Relationships on the Road: How to Meet Girls

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In the next few weeks and months I’m going to post a series of articles about my experience with relationships while abroad as well as some little nuggets of wisdom that I’ve picked up along the way. It’s by no means a comprehensive guide, but I think you might find it an entertaining read all the same.

I’m not a Casanova or a Don Juan. I’m not fending girls off with a stick, nor do I claim to. I’m just a guy who has had some luck meeting fantastic people on the road, and I thought I’d share a bit of the ‘how’ in that equation.

Over the course of my time traveling I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of dating some wonderful girls. I’ve kissed pretty girls in picturesque places, gone on first dates in smoky hookah bars, and dealt with breakups in a tight knit foreigner community where you can’t just hide from the fallout.

During that time I’ve learned a thing or two, and I’ve had a few friends ask me to share what I’d learned along the way.

I’d like to just preface all that follows by making three things very clear:

1). I am not an expert on dating or on relationships. In fact, of the four longer term relationships I’ve been in while traveling, only one of them has lasted beyond the first few months and of the three that didn’t – I was the dumped rather than the dumpee. But I’ve been lucky enough to never have had trouble meeting girls or getting a date, so take that for what it is.

The advice I give below is not to be taken as gospel. These are just observations based on my experience with dating and relationships on the road.

2). I’m not here to offer pick-up advice. I don’t go out with the intention of ‘nailing a hottie’, and I really don’t endorse other guys doing it. That just makes it harder for the nice guys to meet nice girls.

3). The tips below are what work for me. You might be a good looking son of a gun who can get by by following the ‘treat ’em mean, keep ’em keen’ adage. I am not. But I am confident that other shyer, quieter, or just nicer guys will be able to take a little something from my assembled knowledge.

This series is about relationships on the road. Meeting girls, going on dates, and the realities of the romantic world when you’re in a supercharged travel environment. If you want pick-up advice, look elsewhere.

Striking up a Conversation

If there is one thing I feel that I excel at, it’s the meeting of girls. Well, meeting anybody really. I’ve never had trouble striking up a conversation with a group of strangers whether it’s been in a dingy Korean soju bar or on the beaches in Fiji. The principles of meeting new people and meeting a new girl are pretty much the same.

 

  • Don’t be scared to approach a girl. If you’re both travelers in a strange place, she’ll probably welcome a friendly face and a familiar accent. But don’t be put off if she rebuffs your advances. She might have had a bad day, she might be waiting for somebody, or (sadly) she just might not be interested in talking to you.

    It’s frustrating but stop and think honestly – have you never brushed somebody off when they tried to start a conversation with you?

  • Be yourself: Nothing puts people off as much as somebody playing the part of someone they’re not. And even if you do manage to convince them that you’re this other person – do you really want to maintain that ruse? What if that girl you’re hitting on ends up being that girl you’re leaving the country with?
  • Her eyes are up here. Don’t ogle her.
  • Don’t invade her personal space. If she’s interested in you, you’ll be able to tell. She’ll touch your arm when she laughs at a joke you tell or she’ll ask you to dance. That doesn’t mean she wants to have your babies, but it’s better than crossed arms.
  • Listen! You might think that you’re the most fascinating person in the world, but that pretty Norwegian girl sitting across from you will never find out if you bore her to death with your life story before you’ve even had a drink together. Women respond to a guy who listens to what they have to say. Let her do the talking.
  • You have something in common. Seriously. “You like travel? I like travel too!” It’s that easy. You’re both traveling. Talk about your travels. It’s not rocket science.
  • Questions to ask a fellow traveler: Simple! What did you do back home? Did you study? What brought you out here? What has been your favorite place so far?
  • Questions to ask a local: If the girl you’re talking to is a local, you’ve got a thousand possible things to talk about. Maybe she knows a good local restaurant she can show you. A good hike. A great little place to grab coffee. It’s an insta-date!
  • Questions not to ask: What religion are you? Right wing or left wing? Threesome?
  • In the words of Barney Stinson: “They all drink vodka cranberry”.*

Seriously, I’m not here to give you expert advice. I’m not an expert by any stretch. But the above are a few things that I’ve noticed work when talking to a new person. I’m not saying it will get you laid or even get you a phone number (it didn’t always happen for me) – but at the very least, it’ll get you a conversation.

* = May not actually be true.

Don’t Be Afraid to Dance

Most girls respond well to a guy who can dance. If you’re not a confident dancer, don’t try and impress her with your fully sick pop and lock. Will Smith said it best in Hitch: Keep it simple stupid.

Me? About half of the girls I’ve ever dated or made out (and yes, I feel like a teenage girl typing that phrase) with have been subjected to my limited array of swing dance maneuvers. I kid you not. A bit of spinning and a dip at the end does wonders. Dancing shows you know how to move, it shows confidence, and if you’re doing the old fashioned kind – it makes a girl feel more special than if you’re standing behind her mock slapping her ass.

