One of the things I love most about my travels is the people I meet. They give me stories to write and memories to cherish. But given that I have a propensity to be shy, it can sometimes be challenging to actually talk to complete strangers. Here are a few strategies I’ve found helpful.

1. Put on a Smile

A smile can go a long way. Smiling at people indicates that you’re open to talking to them, and can be the doorway to great conversations.

2. Learn a Few Local Words

I’m big on learning at least the basic greetings in the local language, and I’ve found that even if I fumble them, locals are appreciative of the effort. In fact, my poor skills but effort to please often spurs them to want to put their English into action!

3. Sit with a Stranger

In the Dolomites, Debbie and I ended up eating with people from California (exotic, I know), Germany, Austria, and Israel. We had good conversations and bonded over wine. Lots and lots of wine.

4. Ask for Advice

Another great strategy for making friends is to ask a local where they would eat. You’ll get a great recommendation and you never know: you might get an invitation to dinner. I had a great evening in Saorge with Gibi, our AirBnB host and one of his friends just because we struck up a conversation.

Be open to the serendipity of meeting new people, and I guarantee, your travels will be enriched.