Making Connections While Traveling

Traveling is as much about making connections with others, as it as about the physical destination.  Connecting with others gives you the opportunity to learn new things, meet fascinating people and find commonalities between yourself and once total strangers.

We recently went on a 19 day cruise to the Panama Canal, round trip out of Los Angeles. Upon boarding, I already knew 4 of my fellow passengers, including my husband and his mother.  By the end of the trip, we had made friends with several people and our goodbyes were heartfelt and teary-eyed.

Sea day with our new and old friends. Playing games and enjoying lunch.

We met the gentleman who gave up his major league baseball career to earn a more stable living as a contractor for NASA, where he hand-delivered the Apollo contract to those who signed it.  He was there with his girlfriend that he wanted to marry but she thought she was “too old” to get married again.

We met a couple who we clicked with almost immediately and who welcomed us into their home and family.  Other passengers on our cruise assumed that we had known each other for years, despite the fact that we had only met days earlier.  When we suffered a loss weeks later, they were so supportive.

There was the couple we met who happen to be close friends to one of our coworkers family.

Then there is the crew who took such good care of us, who we spent time with in port during their time off and we still exchange emails and messages with.  Each of these relationships we made played a huge factor in how much we enjoyed and appreciated time on our vacation.

There are several ways to make connections during your journey, whether you’re traveling alone or in a group.  Your shared travel experience already gives you a common experience to bond over.  The connections could be with a complete stranger or a member of your family.  Here are some tips to making those connections in your travels.

1.)  Relax. Being relaxed and open-minded will make you more approachable by others and make you more like to initiate

We were photobombed by a fun couple on our excursion in Costa Rica.

conversations.  Put on a happy face, make eye contact, say ‘hello.’  Notice someone with a shirt or baseball cap from your college team?  Strike up a conversation on your shared interest.

2.)  Participate. Taking part in group activities, dancing and singing will encourage conversation others.   Wandering through the town you’re visiting, you might find festivals or markets and learn about the local culture from the people who live there.

3.)  Challenge yourself. Trying new activities or foods while you’re vacation, working through your fears and anxiety with others in the same boat, may create a special bond.  Never been ziplining?  Want to try your first snorkeling trip?  Others with you may provide encouragement and tips on how to overcome your reluctance.

4.) Speak local. When going to a country that speaks a different language than your own, it helps to have a few phrases down to help you communicate with the residents of that destination.  Get a few words and phrases down before you leave and have a translation app on your phone handy for making conversation.  You’d be surprised how open people are to the fact that you are making an effort to communicate with them in their language.

5.)  Strive to learn.  Ask questions about people, things, places.  Taking a sincere interest in others is the best way to make a connection. Learn about others customs and traditions and why they are so important.

Goofing off with our new friends in Manzanillo, fellow passengers and a few of the crew.

Making connections doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your safety or become the best of friends with everyone you meet.  It is more about being present in the moment and appreciating all you can about the other person.  You may find these temporary or permanent relationships you foster, will enrich your life more than you anticipated.