One of the best kept secrets of traveling and hosteling is the often romanticized idea of meeting a foreigner and striking a relationship with him/her for a night or two, or perhaps even longer. I’ve had my fair share and my friends, likewise, had a lot of stories to keep an evening dinner burning continuously. I’ve had the opportunity to stay at a lot of different hostels in different countries and through time and experience, I’ve slowly noticed patterns that seemed to exhibit everywhere else. As if a law of nature has presented itself, and being a law, was made present and manifest everywhere. We all want a taste of a little holiday romance—it’s what makes traveling so alluringly special. Imagine, a situation where you and someone else could spend a few hours or days together sharing intimate moments and stories, only to have that moment close due to an inevitable change of destination.
It’s like a love affair that has a time limit and sometimes the goodbyes are difficult and harsh or they can be pretty easy. It all depends whether you like him or her enough. This guide is intended and created in the viewpoint of a male seeking female companionship while traveling.
Let me say this outright, local women tend to be very difficult. If you are willing to put the time and effort, go for it, but your fellow hostel compatriots are foreign with different accents and cultures anyway, so I’ll go where the grass is greener.
Alone Means Go
When a girl is traveling alone, she is paradoxically often more open to making friends. Be the first to approach and strike a good impression immediately. Do not be the asshole who will make fun of her because it will be your demise. Strike up good conversation, build up something you are passionate about. Likewise, don’t plan out what you want to happen; let events transpire naturally. The last thing you want is a canned exercise that looks unoriginal and made up. Girls can smell this act of folly and it will not lead to anything worthwhile.
There’s plenty of room for error within a few hour span so minimize the likelihood of errors by taking her solo. Let it be a date, but do not let it have the same regard. You can include alcohol if you want, but if you have a decent connection, it’s not required. What you will need more is confidence and a moment with her. It helps when you’ve been with her enough that you both feel comfortable of each other’s company.
For whatever reason, the night makes moments more sensual and more personal. At all costs, when signs point to her being single, craft a moment where you can kiss her. I stick with dancing because it’s an excuse to get close to her and to touch her but in my opinion, anything that will narrow the distance between you and her is paramount to a kiss. You will want to go for at least a kiss because that tells you and her whether there’s any room for anything else later on. Try to land that kiss during the first encounter because it is crucial. Not only does it tell her that you’re interested, but it also lets her concentrate on you rather than every other horny dude in the hostel. Take it one step at a time, but if you can kiss her, there’s a big chance of success. If a kiss is your sole intention, then congrats, that’s all you asked for. But if she kisses you back with intent, your night may not necessarily lead to sex, but maybe you’ll at least get to stay with her all night. Cuddle, anyone?
Consider It An Unpaid Dating Service
One reason why meeting girls in hostels is more likely to turn into success than other dating services is because everyone you meet will not only be in the same mindset as you, but everyone is also on holiday. It’s weird but the thought of being away from home is a key ingredient to reaching out and interacting with people. When I hear someone traveling solo and has a boyfriend/girlfriend back at home, I find it hard to believe. There could be a couple of reasons why he/she is doing the trip and perhaps she’s only traveling for a week or two, in which case, love affairs don’t necessarily constitute as twist of good fate but more of the same mundane course of events from back at home like the occasional bar-flirts who can’t seem to distance themselves from anyone remotely single. In my mind, he/she might not have done a long-term trip before and has absolutely no idea of what to expect. Being with other people in a position of intoxication, excitement, and arousal is all a recipe for getting with or on someone. If he/she is really committed long-term and will not budge because it’s against his/her principles, then I commend them for their fortitude. It’s not easy with all the beautiful faces and personalities you’re going to meet and at some point, you just really have to prepare for it to happen.
The hostel, to me, is like a pre-arranged dating service without you knowing it. Some people will be traveling in groups and some will be alone and whichever best describes you should be your first option. If you’re in a group, go socialize with other groups, you guys are all traveling and that’s a foot in the door already. If you’re alone, approach someone alone because not only are you traveling, you are also both traveling solo.
