About Making Friends While You Travel

Meeting people from different countries and all kinds of lifestyles is definitely one of the main benefits of traveling. However, when the people you meet are mainly other travelers it can get a bit monotonous. I'm not saying that all long-time travelers are alike (I've met some exceptional people on the road) but there are definitely similarities. We hang out at the same hostels, take the same busses, book the same tours, travel to the same destinations, and sometimes we even wear the same clothes or have the same backpacks.

If you run into a fellow backpacker or get into a conversation at the hostel bar, you usually spend the first 20 minutes of your conversation asking and answering these questions:
  • What's your name?
  • Where are you from?
  • How old are you?
  • How long have you been traveling?
  • Where have you been?
  • What's your next destination?
  • What do you do back home?
  • How long are you staying here?

Once you're past this initial exchange of information you might start a real conversation but often that's where it ends. I mean, it makes sense to cover the basics before digging deeper but it gets a bit tiresome to repeat the same things again and again*

I've been on the road for half a year and the amount of energy I'm willing to invest in meeting other travelers has decreased significantly over time. When I started traveling I was moving to a new location almost every other day and when I stayed more than a week in single place it had to be an exceptional place (like Jasper or Moab). With time, I realized that moving a lot also means you're using a lot of energy on traveling, getting to know a new place and most definitely so when meeting new people. 

When I came back from Patagonia to Lima in the beginning of February I thought I was just going to spend a few days in the city and then move on. Yet, somehow I didn't have the energy (or a good idea of where to go next). So I stayed. I found a room for rent in the beautiful neighborhood of Barranco and am spending my days working, rock climbing and surfing. It's definitely not a bad life even when you're not too fond of big cities (I'm not!). I also find that staying in one place for a few weeks definitely makes building real friendships much easier, especially with locals because they also prefer to hang out with someone who is actually going to be around for a while! 

Not that I'm going to stay here forever but it is summer after all in Lima... :)

with my great friend Maria in Moab

* At some point I even thought of making myself a t-shirt that says:
I'm from Switzerland
I'm 28 years old
I've been traveling for 6 months
do you want to go grab a beer?

** You can buy this shirt for a limited time on Teespring: http://teespring.com/solotravelershirt


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