Solo travel is a great opportunity to get to know yourself and do what you want, as and when you like. It can be liberating and exciting to only have yourself to answer to.
But, however much you enjoy your own company, you may decide at some point that you’d like to chat with someone about your adventures that day or even just get to know someone interesting in your hostel.
Before I went travelling, my brother told me that “it’s the people who make the travelling special”.
Although I relish the time spent alone wandering around a new city, one of the key parts of every trip has been the people I’ve met and the stories I’ve heard. It turns out my brother was right!
It all sounds very exciting – exploring a new country, meeting new people, sharing new adventures – but the reality of making that happen can be quite daunting. I used to be incredibly nervous about talking to new people, let alone spending any extended amount of time with them!
However, I’ve actually found that putting myself out there and making those initial steps to strike up a conversation with someone whilst travelling has helped to make meeting new people a much less intimidating task – in fact, I actively try to arrange, and enjoy, hanging out with new people now. I never thought that would be the case.
If you’re thinking about travelling solo or still haven’t quite worked up the courage to talk to strangers whilst travelling, here’s some of my top tips and things that have helped me.
I hope they help you too!
Get comfortable saying hello
If you’re particularly nervous, first get used to just saying hello and introducing yourself to the people you meet. It may take a bit of time before you feel able to really talk to someone or start hanging out with them but baby steps will get you there!
Have go-to questions to ask
As you get more comfortable starting up conversations, it can be really helpful to have a few reliable questions you can fall back on to keep the chat going.
For example, this could be as simple as ‘where are you from?’, ‘how long are you staying here?’ And ‘what are you planning to see when you’re here?’.
Having a few back-up ideas of what to say can help you to feel more relaxed and less worried about awkward silences!
Don’t take it personally
Some people prefer spending time on their own, some are a bit too nervous to chat and others might already have different plans.
Don’t take it to heart if someone isn’t interested in having a conversation or spending time with you – there’s plenty more opportunities to meet people who will want to hang out.
Suggest doing something
Once the conversation starts flowing and you get a good feeling for this new pal, why not suggest doing something?
I would usually suggest grabing a coffee, heading out for dinner or going for a wander somewhere.
Even if someone does want to spend time with you, it’s important to respect that you’re both still on individual adventures too. Be open-minded and flexible about how often you hang out together.
Make sure you still do all the things you want to do and let them have space to go out alone – you can always meet up again later for dinner or whenever suits you both.
Don’t be afraid to ask
It can be nerve-wracking at first to ask a relative stranger to do something with you but remember, the worst they can say is no!
Accept friendships for what they are
If you’re lucky you might just find a lifelong travel buddy, but a whole lot of these friendships will just be great memories of the time you spent away.
Don’t try to force or invest too much into the relationship. But, if you really do hit it off, don’t be afraid to suggest swapping details or socials.
Just start talking
Whenever I get nervous about starting a conversation, I just remind myself that the hardest part is just getting started.
So, I tell myself to open my mouth and start speaking. Sometimes you just have to give yourself that nudge to get something done!
Do you have any advice for meeting people whilst travelling?
Share your tips in the comments!