Travelling is fun and exciting for a lot of folks. Going on backpacking trips to different areas around your city, country or even the world is exhilarating and opens up our eyes to the world. However, if you are backpacking solo, after sometime you crave for human company. As the saying goes – ‘No man can live as an island’. The purpose of these trips is seeing new places and meeting new people. Although approaching people is easy for some of us, most find it difficult and intimidating to strike up a conversation with someone. There are a few tips and pointers you can use to break the ice and use as conversation starters while on backpacking trips.

1. Eye contact and a smile

This should not come as a surprise; eye contact and smiling is one of the easiest ways to break the ice with someone. People generally respond to a smile with a smile back and then you can move on to the next step. However, a word of caution, don’t make prolonged eye contact such that it seems like you staring, which can be construed as being rude.

2. Where are you from?

The easiest question to ask, this helps because who doesn’t like to talk about themselves and where they are from. The best conversation starter, you can start with an eye contact and a smile introduce yourself and ask this question. It is easy to answer and the other person would genuinely be surprised that you want to know about where they are from. Follow up with a question like – Tell me more about your country (if you know the person is a foreigner), or tell them a funny story or a fun fact about the place where you hail from.

3. Share meals or go out for dinner or lunch together

Bonding over food is amazing especially if you are travelling to a different country. If you are carrying your own food, then offer it to the group you are backpacking with. It opens people up and you can then follow up with other questions while sharing their meals too. You always will get amazing food in return and make new friends.

4. Ask about their travels

This should be a no Brainer. Talking to people about their past and future travels opens up a whole new avenue of conversation that will last for a long time. This will also help you in getting new information about where they have travelled and maybe one day you will also be visiting that place.

5. Approach a fellow lone traveller

Start with something as simple as – Hi, is anyone sitting here? Can I join you? Travellers who are themselves travelling solo are on the lookout for company and will be glad to find one. Plus it helps if the company you seek is of a fellow traveller and may have similar tastes like you.

6. Compliments

Everyone likes a bit of honest flattery and compliments are the best way to break ice. Complimenting them on something as simple as their backpack will usually get you responses like – Thanks I got it at so and so place, will usually give off a positive vibe about you, since you complimented them.

7. Forming instant travel plans

Ask them where are they going and would they mind if you tag along with them. If people are friendly they may not, and will be glad of extra company. There is safety in numbers and plus the costs always comes down in large groups, so some folks don’t mind if the group size increases. However, a word of caution, be careful when you use this technique as you should not seem like you are imposing yourself on someone. Be genuine and honest and confident about yourself and it will help you win big points with everyone

8. Ask For advice

People love being asked for help and when you ask someone to do you a favour they immediately feel good about themselves. Talk about where can you get the best sightseeing panaromic view of a city you are visiting or ask about the best place to sample the local street food. If you are not sure about what to ask, a simple question about what they would advice to do in the city will suffice to get you in a conversation with them.

-Text by Macson D’Almeida

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