When we travel alone, there is obviously a hope to make new friends on our trip. A lot of backpackers and long-term travelers will ask “Ever notice after 10 minutes of meeting a new person you realize you never caught their name?” There is a typical 3-minute backpacking conversation I have with everyone I meet on the road… and it doesn’t always involve finding out names!
“Where are you from?” “Where were you before here?” “Where do you go next?” “How long are you on the road?”
Often times, you can see the triumphant look on the person’s face when they say a longer time than you. There is definitely an undertone with people that can’t wait to brag how hardcore they are. These are the people to stay away from. Whether you are on the road one week or for years… it doesn’t matter. You’re great because you are trying new things. Any travel experience is what you make it whether you go to Burma or Texas.
When I was traveling alone I would always hope for these small conversations to turn into “LET’S TRAVEL TOGETHER!” and to have a new best friend. But most often, they sadly ended after the introduction conversation, my new almost best friend went and I went our separate ways, and I wanted my three minutes back. It’s hard not to shut off because I started to ask myself, what is the point of these superficial conversations with people I’m never going to see/talk to again?
Sometimes I got lucky and made a good friend!
At breakfast in Pushkar, I met Ashley, a cool British girl that taught me Ibiza is actually pronounced “Ibitha” in between getting her nose pierced by a nail on the streets and answering my million questions in detail what Hampi was like. We met up again in Varanassi, and hopefully will meet again soon in Goa! Seeing other strong girls travel alone is like a gift; it reassures my mind that “I can do this!” when I feel weak or lonely.
Ashley is always a ball of energy, even after being robbed she’s ready to go out for a beer. Nothing keeps her down!
There was Chloe, who I found on Couchsurfing.org. A French girl looking for a travel partner in the Himalayas- an area not recommended for traveling alone… although I found that not to be the case as we had no problems. Anyone who says the French are cold needs to meet this girl; she’s the opposite. She helped nurse me, the nurse, back from Dengue Fever with her kind hands and herbal pills. She taught me all the “psychic” things I wanted to learn about India: gemstone healing powers, color healing, chakras, and magnetic points. Chloe even used her gift to speak to my late grandma through writing. We became Thai yoga masseuses together, and saw the Dalai Lama’s teachings. My trip wouldn’t have been the same without her!
Meeting friends while traveling can seem be daunting when you’re alone, but don’t hesitate to talk to strangers at your hotel, dinner, etc. Even girls in big groups… sometimes they get sick of each other and want new friends too. Surprisingly it’s harder to make friends when you travel as a group than when you travel alone. I find you’re less likely to put yourself out there and people are less likely to come up to you.
Traveling in groups can actually make you less new friends
Most people aren’t traveling to seclude themselves. They want to make friends and learn just like you. You can’t be intimidated to talk to guys as well (I met my boyfriend at a bar in India). Believe it or not, not all guys on the road just want a hook up. You can find something serious abroad.
[Side note: I think one of the biggest tragedies in life is when two people so meant for each other say goodbye because they have to go home. They decide it’s too hard to stay together. There is nothing sadder!]
On the road, I’d say I meet on average 10 people a day and it gets exhausting saying your introduction on repeat. I can be quiet when I meet someone I know I won’t click with. It’s okay not to engage in a friendship with everyone, but keep your heart and mind open because I’ve met some amazing friends traveling and moving somewhere new.
like this girl I met in North Carolina, and moved all the way across the country with:
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