For me, part of exploring the country also means getting to know people I meet as I travel. The more people you get to know, the broader the horizons of your life become. Never more so than when making friends. With that in mind, here are my tips on making friends on the road.
There are three basic elements to meeting people and making friends.
- Creating opportunities to meet people
- Striking up a conversation
- Following up afterward
Your first step to making friends on the road is to be mindful of creating opportunities to meet other people. Generally, RV travel itself provides many such opportunities.
Guided tours are a great way to meet people. The longer the tour, the more conducive it is to meeting folks and striking up a good conversation. Tours that pose some kind of challenge to the tourists, such as hikes, cave exploration, or other outdoor activities are especially good for meeting people. The challenge of a situation often helps bond people, and there are lots of chances for conversation. Any tour that includes meals or long bouts of transportation are also great as people will seek conversation to pass the time.
Game Nights, Potlucks, and other camp activities
When booking RV Parks, keep an eye out for places that specialize in hosting seasonal travelers or senior campers. These RV Parks will almost always have a social calendar of events at the park. The bigger the park, the more opportunities they are likely to have. Game nights are especially good for getting to know people because playing games create social interaction, effectively breaking the ice for you. Card games and dominos based games are the most popular at RV parks. Potlucks are also great as folks mostly just sit, eat and chat with the folks that sit nearby.
Exploring a new city or town, without having a pre-planned agenda is great for meeting folks. Mostly because you will find yourself asking questions of strangers or local proprietors. When people realize you are new to the area and looking to explore, they will often be excited to share with you the things they love most about the place they live.
When hanging out at your RV Park, be sure to spend some time outside your RV during the day when the weather is good. This is a great way to meet your neighbors and fellow travelers. Likewise, you can strike up conversations with other RVers who are spending time in the sun.
Once you have created an opportunity it’s time to make good on it and get a conversation going. Some of the time it’s up to you to get things started, other times folks will make the first move.
Strike it up with fellow travelers
The most natural way to start up a conversation is a question. It naturally initiates a response and gets the ball rolling. There are a number of new standbys for engaging fellow travelers.
- Where are you from?
- Is this your first time visiting (whatever place you are at)?
- How do you like that RV, Truck, Grill, etc…?
Conversation with the locals
Questions are also your go-to here. Certainly, you want to open with expected questions. Ask tour guides about the places you are touring, ask proprietors about their business, and ask locals about the best places to visit or eat. These are things everyone asks them, so you want to move beyond that if you want to have a real conversation. Asking how they came to their job is a good starting point. The trick is to move beyond talking about things/places and to talk about themselves.
One important thing to keep in mind is that when people are working, you don’t want to get in the way of their work. Either focus on speaking to them when they are not otherwise busy. Be aware that they may need to pay attention to other customers. Also, try to read whether they are enjoying the conversation, these are often people who talk for a living and at times, they likely appreciate some quiet time.
I’ve found that certain wardrobe choices tend to lead to conversations. If you wear a shirt that advertises one of your hobbies or interests, there is a good chance that others who share that interest will let you know. Generally flashy clothing is also a good conversation starter. I have a black shirt with flames on it that almost always gets someone to throw me a compliment when I wear it in public. Unusual jewelry or other curiosities are also likely to spark interest and turn into conversation.
Tips for Good Conversation
I think the key to good conversation is a balance between the participants. Showing genuine interest in the other person is probably the most important thing to making a connection. On the other side, being honest, earnest, and reasonably open about yourself builds trust and interest. I’ve got a bad habit of talking folks ears off once I get comfortable and have to remind myself to give others a chance to talk. When I do, I’m almost always rewarded with cool life stories that people are eager to share.
So far, this article is mostly about making conversation, not making friends. For that, you will need to follow up after your initial encounter. Of course, that may not be your aim, just meeting and conversing with people can be it’s own pleasure. But if you do meet someone you think would make a great friend, then follow up you must.
Here’s My Card
I’m not a big fan of business cards, but the traveling lifestyle is one where they come in handy. I recommend a card that has your name, and the best ways to contact you. Then a picture of yourself, or something memorable you want to represent you. When you meet someone you want to keep in touch with, you can give them your card. You can also use them to write down other people’s names or contact information. I keep a few hidden away in my wallet, backpack, camera case, and other places I commonly have at hand when out and about.
Facebook and Friends
Having a social profile on a popular social network like Facebook is super helpful in making friends while traveling. It gives people an easy way to connect without exposing more sensitive information like a phone number. It also makes for a great environment to get to know someone over time. You can see what they are up to, and you can see what they are up to, and that gives you things to talk about. At a minimum, keeping an email address that you check at least once a week is a good idea.
Staying in Touch
Building a good friendship requires some level of interaction over time. I find it’s a good idea to have some kind of focus to build that communication around. It can be as simple as following someone on a social network and leaving comments from time to time. If you share a hobby or interest, that is ideal. Let them know from time to time what you are doing in your hobby and ask about theirs. If they are in a position to mentor you in a hobby or vice versa, that’s also a great basis for building a relationship.
Similarly, if you share a profession with someone you meet, that is also a great core to build on. It’s also a relationship that can substantially benefit both parties. LinkedIn is a great social network for such connections and ongoing relationships. Like with hobbies, looking for ways you can help one another is going to build camaraderie and benefit everyone.
If you travel a lot, then you may well have the opportunity to visit people you meet in your travels, or even people you have only known from the internet. As an avid gamer, and now an avid traveler, I’ve visited a number of friends I knew only from playing video games over the years. These encounters are almost always fun and rewarding. The trick is keeping a good address book that has the location where people live and good contact information. Then you can use mapping software like Google Maps to create a map of all the people you might like to visit. Whenever you are going to take a trip, you can see who might make a good visit during the trip.
So now you know everything there is to know about making friends on the road!
I hope these tips will help you meet new people on your next vacation, make lasting friendships, and create new memories.
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