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This post was last updated on July 3rd, 2020 at 12:24 pm
There are many lessons that I have learnt while travelling, and realising who is or isn’t your true friend is one of them. Traveling with somebody is undoubtedly an intense experience. Many travels can bring people together, see new friendships formed and life-long relationships commenced. Travel, however, can also cause the end of relationships. Being in such close proximity with a person can see rise to their annoying habits, flaws and often cause arguments. But is this a bad thing?
I think, if you want to know if somebody is for you, travel with them. Whether this be a friendship, a potential relationship or a marriage, travel is often the most intense and prolonged contact that you are likely to have with that person, and can indeed, make or break you
Here are a few of my ‘make or break’ experiences
Ibiza: The mean girls
At age 18 I went on my first holiday without my parents to Ibiza. There was supposed to be a big group of us girls from college going, plus my friend from work. However, prior to the trip a few dropped out for various reasons, leaving me, my friend Sam from college, and my friend Sinead from work.
I was a little bit weary about the old saying ‘three’s a crowd’. In addition, I did worry that it might be awkward at times as Sam and Sinead didn’t know each other very well. However, I had no need to worry about that, they all of a sudden became like best friends, and it was me that felt left out.
We met a group of guys from Liverpool , and the girls seemed to develop a rather odd infatuation with them. Wherever they went, we had to go. I didn’t want to follow the boys around all the time, and there were several days/nights that we argued about this, and that I spent on my own.
Being my first adult holiday I was quite upset by this, and perhaps this was the beginning of my independent travelling in a fashion, after spending a fair bit of time alone. On return from Ibiza, me and Sam continued our friendship as always, after all I don’t think she ever meant to upset me. Sinead, on the other hand, never spoke to me, and I never spoke to her, again.
This holiday enabled me to see her in a different light from before, and perhaps she felt the same with me, as neither of us attempted to contact the other again, the feeling was clearly mutual. If it wasn’t for this holiday, our friendship would probably be in a very different place now.
Vietnam: The never-ending journey
Upon boarding the bus in Laos that would take me through to Vietnam, I met Merel. Being the only two Western girls on the bus, we naturally chose to sit together, although at that time we had no idea of the journey that we were about to commence.
A few hours in, after swerving around mountains and being thrown from side to side in our seats whilst trying to sleep, we had a ‘midnight toilet stop’. I put this in inverted commas, because there was actually no toilet at all. Being in a rural village in the middle of the mountains, nothing was open. The locals onboard the bus were clearly accustomed to this and upon disembarkation they immediately dropped their pants and started peeing in the middle of the street! In horror, Merel and I began our search for an appropriate, and discreet location in which to do our business, and using our teamwork skills we took turns to keep look out and guard the other from any passing men!
Following this, we had to wait hours in the morning at immigration, had to eat unusual and rather ambiguous soup and use a toilet surrounded by farm animals! We then proceeded to arrive at the wrong destination after around 24 hours and began our mission to get on an onward bus.
Not as easy as it may seem though. After hours of the Vietnamese refusing to try to talk to us, having people push us out of queues and being, quite frankly, ignored because we weren’t Vietnamese, we finally boarded a bus. Our seats were the floor, and we shared an inflatable pillow between us to stop the men accidently kicking us in the head whilst sleeping next to us. This really was travelling the ‘authentic way’.
The next toilet stop took us to a communal toilet area, one of the most bizarre toilet experiences of my life, and then onward to our final destination. Upon arrival, and after 30 hours on the road, we were then confronted by a dodgy taxi driver, who after quoting the equivalent of $3 for the 10 minute journey, began asking for $30! He grabbed my rucksack and began getting very aggressive, saying that we must pay him. After a long struggle, and a stressful argument, we agreed to give him an outrageous $20; probably a months earnings for your average Vietnamese.
This experience brought Merel and I together very quickly, and we continued on to travel together (with less drama!) for almost a month! We are still friends now, although I don’t see her very often as we live in different countries.
Pisa: The drunken idiot
Jon and I had been dating for a couple of months when we decided to take a little spontaneous visit over to Pisa, Italy. We always got along well and had similar outlooks on life, or so I thought.
For me, this was a cultural weekend getaway. I would get to see a world famous tourist attraction and get to indulge in lots of Italy’s finest food and wine!
For Jon, it was an excuse for a piss up.
I think we mutually annoyed each other on this trip. He bought his first alcoholic drink at 6.30am at the airport, and did not stop drinking until he passed out, drunk, at around 10pm. He was culturally ignorant, paid no respect to local customs, and complained that they didn’t have meat feast pizza! The following day, he was miserable and continuously moaning because he was hung over.
This would all be fine if we were in Magaluf or somewhere, but you don’t go to Pisa for a piss up! We clearly had different ideas about this trip. To me, he acted like an immature, selfish and ignorant 18 year old, and the teacher in me treated him that way. I will admit that I probably did speak to him in a patronizing manner, and I’m pretty sure that annoyed him.
I still managed to enjoy my trip, but on return to the UK, I was cross with him. We were not in a serious relationship, and I did suspect that upon return from Italy we would probably call it a day, but I didn’t realize to the extent that he would annoy me! Those similar outlooks I thought we had on life, could in reality, not be more different. We never spoke again.
These are just three examples of many experiences like this I’ve had. Fortunately, I can say that I have made more friendships through travel, than I have lost. Travel is an amazing experience that is wonderful when shared, but you just need to make sure that you share it with the right person….