Friendships From The Road

As a fellow traveler, you know the routine – the lightning round of questions when you meet new people on the road.

Friendships From The Road

In that brief interaction, it is usually quite easy to tell where the new found acquaintance is going, if anywhere. It may be followed with “What’s your name? Want to grab a beer?“, but most likely ends with “Nice to meet you, enjoy your time.” Whether it be that the one of you is moving on soon, or that spark of a potential friendship just isn’t there, more often then not, these initial conversations are actually quite futile.

And, in all honesty, this scene plays out so many times along the way that it becomes quite tiresome, even annoying. You grow weary of repeating the same answers to the same questions, and reliving the same travel experiences over and over. And for what? Even if you do get to the “sharing beer” stage and perhaps even become Facebook friends with a vow to keep in touch, it will likely fade over time. You go to Africa, they go to Australia, and then you both return to your homes on either side of the ocean. Your combined story is likely over.

But sometimes, just sometimes, a strong spark is there. A few beers together becomes a late evening that turns into a few more days of shared activities followed by more beer. Facebook connections are made, regular email updates are given. And then maybe, just maybe, your paths cross later in life.

Meet Nick and Mirja. Two years ago we shared some cheap magnums of Argentinian wine on a wooden picnic table in Sucre, Bolivia. We celebrated Octoberfest at a typically overcrowded Bolivian party with horrible beer. We made ridiculous faces together. We made vows of lifelong friendship.

And you know what? We kept them.

Fast forward two years and the Argentinian magnums turned into German beer cans. The picnic table has been replaced with their cozy living room in Hamburg. They took us to a rock festival, introduced us to crazy German customs, and spoiled us for one whole week. They’ve gone so far as to give us new nicknames – we are now their “favorite pets”.

The two years that past felt like only two weeks. For all the lightning rounds we’ve been through, for the few dozen new Facebook friends we’ve made, we are lucky to have come away with a handful of true friendships that have stood the test of time.

And that makes it all worth it.

39 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own

  • October 10 2011

    I can’t stress enough how travel friendships are important. The unique souvenirs you get to share with these people are incredible. Right now, I am living in France and even though a part of me still wants to go back to Montreal, I stay here thinking that I have my friends to keep me company when I’m feeling blue. Who knew!

    • October 11 2011

      They are really very important – even a good or bad review on a destination can be based on the people you meet along the way! We have been very fortunate to keep our friendship with Nick & Mirja alive, along with a few others!

  • October 10 2011

    I love stories like this. Last year I reconnected with a friend I met in Cusco in Morocco. I hadn’t seen her in 4 years. She saw I was heading to morocco from my blog and bought a cheap ticket from London (easyjet and ryanair have super cheap flights to morocco). So we reunited during a camel trek on the edge of the Sahara. You’re right, a lot of those lightning rounds amount to nothing, but every now and then they turn into something lasting.
    Phil recently posted..I Have a Plane Ticket

    • October 11 2011

      That is an awesome story! I love to create crazy geographical sentences with stuff like this…”You met your friend from England who you met in Peru in Morocco.” One of my favorites…”I learned an Israeli card game from an Aussie in Argentina while eating Italian.” :) See how fun that is??

  • October 10 2011

    This story makes me really happy! There have been a few people like that I have met in my travels, too. It isn’t always easy translating a Travel Friend into a Real Life Friend, but there are some people who come into your life for a reason. I’m so glad you are able to have them as your friends and get to continue spending time with them!
    DTravelsRound recently posted..Fight the jet lag, drink whiskey

    • October 11 2011

      We are also very lucky to have a few others in this corner of the world that we’ve loved spending time with – just spent a wonderful week with our friend in Amsterdam! Somehow they all seem to be up here?? :)

  • October 10 2011

    What a great story! I think a full time traveling lifestyle presents a unique dynamic for making friends. On the one hand, you hop from place to place so it’s difficult to form long-lasting friendships–at least the in-person kind.

