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The Travelling Friends You Haven’t Met Yet

It's The People That Make Travelling Worth It

An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstances. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break.

Chinese Proverb

One of the best things about travelling is the anticipation before you leave. That mixture of excitement and fear you feel in the days leading up to your trip.

Before you leave everything is still unknown.

You might know the name of the place you’re going, where you’re staying, you might even have scanned pages of pictures and things to do. But you don’t really know it.

You don’t know how you’ll feel when you get there. Or what that place you saw in pictures is like when you’re exploring it with all of your senses. You don’t know what life-changing experiences you’ll have. Most importantly, you don’t know the people you’ll meet.

There is a quote most often attributed to John Green:

I’m in love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met

Before I travel I like to think about how other people, right now, are going about their lives, unsuspecting that soon they will play a part in mine, and I in theirs. It might be a small part, a chance meeting for half an hour, or half a day. You might never meet them again, or even think of them.

Maybe you’ll just share a meal and then they’ll become a memory, their name long forgotten but their part in the story always remembered. The people are what make travel. The countries and the sites might provide an amazing backdrop, but the people are the feature.

There are people I have met travelling whose names I either never knew, or don’t remember:

  • The Pilot: When I was 17 and was stranded at St Louis airport for a night alone. He let me use his phone, showed me to the air hostess quarters under the airport, woke me up in the morning for breakfast and made sure I got on my next flight.
  • The Chinese Guide: The tiny woman who couldn’t speak a word of English, but guided us through the rice terraces and hill villages of China for four hours. Somehow explaining things along the way, and was fitter than any of us!

Sometimes the people you meet will change the direction of your travel, even for a little while. Like the owner of an awesome bar I went to in Croatia, who showed me where to get the most amazing views of Split and the secret places where locals eat.

Then again, the people you meet travelling might change your life in a more fundamental way. It might be the start of a friendship that will last long after the travel has ended. Especially if you make friends when you move abroad, since you have longer to make a connection.

Thanks to the power of the internet, I still get to interact regularly with my travel friends, and some of them I’ve been lucky enough to cross paths with again on a new adventure. Like the Icelandic girls I met in Thailand, who opened their home and took time off work to show me the beauty of their homeland. Or the Canadian friend I’ve now met in two further countries, Germany and Scotland.

Travel friends are the fastest kind of friends. You’re often in a similar frame of mind with similar goals, and I think somehow the spirit of whatever brought you to the same place at the same time links you together and you become closer so much faster.

After years of travel I’ve decided it’s always the people who really make the journey, and that’s why it’s often the people I think of before I leave for any trip. I’ve said before I’m not naturally that outgoing, but travel has especially taught me to step out of that comfort zone to talk to people, because you never know what might come of it.

I could never regret the travel I’ve done, if only for the people I’ve met, whose stories are somehow woven into mine.

There are no strangers, only friends you haven’t met yet

William Butler Yeats

Have you met people travelling that have changed things for you? Was it a brief moment or are you still connected? I want to know your stories! 

Sonja x

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Travelling Friends You Haven't Met Yet

24 thoughts on “The Travelling Friends You Haven’t Met Yet

  1. Keesha says:

    You are so right. Travel would not be fun without the people that we meet. If you love travelling then you have to learn to love people as well. Nicely put Sonja!

    • Migrating Miss says:

      Thanks Keesha! As much as I love exploring on my own sometimes, I can’t do it the entire time. And it’s often when I’m exploring alone that I meet the most interesting people!

  2. Kelly says:

    I really love this piece. I think this speaks to the fact that we are more important than we know. We change lives and we don’t even know it, which is exactly what other people do for us. I often forget this and think i’m not that improtant but there are so many nameless people that I have met on my travels that really changed me. Thanks for a great post!

  3. Telma | Blank Canvas Voyage says:

    Absolutely! People are what makes travelling so special. When we visited the Solomon Islands and Fiji, we had no idea what to expect. But we were so lucky to have met wonderful people, that we can now call friends.
    Travelling and meeting the Deaf Community has been such a rewarding experience, and of course producing videos from all our adventures. We have friends in every country we visit 🙂

    Telma @ Blank Canvas Voyage

  4. Christina says:

    This is such a beautiful post and makes me feel so nostalgic about all the ‘travel friendships’ I’ve made throughout the years. I’ve kept in touch with only a handful of them, with most being just happy memories, but I’m still grateful for every interaction. To be honest, sometimes I prefer my interactions to be one-offs. As weird as it sounds, I feel like at times it’s just nicer to have that one amazing memory of a good conversation/moment, rather than awkwardly watch their lives unfold on Facebook. At the same time though, I do wonder about what some people are up to! Hard to strike a balance I guess haha.

    • Migrating Miss says:

      Thanks so much! I know what you mean though. There are conversations I remember so clearly or moments, and I know I’ll never see those people again! It adds something to it. But then I do love the possibility that Facebook gives us for meeting in the future!

  5. Sally says:

    I love this, Sonja! You are so right! I always remember the people I’ve met along the journey- they make traveling worth it- making those connections & quirky stories that will be told for years! I connected with a couple of travelers in India on a rooftop in Pushkar and then we met again at the beach in Palolem- good times – that was ten years ago and we are still friends!

  6. Alina says:

    For me meeting people like this sometimes really gave me an impression that world is small. I met an Italian woman at a work thing in Hamburg, she lives in Switzerland now, but one of her best male friends is a course-mate of a girl from a small town near Rome, with whom I lived together for Erasmus (and I am from Latvia)! And it’s the most random, small village that both the girl and the guy are from. And then it makes me think, when I meet people on the road, or just chat with them on Instagram or Facebook, how connected they are? How many people separate them from me? Do I cross path with them every day, when I am at home?

    • Migrating Miss says:

      Me too! I’ve definitely met people who know other people I know travelling. It’s so weird! They say the world is separated by 6 degrees only, but on New Zealand it’s only 2! So it’s no wonder I know so many people haha.

  7. C-Ludik says:

    I fully agree with you 🙂 It is so good to get a feel for the local culture of a place you are visiting especially by meeting local people. When travelling, I often try to get a feel for the local culture by listening to their music, eating local, reading their history… when feasible I like having a travel local guide, one of those telling real and passionate stories and anecdotes of that place.

    • Migrating Miss says:

      Same here! I’ve had some amazing tours with local guides, especially the black cab tour I went on in Belfast. The stories from our guide were so incredible they didn’t seem real!

  8. Kathi says:

    The people are the best part about traveling. I’ve met so many people along the way, who somehow changed my life – some massively, some just with little thought seeds planted in the back of my head. I will never forget the Canadian couple I met in the Galapagos, who decided to follow their dreams and travel there while they could, after losing a dear friend to cancer and realising that life is too short to delay doing what you love! Can’t remember their names either – but this is for them <3

    • Migrating Miss says:

      I agree, some of them definitely made me think about things, even if I never saw them again! Sounds a bit like the Hecktic Travels bloggers, although it could be another Canadian couple.

  9. Bea Adventurous says:

    it’s so important to try and open yourself up when travelling and to not judge someone / avoid contact with them if you’re not used to being around this type of person.

    Everyone is different and has their own story, and more often than not, the people you least expect to make your trip.. make your trip!

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