Travel is, without a doubt, one of the best ways to make connections and establish friendships. When it comes to personality types, however, most of us lie on a spectrum, somewhere between withdrawn (introverted) and gregarious (extroverted). These personality types are also known as ‘ambiverts.’ In talking about the introverted traveler, we refer to someone who finds comfort in their own company, often viewing time spent around others as a burden. With most people a mix of both introvert and extrovert, it’s easy to find yourself feeling just a tad more Buddhist monk than a social butterfly. If you find yourself leaning towards the more reserved and reflective end of the Myers-Briggs spectrum then some aspects of traveling alone can be challenging, such as meeting new people. Even if striking up conversation doesn’t come that naturally to you, there are a few tips you can use to meet people while traveling.
Sign up for day tours and unique experiences
Day tours are a great way to get beyond typical solo travel sightseeing. Not just that but they allow you to meet strangers over shared experiences, giving you a base from which to start your conversation. If you find it difficult to launch straight into a verbal exchange, have some relevant factoids handy, or an interesting story about your travels. Even if you say very little, these are fantastic ice-breakers bound to impress the people you’re chatting to. Try to go beyond the cliched conversation starters if you can. If you’re an introvert, day tours are great, because it’s completely up to you whether you want to continue the social obligations beyond the limited time of the tour itself.
Find coworking and community networking events
Networking events are great if you’re working while you’re on the road and you’re looking to broaden your professional network. There’s less of a social obligation and more focus on how you can help someone else – and vice versa. Plus, because these events are after hours, they’re a lot more laidback than your typical office meet-up, allowing for more relaxed conversation. Use networking groups in various cities to find about events happening near you.
Get in touch with expat communities on social media
Facebook is the obvious choice here, and you might be surprised, but Reddit communities can be a valuable resource if you’re looking to meet up with like-minded travelers. Most destinations have expat Facebook groups that you can tap into if you’re looking for recommendations or advice around exploring a specific part of a city. Common interests are a great springboard for conversation and doing activities that you enjoy can keep you occupied. Heading out to take some pictures with someone is a super way to a) document your travels and b) get to know someone better while not feeling coerced into making conversation.
Search for balance, rather than extremes
Keeping your calendar balanced is massively important for more introspective ambiverts. Be selective with your social schedule and prioritize time for yourself. This way, you won’t get burnt out from constant pressure to put on your best face and get out to meet new people.
Understand we’re not all that different
This was one lesson that struck me on my most recent trip. There were times when I was actually tempted to forego meeting up with newly acquainted friends, purely because of the energy involved in making plans and the perceived effort in meeting up. But when I did meet up with them, I was amazed at how similar our life trajectories were. There’s some reassurance to be found in the fact that we’ve all gone or are going through very similar phases of our lives.
The key to meeting new people while traveling all comes down, by and large, to getting out of your shell and taking action. Follow these simple steps, and you’re well on your way to creating friendships that will enrich and enhance your travel experience.
Written by Stuart Hendricks