    On the other, you tend to form friendships with others who hop from place to place, so the odds of meeting again are increased.

    It’s an adventure, for sure.
    Maureen at Vaco-Vitae recently posted..Being Location Independent on our own Terms

    • October 11 2011

      It’s almost like a version of reality TV, where relationships are formed fast and swift because of the situation. Turns out much better in this situation though, I think, at least I haven’t gotten into any hair pulling fights yet, haha :)

  • October 10 2011

    Great story! It’s true that most of the people you meet will only be fleeting acquaintances. But, once in a while, it will last. I met a couple other bloggers this last time in NZ who I like to think I’ll actually keep in touch with; maybe even visit someday again if we’re in the same place at the same time. Sometimes, you just find that right connection with another traveler, and the time and distance don’t really seem to matter anymore.

    This happens in real life, too, of course. I interned at a newspaper with this guy once about 4 years ago. We kept in touch afterward, and would see each other maybe twice a year after that, both of us studying abroad and going different ways at different times. We would always say goodbye knowing we might literally never see each other again. But somehow we always end up in touch again. I think it’s one of those friendships that will endure despite the distance. And those really are rare!
    Amanda recently posted..5 Things My 86-Year-Old Grandmother Taught Me About Travel

    • October 11 2011

      So true that it also happens in real life, where time and distance don’t really matter. Thank goodness for those, for as much as we move around, it can be hard to keep an “active” relationship going.

  • October 11 2011

    I agree that the fleeting friendships made often fizzle out, but when they make it in the long term it’s so worth it. These days I tend to just enjoy the moment and see what happens afterwards.

    There are several people in my life that I met only once but we stay in touch via Facebook and will definitely meet again. Maybe that’s easier when one party has settled and the other can visit when passing through.

    • October 11 2011

      Even the fleeting friendships are good at the time, like you said, to “enjoy the moment”. But it’s those few people that you keep in touch with that are the most cherished ones. It is definitely easier when one party has settled (and, gives us a place to crash – haha!)

      • October 12 2011

        A place to stay is always an added bonus! Hehehehe. My best mate from Tokyo days is back in California and I stay there once a year. Last visit I went to the south to see two others I met in Korea. Good times.

  • October 11 2011

    I have a few like that, and it has been rewarding keeping in touch. I still hope to meet up with some of them in future travels.
    Erik Smith recently posted..Photo of the Day- Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota

  • October 11 2011

    It is not often that the friendships are kept…but it is great when you do!
    Federico recently posted..4 Essential Tips That Will Save You Money When Visiting Oahu (Hawaii)

  • October 11 2011

    Like a friendship anywhere, regardless of proximity, it takes work from all parties involved but the rewards are great!
    Maria recently posted..Manna from Heaven!

  • Awesome. I love it in when you just click with other travelers – it definitely enriched the experience.

    Sharing a MAGNUM of Argentinian wine?! I would be making funny faces too.
    Caanan @ No Vacation Required recently posted..The Value of Reliability (Expedia and Enterprise, We’re Talking To You)

    • October 12 2011

      Truthfully, there was a few magnums. And they cost about 23 Bolivianos (just over $3) each. Dangerous.

  • October 11 2011

    I have made some of my best friends on trips! I was in Europe in 2007 and met a bunch of Australians that were on a tour with me I have now been to Australia 4 times to meet up with some of them!
    Also one time I was in Australia I made a new friend and in the past month have hung out with her in Quebec and San Francisco :)
    It’s nice when good connections are made and they last :)
    Cailin recently posted..7 best things to do in San Francisco

    • October 12 2011

      It is one of the best parts of traveling! We just spent an awesome week with another friend in Amsterdam…for some reason, so many of our traveling friends live in this part of the world!

