Isn’t Making Friends The Best Part of Traveling!?


Good day,

Having friends is an incredible feeling isn’t it? Who would we be without friends? Have you ever met someone genuinely happy and settled in life without a few good friends? When you travel, you open yourself up to meeting cool people from around the world and if you go long enough, you may just have crews of friends all over the world. This is one of the nicest byproducts of extensive world travel, feeling like you’re “back in the area” all over the world.

The secret to growing as a person through travel is making friends and learning…

Before I left on this trip I had a large crew of friends in Vancouver, Canada. Besides that I mainly had my friends that I grew up with. All that has changed, I assure you. Many people go couchsurfing so they can get a local experience OR because they are just straight up cheap or on a budget, let’s get real we’d all rather stay in a cool hotel then sleep on some guys moldy couch and act interested in stories when all most want is a shower and a good sleep.

If you travel a lot and have a pleasant personality with a socially acceptable demeanor, chances are you’ll meet people who are like you are. You’ll keep in touch with those guys from Finland you went to the Full Moon Party with, you’ll remember the guy from Montreal who you showed up on Koh Tao with and went on a crazy journey to secure accommodation and whatever else you wanted. Our friend are our friends because we met, we did something together, we bonded and got along, it’s that simple. When you meet someone you trust on the road, you grow fast and you bond because you have to trust each other.

Not long after you’ll find that if you’re a good friend, you’ll have lots and you’ll know people around the world. I assure you visiting a city and exploring it is fun, but seeing it through the eyes of a local that you’re already friend with who is somewhat similar to you is by far the best. I’m not a fan of couchsurfing, showing up at someone’s house to sleep for free would make me feel like a freeloader. Also, everyone says it’s free but I couldn’t stay somewhere and not buy dinner or drinks, etc… It’s simply not how I was raised and as a result, I always opt for my own place unless I stay at a friends…

Anyways, I’m writing this because I’m building bases around the world and it’s one of the sweetest sensations I’ve ever had. Rolling into an area outside of Boston, your cousin is busy so you call a friend you met through him last time and now you’re playing a round of golf!? You roll into Managua and a friend invites you to their compound and fills you in on the scene before you hit it with them. Meeting some friends from Thailand in Helsinki and going to cottage country for a week with nothing but sun, saunas and suds… Going to Tanzania and enjoying a wedding before hanging out in cashew tree forts, heading to Victoria and driving to Tofino with an old friend… IT NEVER STOPS!

Stop focusing on just taking the 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,323 photo of the Eiffel Tower, focus on making connections and better understanding the world you are part of. Get to know the local people but the REAL local people, not just the randoms who only hang out / make their living off tourists. Those people are not the “real deal” and they aren’t real but plastic locals if you ask me. It’s the person you meet through someone off the trail who will give you the secrets to the scene in the city if you have a connection and form a friendship.

You need these secrets as ignorance is NOT bliss, unless you’re ignorant which most aren’t…

What I’m getting at is “coming home” is great but what is even better is when you have countless places around the world that start to feel familiar and almost like home in some way. You won’t get there with your photo but you’ll get there with your personality and that is where the memories and friendships that last a lifetime are born.

The top photo was take in the Corn Islands. There was crazy weather and most of us had to do bank runs, we were fresh out of cash for the most part (not me but most) and this whole crew got together to find everything free on the island and we made a monster feast. Friends make the world go round my friends & remember that money & relationships come and go but good friends are forever…

Tips hat,

P.S: Had I just been taking photos but not making friends, this trip would have ended long ago…

27 Comments

  1. Doc Wends

    June 1, 2012 at 7:03 am

    I just love this positive insights about making the best of every journey and travel!

    Friends are indeed what we are made up on the road, their company is what buoys us.

    • Rob

      June 1, 2012 at 7:24 am

      You are correct sir, friends help keep us afloat.

      Thanks for stopping by and have a slick weekend, Doc.

      • franco

        June 1, 2012 at 7:34 am

        you’re right, the thing about traveling is that its not just all about the places but more so the people you encounter along the way. In hindsight, it’s the friendships forged that you remember most vividly

        • Rob

          June 1, 2012 at 7:46 am

          100% and the experiences that come from it. I don’t treasure the stamps in my passport but I do my friend around the world.

          Thanks for adding to the convo.

