No one understands traveling like an expat. However, traveling alone is another matter altogether. If you’re going to be flying, driving, or otherwise moving between locations in the near future and you’re planning on doing so alone, here are a few tips to help shake those dreary feelings of solitude and stay connected with others as you go.
Just because you’re likely used to spending longer times abroad doesn’t mean a shorter trip has to be much different. As you travel, remember that there are thousands upon thousands of others around you who are in the same boat (or train or plane) as you. You’re all temporarily misplaced, even if it’s just for the weekend.
Therefore, in the name of expats everywhere, be fearless in your willingness to connect with others around you. Engage in conversation, look for opportunities to ask questions, and try to find the threads within each of your narratives that relate to one another.
Even if you can’t find a specific thing that you can relate to, look for anything from their choice of luggage to a sweet arm tattoo that you can use to show interest and spark a conversation. However, as always, make sure that you show careful respect for personal and cultural boundaries when doing so.
On top of the social thrill that this kind of behavior can unleash, getting connected can also be a great way to find out about a new place, gather tips, and locate hotspots that you may have otherwise been unaware of.
Everyone communicates differently. In fact, you can typically break down different communication styles into four broad categories:
If you can identify how someone is communicating with you, you can adapt your own responses. Conform to their preferences in order to encourage rather than squelch their style, thus prolonging the conversation.
It’s easy to stay in your own head, and stepping out of your comfort zone and talking with a complete stranger is an intimidating proposition. However, there are a few things that can make this experience less intimidating and more rewarding:
While you never know how each attempt to connect is going to play out, the important thing is that you try to connect in the first place.
Looking for a shared interest or unique talking point can open up a chance to bond. Showing respect through active listening can encourage others to engage with you. Being sensitive to another person’s individual style of communication can enable you to overcome any cultural or personal awkwardness and speak directly to the heart.
Remember, though, it all starts with a simple willingness to try.