Do you have trouble starting conversations with strangers while on your travels, and more importantly, why should you?
I have found there are many people who are afraid to start conversations with strangers but I can assure you this is one of the most incredible aspects of travelling and it’s also led to some of my most memorable travel experiences. It truly does make traveling so much more fulfilling!
Today’s aLarkin Abroad article shares the awesome-ness of meeting people along your travels and provides you with advice for starting a conversation with a someone you don’t know.
The Benefits of Meeting New People
First off I better state the obvious. We often grow up being taught “stranger danger” and told not to talk to people we don’t know. In saying this, I think we get to a point in our lives where we are mature and wise enough to discern who we should and shouldn’t engage with, and when to disengage.
Now I can tell you from first hand experience that meeting and connecting with new people from all over the world can link you up with some seriously interesting and inspiring people that can make you look at life differently, learn something new or even change your perspective on things.
It’s amazing how you can instantly build a bond with other travelers as you share where you’ve been and where you’re going. You’ll often start giving each other hints and tips for your upcoming adventures and inspiring to visit places you never even knew existed. Don’t forget, for the most part fellow travelers are exactly the same as you, they want to enjoy themselves, find good company and do it safely.
One of my favourite benefits to making friends on the road is when I cook dinner, share it with someone and then they pay me back in beer or they cook for me the next night – win win!!
There are so many instances where I’ve started chatting to someone in a hostel and it’s led to an ongoing friendship. Last year I met Alex, an Australian guy and his Irish friend in Ballycastle, Northern Ireland who ended up letting me tag along with them for a couple of days. They gave me a ride to Belfast via Ballintoy and the Dark Hedges from Game of Thrones, places I would never have visited if it wasn’t for them.
The even better part was that I ended up having Alex and another two Australians over for Christmas lunch because we were all in London at the time and we didn’t want to spend christmas alone. This all started from simply engaging with a fellow traveler a few weeks before.
Tips for Meeting and Engaging with People
Step 1 – Put yourself in places where you are around people – There are plenty of opportunities to interact with people. Here are some idea locations:
- Hostels – in dorm rooms, in common areas and in the kitchen
- Buses, planes and trains (or even Uber lift)
- Bars and restaurants (tip – sit up at the bar to eat/drink)
- Waiting in line for tourists attractions… or whatever really!
Step 2 – Identify a conversation starter – There are a ton of ways you can start a conversation with someone. Here are a few of the most common one’s I use:
- Hey, where are you from?
- Hey, what are your plans for today?
- Hey, when did you arrive here?
- That food smells amazing – what are you cooking?
- Hey, I love your shoes… where did you get them from?
- Hey, can I sit here? (*pointing to a spare space next to someone*)
- Hey, have you been to the *tourist location* yet?
Step 3 – Make eye contact and start the conversation – I suggest starting by making eye contact with someone so they know you are interested in talking to them. Then use a ‘conversation starter’ to get chatting.
Step 4 – Continue the conversation – I’ve found that the best way to keep a conversation going is to find a connection (i.e. something you have in common). This could be a place you’ve both been, something you both like to do or a hobby you’re interested in.
It’s helpful to watch non-verbal cues to see if they want to continue to interact with you. If they’re not giving you eye contact, if they’re turning away or giving you very brief responses, it’s likely that they’re not up for a chat for some reason. Remember that some people are incredibly hard to connect with… don’t take it personally, chatting is may not be their thing or maybe they’re just not in the mood! Either way you have broken the ice and they may be up for more engagement tomorrow (that’s if you see them again!
Step 5 – Get connected – Get each other’s details so you can keep in contact down the track. I prefer Facebook or Instagram but WhatsApp may be good if you want to be cautious and not share your facebook profile. Obviously this won’t happen with every person you engage, just the people you really connect with and would like to stay in touch with.
I’ve honestly lost track of the number of times I’ve reconnected with someone along my travels… sometimes I even manage to get a place to stay if it lines up 🙂 Of course, return the universe a favor and help your new friends if they are ever in your part of the world!
My Final Thoughts…
So to finish up, I’d like to say there are endless opportunities to interact with people if that’s what you want to do. Befriending people can lead to many win-win situations in the long run and often you can gain a valuable friend out of it… or you may just learn something interesting.
I encourage you to get out there and talk to a stranger, whether you’re at home or on the road.
Thank you for reading, feel free to check out my other blog posts while you’re visiting!