Life of a solo traveler can be very self-rewarding in many ways. In fact, many backpackers choose to travel solo for numerous reasons such as ultimate freedom, inner-discoveries, and a big confidence boost. Talking to strangers will get you outside of your comfort zone and help you break free of loneliness.
Loneliness can paralyze your lust for awe and adventure, can strike at any time, and has the power to turn your night of exploring into a night of Netflix and hugging your pillow. That is if you let it.
Our parents always taught us that talking to strangers is not ok, that being said, use your situational awareness. Feel your intuition and let that guide you to a safe place where talking to strangers is okay, and not in some dark alley or other risky environments!
When times get tough, or even if you just want a new travel bud or partner in crime… follow these tips on how to talk to strangers while traveling and you will have new friends in no time!
This is my favorite way to start up conversations with people, and that is why I put it first!
What I usually say is “Hey, would you like me to take that picture for you guys?”, and put the most amount of effort into it as possible. Then, I ask them to take my photo in that same spot.
After that, it is super easy to engage in conversation with that person or those people. I especially love this when there is a group of people, then you have a whole bunch of people to hang with, and options to join some of them on their next travels. This also increases the chances that out of everyone, there will definitely be someone you can really click with, and enjoy some great conversations!
So simple, yet so effective. Once someone tells you where they are from, there are a plethora of topics you can talk about like inquiring information about their Country, and talking about famous landmarks you know about there.
When it comes time to you speaking about your own Country, that is probably the EASIEST icebreaker out there because it is your country, you know everything about it, or so you should at least!
I love this one because once you ask, you better get your notepad out… you are about to receive a TON of information! If you are interested in traveling to more countries and want to learn about them from a traveler’s perspective-this is your chance!
People love talking about where they have recently traveled to, I call it the mountaintop syndrome, where you are so excited about something you want to scream about it from a mountaintop!
Compliments go so far with everyone. Please be authentic about it though, if you genuinely like something on someone, say it! Do you remember a majority of the times when someone has complimented you? That positive feeling stays with you for a long time.
A bonus to this is, once this person feels the positivity from your compliment, they are more willing to join you for something to do, whether it be going for a bite to eat, or joining forces on a new adventure!
This one does take a bit more courage, but that courage is muchly respected in the solo traveler world. If you see people congregated around the hostel lobby, ask them what they are planning on doing that day. Be aware that this doesn’t work 100% of the time, but pretty close.
There are many times this has worked for me, mainly because I feel that the confidence needed to ask is admirable, but also because the more people you have on a tour, the cheaper it can be for everyone!! A win-win for everyone!
I just did this last week, I asked this nice guy what he was up to while he was in Marrakech, and he said he was thinking about hiring a driver to go to the exact place I wanted to see. So we joined up and went together for a hike and adventuring the following day!
Most people enjoy food culture and food exploring. It is something that brings us utmost joy to savor the culinary dishes of the new land, especially when sharing that experience with someone else! If you see people at your Guesthouse or hostel sitting around, ask them if they are interested in going to find a cool spot together!
Even ask the front desk at the hostel if anyone has inquired recently about a good place to eat, then they can direct you to another solo traveler and you can join forces on a food expedition of your newly sought out environment!
If you noticed the picture above of me at a table with some people, this is in Vietnam, and how I met them is exactly how I just explained! I asked them if they wanted to go for food, and we went for food and then out for drinks afterward. I am still friends with them to this date, in fact, one of them I just met up with in London and caught up over a bottle of wine!
A smile is the universal hello, and you can tell a lot about a person in how they smile back at you. Simply fill your heart with love, look at someone in the eyes, and flash them a toothy authentic smile! Nothing lifts our moods more than a big, authentic smile from another person. 🙂
Follow this tip alone, and you will be talking with strangers/other solo travelers everywhere you go!
Learning conversation starters with strangers can be intimidating at first, I get it. But the more you try, the more chances you have to travel with strangers and converting that into new friendships that last a lifetime!
Check out my article What to do when you feel lonely while traveling, it will completely revamp your perceptions of loneliness.
Stay tuned as I have a fun video coming soon that is all about talking to strangers while traveling solo!