Whether you are an experienced traveller with over 50 visa stamps on your passport or are boarding a long bus ride for the first time, meeting new people is always important and exciting.
No, don't give me that "I am my favourite company" crap, even if you are a severely introverted person. I know you do appreciate a good conversation in a foreign land where often your luggage becomes your (only) favourite contact.
So let's not beat around the bush any more and let me help you become a better traveller.
Have inclusive conversations
When you are trying to make conversation by telling stories of your great adventures then make sure it ends with a question. Something like, "I had some serious altitude sickness when I went to Spiti. Have you been there? Did you get sick?" And if you have found the person/group en route to a far off place, politely tiptoe around the line between personal and invasive.
Remember their name (by making them remember yours)
It might seem rather odd at first but try to incorporate your name into sentences. Especially if you are telling a travel-related story; subtly mention your own name without making it too obvious. Example, "Me and my friend had to run after a bus once, and I am no athlete. She kept screaming throughout, "Sreshtiiii FASTER!!" This way you don't sound like a salesman and also pass the test of not remaining a nameless stranger.
Never tell too many tales
No one likes that person who has been everywhere, done everything, met Obama, had tea with Modi and stayed for a year at the Everest base camp. If you don't know that person, then I hate to break it to you, it's you! Believe me, no one really likes an over-achiever, especially an arrogant one who gets a kick out of boasting to other people. You might not be doing it intentionally, refer to the first point for more insight.
If you can't help being an introvert, hang out with groups
I understand some of us have an inexhaustible need for sharing and receiving. For introverts like us, hanging out with another solo traveller is not that good an option. If the person is alone, the probability of him/her being an introvert is pretty high and if you are an introvert yourself, I can't imagine how much fun you will have. A group has variety and so there's a lesser probability of having awkward conversations which means more fun.
Evolve from interrogatives
The what-when-where-how are important and relevant but genuinely irritating questions. Either find better ways to ask them or let their conversation reveal this information. But if you really, really need to know then come up with a quirky way of asking them.
Consider this a life advice in general, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Pick up some interesting facts about the place you are in and listen intently when someone tells you about their collection of trivia. If you decide to travel together all the way, have respect for their food and lifestyle choices. If you are unaware of their culture, don't operate on the basis of stereotypes. Ask them.
Met any interesting people who gave you interesting insights about yourself? Share your experience here.
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