Along with solo travel, traveling with a friend or two, maybe even as a group... the best part of traveling isn't always the where, but the who.
You've gotta meet new people.
Here's what's worked for me:
1. Carry a deck of cards.
"Hey, have you ever played King's Cup?"
I'm serious. There's nothing like getting a group of people together and suggesting a drinking game or non-alcoholic card game (I like the game "Bullsh*t too).
You can teach them a game from your country, and they can teach you a game from theirs. Before you know it, the ice is broken and everyone is laughing.
From back-packer bars in Rio, to trains in Eastern Europe, to organizing Aussie road trips for people who don't know each other; this has been my #1 conversation starter.
2. Everyone loves food, so why not love food together...
"Hey what are you doing for dinner tonight? I'm getting a group together to split groceries and cook together. Throw in some brews, are you interested?"
This works in hostels, with locals, and even if you all want to eat out before going out. It's nice to chat with people and get a taste of who they are before going straight out to experience a night on the town.
3. Ask for directions or suggestions on what to do/see. Even better: ask someone to take a picture of you!
"Hey what's the best place to get some good pictures around here?" or "Where do all the locals go on a Saturday night?" "Can you suggest a scenic place for a jog?" "Do you mind taking a picture? I don't want to a take a selfie!"
If you're situated around public transport, around locals in a social setting, or even around other travelers who have been in town a couple days, have a chat about their recommendations. Then maybe, you can do them together. Sometimes asking someone to take a picture of you leads into a "where are you from?" and "what are you doing here?" Oh hi, new friend. Awesome.
4. Joke about the truth: you don't know anyone and are looking to make some friends.
"How do you guys all know each other?" and "Where are you from?" is a great way of leading into: "I'm Stephanie, I'm actually traveling solo. It's kinda crazy, but I'm always looking to meet up with other travelers (or locals). Want to join me on a hike [to grab a bite, to go for a swim etc]?"
I'm all about pulling a Slim Shady (pointing out your weaknesses). If you see another group of travelers and have started a conversation, go ahead and point out that you are traveling solo or with a friend or two and that you want to do something together.
5. Post on Facebook to see if anyone knows anyone in that city.
"Hey does anyone know anyone in Barcelona? I'll be there March 10-16 and would love some tips! Maybe someone to meet up with too."
Friends of friends are the best travelers to meet up with. Chances are that you'll get along just fine. If you're open-minded, you can also meet other travelers on couchsurfing.org -- you don't have to stay with them to post a message about meeting up. A friend of mine saw Europe by making friends via Tinder too. It doesn't hurt to download the dating app and write "Traveler in town for the weekend. Looking to meet someone to show me around." The more open-minded you are, the better your chances are of making new friends.
Stay safe though!
Check 21 Tricks to Staying Safe Abroad and http://www.travel-break.net/uncategorized/5-mobile-apps-for-safer-travel/!
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