4 Ways to Start Conversations and Make Connections While Traveling
Solo travel is exciting and spontaneous. But sometimes you can and will get a little lonely. If you struggle to start conversations and make connections with new people, if you’re an introvert or a formerly shy person (like me!) then read on. After two solo trips, I have come up with a few ways to practice speaking to people and make connections while traveling and I am sharing them here!
Learn the language (at least the basics) of the place you will be visiting
I noticed that while I was in Florence, I spoke to so many people and made so many more connections than I had in Barcelona. I know this is because my Italian is fluent enough for me to have a decent and interesting conversation with the locals in their language. In Barcelona, I was able to speak to my hostel mates who were English speaking and Italian speaking. In Florence, I was able to talk to everyone.
I know that it might not be possible to learn to speak a language so quickly (especially if you are not familiar with the language at all) and I am not suggesting to only visiting places where you speak the language because that can be very limiting. I for one am still planning on visiting places like Amsterdam, Lisbon and Copenhagen. I do not speak Dutch, Portuguese or Danish nor do I believe I will pick up the languages. But I am saying that speaking the local language inevitably allows for you to make more of a connection with local people.
Asking questions is a great way to start a conversation. Often, you do have questions about where you’re staying, how to get somewhere, the best route to take to visit the neighbouring city. And if you want answers (and a little conversation) the best people to ask are the locals: the waiters, the employees at the museum, store owners
In Barcelona I asked a museum guard if I could take a picture. In this case, I actually didn’t plan on starting a conversation. I begun my sentence with “perdón” (excuse me or sorry in Catalan) but asked my question in English and we ended up speaking for almost 20 minutes. This time, speaking English worked in my favour because he asked me where I was from and continued from there.
Try something new. Try a class or get a beauty treatment.
I say this because taking a class (even a one night class like cooking) is a great place to meet people and connect with others. I opted for a cooking class in Florence and had the opportunity to cook with strangers and by the time we sat down to enjoy the meal we had prepared together we opened up and learned about each other. It was a very lovely experience.
Another great way to chat and spend some time with other, real humans (ha-ha) is to get a beauty treatment (and for the men, a stop at the local barber). In addition to a guaranteed conversation with a cool person you can get your hair done, your nails done (and for the men a nice, luxurious shave – something you might never do back home) or whatever you’d like!
Offer a helping hand.
If you see someone struggling to open a door because his or her hands are full or if you see someone who looks a little lost (and you know your way around after a few days of exploring the city or town) offer your help. It’s a wonderful way to make a difference in someone’s day and open yourself up to receiving help in return – what goes around, comes around!
Now it’s your turn –
Do you struggle with starting conversations? What are some ways you open up to people while traveling? Did these tips help you? What are some of your travel anecdotes?