Don’t worry, they say. You’ll make friends, they say. You know, unless you don’t… Not many people know this but I suffer from anxiety. In high school I was everything to everybody: a politician, a teacher, a volunteer, an athlete, an actress, and a friend. Because I was actively involved people assumed I was an extrovert. I am not. I am only outgoing when I choose to be outgoing, and am therefore an ambivert who just happens to lean on the introverted side of things! That’s why I was terrified when I realized I would have to actually put myself out there and make friends!
The hardest part about being alone, is well, being alone. Though most of us solo girls value our independence and freedom, we also value human connection. We want to engage with locals, and interact with other like-minded individuals. But how? The art of conversation is a lot like the art of travel, in that they both start with one thing: a decision to act.
Hostels are small communities of travelers looking to interact and have fun with one another. From the moment you walk into your dorm be open-minded. A simple introduction goes a long way! Seasoned travelers joke about the almost script-like conversations, but at least we get to brag! Start with something like, “Hi, I’m ________, and you are? Cool. Where are you from? How long are you staying? Where are you going? Any suggestions?”. Even if that’s the only time you speak to one another, at least you’ll break the ice and know who you’re sleeping with.
Tip: Upon arrival I suggest you ask the reception staff what it offers in terms of facilities and services. Do they have a bar, free breakfast, group tours?
Bars are not just for excessive drinking and hookups. Bars are the perfect place to meet new people, and mingle with a younger generation of locals. The hardest part? Getting through the door, and into a booth. You might think that people are judging you, but truth be told, most couldn’t care less (something my ego had to learn the hard way)! As I’ve said in previous posts I’m not a drinker or partier, so why then do I go? I go because it’s apart of the culture and experience.
Upon arriving I suggest you take a deep breath and head directly to the bar. Order a drink, alcoholic or otherwise, and sit down. Feeling bold? Find a group to join. Start with something like, “Hi I’m ________. It looked like you guys were having a good time! I was wondering, can I join you?”. If, like me, you feel less comfortable, sit at a stool and chat up the bartender. I can guarantee that someone will come your way by the end of the night! Make eye contact and smile, sometimes it’s as simple as that! Want to meet locals? Go into the city. Want to meet travelers? Head to the hostel bar.
Tours are another subject we travelers spend hours debating! I personally love a good tour. They are a great way to learn, ask questions, and get good advice. They are also a means of engaging with a range of individuals from across the globe (and if not the globe then at least Australia aha)! Introduce yourself, or ask for help. Going on an adventure? Confide in someone. Let them know that you are scared and/or excited. I befriended a young Australian couple while touring Neuschwanstein Castle. We talked the whole two-hour train ride back to Munich. They even invited me to Christmas Eve dinner! We feasted on beer, schnitzel and Kinder eggs; it was delicious! In sharing experiences, you ultimately share a piece of yourself. So just do it: form bonds with strangers!
And Lastly, Know yourself
Over the years I have learned that before you can befriend another you have to befriend yourself. Be confident in who you are and what you have to offer. If you tell yourself that you are worth it, others will start to believe it too! So, before taking action think about just how great you really are. By reciting an internal monologue, you are reverting negative energy into positive thoughts. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be friends with you, right?
P.S. You Might Also Like:
- A Solo Girl’s Guide to Couchsurfing
- A Solo Girl’s Guide to Loneliness
- A Solo Girl’s Guide to Hostels
- Why I Chose Chasing Adventure Over Chasing Boys