Making And Breaking Friendships When You Travel The World.

being-ignored-by-a-friend

Travelling the world is a glorious adventure, and one where you will meet some of the most amazing, decent, crazy and sometimes downright mental people on the planet. But playing the game of social roulette and constant hellos and goodbyes can sometimes be hard, and as a long term traveller you do have to be prepared for that. 

I’ve travelled the world for over 15 years now, most of that travel has been solo, where I have set out into the world with nothing more than my trusty backpack and a good book (and for a good portion of that time I didn’t even have a mobile phone, never mind a smart one!)

And in all that time I have met countless people on the road. Some have been locals, many have been fellow travellers on their own journeys. A great many of these people I can barely remember, if at all. Their faces and the times I had with them have been lost to the mists of time or relegated to an old analogue photograph I have tucked away somewhere.

Others have become lifelong friends, their unique personalities and the shared experiences we have together helping to shape the person I am now.

Many more still have been short but intense friendships and relationships, where you are thrust together for a short period of time together, bond quickly over shared adventures and sometimes misadventures, and then are suddenly once again faced with the inevitable goodbyes as we each move on along our own separate paths.

And then of course there are the friends I used to have before travelling, the ones who are now barely more than acquaintances as the inevitable happens and we each grow in separate directions, become different people and lose touch.

That is just life sometimes. People come and go. They are in your life for a short period of time and then they are not.

And that is how travel is sometimes.

That may seem a little pessimistic in many ways. Even lonely. It isn’t, not at all.  In fact it’s quite a wonderful thing, it all depends on your perspective.

One of the most popular questions I get asked on this site is from people who want to travel solo but are worried about being alone, or more accurately about being lonely when they travel. These potential solo travellers are worried they won’t meet anyone, or that they will be left sitting alone wishing they just had someone to talk to.

I can promise each and every one of you right now that never happens. Even the most awkward of wallflowers can have a conversation.

Sure, there are times where you will be alone, there will be times when you have to eat a meal or two on your own or even feel a little bit lonely or homesick. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s completely natural. Most of the time though you will meet so many new people you won’t have time to feel lonely. You will share adventures together, be stuck on the same night bus for 12 hours together, share a beer, have a meal, it doesn’t matter.

All it takes is a little hello. That’s it.

Sometimes you will only be with your new found friends for the duration of that drink or that bus journey, and then you will inevitably part ways. Other times you will be together for a day or two, a few weeks or even months as you forge an intense and genuine friendship. Eventually though the travellers curse will hit and you will both part ways with yet another goodbye. Sometimes you will see these new found friends again further down the road, sometimes you won’t. Modern travel has even provided these fleeting relationships with the ultimate get out clause as friendships are relegated to the occasional ‘like’ on a social media update.

It doesn’t really matter.

The truth is each and every one of these meetings has an affect on you. The chance meetings with random strangers, the unique adventures you have with people you have just met, the connections you have with those you bond with and call friends, each and every single one changes you in minute ways. Each person you form a connection with gives you a new experience, a new way of thinking, a new outlook or even sometimes just a bit of comfort or brief companionship, or that helping hand or bit of assistance that you may need at any given time.

And for those that last beyond that, those rare, real friendships that stand the test of time and have an even deeper impact on your life? These are genuine things to be treasured, but that doesn’t mean those fleeting ships that pass in the night have any less of an impact on you.

You may say a lot of goodbyes on your travels, but you also share some of the best, most intense and most wonderful experiences of your life with people you would not meet otherwise, and that is one of the single most rewarding things about travel itself.

So to every single person I have met on the road, past, present and future. To those who I have met for a brief period at transit stops and those who I have shared intense and awesome adventures with. To those who I will never meet again and those who will be friends with for a long time to come. Thank you.

Safe travels.

Did you enjoy this article? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons. If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right.

Related Articldes

How To Deal With Reverse Culture Shock After Your Gap Year.

How To Make Friends And Meet People When Travelling Solo.

Is Solo Travel Ever Truly Solo?

It Really Is A Lonely Planet After Your Gap Year.

Top Tips For The Solo Traveller.

Why Solo Travel Is Awesome!

Michael Huxley is a published author, freelance travel writer and founder of Bemused Backpacker. He is also a charge nurse by vocation with an interest in emergency nursing and travel medicine, but his real passion is travel. Since finding his wanderlust a decade ago in South East Asia, he has bounced from one end of the planet to another and has no intention of slowing down.

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16 comments on “Making And Breaking Friendships When You Travel The World.
  1. Saji says:

    Making friend is best way to travel more and learn about about local place. you shared so good information about that it.

  2. Jessica says:

    I thought this was going to be so depressing to read but it was seriously uplifting. I love your posts.

  3. Amelia says:

    So true, I have met so many amazing people when backpacking, and I know some of them I will never meet again (Facebook doesn’t really count), but that is okay because it is the effect they had on me in the short time I knew them that counts. Amazing piece.

  4. Ella says:

    Love this, it just sums up completely the ups and downs of travelling, and I think – like you – that it is far more positive overall.

  5. Leanne says:

    No one loses touch on Facebook! 😊

    • That is true, although I think Facebook wasn’t even a thing when I started travelling, it has definitely changed how people stay in touch. Although how many people in your contacts list do you actually stay in touch with apart from the odd message once a year?

  6. Michelle Heggarty says:

    I have made some amazing friends while travelling (often completely randomly too) and I have stayed in touch with a few of them even today. There really is no need to worry about being lonely if you don’t want to be.

  7. songdep247 says:

    I ussually travel solo. I have traveled with friends several times. However, i feel happy and fun when i traveled with them.

  8. kevin Ngoc says:

    I have some best friends and i usually travel to somewhere with them. We always crazy together, haha. Those trips are really memorable

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Hi, I'm Michael! I'm a published author, qualified nurse and world travelling professional adventurer! I have spent 15 years travelling over 100 countries and I want to inspire you to do the same! Want to know more about me? Just click here!

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