  2. PHIL

    June 1, 2012 at 9:27 am

    AHHHH ROB… YOUR SO SWEET YOU CAN CRASH ON MY COUCH ANY DAY IF YOU BUY THE PINTS !!! SEE YOU SOON

    • Rob

      June 1, 2012 at 10:41 am

      hahaha, deal & indeed.

  3. Martyna

    June 1, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Indeeeed!
    Now I’m sure I should look in here more often!
    First rule – no matter where, important in what company.
    High5 from Poland! 🙂

    • Rob

      June 1, 2012 at 10:45 am

      I totally agree. The people your with are more important than the place.

      dzi?ki!

  4. @Specialized_Guy

    June 1, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    very well put! i am on a cycle touring and wwoofing adventure tour of europe right now and your article is like music to my ears as my intention all along has been to make friends all over europe for the very same reasons you have written about. good luck on your travels.

    • Rob

      June 1, 2012 at 2:25 pm

      Good luck with your European tour and thanks for the input, appreciated.

      Safe travels!

  5. Michelle

    June 2, 2012 at 7:23 am

    Hi Rob,
    I like your post on traveling to meet people while
    enjoying the sights. I don’t get to travel much these
    days and so want to. I am on a tight budget, what else do you
    recommend other than couchsurfing that is safe
    and clean for a single woman. Of you have any other suggestions
    I would appreciate. You have inspired me to get out of my town and
    Meet people from other cultures. 🙂
    Thanks
    Michelle

    • Rob

      June 2, 2012 at 7:29 am

      I’m not sure but I’m going to ask Larissa what she thinks and hopefully she’ll answer here. Tight budget or not, always possible to travel!

    • Larissa

      June 2, 2012 at 9:55 am

      Really good post, Rob!

      You hit so many nails on the head but I have to beg to differ on the Couchsurfing. I’ve done it maybe 10 times or more and have never encountered a moldy couch nor listened to someone’s stories that I didn’t want to hear just because they were letting me stay there for free. I also didn’t feel like a freeloader because it’s what the hosts sign up for and are eager to do…”host”.

      With that said, I would absolutely recommend Michelle try Couchsurfing if she is on a budget and wants to meet people, especially locals, while traveling. Hostels get expensive and just because you are paying for a place, doesn’t mean you are any safer. As long as you are not blindly choosing couches and hosts, as in you are reading the profiles thoroughly and not requesting to surf a place that clearly states “you will be on the floor” or shows a photo of a sleeping space not to your standards, then I think you may be pleasantly surprised. I’ve stayed on nicer couches/beds than my own and have walked away from every single experience (except that one time in Moldova…) not only with new friends, but also feeling like I got deeper insight into the culture that I would never have found just chatting up other travelers in a hostel common room or bar. Not that something cool can’t come from that to, it’s just a matter of personal preference.

      This comment is almost becoming an entire blog post and I still have so much more to say so let me just cut it short now and tell you to check back with SHABL either this Wednesday or the next. You both have inspired me 🙂

      • Rob

        June 2, 2012 at 11:02 am

        Indeed, this is quite the post. I can see where you are coming from but pleasant looking girls have a very different ride through life and everyone I’ve met who did it extensively had a pleasant girl in their group or messaged like 1000x people.

        If you dressed as a 32 year old “ok” looking dude, I’d be curious a) how many messages you had to send b) which hosts accept you and c) what types of couches they have…

        See where I’m coming from?

        • Larissa

          June 3, 2012 at 6:31 am

          I wouldn’t attribute someone’s success in Couchsurfing entirely to whether or not they are pleasant looking but I do see where you are coming from. Agree to disagree and perhaps we should turn this into an experiment someday..

          • Rob

            June 3, 2012 at 12:47 pm

            I see where you’re coming from as well. We’ll have to discuss at some other time.

