What is it that makes travel friendships so incredible? I have been travelling on and off for years, almost always solo, yet there are so few times I would ever say I felt alone. Even the times I was lonely I would say that was by choice, and mostly out of stubbornness and not because there was no opportunity to socialise. But even those stubbourn lonely moments lead you back to people if you let them, like the time I broke my foot in Montenegro and sat debilitated in my apartment for 5 or 6 days before I was able to overcome my pride and ask for help. Once I finally did great things flowed on from it and proved that not even my pride or broken bones and ligaments could stop me from finding silver linings and amazing people.
I think what happens to you when you travel on your own is that you’re stripped of routine, familiarity and responsibility and what’s left is the purest version of yourself. It is this version that people react to and their reactions for the most part are a direct reflection of who you are at your core. When you travel longterm without accompaniment you naturally drop all the pretences and live more openly and I suppose it is this openness that attracts good company in kind, be that of local citizens or other travellers crossing your path along the way. And here’s the great thing: friendships like these when they survive can actually be resilient as hell.
And how do these friendships survive? Is it possible to maintain them for years after a brief encounter? I think so. I know so, because I still feel incredibly connected to some people several years on and keep in regular contact. We still share jokes, memories, and ideas. Some of these friends I can imagine still knowing when we’re old and grey, laughing about the time we had way back when and (if we’re lucky enough) the times our paths crossed again afterward. The mere idea of that makes me smile, and the hopes I have for each of their futures fill my heart along with the gratitude I have for having known them now.
I think when you travel on your own the world shows you who you are, and if you don’t like who you had once been it gives you an opportunity to evolve. Doors open and limits dissolve, and you cross paths with people who are going through a similar experience with minds wide open. This is a positive thing to connect with and while we are all so different we are also indeed the same and we laugh and bond and sometimes cry when we have to say goodbye because there is no certainty in when you’ll meet again. Travel friendships may appear to come out of nowhere, but they’re written in the stars as we stumble our way wide-eyed through a world we can barely ever truly know, but at least we know we’re in good company.
Special thanks to my friends at Old Town Hostel Kotor and 360 Monte Travel Agency. These are the people you need to know to take your Kotor experience to new heights.