Published on December 19th, 2019
I don’t know about you guys but the older I get, the harder I find it to make new friends. Maybe I’m too shy or my anxiety kicks in too soon, but the minute I find myself in a situation where I’m alone and have to connect with my peers, I start to panic.
Funnily enough, it’s the complete opposite when I’m traveling to an unknown land with the help of TravelSites.
In fact, meeting new, interesting people is one of my favorite aspects of travel. Something about meeting fellow travelers who are on a journey similar to mine, or inquisitive locals who show interest in actually getting to know me makes it super easy to make friends while traveling.
Traveling alone gave me the freedom to do what I want when I want, and that newfound freedom brought me out of my shell and allowed me to completely immerse myself in my surroundings.
This way, I get into conversations with people I’ve just met; some of them have shared a meal with me or joined me on an excursion, and together we’ve made unforgettable memories even if only for a moment in time.
If you find it difficult to make friends when you’re traveling in another country, check out the following tips and tricks that helped me gain some temporary travel buddies along with a few lifelong friends.
1. Stay In Hostel Dorms
Being in a shared living space force you to interact with others – it would be weird to not say hi to your roommates. Eventually, you’ll get pulled into a conversation you’ll become all too familiar with: “Where are you from?
How long are you traveling? What are your plans here?” These inquisitive questions will be the base of getting to know new people and eventually becoming temporary travel companions or friends.
Don’t limit yourself to just your roommates; instead, spend time in the common areas and meet people from all over the world.
Many hostels have lounges/ bars and host parties and other activities for travelers to relax, have a drink and play some games.
These settings are perfect to get to know other people. Find hostels all over the world using the list of resources under Hostel Booking Sites on TravelSites.
2. Strike A Conversation During Transit
Whether it’s a plane, bus, or train ride, you’re leaving from the same location and heading towards the same location, so you already have two things in common with the people you’re traveling with.
Plus, you guys are stuck sitting next to each other for hours so start up a friendly conversation and see where it goes.
Something as simple as “business or pleasure?” may sound cliche but it could lead to some great conversations. One of my most cherished travel memories is of three people I met on a 24+ hour flight from Washington, DC to Bangladesh.
We spent that time sharing travel stories, laughing till we cried, and trying not to disturb the people around us with our loud banter.
We never even exchanged contact information to stay in touch after, but that flight is something I think of fondly even after fifteen years.
3. Mingle With Locals
This is much easier than it sounds, to be honest. You can start by visiting popular local hangouts; the vibe from the bar and live music will give you the courage you need to start up a conversation with the people around you, share a few drinks, and maybe even a dance or two.
If you’re not into the bar scene, use apps like Couchsurfing or Airbnb to find a room to rent with a local family. I’ve found that after a bit of friendly conversation, people like to invite you to have meals with them and will give you the opportunity to get to know them and their family or friends. I even have a friend who is now happily married to a guy who was her Airbnb host a couple of years ago in Thailand!
If you’re not a fan of bars or staying in accommodation with shared spaces, you can still mingle with locals. Find activities and excursions you’re interested in such as walking tours, cooking classes, group tours, or other similar activities which are often led by locals and will keep you busy while still allowing you to talk.
Volunteering in local organizations is one of my favorite things to do. Not only have I made numerous lifelong friends, but I was also able to make whatever little impact I could in the places I was visiting.
With a quick online search, you can find several organizations in the places you’re visiting which focus on issues close to your heart. For example, I wanted to spend some of my time in Sri Lanka with orphaned children. I found a wonderful non-profit which would visit shelters housing kids who were orphaned by the devastating tsunami that hit Sri Lanka in 2004.
Alongside them, I was able to distribute clothes, toys, and medical supplies, while spending days there playing sports and other fun activities the children enjoyed. It was a life-changing experience and I still keep in touch with so many of the other volunteers and organizers that I met there.
5. Be Approachable
To do any of the things we’ve mentioned above and make new friends while traveling, you need to be approachable.
Your demeanor and body language play a big role in whether or not people will want to talk to you and continue to get to know you.
There are some simple things you can do so that both you and the people you’re meeting will feel comfortable.
The first thing would be to avoid closed body language. Research proves that little things such as crossing your arms in front of you or angling away from a person sitting next to you gives the impression that you want to be left alone.
It may not be something you’re doing purposefully and just being aware of how your body is presenting you can start up some great friendships.
Second, try to minimize using electronics. You wouldn’t say hi to a person who has earphones in or if they seem enthralled by something on their phone, so why would they say hi to you? And lastly, just be yourself.
Be comfortable in the skin you’re in. Embrace all of the things you love and you’ll attract people who have similar interests as you.
Making friends while traveling is one of the best experiences you can have, and we hope this article helps you make a friend no matter where you are in the world.