Solo travel is one of the most social ways to travel as – inevitably – you will meet many people and make many new friends. Especially with an attitude of “I am not traveling alone. I am traveling with friends I just haven’t met yet”. The resulting encounters often involve many (many) drinks into the wee hours. That is how real friendship bonds are forged and sealed for life.

Philip McCluskey realised this very well and dedicated his entire life travels to these new friends in his ‘A drink with a stranger’ travel debauchery.


Philip decribes his project as follows:

It isn’t easy talking to strangers.

There is no comfort, no broken-in repartee. There is no past with a stranger, and most likely no future. Only an awkward, reaching now.

They don’t know your history, your baggage, your idiosyncrasies. You’re able to create a temporary self, or simply be the person you are.

It can make for an interesting conversation. Especially if there is booze involved.

Some of the most memorable conversations I’ve had in recent years have been with people I don’t know, and it has often been while I’m traveling by myself.  I’m alone in an unfamiliar place, hyper-aware of my circumstances and feeling exposed. I think people sense that. And they respond. They invite me to join them in their conversation, offer to buy me a drink. And, perhaps, because I’m vulnerable, they are more open.

I love those connections. They may not last, but they are real. This project is about them.

A younger Philip with some of his stranges

A younber Philip with some of his stranges

Philip has had many drinks. With many strangers. In many different places. And he does is it with ‘strange’ style and wit.
Here is one of his ‘how to meet strangers’ approaches:

So I went to a travel event at Tavern on the Square in Cambridge a while back. On the way in, I smiled at the hostess, and she smiled back. Pleasantries.

I talked to some travelers, but after a drink, I decided I was tired and wanted to leave.On my way out,I stopped.

I pulled my A Drink with a Stranger business card out – that’s right, I have cards – and handed it to the hostess.

Her name was Willow. I asked her if she knew any strangers I should have a drink with, and if so, if she could pass the card along to them.

She did me one better. She gave me the name and website of one.

His name is Bren. You’ll read about him tomorrow.

Once you do, you’ll realize why I’ve started just handing out cards to people willy-nilly.  Because it becomes clear:

Strangers know strangers.

Below are some of the places he has had drinks with strangers. The blue markers are where he has had drinks in person, and the red ones were done via online video chat.

map drink with a stranger

Some random drinks he has had with strangers include:

Know someone Philip should have a drink with? Email him at or tweet it to @ThirstyWanderer.

Count us in for a drink Philip!