One of the greatest things about travelling the world and exploring new places is the chance to meet new people, from making friends with like-minded travellers on the same back-packing route as you, to encountering locals from different cultures. Yet too often on holiday we are too shy, inhibited or downright lazy to put the effort in to make acquaintances, falling back on sticking with who we already know. So here is a look at some of the best holidays for meeting new people without coming across as a weirdo.
The single best way to engage with others is to do something worthy and find some volunteer work abroad in an amazing location such as Japan or Argentina. Not only do you get to meet fellow travellers who are doing the exact same thing as you, but you get to work alongside locals and experience them in a more authentic way than you would if you were a mere tourist. Working with people lets you fully understand their culture and way of life, making volunteering a great way to meet people you never would have had a chance to encounter before. And you will also be able to do something you really enjoy or are passionate about such as rainforest conservation in Belize, building houses in Ghana or organic farming in Vietnam.
Sometimes to meet new people you just have to step outside organised trips and tours and head out on your own. Often the very best way to make new friends and nurture new relationships is to leave such things up to chance. Though structured holidays can be perfect for meeting new people, many find that the thrill and adventure of setting out on a back-packing holiday by yourself is even better. Meeting like-minded people in a dingy hostel in the middle of Cambodia, or enjoying drinks with other back-packers that you have just met half way up the Inca trail in Peru is ultimately a bit more special and memorable than sitting around a table, wearing name-tags and introducing yourself. And many people who make friends on backpacking trips keep in touch for life.
Anyone who has enjoyed a teach abroad position in their youth will tell you that it was one of the most rewarding experiences of their entire life. And from meeting your fellow teachers, who often come from around the world, to encountering the children of another country, this is a great way to meet new people whilst also giving something back. Ultimately, you will end up learning as much about an unfamiliar culture as the children that you teach learn about yours, and you will also have the satisfaction of doing something good and fostering global relations. In recent years some of the most popular teaching locations abroad have been areas such as China, Korea and Japan, but now the rest of the world, from Africa to Latin America, is in high demand of fluent English speakers to come and do some teaching work.
If you are more romantically inclined and want to use your holidays as a chance to meet that special someone then why not think about taking a singles holiday? This way everyone is in the same boat, so there need not be any awkwardness or uncomfortable moments as you start interacting with people. Holidays of this kind can take you to the best beaches in Spain, the most cultural cities in Germany or the most exciting resorts in Thailand, and whether you are in the mood for love or just want to have fun with new people, then this is surely the holiday for you.
John has written about pressing travel issues as varied as securing the right visa for your overseas trip or finding volunteer work abroad at short notice.