“I love to do the thing you’re supposed to do in the place you’re supposed to do it.”
So explained Kristin Newman, a comedy writer who has spent many a hiatus abroad, about why she’s smoked in Parisian cafes — although she doesn’t smoke — and has been whacked with eucalyptus in Muscovite banyas.
And why she’s fallen in love in faraway countries.
Her new book, “What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding” recounts travels in her 20s and 30s, during which she perfected the art of the vacationship — the vacation relationship.
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Recently Newman talked about how to meet people on the road while traveling alone. Following are edited excerpts.
Q: What are your tips for meeting people when you’re traveling alone?
A: First is the choice of country. Certain places are made for honeymoons, like Santorini or Tuscany, and if you go there alone, you will feel wildly depressed.
Go to places like Argentina or Chile or New Zealand, where you can join a group of people doing something adventurous. Sign up for some activity or day tour where you know you’ll meet other people and then ask them out to dinner.
Q: Any other tips?
A: I have used Facebook to say, “I’m going to this city, who knows someone there?” Always somebody knows somebody. Be brave and pick up the phone and say: “I’m coming to town. I’d love to buy you dinner.” That person will always invite you to what they’re doing the next night.
Don’t stay in high-end hotels. If you want to find people in their mid-20s to late 30s, you want the middle range, a funky boutique hotel or hostel. Hostels have a bad rap, but I’ve stayed in some beautiful ones. At one in Ushuaia in Argentina, I had my own room, a private bathroom, but there was a communal lounge area where I met 10 people.
Q: What have you gleaned of other countries’ dating rituals?
A: French people don’t go on dates. You have a story with someone. Sometimes the story is a day, sometimes a lifetime. If you have a connection, you get very romantic, very fast, and if you go out with someone else the next night, then you betrayed that person and your story is over.
In Israel, there’s no small talk. They don’t take you out to dinner. They don’t chat about other things. They ask you if you’d like to be their lover, and you say yes or no.
Americans won’t ask for your number until 1:45 in the morning, when they’ve finally worked up enough liquid courage. If they’re at one end of the aggressiveness continuum, and Italians at the other, Argentines are in middle. To me, they’re perfect. They come up to you and say, “Hello, you’re beautiful.” You say, “No thank you,” and they go to the girl next to you. They know it’s their job to throw it out there but don’t take it personally when you say no.