I apologize, I don’t really have any good photos to explain what I’m writing here! When you’re having fun you forget to take them!
“How do you meet so many people all by yourself?!”
I get the question a lot.
Well, it’s simple. You talk.
I get it, I get it…It can be nerve-racking! Humans are scary creatures! (I’m not even being sarcastic) The trick is to put yourself out there. You won’t meet anyone alone in your hotel room.
Is it awkward sometimes? Yes, I won’t lie. Is it risky? Yeah, it can be. But does it pay off? HELL YES.
Now if you’re ready for some tried and true tips, skip to the next heading. If you’re still not convinced (or you want to hear more of my rambling), read on…
Why meet people? I just want to see stuff.
So you’re going on a trip. Good for you! You can choose to be a standard tourist sight-see-er, or you can put yourself out there, get a taste of the local culture, discover hidden secrets, and meet new friends all over the country. Which sounds better?
Tourist attractions are great. I’m not saying skip out on the neat aquarium or museum you’ve just been itching to see. I’m saying supplement your out-of-town experience with a few local treats. As a bonus, they tend to be cheaper, too!
In all the places I’ve been, the things that I really remember happened with fellow travelers or locals. In Colorado, I enjoyed river rafting for a price – but I enjoyed the free bonfire with the river rafting instructors much more. At Shaver Lake in California, I enjoyed the hot sun and a good book, but I had a blast downing a few beers, grilling out and dancing with some Texans. In Chattanooga, I had a great time exploring historic downtown and some already-trail-blazed hikes, but I really enjoyed taste testing beer with the bartender, eating the best fried chicken with locals and tipping back a few beers with the guys.
River rafting and zip-lining in Colorado
…so you see where I’m going here.
Remember, it is high risk, high reward. Trust your gut instinct and be safe about stepping out of your comfort zone. It is always okay to say no.
I’m ready. Tell me how to meet people.
Start easy. Stop at the visitor centers. Talk with the front desk workers of your hotel. Grab a coffee and spark a conversation with the barista. Take a tour of the town.
Courtesy of chattanoogan.com
The great thing about visitor centers, specifically, is that the people working there generally are there for a reason. At almost every visitor center I’ve been to, the person working loves where they live and he or she always wants to share!
Put yourself out there. Instead of reading or blogging in your hotel room, hang out in the lobby. Get a coffee at the local coffee shop. Sit at the bar when you order out. Beer and coffee are social drinks, so don’t do it in your room! Picking up what I’m putting down yet?
Etcetera, Paducah, KY
Stay at a hostel. That – by far – has been the easiest way to explore. (But do your research first. Be safe!) Other people staying generally have a similar mindset. I didn’t even had to start the conversation at The Crash Pad! People were talking to me constantly!
The Crash Pad
10 Pick-up lines (travel style)
I’ve used all of these and at one time or another, they all worked. You may laugh, but you can’t judge until you try one and watch it work.
Yes, people generally respond when you say hello. Weird, huh?
2. “I’m from Iowa.”
Now, I’m not promising a nice response…I get, “Oh, I’m sorry,” or “What the hell is in Iowa?” a lot… but hey, it’s a conversation starter! When people hear you’re from Iowa, they want to know about it. It’s makes you exotic.
Now, don’t give them your entire address…be safe you guys.
3. “Man, I don’t know what to order. You order for me.”
Yes, this one is totally bizarre, but you would be surprised how it works. I got it from another solo travel blog. It’s called the “Chili cheese omelet opener.” You sit down at the bar, ask if the person next to you is a local, ask if they’ve eaten there before, and then convince them to order your meal. When I did it, I got a laugh…then some great food. 🙂
4. “Can I pet your dog, please?”
I’ve done this twice. Once with a huge (seriously.. gigantic) dog while on a walk and once with a little pup at a bar/restaurant. The guy with the big dog was so tickled that I liked his not-so-little-fido that he talked to me for 15 minutes about it. (Bonus: he was cute)
Really, it’s just an ice breaker. When I pet the little pup, it was enough to break the ice and talk, and that led to the best fried chicken in town!
5. “Can you watch my jacket?”
Be careful with this one…if you like your jacket I wouldn’t recommend it…
When in Nashville I sat down at the front end of the bar and ordered a drink. I kept noticing a group of people look over at me. I’m sure they were thinking, “What the hell is this girl doing sitting by herself at a bar?” Eventually I got tired of them watching me so I picked up all my valuables (but left my old coat to “save my chair”), walked over to the group and said, “Hey can you guys watch my coat for a second while I use the ladies’ room?”
They did. And when I came back, I had already broken the ice! The rest is history.
6. Drink liquid confidence.
Enough said. But be careful!
7. Can I take your photo?
People love this one. In a family or group there is always that one person who never gets in the photo because he or she is taking it. So when someone offers to take their photo they’re always really grateful. And in return they usually take yours!
A fellow hiker I met at Cumberland State Park, we exchanged emails so I could send him the photo
8. “I couldn’t help but notice your Midwestern accent!”
This one works when you run into people from your region. It establishes rapport with them. You have a connection, something to talk about.
9. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I just love your bracelet (shirt, earrings, etc.)”
Who doesn’t love to be complimented? Sometimes they’ll tell you a great boutique or local place to shop, too!
10. “Can you help me find….?”
People are generally nice. And generally nice people will be willing to help you find what you’re looking for. Since the hardest part of talking to someone is actually the hello, now all you have to do is say, “So what’s the best local coffee shop?” “What’s your favorite part of this town?” …or if you’re really daring, “So, tell me your story!”
Come back for my next post and we’ll talk safety. There are definitely risks involved with solo travel and with meeting new people.