There is no right or wrong way to travel.
Weather you’re backpacking solo on a journey of self discovery or you’re joining the trip of a lifetime with fellow travellers, there comes a point in everyone’s life when you get more than you bargained for. Often on travels, you’ll find that making friends is a lot easier than you’d first expect. In any case, here’s a few tips I’ve found to be useful.
It goes without saying you’d much rather strike up a conversation with someone in a good mood, than someone in a bad mood. So why would it be the same for someone else?
When I first arrived in Australia I was tired, hungry, suffering from a headache and all I wanted to do was shower and sleep. But having just arrived at the hostel and met a few of my fellow travellers I made sure to put off a smile despite not feeling 100% myself.
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
As the saying goes, you don’t always get a second chance to make a good first impression, so despite what’s going on in your life try to be as pleasant as possible when meeting new people.
Manners cost nothing. I’m sure most of you were raised to be polite in all social situations so make your momma proud and use your manners.
Extra brownie points if you can use them in the local language too!
When taveling to another country with different cultures, customs, religions, celebrations, holidays and behaviors, you should always be respectful.
Remember, you’re the visitor here.
You have a different religion? Great! Just make sure you don’t disrespect other religions.
Nowhere does it say that you have to change who you are to embrace the local traditions.
This should apply in every situation, not just meeting new people. Even if you’ve become familiar with your fairly new friend don’t become over comfortable and insensitive. It may cause issues.
So for example if you meet a group of fellow travellers, one of which is terribly shy and not too confident going to a beach party, perhaps collectively as a group you can find another activity you’ll all agree on.
But let’s face it who doesn’t enjoy a beach party?
Nothing will prepare you for your first adventure. Or any other adventure for that matter.
I dont know about you guys, but I always reserve judgement until I’ve experienced things for myself.
Massive spiders in the Australian outback? Didn’t see one. Nice scenic walk to Mt Doom? Hardest hike I’ve ever taken on. Portuguese Sangria that’s not too lethal? Guess who’s the lightweight here.
Standing/sitting on your own in a common area such as a bar, group tour or hostel common room? Are you staring at your phone/camera/book wondering why it’s hard to get talking to people?
Three guesses as to why that is.
Avoiding eye contact and using body language that suggests you don’t want to speak to anyone is only going to hinder meeting new people and making new friends.
Relax, everyone is in the same situation.
The majority all want to explore the local culture and share experiences is natural.
Now I’m not saying that you should stare at someone until they come over to talk, that could have the opposite effect. But a nod or smile here and there will help. And why should they be the only one to make the effort?
There’s nothing stopping you from striking up a conversation with someone.
‘Have you visited this place of interest? Have you been here long? Do you have any recommendations?’
Feel free to get talking to people. The majority of the time they’ll be happy to talk. If all else fails you can always try talking to someone else.
Best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is ‘Try everything.’
Obviously within reason.
If there’s something you know you’re not into then no problem. But should you get an opportunity to try something and you’re not sure if you want to do it, I’d suggest to try it anyway.
As the saying goes, ‘In the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take.’
I’m pretty sure that everyone out there has an amazing story to tell. Most of the time after hearing a story from a fellow traveller one of two things will happen. I’ll either get really excited by the concept of trying it out for myself, or my brain will already be planning on trying it out.
You can find inspiration through many other mediums (photos / experiences/music/food), but I love the stories I hear and I’ve shared my own stories to others.
How excited were you when you experienced something? Didn’t you just feel like your wanted to tell the world about it?
And while it rarely happens, how much better does it get when the person you’re telling your story to gets just as excited as you are?
Without a doubt one of the hardest things to do. New experiences can be scary, but they can also be extremely rewarding.
Always admired those that have skydived but terrified at the thought of doing it yourself? You’re not the only one. But as a general rule, you’ll more likely be glad to have done it than not.
At least if you try new things and don’t enjoy them, you’ll know and you won’t have to spend the rest of your life regretting not doing it.
Most importantly of all just be yourself.
Don’t be a fraud and try to pass yourself off as something you’re not. In the end you’ll only end up doing yourself an injustice and they’ll see right through you.
Maybe you’re not quite sure what makes you you.
Maybe you’re on a journey to figure it out.
Whatever the case may be, just be you. Most of the time there will only be issues if you don’t always see eye to eye with someone.
But I’d rather be that than follow the herd.
And even if you’re not everyone’s type of person, as long as you’ve been honest with yourself it will be their loss not yours.