As someone who has been described as “painstakingly shy” and “socially retarded”, it may come as a surprise to hear me utter these so very common words. But here they are to burn your ears again, travelling is a fantastic way to meet people. Actually I’m not sure much else compares.
For me, there’s the Hello’s, How’s it going? “Sorry, what?”. I mean, How are you? Damn Aussie bogan instincts. There is the inevitable awkward small talk that we all have. I won’t repeat them because I’m sometimes as over it as you are. If you google it, chances are, you will find these well repeated conversations. Moving forward you then you have a drink together. You play a game of Never Have I Ever. Then in my case you work together for the next month. And before you know it, aw friends. Aw travel friends. (Thumbs up).
My introverted soul is lucky to spend lengthy time with people allowing them to peel away my slow to open onion, only to find the slightly odd centre lurking inside. By then it’s too late, we’re friends.
Alas, we cannot stay in one place forever, continuously drawn to the unknown.
So there comes The Goodbyes. There have been tears (sobbing). There have been brutal radio gods at play, randomly streaming Summertime Sadness upon departure. There has most definitely been awkward hugs. There is me stuffing up the European kiss. There is waving (and mooning) at buses. There are rushed drunken still packing adieus. There are Facebook exchanges. There is more often than not, I’ll see you again soon. This, more often that not, is not the case.
So when the stars align and flight prices drop these rare reunions do occur. You are to be thrown together again with these once strangers who once shared this exciting journey with you. It’s like ermagawd.
Traveller friends are not just a comfy couch, or a local guide, but a face to seek out in an unfamiliar setting and a run to each other movie moment provider.
I experienced my first reunion in Ireland, meeting up with five lassies I worked with at The Pink Palace. Stories were retold, summer drinking levels attempted to be replicated, and Dominos was ordered at 5am. As this get together was on their home soil, I met their friends and families, I drank at their locals, and I had a home away from home. I know in my slowly warming heart this is not the last of my reunion with these girls.
And in fact, at the end of this month I’m headed to Amsterdam to meet up with a Pink Palace alumni. But this has progressed from a reunion to the solo traveller’s Everest, a real life travel buddy. We will also be travelling to Central America in July (excuse me, stepped away for a second there to jump up and down, throw my hands in the air and massage my sore over-smiled face). Post-pitstop in her Montreal hometown of course.
Facebook messages are now sent before every new place. While I don’t know someone in every city, I’m getting closer than I ever thought I would.
For me, there’s been new friends becoming old on memorably hazy New Year’s trips, an Edinburgh lunch of vegetarian fare and conversations that could go into the next New Year, life-changing North African returns, and long Indian lunch catchups in London. And there’s so many more to come. I get scared to utter them in case they don’t eventuate.
I’m currently in Seville working for Oasis Hostels. How did I end up here? It went from who’s that stuck up bitch in Bucharest to giant warm farewell hugs from people I obviously couldn’t wait to see again. Thanks to them, Seville immediately felt like home.
Meeting up with the ones you love from home on other side of the world soil is also an experience I strongly suggest you make happen. As is meeting a friend of a friend (of a friend of a friend).
When I do return home, I can’t wait for the jet stream of foreign land friends creating body prints in my couch and making me a tourist in my own town.