The Dangers of Dutch Courage

If you’re anything like me, you need a little bit of liquid courage to approach a pretty girl. There’s nothing wrong with that. But there’s a fine line between confidence, arrogance, and utter sleaze. You’re not doing yourself any favors if you’re struggling to stand up, slurring your speech, and eye-f**king the poor girl.

A good rule of thumb: If you’ve gotten to the stage where you’re really good at pool – it’s time to drink some water. It’s all downhill from there.

Too much booze also has another potentially dangerous side effect and I think you all know what I’m talking about: beer goggles.

Save yourself the awkwardness of finding out via Facebook about your previous night’s tryst.

Getting a Number

There’s such a thing as too much of a good thing. Unless the chemistry is crazy good, there’ll come a time in the evening when it’s time to end the conversation. If you’re lucky enough to have a mobile phone – long term ESL teachers will appreciate this – it’s as simple as asking if you can grab their number or add them on Facebook.

If you don’t have a phone, and most times while you’re backpacking you probably won’t, it might be easier to just organize to do something together. Don’t make it a date. If they’ve mentioned a hike they plan to go on, ask if you can tag along. If they’ve expressed interest in that tour you’re doing – ask them! Maybe they know a good coffee shop that you can try with them.

At the end of the day, you’re not traveling to meet a girl and settle down. You’re out traveling to experience the world, but it doesn’t hurt to have some company while you do that.

My most important piece of advice, and the one I struggle most to follow, is to just play it by ear. You might meet the love of your life on the road, but you’ll probably meet a lot of other people first. Don’t take life (or yourself) too seriously, enjoy the thrill of a romance that can’t last beyond your current stay in the town, and most importantly – leave that person’s life having made a positive impression. Don’t be that guy who leaves a string of broken hearted and disgruntled girls in his wake. After all, you wouldn’t want to be the poor sucker who breezes into a town full of girls who hate Australian guys.

Share your Thoughts Ladies!

I would love to get a female perspective on this. Obviously I can’t offer advice for a girl looking to meet a guy beyond ‘Look pretty and talk about sports’. Females of the travel blogosphere, please share your wisdom!

Later…

There’ll be a few more parts in this particular series. I’ll write a piece about dating on a budget and in a strange new land; one about the realities of a blossoming romance while abroad; and a last on dealing with the break-up away from your support network should it happen.

If you’d like to contribute something to the series, please let me know. I’m always interested in new content.

As always, if you like what you’ve read, please add me on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

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  • I love it! The guys that do the best when approaching me, don’t try any pick up lines and just act like themselves. Don’t try too hard is my advice ๐Ÿ˜€ But then again, don’t be the anti social one sulking in the corner who wonders why they arn’t getting any girls!

  • Katie

    To get guys to talk me I usually just show up at the bar and stand in one spot for more than 30seconds

    • That’s because you’re smoking hot! :-p

      It would be a very short article if it was ‘How to meet boys’.

  • Lots of tequila always helps

    • Tequila tends to lead things away from the direction of romance and in an entirely more ‘adult’ direction.

  • Nomadic Chick

    Hey, I just stumbled on your post! I liked how you qualify your expertise (amateur) yet seriously, your points were spot on!

    Lately, I wondered if a guy not listening was just me being overly picky. You know, don’t we all want someone outgoing & chatty? You just made me realize I’m not picky at all. I’ve had my share of dudes talking over me, interrupting me, or just talking non-syop. Funny how the art of listening is so lost these days. There’s also a fine line between confidence & arrogance.

    Glad I found this!

    Cheers!

    • Haha, I really needed to emphasize that I’m no expert. The last thing I wanted to do was come across as some guy professing to be a master lover :-p

      Thanks for the feedback. The value of listening really cannot be underestimated. It’s not only a good way to meet girls, but a good way to keep them ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Anonymous

    Haha! I felt the same way when I was lucky enough to have a girl.

  • Anonymous

    Love this article! It’s great to see a guy’s perspective on approaching ladies ๐Ÿ™‚

    I can’t stress enough how important it is to “be yourself”. Why pretend to be someone else unless you plan to be that someone else for the REST of your life! Great advice all round!

    • I have noticed a distinct lack of posts on the topic out there and thought I’d put forward a male perspective.

      Now I just wish I could turn the skills that worked so well abroad towards my Aussie romantic life :-p

  • HA, this was a fun read. ย I love the ‘don’t be afraid’ to dance tip. ย I’ll boogie to just about anything now as bad as my moves are on the floor.

    • Anonymous

      I need plenty of the ol’ Dutch courage to bust out on the dancefloor.

  • I like this post, Chris ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m no expert either so even though I’m a woman, I don’t feel I have any extra tidbits to add it. Oh, and even though I’m not a drinker, I do like vodka & cranberry.

