely read through the PROS and CONS. If you feel that the risk is worth the reward, then go for it! Trust your gut! Will your instinct be wrong? It’s possible, but not likely. 

Where To Find Strangers To Travel With

Strangers are everywhere. However, the majority of times that I have offered someone to travel with me, or, have been offered to travel with someone else – was through couchsurfing.

The 2nd most popular was on the streets, and the third most popular was in a hosel. Be sure to learn more about how to intentionally meet local people while traveling.

sometimes when you meet strangers abroad they will invite you to their home
While walking next to the sea in India, this man invited me to his home to meet his family and drink some tea.

Final thoughts on Traveling With Strangers While Abroad

Personally, I like traveling with local people. But that doesn’t mean you need to be like me. Local people are usually a wealth of information in regards to the local culture. I feel like I have won the lottery when a local person invites me to travel with them.

They usually know so much more about the local area, and obviously they know a ton about the culture. And if you don’t already know much about me, I am an absolute culture geek. I love learning more about culture! I usually ask the local person a million questions by the end of the afternoon.

Are there risks involved? Absolutely. But 99.9% of the time, it has been completely safe. And believe me, I have traveled with a lot of local people! 

Generally, I don’t travel with other foreigners. Why? Well, if I wanted to be around foreigners, I would have just stayed home.

I know, that statement might ruffle a few feathers. There are many people who travel to a different country and they simply feel more comfortable when they are hanging around another foreigner.

That’s completely okay! There’s nothing wrong with that at all. I think it is important to do whatever makes you the most comfortable. In my case, I feel more comfortable around people who are from the local area.

Note: I hope you have taken the time to look at all of these photos and read the descriptions. All of these amazing experiences happened because I said ‘yes’ to the strangers. These are just a small fraction of all people that I have met. Happy travels!

sometimes when you meet strangers abroad they will teach you something new
This student in Bangladesh invited me to stay with his family for a few days. Here, he just finished teaching me how to wear a Lungi.

Brock

Hey - I'm Brock. I grew up in the USA, and I have been a full-time Solo Traveler since June of 2016. I am also a Travel Vlogger on YouTube where my primary focus is to simply hang out with local people around the world. My full story is here: About Me

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