10 TIPS FOR MAKING FRIENDS WHILE ON THE ROAD
Even though we're certain you'll be fine when it comes to making mates on the road, we've slung together this list of 10 great socializing tips for the budding globetrotter in 2017 anyway. Hey, you can never have too many travel buddies, right?
Offer to cook together
Move over beer, because there's really nothing like food for social lubricant. Whether you offer to pitch in to put together a pizza when you're traveling through Italy or plan a big barbecue as a group under the Asian sun, you can rest assured that sizzling up some grub is one sure fire way to make friends. Just think, if things get awkward, or if you want to avoid the usual rigmarole of small-talk questions, you can always complement the food you're eating. What's more, sharing a meal with other travellers is so often a prelude to other activities together, the chance is you'll find yourself downing mimosas at 3am with those new buddies – nice and full, of course.
Crack some cold ones in a cool place
Beers and partying have long been the go to backup for travellers looking to make pals on the road. It's easy to see why – you'll loosen up, become chattier, and drop inhibitions and worries about expressing yourself in a crowd. All those – and more – are the reasons we hit so many frothy Slavic lagers on our YachtLife tours, or have such hedonistic blowouts in the bars of Koh Phi Phi on our Thailand tours. It's all to get the convo flowing, to enjoy and mingle, free from the worries of your normal life. Of course, you don't have to ram down buckets to enjoy the gifts of Dutch courage. You could also just head to watch the sunset with your new mates, crack a cold one and enjoy the show.
Stay in hostels
Gone are the days when hostels were just grimy dorm rooms with lime scale over the bathrooms and rats in the kitchen (we're not even sure if hostels were ever like that, but still). Today, budget accommodation from Europe to Asia has become transformed. Comfy beds and communal areas are the name of the game, while loads even have bars stuck on the side. That's great news for travellers going it solo, because it's now also easier than ever to mingle, mix and meet likeminded folk right where you're staying. Sweet.
Take a package tour
Now it doesn’t take much for us at LBW to start singing the praises of organized travel tours, but personal bias aside, there's a lot to be said for the classic package. Not only will you have a pre-made group of new buddies to mingle with the moment you set foot off the plane, but all your itineraries and activities will be set out for you beforehand. That means you'll be free to concentrate on being the fun person you are and forging new friendships, sharing experiences and enjoying all the exciting locations you visit with those backpacking pals in tow.
Go on free walking tours
Free walking tours are now a staple of cities right across Europe. From the historic heart of Rome to the medieval towns of Poland to the romantic city streets of Paris to the mind-boggling architectural creations of Barcelona, they offer travellers an affordable way to get to grips with the history and culture of a destination. They also put together a large group of people who are all curious about a place. Just be sure to try and strike up a conversation with the next guy while you're walking between the spires of the Sagrada Familia or the gladiator dungeons of the Colosseum – you're sure to make a mate or two.
Become a tour guide
Ah, tour leading. Yes, you'll spend stressful morning panicking about where the group's cooking class tickets are, or long nights chaperoning too-drunk folk back to their hostel beds, but the bonuses definitely outweigh the cons. Just take LBW, where all our tour leaders are part of one huge, global family of likeminded travellers, all eager to offer hospitality, beds (or the occasional sofa), and time to share a cold brewski. It's kind of like the perfect way to guarantee you have friends wherever you go around the globe, and you'll even get paid for it! Nice.
Use co-working spaces
One for that new breed of millennials: the digital nomad. For folk who move around the planet while working on the internet, co-working spaces - like LBW's own nomad.life in Nicaragua - have become one of the mainstays of living. They offer a comfy place to stay in a top location (like just above the shimmering, surf-washed beaches of San Juan del Sur, for example), good internet connections and working spaces. And then there's the social element, which means you'll be mingling with other globetrotting laptop workers, both networking for business and making pals forever!
Talk to the locals
It's worth remembering that fellow travellers are just one possible group of people you can make friends with as you hop from destination to destination. There's also the locals, which will always outnumber backpackers, and often have a real desire to chat about everything from regional culture to history to religion – the list goes on. Just be sure to strike up a conversation now and again with the people who live in a place. Before long, you could find yourself digging into stacks of gado gado in an Indonesian village outside of Ubud, or stroking the family dog in the longhouses of central Vietnam.
It might sound like a traveler's cliché, but it's really important to remain open to new experiences wherever you go in the world. Not only will that sort of happy-go-lucky, life-affirming attitude mean you squeeze the most out of your trip, but it's also sure to make you more approachable and interesting to other backpackers. You don't have to be the annoying guitar-strummer at the hostel fire pit, telling dubious stories of that time you fought off an anaconda in the African bush. Just chillax and enjoy the flow, eventually it will mean plenty of more tales to fuel those evening chin wagging sessions in the bar.
Use social media to keep in touch
So, you've spent the night glugging Chang beer and buckets in the bars of Koh Samui, you've made loads of friends, and you're now looking forward to meeting up in the morning for a bout of snorkeling in the coral gardens along the shore. What next? Take their details! Too often do newly forged friendships hit the rocks because people forget to save some way of getting in touch. Thankfully, social media now makes it super easy to do just that, especially on the road, when it's likely you won't have access to traditional phone networks and the like.
Of course, there are loads of other great tips or travellers looking to make mates on the road. If you can think of any, we'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Or, if you think a group package is for you, be sure to check out our range of offers, going from sun-kissed Thailand to the misty jungles of Costa Rica and beyond.