You would love to go on a solo trip but are frightened of the loneliness? Making new friends while travelling doesn’t just naturally happen to you? I often get those questions about how to get in touch with strangers (or also with kangaroos ^^) on the road. So here we go, check out those quick tips on starting a conversation and keeping it alive.
#1: Start With Simple Small-Talk
Why is the weather such a popular topic to start conversations with? It is not political, it changes often enough to still talk about it and it doesn’t hurt anyone’s feeling. I am not necessarily suggesting to keep your small talk skills limited to the weather, but rather find topics that have the same attributes. Some examples might be: An upcoming trip, how your travel has been so far, asking questions about the other person’s travel, how he likes the trip, has he ever done a hike like this before… If you think what you have to say might not be that interesting, you are afraid that the conversation will be boring or get stuck pretty early, then why not train it in daily life? With random people on the street that you will never see again. It does not have to be a long “small talk”, maybe it starts with asking for the time or a direction. Focus on a clear voice that is loud enough to be heard. You can train in front of a mirror to communicate in short sentences. Take your time and try not to rush your sentence as if you wished it was over soon.
#2: Positivity Is Key
People get attracted by positivity. For example, if you choose the weather as your topic to go, I would rather respond to someone saying “The weather is so nice today it really gets me into a good mood” than somebody saying “I hate this weather, it is raining always and forever”. This actually does not only apply to travelling but can also be trained in daily life. In some situations, it is easy to be negative but harder to be positive. That’s why people will tell you they admire your positivity as they have not figured out how to keep it up themselves. I always call that the “mental fitness studio” where your fullest load of weights would represent the toughest time of keeping a positive mindset. Back to travelling, this could be a situation where you have to keep on walking although you are way too tired and have walked the whole day. It could be a very hot day messing with your brain, having flies around your face and feeling like taking a shower. It could be cooking camp food when all you need is to chill out and relax. It could be that annoying group member that ruins the atmosphere. Be positive, stay positive, speak positively.
#3: The Principle Of Similarity
Let’s say you joined in for a day tour and meet new people there. What do you have in common with them? They also travel, where have they been? Are they from the same country as you? Have you been there, too, or do you want to go there still? Are they the same age as you, the same gender? Do they appear very out-going or would they rather prefer a private chat outside of the whole group? Are they funny or rather serious? Try to figure out who has a similar mindset as you and start talking with them. Similarity builds up a common base of understanding, of something we already know, appreciate and trust. Parents at a playground can easily talk about kids, dog owners have an easy time socializing with other dog owners because they obviously have something in common. In persuasive psychology, e.g. professional sellers are trained to identify similarities in order to create a bond between them and the potential buyers. This might be a passion for the same football club, a membership in the same fitness studio or even dressing up like one’s client target group! As you kind of want to sell yourself right now, I am not suggesting to adapt to someone else’s attitude and persuade them into liking you. I would rather suggest to find your own uniqueness and set of attitudes that you value to bond with people alike. This does not mean that you cannot be open-minded to new attitudes, though.
#4: If You See Beautiful, Speak It
How often do we think: Wow, this girl/guy is amazing! I wish I could talk to them. And how often do we actually tell them what we find interesting about them? When you see something beautiful in someone, speak it! There might be a very talented tour guide telling interesting stories that you can refer to. There might be a girl taking amazing shots of that mountain you have been climbing up. There might be those two guys making hilarious jokes, a couple still travelling although they are really old, a woman looking awesome in those jeans, a grandpa with great eyes… Go ahead and find that thing that might have caught your interest in the first place. This is also a good way to see if another person is open for a conversation right now or not, taking hints from his/her reaction.
#5: Pay Attention To Your Counterpart
What appears to be normal when having a conversation, it sometimes isn’t. The most common situation I know: “Hey, what’s your name?” – “~~~~~~. What’s your name?” – “My name is Vanessa.” Classic. Those are the situations where we are too busy ourselves in preparing our next dialog step and forget to pay attention to our counterpart. What a shame, when all we want is a nice chat and getting to know the other person! My personal solution for this scenario: Try and repeat the name you have just heard in your head or even aloud to stay focused on the other person. When travelling, don’t just prepare your own story of how you did the scuba diving but stay focused on the new information you get from your counterpart’s experiences about it! If you are the only one talking, you won’t be any richer in experience in the end, right? Also, one leads to the other. A person telling you that the nicest dive he has ever done was when there was one of those big turtles right in front of him might provide content you are curious about and keeps the conversation going.
Do you have any recommendations or thoughts that you would like to share with me? Then please leave a comment below! I hope you have fun trying out my tips. Note: If you want to meet wild kangaroos instead, go into an Australian forest and have a carrot with you! Good luck with getting to know people on your trip! Ceck out other similar posts here: Travelling Alone – The Good And The Bad.