One of the best things that I like about traveling is the chance you get to meet some new people. You go to a new place, travel on new roads, taste food that you knew nothing about, learn a different culture, wear vibrant clothes, see those wonderful destinations; and best of all, make some new friends. And I am not really talking about traveling alone here. No, even if you were in a group; went out with your existing friends or your family; traveling will always give you a chance to interact with some really interesting people. All that you got to do is to keep an open mind, stay positive, explore but at the same time, keep yourself safe. In this article, I will share a few tips on how you can go about making new friends while traveling; and come back home with some amazing tales to tell.
I am not really much of a solo traveler myself but traveling alone does have a few benefits of its own. You can travel anyway you want, stay anywhere you like, and discover new things without worrying about your co-travelers.
Problem however is that it may get a little boring after a while; or at times. You may hesitate going to a certain place because it did not feel safe to head in that direction alone. Or you may feel weird eating alone in a family restaurant; or not order a dish because it was too much for one person to eat alone. One of the biggest hitch in traveling alone is that you have to incur the entire cost yourself. If you get a hotel room then you need to pay the complete rent. There is no one that you can share the room with and split the cost. Same logic applies if you were thinking of hiring a taxi.
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Making New Friends While Traveling
A quick fix around this can be to put yourself in situations that would let you meet people while traveling. Making new friends while traveling will mean that you will have company and can also at time share the cost. And to be honest it is not even that tough to make a travel buddy. Here is how.
This will definitely be the first step. We all were told to never talk to strangers when were kids; but if you want to make some friends while out on a trip; then you will definitely have to give this theory up. I am not saying that you drop guard completely and start trusting just about everyone. No, you must always remain cautious, especially if you are traveling solo; but do not be shy to talk to that complete stranger sitting next to you in the bus; or someone staying at the same hotel that you are. Start a conversation, share a few laughs and see if you are able to strike up a chord with the other person. If not, then you always have the option to end the conversation but in a pleasant manner and go your own way.
Don’t Alarm the Other Person
You need to remember that the other person will also be careful in terms of who they talk to. If you all of a sudden start a conversation with “Are you traveling alone?”, or “So which are you staying at? Which room?”, it may give the person an idea to steer clear of you. Do not portray yourself as someone who could be a possible robber or serial killer. Don’t start asking personal questions straight away and at the same time, don’t also overshare.
In short, don’t be a creep. Talking about weather is always a good way to start a conversation. Or just ask the person if they know of anything unique to see at that place; or if there was a good restaurant nearby that the other person was aware of. The idea is that you should appear non-threatening. If you start a conversation and the other person seems to be trying to cut it short then best end it and not chase them around.
Pictures, Pictures and Pictures
This is one of the easiest ways of making new friends while traveling. If you were a solo traveler, then reach a popular tourist spot and spend some time there. You will definitely not be the only tourist there. Ask someone to take a picture of you and when they do, thank them; followed by a light compliment about how good they are at taking pictures (even if it wasn’t a good one). Likewise, if you see another solo traveler trying to click a selfie, offer clicking the picture for them and that will be a good way to start talking.
If you are a bit into photography and have a huge camera hanging around your neck, then you can start talking about photography with another person with the same hobby. Or if you notice someone trying hard to click a good picture of something, then share a quick tips on how the picture can turn out to be better.
Eat at a Local Dhaba
Local small dhabas and tea shops are really a great place to mingle around with locals or other tourists. I could be wrong here but from all my trips, what I have learnt is that people eating at these small dhabas are more likely to be friends with rather than the ones eating at a fancy restaurant. Have a few of your meals at a certain dhaba, see who else is a regular there and get talking.
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Stay as a Paying Guest
This may not be an option available at all places but is a great choice nonetheless. There is no better way to make some local friends than to stay with one as a paying guest. You get to spend some time in their homes, eat at their tables and listen to some local stories. Not only they will be their host, but will also play the role of your local guide and direct you to places that other tourists may not even be aware of.
Try Public Transport
I know, this is not everyone’s cup of team but if you are traveling alone, then choosing public transport as your preferred mode of travel could be better. Not only it will reduce the total cost of the travel saving you the gas money, it will actually be easier to make friends with someone sitting in a bus than going by your own car.
Eat in the Dining Room
A lot of hotels have a common dining room. I am not saying that you go looking for such a hotel because that may be a bit tiring and will limit your option drastically. But in case you were staying at a hotel that has a common dining room, then try eating there rather than your own room. You can sit there for a while, switch on the some sports channel and that will produce ample chances for you to make some friends.
And by this, don’t really become a burden or liability for someone. Traveling together sounds fun but only if the other person agrees to it to. If you do end up making some friends and then start trying to enforce your own plans on them; the next thing they would do is to excuse themselves for a bathroom break and never return.
Online Travel Partners
If you simply cannot travel alone, must go out on the trip but also cannot get anyone to join you then looking for an travel partner online is a great choice. There are several online communities where you can look for people traveling in the same direction that you are and maybe buddy up with them. Even at my forum, I have a separate section dedicated to this purpose. Click at Travel Partners link in the menu above and create a new post in the section. You can leave your travel details there and anyone who has the same plans as yours can reply back.
Don’t worry so much
Last but not the least, don’t sweat it too much. Just relax, take it easy, be fun to hang out with and enjoy your trip. Remember, you are traveling because you want to travel and not because you want to make friends. Stick to your original agenda. Explore as much as you can and enjoy your trip; irrespective of whether or not you made friends with anyone. If you did, great; If not then travel solo and have fun your way.
I hope the tips above on making friends while traveling were of help. If you have any other tips that can be of help to other, please do leave a comment and mention. For any other questions, please feel free to comment and ask; or leave a query at our Community Forum; and I will be glad to answer.