Travel with strangers

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

All the tips and advice you need to travel on your own terms

Finally taking that long-awaited solo trip, but don’t want it to mean a week, or even a year, spent in isolation? Want to be open to every experience and connection while travelling? Making a new buddy on the road is just what the doctor ordered.

Travel is about seeing new landscapes and eating delicious foods. But it isn’t just about that. Getting out of the familiar routine of day-to-day life is also an opportunity to meet new people. It’s a chance to break out of your shell, try out some rusty language skills, strike up conversations and forge new connections that can last well beyond your trip.

If you’re travelling solo, it’s the perfect opportunity to join forces with someone in the same boat and share the experience; if sightseeing with a companion already, it’s a way to get a better deal on that rental car for a planned day trip (split the cost four ways instead of two), or a chance to double-date with a couple from a different hemisphere.

Authentic human connection adds richness and spice to any life experience, but be lucky enough to develop a friendship on the road and you’ll be rewarded with laughter, support and honesty. too. What’s more, you can gain self-awareness; the friends we keep are a reflection of who we are.

Making travel buddies is surprisingly easy, it just takes a willingness to be a little social. Get comfortable with that, and it will be easier to practise back at home, too. Suddenly the world doesn’t seem so big after all.

TAKE A WALKING TOUR 
Cartagena de Indias, Colombia 
Unesco World Heritage site Cartagena, with its walkable historic centre, is an ideal place to take a tour by foot and meet other travellers while doing so. 
HOW
Free Walking Tour Cartagena (www.freewalkingtourcartagena.co) runs daily tours at 9.30am and 4.30pm; meet at the clock tower plaza and tip your guide. 

WORK REMOTELY 
Cape Town, South Africa 
Cape Town, with stunning Table Mountain set against the meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian oceans, is a regular stopping point on Remote Year itineraries, or simply a great base for anyone looking to take their remote-approved job to a new locale. 
HOW
Remote Year (www.remoteyear. com) programmes hook up communities of strangers to travel and work together. 

MEET UP IN A FRIENDLY CITY 
Gothenburg, Sweden 
Gothenburg was ranked number one in the world for social milieu and values by Hostelworld, meaning residents are friendly, open and trusting. The port has Scandinavia’s largest amusement park, perfect for visiting with new friends you met at the weekly Friday ‘After Work’ parties in bars across the city. 
HOW
For an upscale spot, try Yaki-Da (www.facebook.com/yakidagoteborg), or search Meetup (www.meetup.com). 

JOIN A GROUP TOUR 
South Asia 
Tour company GAdventures is an option for people who want to meet new friends but don’t want to travel completely alone. It runs itineraries aimed at 18- to 30-somethings. 
HOW Try a trek through Indonesia or explore south India and Sri Lanka. See www. gadventures.com.

From Peru to Prague with Wendulka
“The airfare to Lima was too tempting to pass up, and after booking my ticket I went straight to the Thorn Tree travel forum for itinerary-planning advice. That’s where I found a post by Wendulka, almost exactly my age and seeking a companion in Peru for the same weeks I would be there. How can you argue against a coincidence like that? 

I sent her a message and we agreed to meet in a Lima hostel the night we both arrived before setting off for the sand dunes of Huacachina together. We had our share of misadventures on the trip – a chipped tooth from a granadilla pip on one of our many overnight bus journeys led to my travel companion getting major dental surgery in Aguas Calientes just below Machu Picchu – but if anything our travel partnership only became stronger. Every day of the trip together went as smoothly as the one before, and later that year I visited my new pal in her home city of Prague. 

I would always use caution when meeting people I’ve connected with online, and always arrange a first meeting in a public place such as a hostel. However, I’ve also discovered that there is something in the old saying that a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.” 
Nora Rawn, travel editor

Extract taken from Travel Goals: Inspiring experiences to transform your life (Lonely Planet; out now)

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