I will grant you that there are plenty of gregarious, outgoing people out there. I will also grant you that, most likely, these people have (or have the potential to have) more fun when traveling. Nevertheless, my husband and I count ourselves among the shy folk, the keep-to-themselves folk, who aren’t so much traveling to meet new people and make friends as to see new places and hang out with each other. We take our relationship on the road, expose it to new landscapes and new scenarios, and we learn about each other and ourselves. Other people are incidental, not primary. We are friendly and courteous of course, but then we smile, say thank you, and walk away.
This approach can have its benefits.
But what have we missed by being this way? A whole world of people, of course, and sometimes with great regret. My husband and I have, on multiple occasions, taken advantage of the “home hotel” phenomenon, in which regular people with a space to share make it available to travelers. As with any place you’ve never been before, this has its ups and down. We’ve had a few delightful experiences, several adequate experiences, and a couple horrifying experiences. Our most recent experience was a long-term stay as we transitioned to a new town, and because the host had more than one reservable space, we met a number of people who were passing through.
Because we were longer-term visitors than most, we felt more at ease interacting with the people we came in contact with. We met a gentleman from our own former state, with whom we never would have crossed paths, and came to know him as a friend and fellow animal-lover. We met a father-son pair (we think?) with a boisterous dog, and an Italian couple who, upon their departure, left us a note saying “Baci!” And we were happy to know them all, even just for a moment.
So don’t be afraid, shy travelers. Open your heart while broadening your horizons. You never know who you might meet!