Travelling alone can be fun however it is much better when you have a companion or companions along the way. Lifelong friendships can be found when travelling and finding that soul mate, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be your future husband/wife it can be a platonic friend, is something so very special. Even if you don’t find a lifelong friend travelling shared travelling experiences are often so much more enjoyable. So, how do we go about meeting people and striking up friendships when we are travelling alone?
One of the hardest parts of meeting people is the introduction or “breaking the ice”, and some people find this much harder than others. There are some people out there, the lucky ones many would say, who are real extroverts and will take the initiative in all situations and put themselves out there. These people will attempt to strike up a conversation with almost anyone and they have no worries in doing this. At the other extreme are introverted people who simply cannot do this and, for whatever reason, will not be the first one to strike up a conversation. The reasons for introverts’ barriers are varied and often include things like a lack of self confidence, the fear of rejection, the fear of looking stupid and fear of the unknown amongst many other things.
When travelling alone it is important to drop the barriers otherwise you are likely to find it an isolated and lonely experience. Some people argue this suits them perfectly, however I do question this. The need for companionship and belonging is part of our makeup and DNA and, deep down, it is something that everyone wants to some extent. Besides, it is often much more satisfying and rewarding to share an experience than have it on your own.
So, when travelling alone whatever the reason for your barriers you need to get over it. You need to bite the bullet, become an extrovert and take the initiative. Put yourself out there and strike up the conversations. If you make yourself look silly or get rejected so what? You don’t know the people you are approaching and it is unlikely you will ever see them again so it doesn’t really matter. In reality, this is easier said than done but it is something that gets easier with practice. Believe me.
Another thing to bear in mind is you need to give off the right aurora. If you look defensive, cold and unapproachable then other travellers are not going to try and strike up a conversation with you. You need to try and look warm and friendly and someone worth talking to. This may mean you need to change your persona or the way you usually act, but this may actually be for the better. For example, if you are usually a bit of a stress head who is argumentative and ready to challenge anyone who dares disagree with you or get in your way then becoming the opposite of this can only be a good thing right? I appreciate this is an extreme example, but it does make the point there is something that all of us can change to make ourselves better and a little more approachable.
Meeting people is far easier if there is a common theme or a shared interest as this not only serves as an ice breaker but will also keep the conversation flowing. So, bearing this in mind it is easier to attempt to strike up conversations during those times when you are doing something that genuinely interests you. If you are doing an activity purely in the hope of meeting someone, and your heart isn’t in the activity itself, it soon becomes apparent and you run the risk of looking fake and a bit of a fraud, which is likely to reduce the likelihood of you making friends.
When travelling it is important not to pigeon hole people and stereo type them before you get the opportunity to speak to them. Just because someone is wearing something that you don’t find appealing or they look slightly different to the type of people you usually interact with never write them off without a chance. At first it is important to treat everyone with the same courtesy and respect they deserve. Not talking to people or fobbing them off because they are different, i.e. discriminating against them, will do you no favours whatsoever. Okay, these people may not be your cup of tea but there is a chance you could find someone who you really click with and develop a lifelong friendship with. You should give everyone the chance as you never know what could happen.
Staying in the right type of accommodation is a great way of meeting people. Like minded people who share the same kind of interests will congregate in the same spot. This is human nature. For example, people who like to laze around by the beach are likely to stay in a beachside hotel, people who like a more rough and ready vacation are likely to stay on a campsite or in a caravan park, backpackers are likely to stay in a hostel, and so on. Therefore, pick the accommodation that best suits your personality type. So, you are a backpacking sort of person never stay in a hotel because there isn’t a hostel in the location you want to explore. It is unlikely you will have much in common with other travellers staying in the hotel therefore the chances of meeting friends is greatly reduced.
Activities and excursions also offer the perfect opportunities to meet likeminded people. You are all the for the same thing right? Therefore, you already have an interest that can be capitalised on in striking up a conversation and getting yourself out there. However, there are many times on these activities and excursions when you meet some new people, say goodbye at the end of the activity or excursion and never see them again. There are no opportunities to progress the situation and develop a friendship, which is often a shame. A good way around this is to participate in your accommodation organised activity or excursion since there is the opportunity to meet up in the hotel bar or restaurant afterwards. There are no guarantees you will make friendships on the accommodation organised excursions but it is definitely worth a try so never write them off.
So, if you want to have the best possible travelling experience and meet some great people along the way;
- Drop the barriers and become an extrovert .
- Become more open, warm and friendly. Don’t take everyone at face value and be prepared to get to know someone.
- Stay in the type of accommodation that suits your personality type. You will find that like minded individuals congregate in the same place.
- Participate in your accommodation run activities and excursions.
- Most importantly, have fun.