Travelling around and staying in hostels can be an absolutely fantastic way to meet fellow backpackers, to share a love of the road with new friends and maybe even experience more together. But what happens when you leave, what happens when you have to say goodbye?
In previous articles, “So Lonesome I Could Cry” and “I’m My Own Worst Enemy”, I discussed how loneliness can really affect a solo traveller, how it can be difficult to interact with new people and make new friends; well in this post I want to talk about the exact opposite.
I’ve been on the road for quite some time, living and working in hostels and it can be very easy to immediately click with someone, to find a partner in crime, and it makes your experience of that place all that more fulfilling. You remember certain places purely because of the people you met and the time you shared together. But after a few days, either you or they decide to move on, to head somewhere new and it can be time to say goodbye, or maybe it doesn’t have to be? If you have no real itinerary, and no plan, why not go with them; spend a few more days together and experience another place with your new buddy. If, on the other hand, you can’t go with them, or your routes don’t really align, why not arrange to meet up in another place somewhere further along the road, there are so many backpacker routes out there that it’s easy to cross paths again on purpose or accidental. A friend I met in Spain was heading towards Paris and so I altered my route just so I could meet up with him again, it made my time in Paris even more enjoyable and we got to spend Bastille Day 2016 together; I bumped into another friend from Spain while we were waiting for our buses in Krakow coach station and that was nearly a year later from when we met in Spain!
If plans really don’t work, and there’s no chance to meet up again on this journey, there’s always the option of arranging a trip to see them in their home city. Travel to new places is great but when you can experience somewhere with a local, a friend, not a professional guide, it makes the place even better; you get to see the city from their eyes, visit their favourite bars, see their favourite hangout spots. I’ve done this quite a few times and it really made me value that place more because I got a further insight into their lives and frankly, it made the bond even stronger.
But what if none of this is possible? What if there’s no chance of reconnecting with them again anytime soon? Exchange contact details and continue the relationship, post photos of your journey and follow their journey too. You can exchange tips and tricks if they’re heading to somewhere you’ve been to, tell them all about that amazing little coffee shop you went to, that tiny dive bar that gave you that 3 day hangover and share their experiences, even if it’s just on a screen.
Ultimately, travel is all about loving and leaving, be it a city or a person, and just be grateful you met them in the first place. Just because you had to say goodbye before, doesn’t mean its forever.
This article is from the series “Downsides To Solo Travel” do check out the rest of them at that link. This series is to highlight some of the more negative aspects that can be found while travelling. Please understand that I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from travelling, but more trying to explain that it’s realistic to have problems before, during, and after a trip.