You’ve all heard the stories. Best friends and groups of college mates, embarking off on the trip of a lifetime. What could be better then you, your friends and backpacking across the world? Two weeks into the trip Sue and Amy are at each other’s throats, Megan just bought a ticket home and as for Amanda… Shit no one’s seen her in days. Amanda was left in Spain.
Travelling is a facilitator of new, interesting and enduring friendships. It is also infamous for ruining friendships in irreparable ways.
How can such a good thing be so bad for our human bonds? The thing is, Travel is such a subjective experience and we all have our preferred choices. Some like it hot, some like it cold, some like it fast, some like it slow, some like it in the…oh you get my drift. THe real issue is, just HOW (?) when everyone wants to do something different, are you supposed to meet each others needs without sacrificing any of your own wants? Call me selfish, call me childish, but i cannot give up my own travel plans to accommodate anyone else. Any other topic of life and I am open to negotiation but when it comes to seeing the world…thats my once in a life time journey that ain’t nobody gonna mess with. Ya hear!
Now, due to the fact my friends are too few and too precious for me to be able to afford to lose any, I opted for solo travelling without a second thought. Being a lonely backpacker, able to do what I want to do, go where I want to go, spend what I want to spend and have only myself for blame suited me just fine. At least it did for a while.
Solo travel, with all its freedom and flexibility, has one ultimate downfall. It’s not loneliness. Travelling as a band of one, you can meet so many people along the way that loneliness is far from an issue. The flaw is found in those soul inspiring moments, when you stumble upon some place, some breathtaking view and you turn to the person next to you all gibberishly excited like “Holy shit, ERMERGERD, looklooklook,” and… there’s no one next to you to squeal with. There goes that split second of awkward silence before the moment resumes its epic self.
These once in a life time moments can’t be photographed, Instagram don’t got shit on that and if you don’t have a comrade to back you up when you try remind yourself that it was real, the magic gets lost slightly.
I loved travelling alone, but after a while I couldn’t help wondering if I really would be doomed to travel solo forever unless I was willing to give up my refusal to veto my own plans for someone else. NEVER.
And then I met Anda. Doesn’t that sound like the start of a love story?
I know i’m not the only highly independent and stubborn individual who likes to go my own way and truth be told, i still hold solo travel in high regard. I do believe everyone, just once, should go it alone. I also realise, that there will come a time when you crave companionship and will freak out at your inability to go along with others plans. I’ve been there and let me shed some light for all you solo wanderers and single backpacking fiends out there who might be feeling the tickle of worry. Should you ever want to share your adventures with someone, you are never doomed. There IS a perfect travel companion out there for you.
These are two common mistakes people make when finding a travel buddy;
The first mistake is assuming your best friends at home will be your best friends overseas too. Hullo? You’ve taken a “comfortable” thing and chucked it into a situation way outside of anyone’s comfort zones. It’s a whole other world out there and the buddies you needed at home are not always suited to your needs out in the wild unknown. If a lack of a partner in crime is holding you back, please – stop looking for someone to go with you and just go! If you have left with someone and you’re just having a bitch of a time with them, please – don’t stress, just go on without them (preferably before you never want to see each other again). You can’t just choose your ideal travel mate, the world chooses them for you and you don’t really get a say.
The second error is looking for someone who wants to do the exact same things as you. Yes, I know, I made this mistake. Whatever mate, i learnt my lesson so let me preach! The key to a perfect travel companionship lies not in similarities but in opposing characteristics. What you need, is a Ying to your Yang not a Siamese twin (Channelling my inner Confucius here). Where you are weak, your travelling soul mate is strong, where your interests lie, your travel buddy’s interests lie elsewhere. This is how you work like clockwork, because you can carry each other on your strengths and you get on with each other through your differences. It’s all just so magical.
Without stressing, or trying too hard, chances are you’ll wake up one day and realise you’ve been having breakfast with the same friend all over the world for weeks now without even realising it! True Travel Soul Mates. Boom.
You know you have found your travelling soul mate when;
1. You travel together to the same destinations, yet you can still do your own things. The best part about a good travel-lationship (yes, i did just do that to that word) is the ability to do your own thing. There’s nothing worst then getting sick of each other and it’s only human not to like the same things. Plus there’s nothing like reuniting with some fresh new yarns to share over too many reunion beers after a day or two a part.
2. You seek the company of others, not just your selves. One of you is really good at picking up randoms, the other one knows when its time to stop talking and move on. This means you make a healthy amount of friendships without having a bunch of weirdos following you all over the place.
3. You get lost far less then you would alone, and when you do get lost it’s far more fun. One of you has a good sense of direction (or at least know how to read a map) while the other knows how to ask for directions. This way you’ll always get there in the end. Anda and I… We laugh in the face of getting lost and laugh even harder when we end up at the wrong place.
4. You are both poor. Or you are both rich. I don’t care what they say, if one of you is a baller, and one of you is getting creative with the local vegetable and two minute noodles for dinner, this relationship is going to end up in irreconcilable differences.
5. You have different taste in the opposite sex. Because best mates just cannot cut each others lunch out there.
6. You laugh at each other. This has the soul cheering effect of making you laugh at yourself and turning even the shittiest occurrences into a comedic and unforgettable memory. This one time I got egged at 3am on the way to Norway and smelt like a raw meringue for the best part of 12 hours. There I was ready to bite someones head off and Anda (see – heartless bitch) is laughing her head off. Not long later, I was laughing myself. Only a true travel soul mate could turn a moment like that into one of my favourite travel stories.
7. You party on the same level. I don’t know anyone else who would have happily spent 3 days partying at a music festival in Porto with no sleep and then fallen asleep on the concrete steps of some old (apparently judging by all the tour buses) famous Portuguese church as if it was a feather down mattress. We would have made a few tourist photos that day.
8. You trust each others judgements. Sometimes people just have that tone in their voice that says “don’t question me just do what I say” and you really REALLY want to walk away or say no but… when Anda talks like that i ask no questions and I’m pretty sure she’s saved my life. When I talk like that Anda does the same and I’ve probably nearly killed us both too many times. But she’ll never stop trusting me. Respect.
I spent the best part of 7 months travelling on my own whim. It was an experience I would not change for the world but there were definitely places i avoided for the reason that i just believed I needed someone else there. Like Italy. A bowl of fresh pasta is best enjoyed with a bottle of Vino and a friend, am i right?
Anda is my perfect travelling companion. We have been places together and one day we will meet once more and continue travelling the world together. She has proved me wrong in thinking that travelling with another was simply impossible. I didn’t really ask her to come with me, nor did she really ask me to join, it kind of just happened and it totally just worked. That’s a happy ending you would never see in a love story.