How to make friends on your travels

Anita Pavey — 6 September 2016

Spend any time on the road, be it a few weeks, months, or even longer, and there’s a good chance you’ll be sharing your journey with others. More so with a destination holiday, but even on a road trip, such as the mighty Gibb River Road, you’ll invariably end up bumping into the same people at the various overnight camps.

Sharing the journey with like-minded travellers adds to the experience. We’ve made some life-long friends with people we’ve met on the road. With shared interests and experiences, it’s hard not to instantly gel, and with the advent of social media these days, it’s easy to keep in touch.

But, for some people, social interaction can be a bit of a challenge. So what’s the secret?


It goes without saying that people are naturally drawn to others with a happy disposition. Making conversation is a lot easier if people actually want to talk to you. Illness or poor health will challenge this outlook, but try and remember you’re here for a good time rather than a long time. A negative mindset will only make it more challenging than it needs to be, so ditch the attitude and reframe your smile. 


There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a one-sided conversation with a person who seems fixated with sharing their life story, punctuated only by brief gasps for air.

Be aware that a conversation is just that; an exchange between two or more parties where information is shared. If you find yourself caught in this situation, politely excuse yourself with the best explanation you can muster. “Oh, is that the time, I need to go and ….” normally does the job.


The best way of engaging others is to ask questions. If you find conversation challenging, put together a list of conversation topics to draw on when needed. Travellers love to share their travelling tales, so a favourite destination is a good place to start. Family is also a good resource to draw on, as most would have left some behind to go travelling.

Work, hobbies, sport, recipes, bird watching and wild flowers are just a few. What can you add to the list?


Now, I like a glass of wine at happy hour just as much as the next person, but you need to be mindful around people you don’t know very well. Alcohol does affect your behaviour; it can make you chatty, downright loud, or somewhat out of control. And, people being people, may judge you for it, which can impact your ability to make new friends.

Travelling in the tropics only adds to the challenge, as the higher temperatures will increase your desire for more fluids.


Not everyone is a gun at conversational skills and you may find yourself in a group comprised of a couple of key participants and many listeners. When you are talking, endeavour to share eye contact with the whole group to involve them. This makes it inclusive for the whole group and encourages others to speak up when they feel ready to do so.

In your mingling, if you come across a person with a shared skill to another in the group, introduce them. This is a very powerful way to increase your likeability and a good way to make new friends as reciprocating behaviour often follows.

Do all or some of these things and you’ll find your socials skills to move forward in leaps and bounds. People by their nature are very social animals but the challenge is often just breaking the ice.

Try these strategies out and drop a comment on the Caravan World Facebook page and let us know how you went.

See you on the trails.

The full article appears in Caravan World #555 September 2016. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!


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Anita Pavey