Travelling alone is one of the best things I’ve ever done. It opened my eyes to both the external world and internally into my own personality and mind.
One of the changes I had to quickly adapt to was that if I wanted any type of human interaction I had to go out and find it. Moving about constantly means you need to be able to make friends quickly or else you may find yourself eating dinner alone, which is no fun.
While there are hundreds of ways you can go about meeting people while travelling, with hanging out in a hostel being one of the easiest, I want to share a simple strategy that I used all the time in every country with a 90% success rate (I just made up that number but it basically works all the time). It’s also a strategy you can use if you are staying in a nicer hotel or on a business trip so don’t worry if you don’t plan on going backpacking any time soon.
The Bar Strategy
Sounds like a pretty unique strategy right? Just read…
If you’re travelling on your own (even if you’re in your own city really) and feel like meeting someone new and not spending the evening alone, here is what you do. Spend your day sightseeing or in your meetings. While you’re going about during the day look out for bars that you feel are your kind of style. When I say a bar, I mean a place with a bar. Not a lounge, not a club and not a beer garden. You want somewhere that has an actual bar, around the bar tender area with stools you can go and sit on. Plus they should serve food. If you see a place during the day, pop in quickly and chat to the bar tender.
You: “Hey, I’m new in town and looking for somewhere to hang out tonight, what’s this place like?
BT: Its good / Its bad.
*If it seems like somewhere cool that you could hang out at, and it seems like it gets a little busy follow up with this.*
You: Awsome, sounds cool. I think I’ll head back here later. Thanks so much for helping me out. What’s your name?
BT: No problems, I’m Julie.
You: Julie, nice to meet you. I’m Vinay. Are you going to be working tonight?
BT: Nah, I finish at three.
You: Ahh, too bad. I wanted to see you again so I could give you a HUGE tip for helping me out. Do you know who is going to be working tonight?
BT: Yeh its Dave I think.
You: Dave hey, what does he look like?
BT: (blah bla description)
You: Ok cool. Thanks again Julie, it was nice talking to you. I may see you again tomorrow.
What you have just done there is properly sussed out a venue. It’s only a 1 min conversation but if you jump into 5 different bars throughout your daily venturing, it can seriously help out the quality of your night. Plus, now you have something to talk about when you go back in later. It works just as well if the bartender is still going to be working that evening.
Come back into the bar, ideally earlyish. 6 or 7. With the plan to eat dinner and get a few drinks (or not if you don’t drink). Sit down at the bar, in the middle of the bar. Next to other people and ideally near the section where people come and buy drinks. Strike up a conversation with Dave telling him how you met Julie earlier. Tell him you’re new into town or on holiday. Ask him what is happening in the area tonight. Talk LOUD (but not obnoxiously) so that others in the bar can hear your conversation and contribute. As soon as you get chatting with the people next to you, introduce yourself. Find out what they’re up to (if they’re staying for a few or about to leave is all you need to know). If they’re staying for a while, offer to buy them a drink straight away. Don’t worry, you will get one back. Tip the bartender big the first time.
You now have a whole bar full of friends. When people (read girls) come up to the bar to order their drinks, bring them into your conversation. Introduce the girls to the bartender and to your new friends. Can you see the snowballing effects here?
Don’t worry if the bar isn’t the coolest place in the world. You can always move on later in the night. Also, don’t worry if you don’t get a chance to check it out during the day. If its fairly busy and has a bar, it still works fine.
I can’t tell you how many crazy nights I have had that have started off in this exact manner. I’ve ended up being taken out by the bar tenders, the people next to me and the girls that walk up. To all sorts of crazy places, in different countries. You never know where you’ll end up.
As a closing rule, if you are travelling and out to experience. Try Do not to say no to anything. If some old dude invites you to his kids birthday: Yes. If two seedy guys invite you to a strip club: Yes. If two beautiful girls invite you back to their place…
Life can be awesome if you let it.