An Introverts Guide to Making Friends While Travelling Solo
I'm without a doubt an introvert. I'd rather stay home on a Friday night alone, with a glass of wine and cat, watching a movie than go out and socialise – thrilling Friday night, I know. Stepping out of my comfort zone doesn't come naturally to me, evidently, either is stepping foot outside of my house.
But, like any kind of skill, practice makes perfect. So over the years I've made a conscious effort to practice the art of faking extrovert-ism. Even when inside I was anxious and f**k.
If you're anything like me, and the thought of meeting new people, getting to an event early or starting something new makes you sick to your stomach, then solo travel is understandably the last thing you'd want to make yourself do. But I'm a firm believer in not letting your fears hold you back!
Most people don't travel alone because they're scared to rely solely on themselves – for getting around, for the experiences, for companionship. But when you've got no travel buddies at home, what do you do?
Book of course! And let 'future you' deal with the fear.
You'll be surprised how easy making friends abroad is. And don't worry, I've got your back. Here's a introverts guide to making friends while travelling solo.
Where to meet people abroad
+ Stay in a hostel: this would have to be the best way to meet new people while travelling solo. The moment you enter your dorm room you'll be greeted by friendly faces and solo travellers looking for friends like yourself. If you're not comfortable with staying in a dorm room, that's fine. Grab yourself a private room, and hang out int he communal area where you can easily meet people.
+ Sign up for a walking tour: city walking tours are often free, but you tip the guide at the end. The only problem with walking tours is you never know what kind of crowd you'll get. Make sure you talk to your hostel or hotel staff about what it – they'll know what to book for you.
+ Sit at the communal table: I've actually made (local) friends by sitting at a communal table at a quick service restaurant. You just need to make sure you don't hid away in the corner – look approachable and see what happens.
These three options give you the opportunity to make the first move or wait for someone to approach you. It's up to you how far out of your comfort zone you're willing to step. Sometimes, taking a leap is the best thing – like a Bandaid, it's kind of less painful when you just rip it all off at once.
How to make friends
So now that you've met someone, how do you actually break through the awkward stage of strangers and become besties?
+ Ask questions: people can easily talk about themselves. So whenever you're not sure what to ask, just ask them about their lives at home – where did you grow up? what's it like growing up there? what do you do for work? did you go to university? why are you travelling?
+ Talk travel: you're travelling, and often the people you meet are travelling too, so the simplest thing to talk about it travel! Ask them where they've been, what they've done, where they'd love to go, what they recommend. Trust me, you'll be BFFs in no time!
+ Be genuinely interested in their life and what they're talking about: it's simple, stop thinking, stop your inner dialogue and listen. It's one thing to have a conversation with a stranger, it's another when you actually show some interest. When you actually listen you'll find the conversation just flows naturally.
+ Have some go-to questions and stories for the gaps in conversation: if you come prepared, you'll be less nervous about the awkward silences.
+ Take the edge off and go for a drink: now I'm not suggesting that you need to drink to make friends... But drinking is an easy social situation that can help seal the friendship deal. Or is that just the Australian in me?
+ Say yes: if you're asked along to do something the next day, do it! Even if you had planned to go to that awesome museum you've been dreaming about for the past two weeks. Plans can be changed – that is, unless you've booked something. It's a lot of fun learning about a new city with new people. If there's nothing to lose, just go for it.
Do you have any tips for making friends while travelling solo?