Make friends with strangers abroad
When you’re in your 20s, you make friends as if wolfing down a bag of Haribo on a long car journey. It happens all at once, without you really thinking about it.
But cruise on into your 30s and the landscape starts to shift. You lose the fair-weather mates and keep the quality ones. So far, so good – but then even the strong relationships start to ebb, pulled by a disparate tide of babydom, promotions and house moves.
The halcyon days of college are over but it *is* still possible to capture that carefree energy of new friendships, especially when you throw travel into the equation.
Adventure is a shortcut to intimacy: away from the hustle of everyday life, you form bonds with like-minded people in a relatively short period of time.
The novelty of sharing somewhere new and testing your comfort zone together creates integral ties, pouring concrete into the foundations of 30 and 40-something friendship.
But don’t just take our word for it – here’s fellow Flashpackers on the joy of connecting with strangers and making new friends:
“From the first day, it felt like a group of friends”
“From hysterical laughter on crazy Hanoi cycle tours to overnight trains with wine and conversation flowing into the early hours, it was such a heartening testament to the common human spirit to see people from different countries, backgrounds and life experience pull together. We supported each other through two intense weeks in close quarters with high energy, great humour and love. From the first day it did not feel like a solos tour group, it felt like a group of friends who had flown out to explore another friend’s home turf.”
“I couldn’t have hoped for a better group”
“I couldn’t have hoped to share so many once-in-a-lifetime experiences with a better group. We’re still in touch via WhatsApp and I love looking back at all the cool photos that we’ve shared. I had reservations about sharing a room but I definitely wouldn’t think twice about doing this on future trips; special shout-out my amazing American roommate! Three of my fellow travellers were also from the UK so we’ve met up several times since our return, including a South African wine tasting event (seeing as we’re such experts now…)”
“The vibe was one of energy and excitement”
“The group dynamic is perfect. I’m not sure what I was expecting (a Mod-life crisis?) but the seven women and three men in our poor excuse for a biker gang get along famously. Most are single 30- and 40-somethings up for a quirky weekend away, and the vibe – fuelled by Lee [Thompson, Flash Pack’s co-founder] – is one of energy and excitement.”
“I could be myself, without judgement”
“For those whom I connected with the most, I learnt that being myself and speaking out loud about my feelings and perspectives on life were actually okay; I could be myself, without judgement, without fear, without apprehension. The depths of my feelings and thoughts on certain topics were shared with some of the biggest hearts I have encountered in a very long time. We took care of one another and in spite of the distance between us (Japan, Seattle and Sydney) I know I have found some friendly souls for life with whom I can just pick up where we left off, at any time in the future.”
“They are people that I would socialise with anyway”
“I didn’t want to travel completely on my own, I wanted to experience it with others. I’m very social. The great thing about Flash Pack is the people I’ve met on the group holidays through them. They are people that I would socialise with anyway. And actually, these will be friends for a very long time. Also, I get continual ideas about places people have gone to, and how they’ve done it. There’s many things you can do that are really affordable.”
“We already had a lot in common”
“We all kind of came to the same conclusion that because it’s Flash Pack, and because we had all chosen the same holiday, we already had a lot in common. Everyone just got on. And everyone was on holiday on their own, not on holiday to hook up with someone. Or not on holiday *with* someone. And it was just people on holiday together.”
“Everyone was up for a good time”
“Everyone was just very welcoming, everyone was up for a good time. It’s people that just fancy doing something together and are always up for a new adventure. You get to experience the country a lot more than if you would have done it with your friends, I think. It was one of the best holidays we’ve ever had, and we’re still friends as a group, and we’re still in touch and meet up.”
“The conversation flowed as freely as the wine”
“It’s sort of like online dating but for the ideal travel buddy. As an outgoing introvert (meaning I can do social situations but I definitely need some downtime, too), I was slightly concerned. But really, I needn’t have been. As dinners approached, conversation flowed as freely as the wine (and whisky).”
“You build up friendships that last”
“It’s the perfect package. With the space of a couple of hours, you will have built up a friendship with people that will last. And going with a new group of people just opens up a whole world of experience, I guess. Meeting people that you wouldn’t necessarily come across in normal life. Making new friends, meeting people from different countries. For me, it adds to the experience. It’s really, really good.”
“You know you’re going to make good friends”
“I felt it enhanced the experience going with people that I didn’t know. Mainly because, I’m so used to going on my own. All of my friends have kids, or jobs. It’s only a long weekend and I’ve always wanted to ride a Vespa. So, I’ll go, and I’ll see what it’s like, and see what the other people are like. We were on this lovely little mini-bus going up to into the towns from the airport. And, in that hour-and-a-half, you know that you’re going to make good friends.”
“I’ve got to meet so many wonderful people”
“I’ve got to meet and travel with so many wonderful people at Flash Pack. I’ve also made friends from all over the world and have visited several of them during my travels. This was a perk I didn’t plan on and it turned out that having a flexible approach to my travels has been a huge benefit as I’ve been able to adjust when I learn about a new place (or person) I want to visit.”
Photos: Flash Pack