  • Julien Bedh

    Great article man, thanks for your personal input!

  • Great advice! ย I hate it when guys stare at my chest rather than my eyes, it’s such a turn off! ย And it’s true…we all drink vodka & cranberry.

  • Jenhowell77

    Lol – I’ve never dated a guy who enjoyed talking about sports – and I’ve dated a lot of guys. I think your advice above is sound, though. Be yourself, talk and listen (although I appreciate a guy who talks a lot – a good give and take is way preferable to listening to myself talk too much!), don’t ogle chest obviously.

    For meeting guys, I don’t know, I guess my advice would be go out and participate in group activities that interest you and you are likely to meet guys with similar interests. This works for either gender, I guess! Bars may be one place to meet people, but in Busan you can also meet people at spoken word night, in theater groups, volunteering, in hiking clubs, philosophy groups, etc.

    As to not talking politics – for me it’s very important to know someone’s political affiliation. I wouldn’t date someone who voted for George W. Bush or denied climate change. Just point blank no. So best to get it out of the way and save time!

    Anyway, your blog entry was a nice, sound read. You should consider submitting this to a magazine, actually! A travel or men’s magazine, or if you’re not into going for the big leagues, I bet Busan Haps would be glad to run it!
    ย 
    – Jen Howell

    • Thanks for the kind words Jenn ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m in agreement that I couldn’t become involved with somebody who had vastly different political (or religious/atheist) views to me, but if you’re meeting somebody for the first time – I generally think it’s better to stick to less controversial topics unless you’re getting obvious signs otherwise.

      I’ll definitely look into sending it someplace. I hadn’t considered it, but I won’t say no to your advice – you’ve never steered me wrong before ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Anonymous

    First of all, Im better at pool when Im sober.
    Second, after spending 4 days in Amsterdam, I know where “Dutch Courage” comes from, and why thats the term we use. Its supposedly from Dutch Gin, but after witnessing how the Dutch guys act in bars, I think its just a stereotype on their behaviour with women.
    Third, well said. But these are more social tips than dating tips; they apply to meeting any travellers. Meeting locals I think is a little harder. I’ve been brushed off several times, until I tell them where Im from… and usually how lost I am.

    • They are definitely general tips, but that’s kind of the point. I think too many guys approach a girl as if she’s some strange alien being that he needs to perform ancient rituals to entertain. In my experience, limited though it may be, a girl just wants to be talked to like she’s a human being.

      I’ve not had a great deal of experience (or success) in attempting to woo the native population. Korean girls weren’t for me and I’ve been in relationships during my other travels. Perhaps someday :-p

  • Jetske

    I loved reading this ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s nice to see that there are still some decent guys in the world ๐Ÿ˜›

    And for the long distance thing: 77 days to go and I will have made it work

    • Ooh! I hadn’t thought about writing a piece on long distance. Definitely something relevant. Do you think I could interview you sometime about your experience? You’re almost there!

      Looking forward to hanging out this Monday ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Heather the Nomad

    Your best piece of advice concluded the entry: it is important not to take life too seriously and to “play it by ear” when finding romance while on the road. It’s difficult to get involved in a relationship while traveling because there’s a strong possibility that the relationship isn’t going to last long after you leave or the other person leaves. And when you’re in a foreign – and usually scenic – location during the “honeymoon phase” of a relationship, it’s not easy to see the practicality of the situation.

    • Couldn’t agree more. There’s something very appealing about a summer fling or an island romance, and we sometimes let ourselves get carried away in that.

  • Kiri

    Love it Chris. All guys need is a little bit of confidence, not all girls are stuck up snobs and what have you got to lose by having a crack! I like your bit on accepting it for what it is too. A few years ago I had a guy turn up at Brisbane Airport on Christmas Eve ringing me up looking for a place to stay. We met briefly in a bar in Hawaii earlier that year had a round of drinks a few dances then parted ways, then all of sudden I had a house guest for a week over christmas , and had to spend the whole week explaining to my friends and family that he wasn’t my boyfriend, I hadn’t slept with him and I wasn’t sure why he was here. AWKWARD!!!

    • ย I will say this: I had far less trouble meeting girls abroad. It makes sense, really. When you’re abroad – you’ve got that link right off the bat. I feel like I get totally lost in the shuffle here in Sydney – but it’s early days :-p

      And that is a crazy situation! I can’t believe that ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

  • I really enjoyed reading this and your right, We do like guys whoa re able to approach us and strike up conversation. Who aren’t afraid to have a good time and be themselves. Good Job.ย 

    • Thanks for the feedback. I was a little nervous about posting this article, haha. I didn’t want to appear at all arrogant or cocky about it, but I thought it might help a few guys out there.ย 

    • Thanks for the feedback. I was a little nervous about posting this article, haha. I didn’t want to appear at all arrogant or cocky about it, but I thought it might help a few guys out there.ย 

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