How to battle solo travel nerves and start making friends

Solo travel is all hit recently. Travelers are talking about it and encouraging others to do the same. But for the unconventional ones it’s a major step not to be taken any time soon. “It would be scary to get lost on my own”, “It’s embarrassing to eat alone” blah blah blah. If we look at it closely though we can see the root of this nervous feeling.

Remember the first time you entered your new school? I’m guessing it felt really awkward. Awkward in the sense that you didn’t know where to sit or with who are you going to eat your lunch. You’re in the edge, you have to approach someone and make friends. He or she will be your entry point to your new world.

If getting acquainted with strangers were easy for everybody then maybe being on a foreign land on our own won’t be bad at all too. But do we really have to be nervous about it? No. From what I learned about traveling alone, local people are actually friendly to travelers. They have this excited-enthusiastic sound that they want to hear the stories of this traveler in front of them and in turn brag about their home town too. It’s a nice exchange that could very well take any travelers whole afternoon.

There is no formula to it just like there is no formula to meeting your future best friend. It just takes a small talk. I remember being in Taiwan on my own and didn’t know how to get out of the town. I went inside 7eleven and asked a crew for bus directions. The query took long because of the language barrier but good thing somebody overheard us and helped. I was just excited to be talking to someone in English so we talked for some time and ended with him taking me to the train station in the next town.

Hostels are great way for conversations too. Since there are different types of travelers in there you are bound to meet someone who’s probably on his own too! Starters like “Where are you from?” or “Til when are you in town?” are a good way too start. You can even go further and ask to go eat dinner out together.

They say if you travel in big numbers it will be much harder to meet someone. So maybe we have better footing when we travel solo. But bear in mind also that being a traveler doesn’t always mean you will be the one in help. Sometimes you have to be the one showing concern. It’s raining and you are waiting for a ride, you see someone beside you struggling a bit because she doesn’t have umbrella. Share yours and you just might have the greatest conversation for the day.

People are just people just like you are so don’t be afraid to approach and make conversations. Of course being careful is still important. Never give too much information cause the person is after all still a stranger to you. Different people, different personalities, so if someone didn’t respond the way you would expect just move on.

Happy conversations everyone!

A fellow Indonesian traveler (middle) we met while going around Borobudur

A fellow Indonesian traveler (middle) we met while going around Borobudur

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