When we’re talking about being social, we’re not talking about Instagram. Social media is important to stay connected with those at home [or give them FOMO], but don’t forget how important it is to be in the moment and truly experience the present. A lot of us need to learn to put down our phones, and say what up to the awesome person next to us instead. Wandering the world brings the most amazing friendships, but it can also be extremely intimidating getting there whether you’re traveling with your best fraand, lover or completely solo.
So let’s throw the old “don’t talk to strangers” out the proverbial window and start making some friends. Here’s how:
Let’s face it, we’re young and dranks help kill the nerves. You are traveling in a foreign land so keep it cool and under control, but joining group activities like beer pong at a hostel bar or beach party can form some serious bonds. You and your teammate, or your game nemesis, will enjoy a friendly competition and perhaps a dance-off later in the night. Hey, it can also lead to romances (you might even meet your future hubby…or maybe just Mr. Right Now, we’re not judging!)
Misery loves company. Making jokes to the person you’re sweating all over in a crowded tuk-tuk or hiding out from a crazy storm with, could possibly lead to an amazing friendship, or maybe a fun adventure buddy for wherever you’re headed. Make light of any situation unless it’s legit creepy, in which case, get the hell out of there! Just make sure not to sound whiney or negative, no one has time for that. Keep your jokes light-hearted, playful and fun.
Traveling with a friend is sweeeet! But, don’t let it hold you back from doing anything you want to do and from speaking to others in general. It’s so easy to just resort back to your friend when you’re feeling worn down or just craving comfortability. You can chat with your adventure companion in advance to make sure you’re on the same page and that you are both looking to hang together but also meet and mingle with others. This will ultimately shape both of your experiences. If your adventure buddy is too tired [or hungover] to do whatever plans you had, make sure to keep trucking along. There’s nothing wrong with laying on the beach sans the sidekick. Just let them regroup in the room while you kick it. Chances are you’ll run into some of those new people you met while snorkeling the day before and they will welcome you with open arms to hang with their gang for the day.
Besides our beloved booze, everyone loves to enjoy a good snack! A great way to make friends while traveling is to share your food, because we all know the way to someone’s heart is through their belly! Offering some trail mix, a bite of your street food or some cookies you purchased at the market is a fantastic way to start talking to others. It’s an easy opener, a way to share the local grub and just an overall a nice gesture.
Opting for the dorm room is another way to meet and mingle with fellow wanderlovers. This is particularly a good route to take if you’re traveling by yourself. Don’t be afraid to say hi to your roomies; introducing yourself will lead to other conversations and you could even gain a whole new crew to travel with. Staying in a hostel in general is also a great way to meet people. There’s often a bar or general eating/hang out spot that you can get your social on without even leaving your travel digs. You can also book trips through your hostel, and make friends with your roomies during said trips.
Again, this is especially great if you’re traveling solo, but even if not, get out there people! A little self exploration is wonderful, don’t get me wrong. However, signing up for group activities, large or small, is always a gateway to hanging with others who are trying to see and do cool shit. There’s usually time before or after to walk around on your own so take advantage of some of these group tours. You’ll forever be bonded with these new buds by the sights you see, volcanoes you surf down, cliffs you jump off of and selfies you take.
Besides seizing the group activity settings and dorm room situations to make friends, you can also just say hi to the person next to you on the bus or at the cafe. There’s something special about all travelers and there’s often an automatic bond and overwhelming sensation to want to share your story of where you’re from, where you’re headed, what you’ve done in that particular location or whatevs with your fellow travelers. I can recall so many experiences at coffee shops, bus shuttles and even really nice dinners, chatting with people of all ages and group sizes, just because we recognized we both spoke the same language, or saw the other had their bags with them. A simple “where you headed?” or “how long have you been here?” to the person next to you will go a long way. You will meet people with all different backgrounds and unique stories to tell. Everyone has a story to tell, you just have to talk to them to find out!
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