25 Jan Fake it Until You Make it: 8 Ways to Act Outgoing While Traveling
I’m a shy person through and through. I don’t like crowds, I fumble over my words when meeting new people, and my heart races at the thought of no privacy. But I still travel alone though almost every aspect of it makes me nervous and uncomfortable. And I can do it because I force myself to. And, going beyond just traveling alone, I want to make friends, have fun, and do all the things that outgoing people do. But the only way to do that is, while traveling, to pretend that I’m not shy and instead pretend I’m outgoing.
At first it seems like I’m not being my “true self” if I pretend to be someone I’m not but I look at it as if I’m just skipping the painfully boring steps of shyly getting to know people and getting down to business. After all, I usually don’t have months to grow friendships on the road so anything that moves this along more quickly is worth it.
8 Tips to be outgoing while traveling
- Be the first to speak to people in your hostel. You don’t have to go up to every person, shake their hand, and learn their life story. I just mean, if someone walks into your hostel dorm, say hello and introduce yourself. If you don’t say anything and hide your face to avoid eye contact that’s their first impression of you. Which is “leave me alone.” If you want to make friends with people in your dorm that’s not a great way to start. It’s a lot easier to appear outgoing from the very beginning rather than changing their opinions later.
- Have a plan of action. Make a plan for your day whether it’s museum hopping or some other attraction. And then have an idea or script of what to say when you see people. When I’m nervous words come out of my mouth that I don’t even want to say, so if you have an already well thought-out script you will avoid sounding crazy. You can invite someone to come with you or combine ideas. Maybe you both want to do the same thing and it ends up working out. But if you have no idea what you’re plans are it might seem to the other person you just want to cling to them. Remember to sound independent and confident but not so much that you’re stand-off-ish.
- Always say yes. Within reason, of course. But if you finally get to know people in your hostel and they invite you to do something. You must say yes. Unless it’s something dangerous of something you’re personally against, it will only do you good to get out. Outgoing people usually accept invitations, after all.
- Set Goals. Along the same lines as “say yes,” setting goals will ensure that you get out. When you feel as though you’ve accomplished something you are living the adventure you’ve planned. Being shy can make some tasks seem very difficult. Where a more outgoing person might just be able to get up and find awesome things to do (or so it seems), we need to push ourselves. Having a plan and goals will make sure that we aren’t wasting the travel time.
- Ask questions. This might be tricky depending on where you are but if you know you can communicate with those around you, either in English or another language you speak, this is a good way to act or become outgoing. If you’re at a restaurant, shop, in your hostel, or another public place where conversations are accepted or expected, a question might get the ball rolling. In a restaurant, asking your server intelligent, honest questions about the food or location you’re in will both boost your confidence and give your server reason to communicate with you more than just in the most basic way. This could lead to advice, more information, or maybe even a friendship. If nothing else this will take you out of your own head to try to communicate with others and feel as though you are not lonely or excluded from those around you. An example from my experience is 2 separate tours I took. On one to Loch Ness I was quiet, kept to myself and didn’t ask questions. For the most part I was ignored and I felt dislocated from everyone. On a tour to Stonehenge I asked the guide a question about the area we were in. After he answered my question he frequently came up to me to tell me more information and also included me in the group more than I could have myself.
- Slowly step out of your comfort zone. Depending on how shy you are, travel itself might be way out of your comfort zone, but because you’ve decided to travel, and maybe on your own, you already have the courage it takes. But in order to help make friends or just have a good time try to do things that are slightly out of your comfort zone, but not so much that you’re extremely uncomfortable and end up ditching the whole thing. If you’re into books (which, let’s face it, most introverts are!) it might be a good idea to go on a literary tour. You’ll meet people with similar interests so that you’re comfortable but also be out of your comfort zone enough to push you in the right direction.
- Realize it’s awkward for everyone. Traveling is like exercising. It might be easier the more you do it, but that never means it’s completely pain free. So even seasoned travelers who have met people from every country in the world and can speak the basics of 20 languages still have feelings and insecurities. And just because someone appears outgoing and probably intimidating, doesn’t make them less lonely or uninterested in meeting people. In fact, seasoned travelers might be more inclined to make friends from new people because they’ve done it so often. And for those other shy travelers, they’ll probably be thanking you for taking the lead.
- Don’t Stress. Constantly worrying about meeting people will cause you to think too much and end up spending more time in your own head than actually doing what you’d like. So take a second, clear your head, and follow the steps I’ve given. You don’t need to organize walking tours or pub crawls just to meet people. They might just fall into your lap if you’re open to it.
- Bonus! Don’t get discouraged. If you try these ways but still end up not meeting anyone, or feeling awkward that’s okay. Maybe the hostel you’re at is lame, or the travelers there already formed some type of clique, or for some reason none of it seemed to work out. Just try again in the next place or your next trip. There’s nothing worse than trying your best for it to not work. Just realize there’s nothing you can do now and try again. It will eventually work and you’ll wonder why you ever doubted yourself.
While some of these are actual tips, things to do or say, and some of them are just reminders, they’re all important. But really what’s important is to realize that you’re traveling for a reason, probably because you’ve been bit by the travel bug or because this is a life-long wish you are finally able to fulfill. But either way you want to make the most of it and hiding out in a hostel or hotel probably isn’t the way you pictured it. And, like it or not, meeting people and making friends is important in travel (in the very least you have to communicate to those around you) and can really add to the experience.
And just remember that there’s nothing wrong with being shy, but because we are, we might have to put in a little extra effort to accomplish all that we want to.
I hope these tips helped. Let me know in the comments below about your own experiences while traveling.