It helps tremendously, as well, if a hostel has activities that bring people together. One of my favorite hostels in Portugal is known for throwing large dinner gatherings 3 times a week for 15 Euros and includes a smorgasbord of foods with accompanying booze. It’s a good deal but more importantly, you, along with the whole hostel, will have a chance to share a meal together and will most likely strike up a lot of interesting conversations.
Some things to keep in mind:
1. Don’t be the jerk. You’ll immediately have a reputation and people will avoid you like the plague.
2. Talk about your experiences and humblebrag about what you’ve done without sounding cocky. Everyone will have great experiences, it’s up to you to deliver with flair.
3. Money, status, clothes, and cars will have little effect in your attempt to attract the opposite sex. In fact, it will probably result in the opposite effect and repel them. Materialism doesn’t apply when you are all living out of a backpack with just bare essentials. The same things don’t apply on the road anymore.
Intelligence + Personality = Instant Magnetism
If you can be that person, the one that everyone can gravitate to and somehow not feel like a grandpa storytelling to all the kids, that’s the key to standing out. You want to be the one with the personality. What that means is you’re able to converse with people, make them LAUGH, tell stories without sounding arrogant. Avoid name-dropping because we all know you’re a badass on your own, right?
Here’s the thing, at some point in time, after a day or two, when you’ve established rapport and connection with people, you’ll be more than confident to get together at night or on day-trips. That’s the best part, you get to spend the day with different interesting people and in the process, you get to know them. When you’ve built enough comfort with them, that’s the time when you hone in on your girl, the one you’ve been eyeing from the start, and let it be know that you want her so all other horny dudes will get the signal. That might not be enough though because if you’re into her, other guys will probably be as well, and that sets up a competition. You can do one of two things:
1. Men who are simply aiming to score typically abandon their dream girl for number 2, leaving other guys competing for the most desirable girl. (If you can recall Adam Smith’s Governing Dynamics, “in competition, individual ambition serves the common goal.”) This was revised by John Nash, the proponent of the Nash Equilibrium, a game-theory concept in the movie A Beautiful Mind. Instead, imagine if you all compete for that girl. What ends up happening is since there can only be one winner, the unsuccessful Casanovas end up being disappointed, leaving most of the men to go for number 2. And if you’re number 2, you see yourself as the equivalent of chopped liver. No one wants to be number 2 and as a result, the women are left feeling ashamed and will probably not want to go after the 2nd placers either way. This is just a theory but in the grand scheme of things, they work and you can keep that in mind to your advantage.
2. Declare your intentions in the early phases of the courtship—early enough before any entrants can interfere because you want to avoid an impending competition. This might be the best you can do because if early on you find out she’s not interested in having to do anything with you, you still have a lot of time to move on to someone else. On the other hand, if she is interested, then you have more time to build comfort and connect with her.
Display intelligence with subtle cues using anecdotes, historical reference, and mentions of books, but not magazines or online articles. Never play the arrogant bastard but instead, play the role of a humble consultant. One who listens more than he speaks and one who responds with deep concern and solutions. Stoic philosopher Epictetus summed it up best when he said, “man has 2 ears and 1 mouth so he can hear twice as good as he speaks.” Enough said.
Meeting people is a part of life and learning how to master the situation with zen-like powers is a gift that no one can take from you. The ability to work a room is highly underrated and maybe it’s good to keep it that way, because it’s discreet and subtle. Remember, you already have something in common and you have a reason to speak to her/him. The difference between being in a bar and a hostel is that in a bar, women have high defenses because a lot of dynamics play into effect. In a bar setting, even women are competing against other women in a battle of beauty. But imagine if you can drop that and instead focus on what matters—personality, intelligence, humor, and skill in conversation along with facial cues and gestures.
In the months of doing this traveling thing, I’ve slowly learned to appreciate the unappreciated and guess what? It will make you a better person over the long-run with your uncanny ability to build connections with people in a few short moments.
Oh, and let’s not forget, holiday romance will leave an imprint in our memories like a scar on the body. And those imprints will not go away.