One of the first questions people ask me when I tell them I travel solo is:
But how do you make FRIENDS?
And I gotta be honest, it’s not all easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.
When I first started travelling by myself, I stayed in hostels all the time.
Hostels are like kindergarten, you can make friends within seconds. Do you share a dorm room with some American girls on their spring break? You’re best friends now. Did you say hi to the backpackers in the common room? Congrats! You’ve found yourself a new travel squad. Are you sharing a meal with a chatty Scottish banjo player? You’re engaged now.
(Just kidding, but you can literally make a friend by asking for a cooking utensil in the shared hostel kitchen.)
That’s the beauty of travel. You get to enjoy the moment with people from all the corners of the world. No one knows your backstory, which means you can be anyone you want to be. No one really cares what you majored in at uni, what your 9 to 5 looks like back home or what car you’re driving. You’re getting the rare opportunity to start with a clean slate. Over and over again. Like a real-life incognito mode. A tabula rasa.
I wish everything in life was as easy as making friends in hostels. But it’s not all perfect, of course. The friendships you forge in hostel dorms usually don’t last. Once the members of your new-found travel crew decide to move on (and they will, eventually) you and your friends will scatter across the globe like a set of billiard balls. This is inevitable, and more often than not, it’s very hard to stay in touch once everyone has taken a different path.
After some weeks of keeping each other updated about your adventures, the new foods you’ve tried and that cool tour guide you met on one of your day trips, the communication will become more and more sparse. Your friends will have moved on. Just like you, they have new exciting countries to discover, different bars to go to and new people to go on adventures with. And that’s okay.
When you decide to be a digital nomad, there are some things you have to sacrifice, like with every choice you make in life. You just have to decide what’s worth sacrificing for, and to what extent you’re willing to give up certain things.
I still stay in hostels every now and then, but I’ve definitely become more focused on my family and the friendships I have back home. I still like meeting new people, but I don’t expect these brief friendships to last anymore. (If they do, that’s great of course!) Instead, I can now see them as they are: pure, untampered memories, perfect in their volatility. Being a nomad in the true sense of the word is all about moving. The experience. Living in the moment. And yes, one day I will probably grow tired of that. But for now, at this moment in time, it’s what makes my travels perfect. And I hope yours too.