Travelling provides the opportunity to meet many amazing, interesting people from all around the world. When everyone is out of their comfort zones, friendships are forged on fast-forward and with an intensity that cannot be easily replicated back home. It’s easier to open up as there are no expectations of you, and it’s easy to find yourself with a new BFF within hours of meeting someone.
The people we meet, and the friendships we make, influence and shape our lives in sometimes small, often profound ways. And that means that, when the time comes, it is our friendships that make leaving a place so much harder. It is cliche but it is true; it is the people that make the place.
But how do you go about finding your people?
When you’re travelling or moving city, you soon learn that the best thing to do is to say yes to everything. Even when you can’t be bothered, even when all you want to do is go home and sleep. Because sometimes the best nights of your life happen on those where you didn’t even want to leave the house.
As with dating, you may have to first focus on quantity before you find quality. This can sometimes be draining, but at other times invigorating. There may be points where you find yourself feeling more alone around people than you ever have by yourself, or you may be lucky enough to find the people who feel like home.
You will realise that you need to be proactive. If you don’t already know people in the area, you can use social media to tap into your network. That old school friend you haven’t spoken to in forever who just so happens to be living in the same city now? The ex work colleague you got on with but never really hung out with? Reach out to them, ask for their advice, see if they’d like to meet for a coffee. You soon come to realise that the worst thing that happens is that they say no.
You won’t be afraid to utilise technology. There are now expat Facebook groups for just about every city, as well as sites such as Meetup to help you meet new people. The app Bumble recently launched a Tinder style way to find your new BFF and can be used in big cities, such as London. You find that, if you’re willing to look, it’s easy to find like-minded people looking for a fellow BFF-partner-in-crime.
But for world travelers, it often isn’t the making of friends that’s the problem. Often, that’s the thing that they thrive off; meeting new people, trying new things, and gaining new experiences. It is the maintaining of friendships that proves difficult. Especially when you find yourselves on other sides of the world, working in different time zones.
Social media is both a blessing and a curse. When we have friends dotted around the country, or world, it means that we can easily stay in contact. But sometimes the constant knowledge and opportunity for brief interaction it provides can excuse us from maintaining a real-life connection with those friends who are on our doorstep.
We need regular contact in order to feel emotionally connected to someone. That may mean taking the time to arrange a regular Skype session when you’re far away. When you live in more rural or less densely populated areas, real life interaction with those around you can be easier. Distance tends to be less of an issue as it doesn’t seem quite so unreasonable to drive for over an hour to go see them. Living in a city such as London, everyone seems so far. A friend living in North London when you live South for all intents and purposes might as well be living on the other side of the country. It takes effort to maintain friendships. And this effort is intensified when you are never in the same place. Even more so should you return and realise that you’re no longer the same people you were before.
You will come to realise that some friends are just for a certain time and place, and that that’s OK. But if you’re lucky you’ll find those ones that are for life. The ones you can call on for life advice, even when they’re on the other side of the world. The ones who are always up for a new adventure. The ones that no matter how much time has passed, when you find yourself in the same place again, nothing will have changed.
Lifestyle Editor, Girls Talk London
Follow Victoria on Twitter @apinchofcake