There is something special about fostering friendships when you travel. Experiencing new places, events, sights and activities with people you have just met is a truly beautiful thing. Like-minded individuals in a foreign culture and all open to what lies ahead. I am lucky enough to have traveled far and wide and in these travels I have met some absolutely amazing people. Some I now call my good friends, others I still keep in contact with. It is always great reminiscing when a memory pops into the head and feeling the moments we shared overseas.
In order to meet like-minded individuals while traveling, you need to be open to letting people get to know the real you. Not the facade that you lead with, but the person who lies under that facade. They need to see the quirky you and understand who you are at your core. It isn’t always easy letting your guard down, and sadly this is conditioned within many people in today’s society in everyday life. People are scared to be who they are in order to fit in. What I have found when traveling is that you are already half way there in aligning to people you meet for simply being in same place, or meeting while about to undertake an experience that you have bought into.
Us Aussies really enjoy our travel. I’m unsure if it is because we are so far away from the rest of the World, but for many of us, we just want to get out and see what is out there. We are more inclined to see the big wide World as opposed to exploring our own gorgeous country. So often I meet travelers in Australia who have seen more of Australia than I have. It is amazing to hear the fond bond they have fostered with our country, many never want to leave or are already planning their next adventure back.
I find the initiating conversations with travelling to be some of the easiest to strike up. At home, some people suffer a level of anxiety and struggle to initiate conversations due to being introverted, or simply not knowing where to start. I have seen friends while travelling be completely different people as a level of angst is removed due to simply being away from home. It is like a relaxed zen comes over them and they are chirpier than ever before. There is already common ground to start with and a simple, “how you doing, where are you from?” is all that is needed to break the ice and then before you know it, 3 hours have passed.
Many people never get to experience the joys of travelling and meeting amazing people on the road. Some never leave the country and when they do, they stay hidden inside a resort and opt to keep to themselves. I am the complete opposite of this. I am an extrovert if you haven’t been able to tell already, and I love engaging with fellow travellers and the locals alike. When travelling in Central & South America, this was made a lot easier after learning a bit of Spanish. 2 weeks in a school in Guatemala and after that, BOOM! I couldn’t stop speaking the beautiful language and wanted to learn more. The easiest way for me to do this was to engage in conversation with the locals. In hostels, at breakfast, when climbing mountains with a tour guide, at cafes, in the streets, everywhere. It was the best thing for me. I made some great friends here and it meant that the conversation didn’t end after an initial “Hi, how are you?”
As I mentioned, the key to building long-lasting friendships overseas is to ensure you are your true self, and there is a level of commitment that is required. Like any relationship, you need to put in the effort and be open to experiencing new things. I have been to some of the biggest nightclubs in the World with some of these friends I have met overseas, attended local derby soccer matches like the Medellin Classico in Colombia, changed travel plans to meet up in a new destination, rushed through airports to catch plans with them, climbed mountains, ventured to Oktoberfest in Munich, shown people around when they have visited Australia, and made sure I leaned in with an open heart to experiencing life with them. You need to let your guard down, and when you do, you will reap the rewards.
Live fully, and grow that network of yours. You never know if a best mate is on the other side of an initial conversation when exploring new places. If not, you still may encounter life changing experiences in the process.
When are you travelling next and where are you going?
Peace & Love.