  • October 12 2011

    This is totally true! One of the friends we have met on the road has asked us to stay with her when we make our way to Sydney one day. The friendships that we have made have been amazing and the people – even more fantastic.
    Erica recently posted..Coffee Mecca in Santa Elena, Costa Rica

    • October 12 2011

      There can be a lot of friendship “misses” for all the “hits” made, but it’s very worth it. Now if only we had a house to share with our new friends…hmmm…maybe someday… :)

  • October 12 2011

    One day, WE shall meet! Love these friendships.
    Candice Walsh recently posted..Three-Line Book Review: Taking Root in Provence

    • October 12 2011

      Oh yes, we shall make that happen! Get your lightning round answers ready…except that I probably know most of your answers already. Hmmm.

  • Doris
    October 12 2011

    This scenario makes me really joyful! There has been some people like that I have met during my travels, too. It isn’t always easy translating a Travel Friend right into a Actual life Friend, but there are some people who come into your life for a reason. I’m so glad you’ll be able to ask them to as your friends and obtain to carry on spending time with them!

  • October 12 2011

    I have met some great folks along the way, but it is true, only a few of them will you ever see again. I’m met an awesome couple from NZ when I was in Turkey a few years back, and two years later I went and stayed with them for a week. They still send me a Christmas card every year… ;)
    Raymond @ Man On The Lam recently posted..It Ain’t Dirty, It Just Looks That Way

    • October 13 2011

      That’s awesome! The lost art of Christmas cards across the globe… :)

  • October 13 2011

    Oh you are so right – those same old questions do become tiresome. How nice it is though when you connect with someone. Those connections have been rather few and far between for me on this last trip but the people I HAVE connected with have been so incredible and I already long to see them again. Great to hear you managed a reunion after so long!
    Cherina recently posted..Is this it? Discovering Yellowstone National Park

    • October 13 2011

      It was a wonderful reunion and we have a few more planned while we are now in London. Looking forward to it!

  • aiko
    October 13 2011

    Yeah, the world is full of people to meet. I’ve gone around and meet a lot of people some of which have changed my life. It’s so nice to have them even if just for a few moments during travel.

  • I can relate to this. I was really tired of the meeting people in hostels routine. Then I met a handful of people that I really connected with, and we have stayed in touch. I hope it continues, and I can have similar experiences with them years down the road.

  • October 18 2011

    I think I met so many amazing people in South America that my luck was all run out by the time I got to Asia. I mean, I met some cool people I hung out with and all, but hardly anyone that compared to the people I met in South America and New Zealand.
    Hogga recently posted..5 Things I am Totally Judging You On

    • October 18 2011

      That’s interesting! Although, I think our good-friend-making skills was less after Bolivia – which was our first stop. Not sure why that is? Maybe we just got grouchier as we traveled – ha!

  • October 26 2011

    Holiday friendships are like holiday romances. Which is OK. Unless you’re on holiday full-time. So glad to hear that this one clicked so well — we’ve had a few too.
    Theodora recently posted..Oh James! I’m Sorry About the Jade!

    • October 27 2011

      Sometimes I do think we are terribly lucky with some of the great friends we’ve made. And most happen to be British for some reason…all our time in London has been spent meeting up with old friends!

  • October 28 2011

    Travel Friendships are good when you can keep them past the actual traveling I am still friends with lots of people I met while backpacking in Europe.
    James Cook recently posted..Our Interview At Nod’n’Smile

    • October 28 2011

      That’s great James, especially because it can be quite rare. We are in London right now and seem to be bombarded with the great people we’ve met along the way! They all seem to be in London for some reason!

  • November 11 2011

    We have so many amazing friends that we met on the road. I LOVE how you don’t see each other for years, yet when you meet up again it seems like yesterday and you are the best of friends.
    We always get so excited to meet up with our travel buddies.
    Caz Makepeace recently posted..Sailing the Tall Ships in Sydney Harbour and Climbing the Mast

    • November 12 2011

      It is funny how with some friends, it’s like no time passes at all when you get back together. We’ve been so fortunate to meet up again with so many great ones in Europe.

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