Improving language

Are you going on a trip? Ways to start a Spanish conversation on the plane

You are sitting on a plane, travelling alone. Maybe you are afraid of flying and can’t stop thinking about it, or perhaps you are thinking about everything you must do once you arrive at your destination. Either way, you are not alone, although you travel alone. And you know it.

Although you may only sometimes feel like chatting with a stranger, striking up a casual conversation with people you would probably never meet can be tremendously rewarding. In fact, a study by the University of Chicago Business School of Chicago subway passengers showed that those who chat with strangers on their way to work have a much more positive attitude than those who travel alone.

As you settle into your seat, please feel free to connect with your surroundings. A friendly glance towards your seatmates can be the first step towards a meaningful conversation, and what better way to do it if you decide to make it a Spanish conversation:

Hola, ¿tú también viajas solo/sola? (Hi, do you also travel alone?) This simple question can start a new connection, a chance to meet someone exciting and share your travel experiences. Your seatmate might have unique stories to tell or be on a journey with a fascinating purpose. If they’re from your destination, you could ask for their recommendations. You might be surprised at how much you can gain from a simple question.

Try to find things in common; you could ask, for example, ¿te gusta volar? (do you like to fly?) This gives rise to quickly knowing if there is something in common or being able to share anecdotes about the activity that has them coinciding in that same place. Perhaps the other person responds that they prefer different types of transportation, and the conversation moves there. If she says she loves to fly, the next question is undoubtedly ¿qué lugares/países conoces? (what places/countries does she/he know?)

Focus on what you know about your travel companion. You know, without a doubt, that they are travelling, so don’t think twice and ask her about her trip. ¿vas de regreso a casa? (¿Are you going back home?) ¿vuelas por trabajo o vacaciones? (Are you flying for work or vacation?) If he travels for work, ask him a qué se dedica (what he does). If you are returning home from a vacation, could you say ¿qué fue lo que más disfrutaste de tus vacaciones? (what did you enjoy most about your holiday?)

Breaking the ice is usually the most difficult part, but if there is spirit and availability, it can be a nice moment for both of you. If this is not the case, you will have dared to practice a Spanish conversation. Have a nice trip!

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