4 Ways to Start Conversations and Make Connections While Traveling

August 10, 2015,

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!

Speak the language. Another great way to easily start conversations and make connections while traveling. 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.

4 Ways to Start Conversations and Make Connections While Traveling / NYPL New York Public Library during Christmas Ask questions
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 a beauty treatment & make connections with the people around you. 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? 4 Ways to Start Conversations & Make Connections While Traveling (for introverts)  

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  • Reply Ilena August 10, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    It’s so true. We all do want to make connections and we often forget that even the locals love sharing their city with others and by approaching them and by being approachable we get to learn little insider tricks and info with the locals. We become ambassadors for our country of origin. And who knows we might be an inspiration to someone that day!

  • Reply Jessie August 10, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    I really love the way you write!

    • Reply Happiest When Exploring August 10, 2015 at 5:10 pm

      Thank you – that means the world to me!

  • Reply Celia August 11, 2015 at 1:39 am

    Number four guilty:p
    It’s true that people appreciate when you help them, plus your good deed of the day is accomplished!

    • Reply Happiest When Exploring August 21, 2015 at 11:33 pm

      Yes! Love this one too! Thanks!

  • Reply Steve August 20, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    These are great tips indeed! Pay it forward!
    One great ways is to dress like locals, then tourists and even locals will ask for directions!!!

    • Reply Happiest When Exploring August 21, 2015 at 11:28 pm

      Yes, so true – it is one of the biggest compliments!

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