Avoiding conversation and eye contact are two of life’s unwritten social rules. Thankfully, these rules go out of the window when backpacking. For travelers, face-to-face conversation makes the world go around.
That’s good news for social butterflies but bad news for introverts. Adapting to life on the road usually takes a little more time for the latter, which is why traveling with a companion or in a group is a logical step.
What do you do if no one in your friendship circle or family fancy joining you on a great adventure? You do it anyway. And by following these five steps, you’ll have someone with you every step of the way.
#1 Stay in a Small Hostel
The best way to meet fellow like-minded travelers is by staying in a hostel. Sure, the squeaky bunk beds may drive you insane, but they’re worth putting up with for the chance to make life-long friends.
Unlike other types of accommodation, hostels have a sense of community. Smaller hostels, where you get to know everyone, from the receptionists to your neighbors across the hall, best illustrate this.
That sense of community stems from everyone being in the same boat. You become a close-knit family in a smaller hostel because you bump into the same people over and over again.
#2 Learn Another Language Besides English
When you’re abroad, it’s natural to gravitate towards English-speaking backpackers. If you really want to broaden your horizons, however, you should learn the basics of another language.
Sure, this might not result in you being able to have a fluent conversation, but it’s a great way to break the ice with people you may not get the chance to speak to in normal everyday life. Even better, your grasp of the language is likely to improve with the help of a native speaker.
#3 Use Apps to Help You Meet Other Travelers
Whether you’re looking for someone to join you on a two-day trek up a mountain or for a companion on a long train journey, apps are an easy way to connect with other travelers.
Such apps will not only help you to cut down on costs but also keep you safe. There are female travel community apps, for example, that are designed to make it easier for women traveling solo to find a female travel companion.
Other apps on the market allow you to input your own itinerary so that other travelers can get in contact if it matches up to their own.
These apps are ideal if you don’t have the confidence to strike up a verbal conversation with a stranger but are happy to do so via the written word.
#4 Be Flexible with Your Travel Arrangements
When traveling solo, you meet new people on a daily basis. There’s nothing worse than striking up an instant bond with someone only to find out they’re leaving in a few days’ time. It’s situations like this where you have to ask yourself the question: should I change my travel plans and go with the flow? The answer in most cases should always be YES.
Even when the answer is no, always keep in touch. Your paths might cross again in the future.
#5 Do a Group Tour
Traveling on your own is liberating, but every now and then it’s nice to relax in the knowledge that everything is being taken care of for you. This is where group tours come into play. You can take a simple day trip or join a longer tour – whatever floats your boat.
There’s likely to be several conversation pieces that crop up during a tour, which makes striking up a conversation with a total stranger all the easier.