The Types of Friends You Make While Traveling
Traveling is a great way to meet new people. Staying in hostels, joining tour groups and bar crawls, waiting in long lines at popular tourist attractions - there are so many opportunities to spark up conversations with other people and expand your social network (literally). As you travel more, you will start to realize there are different types of travel friends - some fleeting, some permanent, some the same as you, some that will challenge you - and all of them are valuable in different ways. Here are some of the types of friends we have encountered on our adventures:
Other Americans (Good) - It seems oddly common for us to come across other people from New Jersey while abroad. YAY! Go New Jersey! I love seeing other Americans out exploring the world, seeing other ways of life, and bringing fresh perspectives back to the states. It can be comforting to hang out with other Americans after you've been traveling for awhile, and it can be refreshing to know that we aren't all uneducated lards who are scared of 'the others' and get every meal supersized. Plus, it gives you reasons to go visit other locations in America!
Other Americans (Bad) - Then, sometimes you will meet those people you wish never left the country. The National Embarassments. I'm not saying they shouldn't travel - they could probably use it more than anyone else - but they could at least attempt to blend in. You can literally spot a group of American study-abroad frat boys from 6 blocks away. There are hundreds of cafes in any given city. Don't go to Starbucks (unless you're seeking out the ever-illusive free wifi). Don't get annoyed when people don't speak English. Stop complaining about the leisurely pace in the restaurant. Experience another way of life, and if you don't like it, you can go back to Smalltown USA soon enough.
Bar Crawlers - Everyone loves a good bar crawl. What could be better than getting black out drunk while having people whose job it is to supervise you!? It's always easy to make new friends after you've all taken a few too many free shots and had alcohol poured down your throats by those who are responsible for your well-being. Alcohol gets everyone a little loosey-goosey and almost always guaranteesa good time. These people will push you to party harder, encourage debauchery, and influence you in all the worst ways. Don't expect to remember these people in the morning, but you probably had a lot of fun together. (Enjoy this picture from a bar crawl that we have no recollection of taking).
The Nomads - It's not uncommon to meet people who have been traveling for upwards of a year. A lot of times, these people are amazing to talk to - full of stories about places they've been and things they've done - and they inspire you to go places you've never even dreamed of before. But, it's very easy for them to cross the line to pretentious travel douches. The Jack Kerouac wannabes of the world. If I ask you where you live and you reply with something along the lines of "everywhere and no where" I will be rolling my eyes so hard they might fall out.
The Locals - Probably 85% of the people you meet when traveling are other travelers. They're staying in the same hostel as you or seeing the same sights. These are great friends to make because you get to explore a new place together. However, every once in a while, you're lucky enough to meet locals. These are the people who can really show you the city. They'll invite you to an apartment party with a bunch of friends, take you on a bus to their college that low-key has the best view, or take you to their favorite little cafe/bar that's hidden in a small apartment building. They show you the nooks and crannies of the city that are unknown to 99% of travelers. These are the people you should strive to find, because they will almost always change your view of the entire city.
The Older Travelers - While traveling, you will cross paths with hundreds of twenty-somethings looking to "discover themselves" which often means party their way around the world until they run out of money. But every so often you will come across a bad-ass 50 or 60-something, still trekking along with their backpacks. They have done all the things you are doing now. They have been around the world and back and are still going. These people are f*cking awesome! Seeing an older couple waiting for their train, carrying all their belongings on their backs, looking slightly worn from adventure but so full of love for life - ugh. #goals.
The Temporary Best Friends - These are the other girls in your hostel room, on your group tour, or any other place you may meet people along the way. You have an amazing time for an afternoon or a weekend, you connect on Facebook, you will like each other's pictures, but that's it. These people met the "travel version" of yourself. They met you when you were carefree and just having a good time - and they were doing the same! These people will leave you with some of the best memories, and since the friendship is temporary, you will always be able to remember it fondly.
The Permanent Best Friends - Every now and then while traveling, and it seems to me to be rare, you will find your person. Maybe you will find them on the floor of the bathroom at 3 AM, maybe they were sat next to you on an 8 hour train ride, or maybe they were leading your bar crawl and you drunkenly got to talking and didn't stop until the sun started to come up. But when you find these people, hold on tight. These are the people that just get you - your collection of soul mates from all around the world. These are the people that can cheer you up from halfway across the world and across multiple time zones. Maybe you will talk to them every day, maybe a few times a year, but no matter what there will always be a deeper connection that can span any distance and amount of time.
No matter what category they fall into, travel friends are the best! Shout out to all the people we have met through travel and everyone still left for us to meet. You are all amazing (mostly) and have left us with some wicked hangovers and the best memories. You have challenged our views on life, taught us new languages, showed us new foods and music, passionately introduced us to your cities and left us with a deep desire for more. Thank you <3