Planning your first solo budget backpacking trip but worried about making friends traveling solo?
Well don’t worry because…
We solo budget backpackers are a weird bunch of people!
Now hold on, let me explain…Think about it, look around your group of friends. Are you not the one that’s a little different? How many of them have said you’re crazy to go backpacking the world all by yourself? How many people do you know that have said they could never travel by themselves? See, you’re the one stepping out of the comfort zone, you’re the one that is about to venture into the world all by yourself. You are a little weird but don’t worry you’re not the only one.
That’s not a bad thing, not in my eyes anyway…What I mean is, backpackers, travelers, nomads or what ever we want to call ourselves – Like it or not we are a different breed of people. We see things differently, we act different and we see the world differently to others.
Obviously you might have some concerns about making friends, let’s face it at the end of the day not everybody oozes with confidence to just to step into a new environment and make friends straight away. As a long-term solo traveler let me ease your concerns by assuring you, no matter what your personality or character making friends traveling solo is not difficult. The question isn’t if you will make friends but more, what type of friends you will make.
A different environment.
Experienced travelers will understand this however as a new backpacker you might think I’ve lost my mind but as a budget backpacker you leave not just your comfort zone but also your reality. When you start traveling it’s like you’ve stepped into this bubble where nothing else matters anymore. After a while friends from back home become an afterthought, the outside world doesn’t exist. It’s all about the now, where you are, the friends you’re making at the time and take it from me you’ll make friends with all sorts of people.
The people we meet traveling are from all walks of life with varied backgrounds and sometimes be people we wouldn’t associate with back home. Yet we can make friends, create unique and strong bonds with these people after only 5 minutes of knowing them. Maybe it’s because of the situation we’re thrust into, being in the same bubble, or being in those intense hostel environments where the outside word doesn’t exist. Or maybe it’s because we’re all there to travel (Well most of us) and backgrounds and life back home just don’t matter.
I have a theory on this. A lot of backpackers I’ve shared this with agree with me whole-heartily, some disagree but this is my theory…
“ At home, you’re that odd one out of the group, the one that is a little different to the others but when you go traveling you meet other odd ones from their groups. So you’re instantly drawn together like bees to honey.”
Making friends traveling solo.
Like I mentioned above making friends traveling solo is not difficult but It’s different for everybody. Some of you might be confident and find it easy to make friends but some of you may find it hard or even daunting to make friends and that’s ok. You will still make friends just in your own way.
Different types of friendships:
This is why I say making friends traveling solo can be easy, hostels are full of other solo travelers looking to make friends. So, even if you’re not the most outgoing, somebody else will make the first move and make you feel welcome. Hostel friends can come and go though. One day you might be sharing a beer, playing cards together, go on a trip together and really get along but the next you might go your separate ways and not keep in contact. That person just becomes another face you met on your travels, it’s something you get used to the more you travel. Remember not everybody travels at the same speed, some will come and go within days others travel slow and stick around for a while.
Long-term hostel friends.
I’m on the slow travel side of things. If you’re like me you might find yourself arriving in a new place, get drunk with some long-termers (travelers that seem to live in the hostel with intention of moving on) a few times and end up becoming a long-termer yourself. I know shock horror, I’m there to travel not get drunk; well just be prepared!
You can end up becoming a long-termer for a number of reasons: you might run low on funds and need to re-charge, you might want a break from traveling, you might just fall in love with your destination or the friends you’ve made. When you’re backpacking and staying in hostels it’s very easy to get sucked into that vacuum type environment. (I will have a post soon about short-term vs long-term hostel guests soon to explain why this could happen to you)
The ones that become family:
Along your travels, as you’re making friends traveling solo, there will be some people you have a closeness with and they can become like family. It could be just because of the backpacking bubble, you spend a lot of time with these people, living with them, going on trips with them, eating together, drinking together moving from place to place with each other and overtime it becomes a natural to see them as family. On the other hand, it could also be due to other factors; there will be times you feel lonely so when you find a person or a group you have this closeness with you see them as family.
As you’re doing trips, excursions or activities as a solo traveler you might notice something;Some faces becoming familiar. Now you don’t stay in the same place, you don’t hang around together, you don’t do drinking together but when it comes to these trips you’ll be there together and greeting each other as friends. You’ll spend the day together as friends but once the activity/trip/excursion is over you’ll go your separate ways – Until the next trip.
The opposite to the excursion friend; this is the friend(s) you do nothing else with. You don’t go on excursions together, you don’t do things together during the day but when it comes to cracking open that alcoholic beverage you’re right there next to each other. Everybody knows you’ll be together drinking the day or night away, you’ll be laughing and joking like you’re best friends.
Same route friends:
Another pattern that you will see, especially in countries where most people travel the same route is see the same faces along the way. All of us who have traveled before have come across this before; we meet in one place, you or that person moves on but on the next stop or the stop after that you will see them again. This becomes recurring and along the way you become friends but you stick to your own schedule. However there will be times that if you really get along and will sync your schedules and go from being solo travelers to friends traveling together.
You know nothing of each other, you didn’t know each other back home but you notice something about somebody; they are just like you! It could be somebody from your hostel, somebody you met by chance on the bus, or on a trip but they are you. You both think the same, have the same personalities, same mannerisms, same taste in everything. It’s mind-blowing when you meet this person, you bond instantly, and it’s like you’re talking to yourself. Once you meet there is no separating you; you are two peas in a pod.
The spanner in the works or the best thing that’s happened to you while traveling; it can either way. There is no doubt somewhere along the line you will meet somebody who you are attracted to. You’ll click, you’ll hang out together, you’ll hook up and if it’s a few times, next thing you know you could be in a traveling relationship. Traveling relationships can be brilliant or really tough. It can be brilliant as you’ve found somebody to make and share your trip and memories with; you’ve found a companion. Or, it can be spanner in the works because you get together from being in the same bubble where nothing else matters. You both drop your original plans to travel together but what you thought you wanted is not the case.
Sometimes you might not want to make friends with other backpackers, maybe you’re doing a home stay and you make friends with locals instead. Making local friends can be more than worthwhile as you get to see your destination from a different perspective, you see and discover things only the locals know about. You also learn a lot more, get more immersed in the culture and to have a different experience.
Remember there are always groups and websites you can join like facebook groups, travellerspoint, Couchsurfing to find if other backpackers are traveling to the same destination. Like I said making friends traveling solo can be very easy.
These are the typical type of friends you will make on your travels. I hope I’ve helped any concerns you may have about making friends while traveling solo. If this was your first time visiting and want to read more posts just click here and I’ll be more than happy to guide you.
Are you already a traveler? Do you think I’ve missed a type of friend off, let me know in the comments below.
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