How are you with strangers? Just being next to a stranger while walking on a hallway or standing next to one in an elevator could feel a little uncomfortable. Are you supposed to smile, nod your head, say hello or just completely ignore them? A lot of it has to do with culture and tradition. Although in general, being friendly with strangers is not something that comes around very often, and very easily.
Now, think of traveling with strangers. Wait. Before you throw this out of the window, hear this out. These strangers are like-minded people who, like you, want to conquer new experiences and adventures, which means connecting with them shouldn’t be the weirdest thing in the world. Come to think of it, you have a lot of things in common. Solo travel is making a lot of buzz as of late, but turning strangers into travel buddies also deserve a place in your bucket list.
If you become part of a group that’s on a tour, or if your travel agent arranged group tours of random individuals, it shouldn’t hurt to start a conversation with the stranger you are standing next to. Start simple with name, country, and maybe even the weather. Before you know it, you are going on a holiday with your unexpected travel buddy.
Pool smarts and resources
You might say you are a master traveler, but everyone could use a little help, right? If you want a photo that isn’t a selfie, your co-traveler can take it for you. Who knows, he might even surprise with an IG-worthy portrait. A stranger that is an expert in reading maps? Or can speak the local language? Perfect.
Whether it be snacks-on-the-go, a nice camera, a tripod, travel devices or inherent charm, every traveler has something to contribute. The smarts and skills — good with directions, good with asking for directions, good with ordering food, well-researched, great photography skills — are great to pool together. You could be a dream travel team in the making.
Go to far, far places
If you’re traveling in Japan, it is very convenient to just go around Tokyo. After all, there’s already so much culture there. But traveling with strangers would make going out of Tokyo sound truly exciting, and even possible. Mt. Fuji in Honshu and the lavender fields of Hokkaido are worth the long trip, but you probably won’t have the guts or the enthusiasm to travel there alone.
Split the cost
Traveling solo could mean more expenses, from accommodation to tours. If you’re comfortable to be around strangers, you can split accommodation costs with them. When it comes to food, some servings can be pretty overwhelming, and sharing it would be more economical.
If you are going on a beach holiday on your own or as a couple, an island tour would cost less if done with a group. In Boracay, you can go on a private tour, but where is the fun in that? There are a lot of things to do in Boracay island, such as experiencing the night life, and if you can split the cost of a bucket of beer with your new travel buddies, you’ll probably have a more epic experience.
Avoid the logistics nightmare
It could be hard to get from one place to another, get a taxi, book tours, and attend to all the nitty-gritty all on your own. But when you are with a group, you can relax and take all the help you can get. Strangers could be very friendly and helpful, and you just have to be open to the whole experience.
Expand your network
Who doesn’t want to make new friends and forge life-long friendships? Travel with strangers can make this so much easier because you will be acquainted with people who have the same interests, people who are also adventurous, and those who are also open-minded. If you share a unique experience like trekking in Vietnam or climbing an active volcano in Indonesia, you are not likely to forget the people you did it with. You are likely going to remember something extreme like that in detail.
Make sure you keep in touch so the next time you want to climb the Himalayas, you know who to call.
Cool friends all over the world
Speaking of expanding your network and connections, traveling with strangers would pave the way for you to meet really cool people. You think your Uncle Joe is the coolest, but wait until you meet that backpacking and thrill-seeking traveler from Australia.
It is great to have friends scattered all over the world. Apart from widening your horizon, they are also potential hosts. Maybe you’ll want to travel to Mexico next year, and your new Mexican friend can be your local tour guide.
Get to know other cultures
Let’s say your agenda is to tour China. Every now and then, maybe you’ll interact with a local when buying food or asking for directions, and you’ll get to observe them and their unique idiosyncrasies and peculiarities. But when traveling with strangers, you’ll also learn about everyone’s cultures, and you’ll go home learning so much more than you planned.
It could be safer
If you’re traveling solo, it is easy to feel helpless if you get lost in a foreign city. If you’re hiking and you fall, you’ll definitely need a hand. If you plan to travel in far-flung areas, it is better to do it with someone.
Growing up, your parents were probably all about “stranger danger,” but when traveling, joining a group of strangers could actually be a safer option.
Different cultures, different perspectives
When you go to a different country, you should expect some things to be very different from what you know. The culture of tipping, for example, is acceptable to some and downright rude to others. There will be peculiarities and quirks you’ll see, and depending on where you came from, your perspectives could vary. And this makes traveling with a group really interesting as doing so would make you more open-minded, easy-going, and incredibly tolerant.
Epic stories to tell
Want to be that person who knows someone from Vanuatu, or that friend who knows how to speak at least ten words in ten languages? Going on an adventure with strangers will help you pack up on great travel stories that could be enjoyed by generations and generations to come.
Having said these benefits, it also doesn’t mean that you’ll just go share a room with a stranger on a whim. This is also something you need to do with a bit of caution. Go at it slowly if that’s your pace. But don’t be all negative about it. Travelers are bold and fearless, and it would be great to expand your horizons.