        • Someday I'll Be There - Mina

          June 5, 2012 at 5:40 am

          Although I’d really like to try couch surfing I will have to agree with what Rob said here in that comment, I have sent several couch requests when I was visiting Spain and didn’t get any replies, so I went a message on the group for the city I was heading to and still no replies. While in the meantime I could see some pretty girls sending similar messages on the same group and getting 10s of replies per day 😀 Where is the gender equality that men have been fighting for all these years? haha

          • Rob

            June 5, 2012 at 6:18 am

            I think most of “us guys” have similar experiences…

          • Larissa

            June 5, 2012 at 9:41 am

            No, I hear ya. Believe me I have been denied or just haven’t received a reply at all lots of times. I either keep searching or take it as a sign that it wasn’t meant to be. A lot of it comes down to how detailed your profile is, the message that you send with the request, and most important – the reviews you get. Kind of a chicken vs. the egg thing at first but it’ll grow. Keep trying 🙂

          • Ian [EagerExistence]

            June 7, 2012 at 8:13 am

            Hey!! I’m a guy, and not all that attractive, and I’ve had LOADS of success CouchSurfing! I hosted around a dozen times, and surfed something like 30 or 40. I dunno. Stats in my profile.

            Sure, I get a lot of denied requests, but I know how to work the system to get accepted.

            Sometimes people are honest and say “Won’t host you because you’re a single guy”, etc. I’m fine with that. Their house, their rules. I just find a CSer who doesn’t mind my style of traveller.

            PS. I can give you plenty of tips on how to be successful at CouchSurfing; or, just do a Google Blog search for others who swear by it.

          • Rob

            June 8, 2012 at 5:01 am

            Ian – How many requests do you have to send and did you do all the hosting first? Part of the thing with me is time and money. I know I know we all love saving and so do I but if I’m in downtown Prague for 4 days of my life, NO WAY I’m sending out 20-30 requests to probably stay on a couch outside the city, ya know?

            If like Larissa says, I can be “selective” and team up with someone I’d probably end up gravitating towards at a social event, heck ya but if not life is short and that’s kinda how I roll. I also found that I needed to give “advance notice” which didn’t fit into the “I’m bored, when is the next train somewhere” lifestyle.

  6. Megan

    June 4, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Love this post Rob. I’ve just finished a trip across Canada and the highlight was definitely the people I met and the friends I’ve made. (Although that was all thanks to CouchSurfing so I’m taking Larissa’s side on that debate).

    You can never have too many friends, but you can have too many pictures of the Eiffel Tower.

    • Rob

      June 4, 2012 at 12:32 pm

      Glad you had an amazing time and I’m really happy to be spending my summer in Canada. Not a fan of Canada in the winter but during the summer, few places I’d rather be.

      It’s cool that couch-surfing worked out for you. :]

    • Larissa

      June 5, 2012 at 12:43 am

      High five, Megan, and I’m taking your side on the photo debate as well. That’s coming from someone (me) who returned from Paris 3 weeks ago with over 100 photos of the Eiffel Tower alone AND a couple new Parisian friends 🙂

  7. Someday I'll Be There - Mina

    June 4, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    Now I have a better understanding of your comment 🙂 I agree, though I did not travel extensively (yet), but even my few travels wouldn’t have been the same if I hadn’t met the amazing people that I met and I’m close friends with until now (some even are planning on visiting me in Egypt! and one already did a couple of weeks ago:D )

    Friendships are amazing, and friendships made on the road are the best of all!

    • Rob

      June 5, 2012 at 10:28 pm

      I am sure your time will come but you already seem to have the secret of travel figures out.

      Your last sentence sums up my sentiments as well. Travel friends often become some great friends as you met not due to where you are from but where you are at in life, very different.

      Safe travels!

  8. kim

    March 20, 2013 at 6:48 am

    I like your post, but also disagree on the CS. I have CS around 15 times and sometimes I had to send 20 messages (Miami!) and sometimes just 2.. (Dhaka). totally depends on the number of host in a city (people in london or paris get way to much request than they can answer), if you have some good reviews and how you write your message. Not everyone is willing to host you. Eg I don’t host single guys or go CS at someones place who has less then 10 reviews or a negative one. All to eliminate the risk you have as a 20 something woman on the road. I use CS because I am a student and don’t have much money, but the more important thing for me are the people I met throught CS. All the people I hosted and all the places I stayed were amazing experiences and I can reconmend CS to anyone.. 🙂 Also, since I surfed way more then I hosted I will do some pay-back time as soon as I have my own appartement and a job. If I cannot travel I will at least have those amazing stories from others.

    Also, you don’t really have to host or surf to be a CS’er. There are lots of ‘community groups’ inside CS that organize, meet-up, parties, go for a coffee, go camping, a potluck etc. Expecially if you live in a big city. So if you are new to CS and want some good reconmendations or try out how it works I would suggest to go to one of those meetings! You will find some interesting people 😉

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