If you’re an introvert, you might not be able to picture yourself meeting people from all walks of life while travelling solo. The thought of talking to complete strangers makes you nervous. You enjoy solitude too much and don’t mind spending time alone. But at some point, you will want to connect with other travelers. The whole idea of solo travel is to push your boundaries and get out of your comfort zone in order to experience things you never thought possible. When it comes to making new friends, all you need to do is set the stage for these encounters to take place and contrary to what you may believe, it’s actually not that difficult to master.
Here are 10 ways to make friends as an introverted solo traveller:
You don’t have to walk around with a smile plastered on your face. Just be more aware of your surroundings and smile at the people you see. If you put on a serious face all the time, people may assume you are stuck up or simply not interested in socializing. All it takes is a smile.
2) Make it a habit to greet people
Say ‘hi’ to people in elevators instead of keeping quiet or looking down. You can also say ‘good morning, ‘how are you’ and even ‘thank you’ – not just to be polite, but to push yourself to be more sociable.
3) Imagine you’re a completely different person
You’re in a foreign land where no one knows you. Take this golden opportunity to create the best version of yourself. You can be whoever you want to be. Pretend that you’re not an introvert who likes to keep to yourself. Fake it till you make it.
4) Join classes
From yoga, language, cooking to jewellery making – the choices are endless. Not only will you learn something new, but you will also get the chance to meet new people who share the same interest. Don’t be afraid to start a conversation and ask them about their plans.
5) Sign up for excursions
Try looking for tour operators or asking the hotel staff for recommendations. Whether it’s a daytrip to an island or a walking tour, you are bound to meet other solo travellers or like-minded people. Just remember to be open and have fun!
6) Be interested in getting to know people
Ask questions and show that you’re actually interested in what people have to say. You can ask them where they’re from, how long they’ve been on the road, and where they’re off to next. Just remember to talk about yourself too because it should be a two-way street.
7) Put your book down
You might want to appear content or busy, but you won’t make any new friends by constantly keeping yourself buried in a book. Put it down and just be present. Look around for opportunities. Your book can wait.
8) Say ‘yes’ to things that you don’t normally do
If you’re invited to join a pub crawl, say ‘yes’ even if you’re not a party person. If someone asks if you want to go hiking, say ‘yes’ even if you hate the idea of walking up and down hills. You might be surprised to discover how much you’re capable of doing.
9) Don’t avoid chances to interact
If someone says, ‘hello,’ don’t just reply with the same greeting and look away. Try to prolong the moment. When you see another solo traveller, ask for directions or recommendations. Choose the big table with a group of people at restaurants. Sunbathe next to other people instead of opting for a secluded spot.
10) Talk to locals
It could be the hotel staff, waiter, or even surfing instructor. It’s a good way for you to improve your communication skills and get more information about the place you’re visiting. Once you’re more confident about talking to strangers, you can move on to other travellers.
Danila was a magazine writer focused on lifestyle topics and a communications specialist in the telecommunications industry where her work was published or broadcast via several offline and online media channels before shifting to freelance writing. Besides writing, she enjoys travel, taking photos, and reading.