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20 Non-Awkward Ways to Meet People While Traveling Solo

I’ve got a new article up on the Huffington Post: 20 Non-Awkward Ways to Meet People While Traveling Solo.

I wrote it because I’m planning some serious solo travel in Mexico, Guatemala, New Zealand, and Argentina over the next year, and I wanted to review all the different ways I know—and discover new ways that I didn’t yet know—to meet new people while traveling on my own.

The full text is below. Enjoy!


Solo travel can be invigorating, enlightening — and terribly lonely.

Why not just “be friendly” and “say hi” to new people that you meet? Here’s why: because introducing yourself to a total stranger in a café (or bar, or party, or at a tourist attraction, or on public transport) can feel creepy, anxiety-provoking and awkward — especially when you don’t have a friend or two backing you up.

If you’re like me, you crave context before striking up a conversation as a solo traveler. You want to know something about the person, have a common subject of conversation, and, ideally, have already corresponded (through a website or e-mail) before meeting. With such a context established, people like us feel more prepared, confident, and relaxed in our socializing.

Here are the 20 best non-awkward ways I’ve discovered to meet new people while traveling solo, whether internationally or in your own country. Continue Reading

Patrick Farenga on Self-Directed Learning

Patrick FarengaOn episode 19 of the Real Education Podcast I interview Patrick Farenga, the president of HoltGWS and co-author of Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling.

Pat is a long-time—perhaps one of the longest-time!—advocates of homeschooling, unschooling, and self-directed learning, and we share a high-energy conversation about the legacy of John Holt (the educator and critic who coined the word “unschooling” and started Growing Without Schooling magazine), how Pat became involved with John Holt, and how self-directed learning connects to the modern world of work. Enjoy the show!


Tomis Parker and Nancy Tilton on Agile Learning Centers


On episode 18 of the Real Education Podcast I interview my friends Nancy Tilton and Tomis Parker, co-creators of a new and rapidly growing network of small alternative schools that emphasize self-directed learning assisted by organizational principles gleaned from Agile Software Development and other “lean management” techniques.

Nancy found me in Asheville a few years ago, and I met Tomis at the AERO conference in New York. Each is smart, driven, and passionate about education—and they’re recently married! (Congrats, you two.) Enjoy the show.

Links from the interview:


Liam Nilsen on the Endor Initiative

10349132_10103761336643023_7614542957778353679_nOn episode 17 of the Real Education Podcast I interview my good friend Liam Nilsen, founder of the Endor Initiative, an innovative program for self-directed teens that I helped him get off the ground in Asheville, North Carolina.

We discuss how Endor is different from a school, how the program has evolved with input from participants, the politics of video games in group spaces, and the mysterious origin of the name.