In an earlier post, I shared my top 10 tips on how to travel to New York City by yourself.
One of those tips was talk to strangers. In this post I would like to elaborate on some of my earlier ideas.
Above everything else this can sometimes be the most important.
You need to be brave.
We need to put ourselves out there and make an effort with people. We need to not worry about being rejected (or what we perceive as rejection). It’s not rejection people may simply be focused on doing their own thing.
It’s amazing what can happen if you simply speak up.
After the first day of my blogging course in New York I was looking forward to socializing with some of the group. Unfortunately the course itself doesn’t have a social component once the day is over.
Walking to the train station with two of the girls from the group I decided to ask if anyone wanted to go for a drink. Thankfully one of the girls said yes. We ended up having a great night. We had drinks, talked about our lives and had a delicious meal (best gnocchi I’ve ever tasted).
Assess the situation
When I was in New York I went for a pre-dinner drink before a Broadway show.
At a bar just off Times Square, I noticed a blonde lady next to me. It was a Friday afternoon and she had clearly finished a long week of work. She looked a little stressed. At first I wasn’t sure if I should talk to her but I decided to take the plunge and ask her about the wine she was drinking.
We ended up having a great conversation. So much so that I nearly missed the start of my show. I had to do a last-minute what I call ‘Carrie Bradshaw’ run through Times Square, thankfully in platforms and not stilettos to make the curtain call on time.
At the end of our drinks, the asked to hug me goodbye which I thought was sweet. I think I brightened her day and I know she made my day so much better.
Find something in common
While in New York, I had dinner at a lively restaurant in Soho. The tables were close together and I could hear the couple next to me talking. As soon as I heard the man use the word mate, I knew I was going to say hello. They were Australians. Automatically we had something in common. The three of us ended up having a lovely chat. Along the way I found out the husband and wife lived in a small outback town.
Oddly enough when I had dinner with my Australia friend holidaying in New York a couple of days later I mentioned the couple. Turns out they had been to that small town recently and met the husband.
Needless to say if they had been having a romantic candlelight dinner for two I would not have interrupted them. In saying that I probably wouldn’t have been in a full on romantic restaurant by myself anyway. When you are own your own best to go for lively and social!
Enjoy being open
The amazing thing about talking to a stranger is how open you can be. When you meet someone new, they don’t know your personal history and baggage. You can simply be the best version of yourself.
You can be open and honest about yourself (without over sharing too much naturally).
Listen to your inner voice
You should always listen to that little voice in your head. You know the one I’m talking about. The one that says ‘go for it’ or ‘not a good idea’.
I made the mistake of ignoring that voice on a trip to Croatia. In a bar one evening, I started casually talking to a man who was traveling for business. He talked about his wife, children and his work. He came across as extremely family orientated. When he asked me to what I thought was a harmless dinner, I ignored the little voice in my head that said it wasn’t a good idea.
As soon as we got to the restaurant, not five minutes from the bar, he started hitting on me. Big time. He didn’t even bother being subtle.
I know, I know what was I thinking? It was an extremely unpleasant situation. I got out of there as quickly as I could and spent the next day berating myself for doing something so stupid.
You might remember I mentioned in my New York post that I went to dinner with a gentleman who I met at my hotel rooftop bar. My instincts and the voice in my head were telling me it was a good idea and I was right.
Talk to people you might not normally approach
This is one of the many great things about traveling. Traveling and getting out of your comfort zone is the perfect time to speak to different types of people.
At home we often hang out with people in our same social circle and social standing. Work is a classic example. We spend time with people in our industry or people who have jobs similar to our own.
Being on holiday and meeting new people is the chance to change all that.
Let go of the labels
Regardless of whether you are an introvert or extrovert at some point many of us need to be able to talk to strangers.
I’ve noticed that people can get a bit caught up on this introvert/extrovert label.
If people label themselves as introverted, their first thought when it comes to talking to a stranger might be ‘I could never do that’. An extrovert might think they could never travel by themselves in the first place. I have a problem with the word never. It’s so limiting!
When I did a Myers Briggs tests years ago, I came up as introverted but only slightly. I think my levels of introversion have greatly increased since that test. In saying that it doesn’t stop me from making an effort to speak to people.
Many also interpret introversion and extraversion the wrong way. It’s mainly about energy and how you recharge your batteries. It doesn’t necessary mean that you hate or love being around people.
I believe people are too complex and interesting to be weighed down by labels.
Do what feels right for you
I didn’t strike up conversations with people every night I was in New York. I spoke to people when I felt like it.
If I was tired or just wanted to enjoy my own company (which I am pretty good at) I kept to myself.
Do what feels right for you at the time.
Use technology but don’t hide behind it
My recent trip was the first time I had a smart phone. On past trips my way of keeping in touch with people was by going to an Internet cafe and sending email or on more recent trips sending emails from my laptop.
Being able to send emails and talk to people on Facebook from my smart phone was great. It kept me connected to home and allowed me to stay in touch with family and friends. That connection definitely helped with feeling more social and less isolated.
I took my phone to restaurants with me and sometimes used it when I was by myself.
I think what you have to watch is that you don’t use technology as a way to avoid face to face contact with people altogether. Don’t let technology stop you from socializing.
Goes without saying
Be nice. Be courteous. Don’t be rude to people.
The truly amazing thing about talking to strangers when you travel is that sometimes when you meet the right person you can end up being life long friends!
The next time you go overseas regardless of whether you go by yourself, with your partner or with a group of friends make an effort to reach out and speak to people.
You just never know who you will meet.
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