Travel is a gift that keeps on giving! It gives us knowledge, it gives us wisdom, it makes us humble, it gives us passion and along the way it gives us people to meet that become great friends.
The friends we make on the road can be some of the best friends we have ever had. We share experiences with them that we haven't shared with anyone else, we have seen each other at our worst - jetlagged, hungover, grumpy because we haven't eaten in hours. They say you never really know someone until you travel with them.
Even though we spend a relatively short period of time with our new international friends, those goodbyes are often the hardest. You may live thousands of miles apart on different continents and there is a chance you may never see each other again. Ok, that probably won't happen, you have probably already made plans to visit each other. But still, goodbyes are hard and that is because travelling friends are the best!!
They know the real you
People who travel together, stay together. Part of the reason the friends we meet while travelling are the best is because they like you for who you really are. They don't see the meticulously made up version of you that spent an hour in front of the mirror that morning. They don't see the act you put on in front of your colleagues to make it seem like you know what you're doing. They don't see you on your best behaviour. They see you with messed up hair that hasn't been washed in days. They see you with no make up on, pimples and all. They see you relaxed, laid back, comfortable and not caring what anyone thinks because you are having too much fun. And they like you anyway!
Making friends is the easiest thing in the world. You've been doing it since you were born. You don't even need to think about it. As a toddler you would just say hi to someone or start playing with them. You were honest. And just like that you were friends. Yet somehow on the path to adulthood we all got caught up in caring what others thought, how we looked and spent more time worrying about making a good impression and being liked than actually engaging in genuine socialisation.
Travel takes away this pressure. Making friends with people from all over the world is just like pre-school, you ask them about their culture, you get to know them and they do the same in return. They see you for you: raw, genuine and beautiful.
They give great travel advice
Meeting people from different countries means they have a unique perspective on a new place for you to visit. Travellers love to see destinations through the eyes of a local so what better way to live like a local than to get tips from a local?
They will have favourite bars, restaurants, shops etc in their home town that they would love to share with you and you can do the same in return! Seeing the sights is great but why not really get under the skin of a new place by getting travel advice from your friends who know it best?
They are always there for you
One of the wonderful and most annoying things about having international friends is the time difference. Chances are, if you need to talk to them in the middle of the day, they will be asleep. But if you are having a crisis at 3am (because after all, most crises happen in the middle of the night for some reason), guess who will be awake and ready to listen?
I have a group chat on my phone consisting of a Brit, 4 east coast Americans, a Western Australian and one from Sydney. Between us we cover 4 time zones and there is never a point in the day when we are all asleep. Great for needing someone to talk to, not so great for actually getting some sleep...
They won't judge you
Everyone has a few bad days when travelling, we have all been there. Sometimes you just need a day to vent about flight delays, the lack of choice when it comes to plane meals, the amount of money you spent on a bus ticket only to realise you booked it on the wrong day and the ticket is non-refundable. You know what I mean, the less glamorous days of travelling.
It's ok to have these days and your foreign friends will get that. They have been there too at some point. Even if you need to vent once you have gone your separate ways, they will always lend a listening ear and offer whatever advice they can.
Even better, travelling friends understand that part of travelling is sometimes skipping showers. Friends that know you haven't showered in 2 days and don't judge you for it are surely ones to keep!
You always have a place to stay
Having friends in far flung lands gives you the perfect excuse to do more of what you love most: travelling the world!
Maybe Colombia hasn't been on your travel list so far, but now you have a bestie that lives there, it would be rude not to, right? Especially if they can put you up and save you money on accommodation! Always wanted to go down under but never got round to it? Having Australian friends makes it much easier to make the commitment to the mega-long flight.
It might be a sofa, or an air mattress on the floor, but sometimes a few home comforts and chilled out days with good company is the perfect remedy for the burnt out traveller. Chances are, your international pals will also have family members or other friends that might be generous enough to put you up on the next leg of your trip! It pays to know people!