Traveling can sometimes feel uncomfortable and lonely. But using these firsthand conversation tips from experienced travelers can help you feel comfortable talking to almost anyone.

Get out of your Comfort Zone

“Approach people and ask about local places to go. People won’t bite; they are nicer than you think.” —Taylor Ottesen (India and Europe)

“If someone looks lost or confused, offer assistance. It can lead you both on a fun adventure.” —Kate Herrod (Italy, Austria, and Spain)

“Be bold. There’s not much to lose, so initiate conversation! I felt lucky to speak English while traveling because most other travelers I met knew English to some workable degree.” —Carly Landgrave (India)

“Don’t let language barriers prevent you from interacting with others. It’s amazing how much you can communicate with charades.” —Gene Tessier (Europe and Jerusalem)

“Strike up a conversation [with others] in line, on a train, or even at a tourist attraction. People are people no matter where you are.” —Jessie Comoletti (Dominican Republic)

“Most people are pretty friendly but wouldn’t take the initiative on their own. . . . Most people I’ve encountered in traveling (especially if they’re traveling too) are very open to conversation.” —Taylor Madsen (Senegal, England, Belgium, Luxembourg, Fiji, France, and New Caledonia)

Start Basic

“Weather, family, and local history are usually pretty safe [topics]. Try to be sensitive to politics, religion, finances, or anything too controversial. . . . Unless that’s the local norm, they are people, not your travel entertainment.” —Kristina Southam (Europe and South America)

“Asking questions is a great way to spur a conversation—whether it be about something cultural, like what a particular symbol or gesture means, or how to get from place to place.”—Haleigh Cole (South America and Europe)

“I notice what people are wearing and give them a Conversation-2compliment or ask where they got it from. Usually this leads into other conversations.” —Marilee Ashby (Canada, Ukraine, and Dominican Republic)

“People might be less inclined to talk about themselves, but happy to talk about their family. These conversations can lead you to deeper things like values, regrets, and aspirations.”—Vance Bryce (China, Mexico, Ukraine, Canada, Iceland, Scotland, England, Italy, Germany, Austria, and Israel)

“Learn basic phrases in the native language—the locals love it, even if you butcher the pronunciation. . . . My favorite question to ask is, ‘What do you love about this country/city/place?’” —Elise Berrett (Ghana)

Show Interest

“A smile and genuine curiosity in another’s life experiences do not only create opportunities for scintillating conversation, they plant seeds of mutual understanding, respect, and friendship.” —Matt Kirkpatrick (Mexico, Brazil, Canada, and Iceland)

“Never cut someone off early. You may miss the opportunity to learn about the coolest touristy tips ever.” —Madeleine Lewis (Egypt, England, Greece, Italy, France, and Spain)

“People are always very proud of their culture, so it is helpful to start conversations by humbly giving a sincere compliment specific to their culture, like admiration of an artist from their country. Then they will immediately love you for it and have an open, positive attitude toward talking with you.” —Ashley LeBaron (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, and Wales)

—Kaleigh Niemela

Photos by Roey Ahram and Sergio Pani. cc