Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Today marks the third year anniversary of the day I took of for the Southern Hemisphere. As I look out my window, I see the same autumnal colors that bade me farewell back then, and its impossible for me to not get nostalgic. I can still picture the mist rolling over the mountains of New Zealand as my plane made its way into Auckland. The excitement of living on my own in a new country was raging through me. Yes, I did and saw some amazing stuff, but it all would have been pretty empty if I weren't sharing the experiences with some awesome people. And I miss those people terribly and it pisses me off that I can't just meet up with them at John Harvard's tonight.

I'd give you more of my Backpacker's Withdrawal Spiel, but thankfully Australian blogger Ben Groundwater sums my mood up perfectly in the article below, so I can go back to being the lazy American blogger that I have become. Enjoy.


I used to know a tour bus driver who loved telling people he was "world famous".

"I know people all over the world," he'd tell his latest bunch of wide-eyed tour passengers, "so I reckon that makes me world famous."

The guy was no Bono, but he had a point. He did know people from all over the world, fellow travellers he could call his friends - as could most people who've spent a bit of time overseas.

We've all got the odd mate in England, friends in Germany, people we could call on in the US, a couple of Dutchies we'd like to hang out with again, some South Africans who said we should come stay some time...

And you know what? It sucks.
Some people might like the idea of having friends all over the world, but I'm not one of them.

I don't want to know that I could go stay with one of my friends for a few nights if I ever found myself in Los Angeles. I want to know that I could go to the pub with them right now.

I don't want don't want friends on other side of the world - I want them on the other side of the street. I don't even like having to cross Anzac Bridge to see my brother.

There are plenty of downsides to a life of travelling - lack of money, career etc - but that, for me, is the worst. You meet these amazing people, have incredible experiences together, and then you bid them goodbye.

Sure, you swap emails, look each other up on Facebook, try to keep in touch ... but you both know there's every chance you'll never see each other again. And that sucks.

I used to work for a tour company in Europe, and without doubt the best part of the job was being presented with a new group of 30 or so people to get to know for the next three weeks. That was fantastic. The worst part of the job, without doubt, was then waving them all goodbye when those three weeks were up.

You tend to forge some pretty amazing friendships when you're travelling, not just on group tours, but just going about the everyday act of getting from one place to the next.

You're always more open to meeting new people when you travel. And through shared experiences like eating strange food, comparing bed bug bites, trying to speak a different language, or just the sheer act of living life in another country, you forge close friendships very quickly. And then you go your separate ways.

Some of those people, you'll never see again. They'll just be a funny character you'll tell bored mates about when you get back home. Others, you'll hook up with again at some other time, in some other place, and you'll find the magic's just not there any more. There'll be this weird moment when you realise that for all the fun you had together overseas, you really don't have much in common.

Others will become friends for life - only from the other side of the world.

The internet's made it easier than ever to keep in touch with the people you meet when you're travelling. All it takes is a couple of quick clicks, and few minutes of reading status updates, and you can tell what, say, Jorge from Argentina is up to now.

There's also a new website, Trip Reunions, where old tour passengers can register and get back in touch with the people they travelled with all those years ago. Some groups organise reunions, where you all get together to drink a few beers and reminisce about that crazy Kiwi bloke who always took his pants off when he was drunk, or the girl you could have sworn you saw dashing out of the bus driver's cabin one night.

It's all good fun, and you'll have a great night, but it's just not the same.

Some people might like being world famous - but I'd prefer it if all my friends lived here.

No comments: