We are on a plane to Cambodia…Woo!
I love this part of travelling. A chance to experience a whole new country, culture, and people. A chance to visit phenomenal sights and try exciting dishes. A chance to meet fellow travellers.
This last bit fills me with SOOOO much joy because I’m totally confident. Not a clumsy person at all. Not someone who has had ice cream in their hair at an event or fallen down the cafeteria stairs at uni in front of 500 people.
I’m Suzy. I’m socially smooth.
The feeling of joy is even more intense today as we are staying at one of the busiest hostels in Siem Reap and I have a sneaking suspicion there will be interaction with other travellers. The anxiety (I mean, exciiiitment!) of what to say and do comes super naturally to me, so I wanted to share my tips with you.
I started thinking about times during my travels, where I rocked other backpackers’ worlds with my AMAZINGNESS.
Here’s how to be the best backpacker and make a kickass impression with your fellow travellers:
Test your cloak of invisibility
I like to find a spot in the common area of the hostel. Let’s just say for the purpose of this story we are in Goa. When someone enters the room, I don’t utter a word. NOT ONE. I don’t even offer a head raise with one of those half-assed smiles to acknowledge their presence. I stay completely still like I’m a street performer but without the gold paint all over my body.
Afterwards, when I see them at the hostel bar, I embrace them like a long lost friend. It’s never too early in the travel friendship for hugs.
Try and exchange social media contacts within minutes of meeting
Get excited. Like REAL excited.
I like to be in Saigon with my voice at least 2 octaves higher than normal and be gulping for breath because I’m talking so fast that I forget basic motor skills.
Now that I got that squared away like a pro, I smile. I smile real hard and whatever I do, I do not blink. Blinking shows you are are not paying attention. Now the timing on this can be tricky but I like to launch straightaway into pulling out my phone and asking my new backpacker buddy about their social media accounts before properly learning their name. Eagerness = Interested.
Answer the question: “Where have you travelled?” with “All 7 continents”
KAPOW! Bet they didn’t see that coming.
This is best delivered as your new backpacker friend is enjoying some downtime by the pool in Mexico. Now they can sunbathe with the awesome knowledge that you are a total global-cat. Modesty is totally overrated when it comes to travel circles.
Just be about the party
Everyone luuuuurves a party! Particularly hostel owners in Laos when you invite the 50-odd people from the closing bar back to the hostel for a mini dance party. Ideally, you will have some portable speakers you can hook up and pump out your boyfriend’s music.
Make sure your face matches your feelings ALL-THE-TIME.
Don’t try and temper your body language at all. Honesty is the best policy riiiiiight! I like to seal the deal with my new bestie backpacker by falling asleep while they are regaling a travel tale. Sometimes I will add a little drool for a better first impression. Where to do this? I quite like train rides from Stockholm to northern Sweden.
Act younger than you are
I like to try out all the new lingo I’ve been hearing from my fellow backpackers. Even though I don’t understand what the words mean or know how to use them. Follow up by posting everything to snaptalk. They will never know I was born in the 70s.
Hang around in the hostel until you see a group you can follow
Start with something like “I’m going to join you guys today”. It shows that you had loads of offers, but goes towards making them feel super special. It won’t appear like you are semi-stalking them. Promise! It works particularly well in Cornwall.
You can also try waving randomly
No one will think that this is your first solo trip and that you have no idea. Definitely not! Anytime circa 2000 should work.
Be the funny one in the group
Everyone likes to laugh.
I don’t worry that I can’t tell a joke, forget punchlines, laugh mid-way through my own story, have out-dated cheese puns, and like performing the teapot dance. Being a try-hard will get you points. Loads of best backpacker points. Honest! I find it works a charm when I’m rapping in a hammock on an island.
Steal their shit
Like their favourite hat while it’s on their head. I know they will welcome my appreciation of their headwear.
If it wasn’t clear at the beginning, I’m being sarcastic in this post.
While this is a guide of what NOT to do to be the best backpacker ever, they are all real examples. This is me. These are my most embarrassing moments on the road.
Please make me feel better, by telling me yours. What’s the worst thing you have done/said to try and make friends travelling?