Travelling alone is a wondrous thing. For the most part, it’s an opportunity to assess your life by having some genuine “me time” as you go your own route. But whilst having solo revelations upon a glorious mountaintop is all well and good; it’s always nice to share memories, especially when experiencing a new place for the first time.
“I’ll show you my passport if you show me yours?”
Generally, when you are cooped up on an airplane as a solo traveler, the person randomly selected to sit next to you falls into one of four categories:
The crying child: Perhaps the least desirable category to be sat next to, especially during a long haul flight. Cue earplugs and eye mask.
The overexcited traveler: Normally forms part of a larger group scattered across the plane and is en route/returning from a holiday. So is perhaps fond of the on flight alcohol, is a tad merry and of course, is chatting a little too loudly to their mates across the aisle. Much like for the category above, earplugs and eye mask are a must.
The indifferent passenger: The most common of plane companions. They keep to themselves, are quiet but polite and well, ultimately forgettable the second you have stepped off the plane.
The unicorn: It’s very rare to find yourself sitting next to someone on a plane you find attractive, least of all someone you would consider to-be like-minded and potentially new friend material. Should this situation arise, you should most definitely make the most of this exceptional opportunity.
A casual toss of the complimentary packet of peanuts into their vicinity when they aren’t looking is always a good conversation starter…
“Whoops! Sorry, I accidentally dropped my peanuts by your shoes!“
Alternatively, if you find yourself on an indirect flight, pull out your itinerary, look perplexed and then ask your fellow traveler if they are in the same boat. If they are… well, great! Ask if you can join them when making the flight transfer for fear of getting lost in the foreign airport. If they aren’t travelling to the same final destination… never fear! You already have an in, so just keep asking them more questions about where they are headed and their reason for travelling. Everyone loves talking about themselves, so you are onto conversation gold.
However, if your target is a little on the quiet side, the peanut trick has failed and the travel questions have run dry; you may have to pull out all the stops. Ask if you can slip-past to use the restroom and then accidentally on purpose stumble onto their lap. If that doesn’t trigger a laugh, then blame turbulence and swiftly reach for the earplugs and eye mask.
“Nice place, do you come here often?”
It’s an oldie but a goodie: Stay in a hostel. When you are sleeping with strangers (in a dorm room of course!) It’s impossible not to get talking. Break the ice by asking your roomies in the morning what their plan is for the day. If following more or less the same route, suggest some extra fun things you’ve found to add to the itinerary. Being open and friendly, not to mention helpful is key. Once you get chatting, if all bodes well, you could find yourself some newfound tour buddies for the day.
Remember to play it cool though. If they don’t extend the invite on their day’s excursions, don’t just rock up to a museum they said they were hitting and appear lurking out from a behind a statue; because let’s face it:
A) They will think you are weird.
B) They will are likely to spread the word you are weird to the rest of the hostel dwellers post guitar sing-a-long in the common room.
If this occurs, it’s time to move hostels.
Not a twenty –something touting a backpack? Or perhaps you are averse to sharing a bathroom with fifteen strangers? Well, why not opt for guesthouses where you can rent just a room for a couple days rather than having the entire place to yourself. Get chatting to those hosting, prior to your stay so you know in advance whether or not you’d gel. And BAM! You’ve yourself some ready-made friends, not to mention accommodation, all waiting for you on arrival.
However much like dating, making friends when you are a single traveler can at first seem like a daunting endeavour. The trick is, of course, confidence. That’s the not-so-secret weapon. Couple that with the these smooth moves and you’re onto a guaranteed winner when it comes to meeting new people (well for the most part anyway…) You might even score yourself a love interest if you’re lucky!
Looking for a reliable airport shuttle to get you to or from Cape Town International Airport? Contact Airport Shuttle today!