Don’t Be a Stranger: 5 Reasons to Chat Up the Person Next to You While Traveling

5 Jun

“Don’t Be a Stranger:

5 Reasons to Chat Up the Person Next to You While Traveling”

by Erica Bray via “Yahoo!Travel

Don't Be a Stranger: 5 Reasons to Chat Up the Person Next to You While Traveling

“A simple “Hello” can lead to spectacular things — especially while traveling. It’s a travel currency as valuable as the money in your wallet.

“Hello” led me to perform headstands on park benches in Beijing’s Temple of Heaven park, alongside an elderly Chinese man doing the same.

“Hello” led me to hang with a BBC producer documenting a local festival in Cuzco, Peru, and receive expert context from him about what I was witnessing.

“Hello” is what prompted a doppelganger for the Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man in the World” to split a bottle of red wine with me in Buenos Aires, Argentina, regaling me with heroic stories that may or may not have been true.

In short, you never know what amazing, unscripted adventure can happen as a result of being friendly with those around you. “Hello” (paired with a smile) is a universally understood greeting for “I’m open to learning about you.”

So often while traveling, I see people stick to themselves — solo travelers reading in solitude, couples that only have eyes for each other, friends laughing together in closed circles. I can only hope that they don’t spend their entire vacation that way.

Next time you find yourself in one of these scenarios, consider the amazing memories you could be making by engaging the humanity around you. Of course, first follow your intuition on whether it’s the type of person or people with whom you wantto engage. Safety comes first. My advice: If curiosity and intuition suggest “Yes,” then invite the conversation.

Here’s how “Hello” helped me chart some amazing travel experiences and can also inspire the same for you. It’s as basic as this: Don’t be shy.

Unique cultural experiences

Some of the most authentic cultural experiences aren’t offered in pre-booked tours. It takes befriending locals and earning the invitation. While backpacking India, friends and I said “Hello” to a local sadhu, or holy man, who lived under a giant Shiva statue along the Ganges River. He smiled back at us and waved us into his humble home, where we learned how to make  . . . .

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