I remember back in school when I would have never even considered approaching someone I didn’t know for a chat. The very thought of conversation made me want to curl up inside myself and die a little.
I would blush like a 13 year old girl meeting One Direction and hated how cripplingly shy I was around strangers and even family and friends! So what changed?
I’m not going to lie, alcohol did help a little, drunk me loves a chat, but more importantly and (healthier) than that, it was becoming comfortable with myself and what I had to offer others.
It’s all about confidence – sort of
People used to tell me this all the time and if you go to any networking or public speaking seminar, this is the first thing they tell you.
However, many people mistake confidence and arrogance. It’s not about sashaying your way into a room and forcing people to pay attention to you. It’s all about feeling confident in yourself and comfortable with your own opinions and views.
My biggest issue was I had convinced myself that other people wouldn’t be interested in what I had to say. I had to feel more comfortable with my views and outlook on life, before I could approach others and chat with them.
It was only when I started to care less about what people thought of me, started to like myself as a person and become passionate about my own opinions, that I started to notice people were drawn to me and I could approach them.
It’s a lot easier when you’re travelling
I regard solo travel as the biggest reason I am now able to walk into any room and instantly make friends. It’s so much easier to talk to strangers in hostels, because 90% of the people in there are also travelling solo and looking for people to hang out with.
My first solo travel trip to Barcelona, I walked through the door to the bar and about 4 people instantly started talking to me. It was like we weren’t even strangers.
The confidence I built from practicing socialising whilst travelling solo bled over into my home life. I found that I had more confidence when going to blogger meet-ups, networking events and seminars. I don’t think I would have ever reached the point I’m at now without the solo travel experience.
How do you make friends so quickly?
There are a couple of tips and tricks I can share with you, that I’ve learnt from my own solo travel experience. They may not all work for you, but you can always make them your own!
- Always start you first day/night in a hostel by heading down to the communal areas. I learnt this on my very first solo travel trip and it is now something I make sure to do on every trip.
- Say yes to pretty much everything – obviously listen to your gut and stay safe, but never say no out of fear. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and treat these new friends like you’ve known them for ages!
- Ask questions and be interested in other cultures and experiences. You’ll meet such a huge variety of people whilst travelling solo and they’ll be from all around the world. Ask them questions about their country, their culture and their experiences. Everyone loves to talk about themselves a little bit!
- Approach people and ask to sit with them outright. It’s best to be direct. Sitting in a corner sipping your cocktail and playing on your phone is not going to attract people to you. If anything, they may stay away because they think you want to be on your own.
When I went to Croatia, it was Harry and Meghan’s wedding. I can’t even begin to describe how many conversations I had with people about the royal family, people were genuinely fascinated about what it was like to live in the UK!
What I always keep in mind is that solo travellers travel alone because they like their own space. They love to have the freedom to see things in their own time and on their own terms. This also means that they respect each others personal space a lot more than most people.
There’s a certain understanding between solo travellers, that even though it’s awesome to hang out together, we all need time on our own. If you’re giving off ‘leave me alone‘ vibes, that’s exactly what will happen. So take control of the situation and make it clear when you want to chill solo and when you’re up for some conversation.
Remember, people are way more friendlier than you think and all humans crave interaction. Be open to everything and enjoy the freedom of being 100% yourself around people you have just met, you may never see them again!