The notion that throughout your life you only have a handful of friends that you can rely on, to help you out, shoulder to cry, have fun, or just to be there is a fascinating concept. The need to form friendships or connections need not be that of lifelong promises.
When you’re travelling, be it on your own or with friends, you’re never stationary, always moving, so when meeting new people you’re not that bothered if they’re going to be great friends or not.
I’ve always been a proponent of travelling being the best education one can get. It forces you out of your comfort zone, forces you to looking within to see out worldly into the new. The people you meet on your travels offer a different form of friendship. They might not be there to help you out, or there to listen to your woes or even be invited to your wedding (mind you, I was invited to a wedding of a person I’d met travelling just 18 months prior, more on that later). They were there when you experienced the most amazing sunset together, they were there when you ventured into the jungles to seek out lost temples, partied on the beach till the sun came up! That weird moment when you add a new friend on Facebook then out of nowhere it suggests a dozen more. This doesn’t happen with travel friends who are literally from the other side of the world. They don’t know you or your embarrassing past or about what happened at the famed party like your lifelong friends do. In a way travel friends offer a clean slate on which you can offer friendship completely free of expectations, you can in a way be yourself without being judged. This manoeuvres into being exposed to people from all walks of life with different views on life and having different life experiences. This can be an overwhelming at first but is always a beautiful moment. There is nothing wrong with wanting a new audience to tell your story to, especially if you’ve told the story over and over again to your friends who now don’t show the enthusiasm as they once did. But with travel friends, you can share that story and many more as they won’t be put to sleep by it because they are a new audience. That’s a nice feeling.
We seem to be obsessed trying to be someone or something, trying to ‘fit in’, be a certain type of person. This after a while makes you feel trapped. Your friends having a set idea of how you act in their brain. Whereas travel friends don’t actually know you at all. You are free to be ‘you’. You are not bound to hide the ‘inner self’. You can be whoever you want to be and your travel friends won’t see it as weird. The friendships at home are made up of small things that over time develop into long-term friendship and will eventually mould into what we call ‘normal life’, not to say nothing is wrong with being normal, but with travel friends you are welding something from the outset which can lead to a cerebral connection. The places and adventures you experience with travel friends is so far removed from your ‘normal life’, that it’s elevated to another place. You are on this amazing adventure, making and creating amazing memories, together. That’s where it matters. Your friendship with your travel friends is completely divergent to the ones you have at home and in a way that makes it more special and singular. I don’t think people who travel go on the basis to make friends but when they do you end up with connections that rate highly and will always remain somewhat special in their hearts, mind and soul. That wasn’t my intention when I started travelling. I wanted to explore the world, see different cultures, experience things I had only learnt from a school text book. But you will eventually meet people along the way, whether it’s for a fleeting moment or a moment that you will know, alter you in a small way.
I first went travelling back in 2005 and the people I’d met along my way around the world, I am still in contact with to this day. Thanks to the internet and social media, the fact that we all live on different parts of the planet we are all still connected. Which brings to me to when I did tour in Cambodia in 2013, a country that I wanted to visit mainly to see and explore the temples and its history. You never really know how well you’re going to get on with your fellow travellers whom you meet on tour. But this notion dissipated very quickly. I met and made some amazing friends on that tour, the impact of which has altered my outlook, and that is a powerful feeling. On that tour I became very close to a group from Australia and the Netherlands. We all bonded and had an amazing time. So amazing was the connection that a year later I was invited to the wedding of the person I had met in Cambodia. That is a very special thing to have happened. I was at first taken aback, then was awash with emotions of what travelling has enabled in all of us, this sense of awe and wonderment in meeting strangers who become travel friends, the intense connections we form which are unlike those formed with your best friend from school or even work.
Best of all, you don't feel this sense of despondent guilt when parting ways with your travel friends. You get their email, connect through the various social networks and promise them a room to stay when they're next in town
So what are you waiting for, there is a whole world to be explored! Amazing experiences to be had and the most amazing connections yet to be made!