River Trips: Skip the Small Talk

As you’re packing for the river trip you’ve been daydreaming about for weeks (maybe even months, or years), it suddenly dawns on you — you’re going to be spending multiple days with strangers. What are you going to talk about? Are you going to be forced to make small talk day in and day out while on vacation? Try no to stress about it too much though, because here’s the good news: Without any other distractions from the outside world, good conversations flow easily on multi-day river trips.

River trip conversation starters

Although it may be your default mode to ask questions like, “What do you do for a living?” Take this opportunity to step out of your comfort zone, engage with others, and go deeper. After all, didn’t you sign up to escape talking about your job and having repetitive conversations about the weather?

If you’re unsure or anxious, try some of these river trip conversation starters…

1) Learn Each Other’s Interests

No matter our age or backgrounds, we all have something extraordinary to share about ourselves. Being able to relate to someone is easier when you know more about how they spend their free time and interests. Get the conversations flowing with one of the following:

  • What is something that you like to do for fun that might surprise me?
  • Do you collect anything?
  • What book have you read lately that has had an impact on you?
  • Who is your favorite person or hashtag to follow on Instagram and why?

Conversation Starters - How to Skip the Small Talk

2) Become a Student

Ask questions of your fellow rafters that will enable you to learn more about areas you are unfamiliar with. For example, if you know one of the raft guides is a student of biology, ask them about the flora and fauna in the area. Other questions for your fellow travelers may include:

  • What is something you consider yourself to be an expert in? Can you share a little about it with me?
  • If you could go back to school, what would you study?
  • What is one of the strangest facts you know?
  • Have you learned anything new in recent years that you’re proud of?
3) Be Mindful

Mindfulness is all about being in the present moment. River time is the epitome of places to practice being mindful. Reserve some of these questions for late nights around the campfire or lazy afternoon hammock sessions.

  • Who’s the most important role model or mentor you’ve had in your life?
  • Where or when do you feel your most centered or happy?
  • What gives you goosebumps?
  • What small joys brighten your day?

Grand Canyon River Trip

4) Get Weird

There is a lot of downtime and sometimes you don’t want to engage in deeper conversation. That’s where the weird questions come in. Try one of these out and see just how strange your new river family really is.

  • If you were a sandwich, what kind of sandwich would you be and why?
  • If your pet could talk, what do you think they would say about you?
  • What would your grade B superpower be? Forget about X-ray vision. Would you be a master of puns or on the taco-making pro, for example?
  • What is the grossest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Beware that once you get the ball rolling it may pick up momentum! The more you ask, the more questions will likely come to the surface and you may end up with a closer bond with your travel mates than you expected.

A multi-day river trip, more often than not, ends with the exchange of phone numbers, email addresses, and social media handles. The adrenaline-fueled experiences, lazy afternoons, and shared meals inevitably contribute to creating lasting connections between people, who just a few days earlier, considered themselves strangers.

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Photos: Grand Canyon rafting with OARS – Josh Miller


 

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