Advice for where and how to meet people when travelling.
Being a Londoner, I'm not used to having to randomly make new friends everywhere I go. I'm slightly worried that on my travels I'll go to the wrong places to meet new people to hang out with. Apart from staying in Hostels to meet new people, any advice to make sure I'm not wandering around on my own too much?
I found that meeting, chatting with other travellers is extremely easy - sometimes "hey, where are you from?" is enough. But that's really in the hostels and traveller bars, and the occasional tourist place.
If you're travelling in the backpackery (is that a word?) place then you'll never have to worry about being alone.
Meeting other types of people is a little more interesting: it's purely a matter of losing those British inhibitions - and just approaching people, asking questions, being friendly. Don't get offended by the ocassional cold shoulder. Sometimes days can go by where you don't click with anyone, but it puts things into perspective.
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Well, I can't really say much since I'm not that well traveled, but in Tokyo the Hostel was the best thing ever! I came out of my shell, became Mr Social, made tons of friends that I tagged along with if I felt/they felt like it, and had a blast. The guy that ran the place was sad to see me leave, and I heard from more than a few people both before and after I left that I brought a new life to the Hostel, it's residents and the guests(yeah, tooting my own horns here! hehe).
I think the best thing is to be yourself but let go just a bit. Remember, you're in another country, these people you may never see again, or you might see them elsewhere around the globe in your travels, so make the most of it. So if normally you're shy, throw that out the window a bit. You don't have much to lose, but a lot to learn by just speaking up... "Where are you from?" "Been here long?" "Been here before?" "Where you headed next?" and before you know it, you've made a new friend. "Wanna go check out this site?" or "You have anything planned today?"... "Would you and your friend mind if I tagged along with you?"
I was honestly shocked at how well I got along with so many people... the people you meet are half of the great experience of overseas/foreign travel!
So I was thinking about where else I met and meet people while travelling.
Trains, Planes and Buses - and quite often not just other travellers - but real life normal people. You can gain an insight into how people live in different countries. Depending on the culture - and how well you get on - you might even recieve invitations for coffee and lunch in such n such a town. Take them up on the offer - often comunication and relating will be harder than with other travellers - but is really worth the experience - and feels much more like an adventure.
Watch out for the occasional scams though. Gonna have to get a friend to write down one that he told over a beer - get that discussion going.
Get people to talk about themselves and what their interests are, and then offer helpful advice on where they're heading. It's really the "E" word: Empathy.
I used to be a very timid and shy person before I started traveling. Part of it is my culture (we have the "Norwegian Stiffness Syndrome" :-P) and the fact that I've been brought up to not talk to strangers. However, from traveling, I've realized how many people you can meet even when you're waiting for a bus. Small talk will open up the strangest conversations! You end up meeting some really interesting people.
I do believe in trusting your gut feeling though. Like Ali said, there are people who are out to scam you, and even though I'm generally a very trusting person (more than I should be sometimes), there are times where I'll get out of a situation as fast as possible because I don't have a good gut feeling about the person. The idealist in me feels bad for mistrusting people, because I've always met more good people than "bad" people when traveling!
You'll be surprised how a person who looks as though a smile would crack their face may react when you try starting a conversation. Often the other person is just shy too.
I've made friends through starting conversations in check-in queues, on a skifield, all sorts of places.
One of my best friends I met here in Japan through a casual conversation - 10 years ago!
Don't think it's not worth being friendly simply because you probably will never see the person again.
I've met people in many different circumstances--hostel roommates, fellow train travelers, waiting in queues (especially the ungodly long ones), etc. To second Ali, be careful about scams. Again, careful, not necessarily paranoid. You want to have a fun experience which getting pickpocketed can ruin, but you also don't want to be so suspicious of people that you aren't able to take advantage of real opportunity when you encounter it. I think each person has to learn pretty quickly how much risk/reward you are willing to take, and once you figure that out and are really willing to accept what it entails--the good and bad--you should do just fine.
Talking to people anywhere is deffinetly a good idea, i met a cool german lad on the way to Copan and we ended up halfing the cost of a room togther and having a good few days, we swapped t-shirts and email addresses and we will have a beer or two or seven when i finish this trip, ive met a few good people in hostels and on bus's or waiting for them, i use my gut aswell but so far its been good fun meeting new people and hopefully many more to come😊
Must not forget that making friends makes life easier too. In China, Craig and I love practising our limited Mandarin...the offshoot benefit that then we kind of get adopted by our new chinese friends, like their cute foreigners and they feel a strong desire to look out for us. Bus and airplane transfers are so much easier as they sometimes literally drag you along, speak for you, and make sure you get the Chinese prices and not foreigner prices. In fact, making friends with locals is often your best way to avoid scams, they want to make sure you don't get caught in one. Don't forget in China to carry a stack of business cards with your email address, offer it to your new friends with both hands, and receive them back likewise.
Something as easy as asking for directions is a conversation started....then you can lead on wit "where are you from" that one always works too...Also I find just being generally nice and open minded helps...people can sence that...