Sunday, October 30, 2016

Best Ways To Make New Friends On The Road (For Shy People)

Traveling solo doesn’t mean that you should be alone all the time. In most cases, making new friends is easy because generally, travelers are outgoing and excited to meet new people from around the globe. But, if you are extremely shy, things could be harder for you… I feel you, I am an introvert as well. Nevertheless, I’ve listed down 12 practical tips I discovered during my travels to help you shy people out there. 
Step out from your comfort zone and make a new friend today, will you? 

1.  Stay in Hostel Dorms

This is hands down the easiest way to gain new friends. If you’ve booked a private room instead of a dorm bed, spend more time in the common areas like the kitchen or TV room. People staying in a hostel are keen to meet other travelers. 
Now bear in mind that a hostel pretty much determines your first impression of the city and a good hostel is crucial if you are looking forward to an unforgettable trip. I tend to look at the hostel facilities first and then read all (most if not all) of the reviews. If you need more reassurance, read the hostel tips listed by the Hostel Geeks
Start your conversation with: Where are you from? How Long have you been on the road? 
Further action: Ask them to join you on a free walking/bicycle tour the next day.  
Tips: If you are staying in a party hostel, pack in earplugs and an eye mask. 
Cheese Fondue

Turkish Kebab

2. Share Food

Food is the true international language. Some hostel provides free ingredients, offer to cook a group meal. 
Or simply suggest the group to grab dinner at the famous kebab store you read about on TripAdvisor! 
Start your conversation with: I am cooking extra, are you hungry?

Further action: Discuss about national cuisines!

Tips: Remember to ask about their medical conditions (allergy? blood sugar?) and religion (Hindus don’t eat beef, Muslims don’t eat pork.)

Colombia restaurant, Tampa3. Couchsurf

Without a doubt, Couchsurfing is the best website to meet locals and make friends from diverse cities around the world. Most people on CS are keen to share the local gems and talk about the real life in the city. This way, you’ll be able to see a city from a local point of view instead of just ticking off tourist attractions off your list. Even if you are not staying with a local CS host, feel free to browse the website for CS events and spend a splendid evening doing what the locals do during free time! 
Start your conversation by sending a hosting request or hang-out request. 
Further action: bring a specialty from your home country or make a thank you card. Spend time with your host/ surfers. 
Tips: Always take safety into account. 
Safety Rules While Couchsurfing
Why I stop using Couchsurfing

4. Enjoy Your Favorite Activity

Having a common hobby is one of the fastest ways to connect people. To form bonds among travelers, try swapping travel stories in your hostel dorm. 
Start by : is a site to find people who are into a particular interest. 
Further action: You can also join free activities organized by locals.
Tips: Always take safety into account. 

5. Learn A New Skill

Find out what is unique to the city you are visiting. Traveling to Andalusia? Try asking the locals to show you a few Flamenco steps! Visiting Naples? Chat a local up by asking for the best pizza recipe! The secret to it? Don’t be afraid to ask! 
You could also take a free language or dance class offered in parks and public libraries. Go out there and experience something different. 
Start your conversations with: I love Tuscany cooking. How do you…?
Further action: Share your expertise as well! It could be a language you are fluent in.
Tips: Check for an activity-based meet up on Couchsurfing, Meetup or Facebook groups. 

6. Facebook, Twitter & Instagram

Search hashtags related to your location, and see if anyone had uploaded a photo or status in the same coffee shop you are sitting in. 
Start your conversation by: commenting something on the photo/status. 
Further action: Suggest a meetup. 
Tips: Only meet if both of you feel comfortable with each other. 

7. Find Travel Buddies Online 

Although there are a lot of websites out there useful for meeting people who are planning trips to the same destination, I’ve only used Travel-Buddies and to find travel partners. I’ve met Matt, Jessica, Chris and Aman using this method and we had an incredible trip in the States. Best memories to last a lifetime!
Start by: Creating an account and complete your profile. 
Further action: Posting in forums to find traveling buddies. 
Tips: This is either a hit or a miss. Try to look for people with same interests. Schedule a Skype Session, if it’s possible, grab a coffee and talk about the details before deciding on anything.   
Related: Websites to Meet New People During Your Travels

8. Join A Tour

Ditched the do-it-all-myself way for a few hours and join a tour (The tour don’t have to be lengthy if you don’t feel like it). You can look for one using the website Get your guide. On a group tour, you’ll be able to meet people from all over the world and since you all will be spending some time together, strike up a conversation and it will naturally flow. On a budget? Join the free Sandemans walking tour
Last Summer in Europe, I’ve made a lot of friends by joining group tours, got invited to visit them back in their hometown and that was exactly what I did! Priceless!
Start your conversation with: What do you think about this tour? 
Further action: Grab a coffee after the tour. 
Tips: Enhance your experience by joining a small group tour. 
Met a fellow Malaysian on a group tour in Ireland. 

9. Play A Game 

A simple card game in a park of hostel common area can keep everyone entertained regardless of age, nationalities and religion! My favorite game is UNO (actually the only card game I know. hah!)
So next time, bring a deck of UNO cards with you— the ultimate tool for making friends! 
Start by: asking them if they’d like to play. 
Tips: Have fun! 

10. Train or Long Distance Bus Travel

7 hours on the train? These are actually great opportunities to make a friend or two! Simply talk to the person beside you. I’ve been on the European trains for so many times, my favorite seats are actually those in the little 6-person cabins. Since the two rows in the cabin face each other, it would be awkward not to start a conversation with other passengers. 
Start your conversation with: discussing interesting hidden gems or attractions in your destination. 
Further action: Suggest traveling together for the day!
Tips: Don’t use your headphones, you’ll end up wasting incredible opportunities to make friends. 

11. Photography

When you see another solo traveler struggling to take his/ her own photo, extend a helping hand! They’ll appreciate your help and help you with your photos in return. And then before you know it, you guys are planning the next trip together! 
Start your conversation with: Do you want my help to take your photo? 
Further action: Explore the region together. 

12. Find Your Community Abroad

I am sure there will be expats or students from your country living in the city you are visiting. Simply log on to Facebook and search for the expatriate/students groups in the country. I bet they will be thrilled to welcome someone from their home country! Well, I don’t know but I find Malaysians really excited to meet fellow Malaysians… Malaysian hospitality rocks!  

13. Others

There are also other ways to meet people. However, I personally don’t use them so I can’t speak from my experience. Nevertheless, I’ll put them all under “Others” for your reference. I heard stories about some friends gaining new friends during Pub-crawls organized by the hostel, however, if you don’t like to party, this probably not for you!
I know some people who use dating apps during their travels. I remember someone from American mentioned Tinder, not so sure about other alternatives. Google it yourself if you are interested ;) All the best!

πŸ“ŒFor more travel tips, like Eat Love Travel Breathe with Miss HappyFeet. 
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Thank You for Reading! 
This post is based solely on my honest opinion or personal experience. 
 Feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below!

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