As we age, we often find it harder to make friends. Many of the friends we still have are those we made as children, teenagers, or as adults with small children.

I have always travelled a lot. From about the age of 10, I have been journeying around the globe. As I have aged and continue to travel, the one thing I don’t worry about is making friends. I worry much more about an airline losing a bag!

I know a lot of women worry if they will make friends and feel comfortable when they’re travelling solo. In my experience, it’s easier to make friends when you travel because, when you meet other travellers, everybody is in the same boat and you have something in common with them.

 
 

As you journey on and meet local people – or ex-pats – it’s fascinating to hear about their experiences. You can acquire some of their knowledge and use it to help create your own experiences.

It’s a delight to meet someone in Cairo, for example, and 30 years later feel as comfortable spending time with them, but this time in Bali!

When you have spent some time in a country, and you return, it’s lovely to be able to send an email and say “I’m on my way!” and be received with open arms.

Of course, you meet many more people who are transient acquaintances. Sometimes, only for 5 minutes at a bus stop or for an hour in an airport! Strangely, I find some of those people stay the longest in my memory.

Holiday Friends and Real-Life Friends

Making friends while on holiday, however, is oftentimes different from real-time friendship. Holiday friends know very little about you. If you choose to share your history with them, it will be long after the holiday has ended. In which case, they have become real friends.

Real-life friends, as I like to call them, are usually those people you have known longer than a week or a month and are part of your everyday life. If you haven’t known them forever, you have at least known them long enough to have shared your history with them.

So how do you make friends when you’re travelling? The same way you make friends when you’re not travelling. These are a few simple suggestions that, if nothing else, will start a conversation:

Talk to People

If you’re standing in a queue, waiting for a bus or sitting in a boarding area, start a conversation with the people next to you. It will alleviate your boredom – and theirs – and who knows, this could be a lifelong friend in the making.

Smile

When you smile, people will always smile back! It makes it so much easier to chat. If they don’t smile back, they’re having a bad day or perhaps they’ve lost their sense of humour.

Ask Questions – But Don’t Appear to Be Nosy

Everybody loves to talk about themselves; give them the opportunity. But please show interest!

Comment

Say something about their book, their carry-on bag, their hair – you get the idea. Again, you’re opening the door.

You can probably think of more ways yourself, but if someone doesn’t talk back, don’t take it personally. They may not be the talkative type.

It isn’t compulsory to make friends when you travel, but if you’re open to every possibility, you may be surprised at what can happen.

What are some of the things you do to make new connections and friends when you are travelling? Have you made any acquaintances while travelling who became good friends? Please share a story or two of the travel friendships you have made.

Penelope Jane WhiteleyPenelope Whiteley is a coach and mentor. Her lifestyle blog for women over 50, focuses on beauty, fitness and fashion and travel for the solo woman, as well as lifestyle and anti-aging.

Let's Have a Conversation!