5 super quick tips for celebrating holidays while solo traveling

For shortbread cookie and faux apple crumble recipes, skip to bottom.

Happy Independence Day! If you’re reading this, you’re probably on the road, alone, and wondering what you’re going to do to celebrate. Well good news, there are lots of ways to connect with other celebrators or feel more festive while you’re traveling. I’ve listed out a few of my vetted favorites here.

1. Ask a Hostel

Hostels usually have a lot going on or a good pulse on what’s going on close by. Whether you’re staying in one or not, they’re a good resource for finding other travelers and events that cater to travelers. Don’t be shy about emailing or going in and asking the front desk if they have anything going on and if it would be ok for you to join. Most will be cool with it, some may not, but the worst they can do is say no.

To figure out which hostels might be a good lead, check out their details and reviews on platforms like Hostelworld or Booking.com, and look specifically for places that offer events on a frequent basis AND have good reviews from guests. Hostels with high ratings are more likely to care about guest experience and will most likely be open to helping.

2. Search Facebook expat & traveler groups

There’s a Facebook group for everything. Try searching for expat groups or traveler groups specific to the area (if you search the term “backpacker” in Facebook groups, you’ll get a long list of “backpackers in…”). Expat groups sometimes bar passer-throughs from joining, but you can still send a message to their admin/moderator saying, “hey, I’m a [nationality] looking to celebrate [this holiday] with other people who celebrate it–know of any events?”

Photo by Garreth Broesche on Unsplash

3. Create your own event

Couchsurfing, Facebook events, and other social organizing apps are a great way to get people together with little effort or shame. People want to connect. As an example, my birthday came around while I was solo backpacking last fall, so I put up a little invitation in Couchsurfing and was pleasantly surprised by the amount of people who showed up to wish me, a stranger, happy birthday. I will remember it as one of my sweetest, most love-filled birthdays.

General travel groups like Girls Who Travel and Girls Love Travel may also be somewhere to connect with other celebrators–just be careful about sharing too much specific information with thousands of people you don’t know. To get the conversation rolling, try a post like, “Any travelers in [city] celebrating [holiday]?”

If you’re staying in a hostel, ask if you can create your own informal party there or get a group together to go out.

Wherever you are, chances are that there are others out there in the same boat looking for something going on, and all you have to do is post a time and a place and they will come–trust me!

4. Call home

Wherever or whomever you consider home, there’s nothing better, and really no replacement, than connecting with the people who love us forever. If you’re in a place with great wifi, try to make it a Facetime call so you can see all the decorations and preparations.

If you’re traveling to get away from home metaphorically as well as literally, try sending out a few messages to fellow travelers you’ve met along your trip wishing them a happy day. You don’t have to know them super well for them to appreciate the message; we’re all in this together!

5. Bake something

If all else fails, bake up some easy cookies for the hostel or a 1-serving no-bake dessert just for you. Here are a couple of my favorite simple recipes that hit the spot for every occasion, a shortbread cookie that can be dressed up or down, and a faux apple crumble that will make you feel warm inside.

Shortbread cookies with walnuts and Hershey’s kisses

Shortbread Cookies

  • Servings: About 3 dozen
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


  • 8oz (2 sticks, 230g) butter, softened
  • 2 cups sifted all­ purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Optional:
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 24 oz Hershey’s kisses
  • confectioner’s sugar for dusting


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl and cooking spoon, cream the butter into the sugar. Add in the vanilla and incorporate.
  3. Slowly add in the flour, 1/3 at a time. If using walnuts, pour in now and mix until evenly dispersed.
  4. Optional step for Hershey’s kisses: Scoop a teaspoonful of dough and shape into a ball. Press a kiss into the middle of the dough and gently shape the dough around the kiss to form a ball, adding more dough to the top if needed; no chocolate points should show through.
  5. Bake the cookies on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper for 10 to 12 minutes. If no parchment paper is available, bake on an un-greased sheet. Cool completely before moving.

Faux Apple Crumble for One

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: The easiest
  • Print


  • 1 apple
  • 1 to 2 shakes cinnamon
  • 1 graham cracker or other sweet biscuit, crumbled
  • Optional:
  • 1 scoop vanilla or pecan praline ice cream


  1. Slice apple into cubes. You can peel or leave skins as preferred. Place in cereal bowl.
  2. Give the apples one to two shakes of cinnamon and stir until evenly covered.
  3. Microwave for 30 seconds or heat on stove in pan for 2 minutes on medium.
  4. Top with crumbled graham crackers/biscuits and add scoop of ice cream.
  5. Don’t share.

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