Getting into the social spirit is somewhat inevitable when you travel. However, it’s possible to feel isolated depending on how you travel and what your priorities. I’m naturally a social person. I’ve started meetups on MeetUp.com, have always put myself in social environments and been fortunate to have great friends that always love to hang out. I realize though, that it doesn’t come easy. When traveling recently, I’ve noticed that in some situations I’ve had to put forth more effort to socialize.
To help others, I’ve put together a list of things that generally work for me.
1. Go To Places Where Other People Are
This one’s easy. It’s no secret that you’re not going to meet people where there aren’t other people. But sometimes we get in our head and need social interaction without realizing that a key ingredient is missing. People. You need people around to find opportunities to talk to people.
Ask yourself – have I been in a place where other people are interacting. Scratch the coffee shop if people are on their laptops. Having a conversation with people wearing headphones won’t be very reassuring. Put yourself in a place where people are talking, laughing and having fun. Try a bar, a popular market area, a hostel, a city square, where there’s live music or even a university. These people want to talk just like you do.
2. Step Outside Of Your Comfort Zone
Being shy won’t help you. Sometimes you need to put yourself out there. However, the rule is this…try 3 times and one of those will succeed for you. But put in effort. A smile toward a potentially friendly stranger can say a lot, but asking them how their day is going or if they know of anything fun to do in the area will work magically.
3. Stay In Hostels.
Hostels are generally social environments. Travelers from around the world are traveling to see new things, meet new people have good experiences. If you can talk about your experiences somewhere, you’re in. If you can bring character to the conversation you’re in. It’s as simple as asking “where are you from?”.
If you’re the type that prefers hotels, then you’re limiting yourself. However, you can still try the hotel bar or other bars and restaurants nearby. People that are out in town like being in town for a reason…other people are there! So talk to them!
4. Keep It Simple – You’re Probably Over Thinking Things.
If you’re concerned that you’re an introvert, don’t know what to say, or just generally shy – seriously, relax. Before anything, relax. This isn’t a test, nobody cares about anything and if you say something wrong you are allowed to correct yourself.
Number one, think of something to say. Number two, express interest and ask questions. Number three, be open and laugh occasionally. Repeat.
5. Be Open To New Experiences
If you met someone at a bar and people are dancing, try dancing. If you like a song that’s being played, ask the DJ the name of the song. If someone asks you to coffee, drink a coffee with them. Being concerned all the time will mess with you. Stop it. Be ok with an experience. If you’re bad at something, be ok with laughing at yourself.
There’s really no formula. We’re all humans. We all want to meet interesting people, have a great conversation and have worthy memories. Nobody is flawless during conversation. The more you put yourself out there the more comfortable you will be. So go get started.