Choosing a long term travel buddy can be tougher than it looks. If you want to travel with a friend or a group of them, it’s best to have the same interests, all agree on visiting the same places – or meeting up in a nearby country – and most importantly, knowing that you are not going to fall out. The same goes for travelling with partners as travelling can make or break any relationship. You will be with this person all the time, you may have to do things you are not interested in, and vice versa, and at some point you will more than likely have a disagreement about something.
The main thing is to make sure that your trip doesn’t end in a horrific argument or break up, where you both end up getting on different trains going in opposite directions. You want it to be one of the most amazing experiences of your life and nothing can take that away from you more than bickering friends and other halves.
If you’re unsure about the person you want to travel with, try having a cheap weekend away somewhere before you go. This can be as simple as a week camping in Cornwall, just so you can see how you both get along when you’re out of the comfort zones.
Many people associate solo travel with being lonely, but there are plenty of places where you can make new friends, whether it’ll be for life or for a short few days.
It can be very tempting to opt for a private dorm room with en suite, but by sharing a multi-bed dorm room you’ll have the chance to meet other backpackers. Hostel common rooms and kitchens are also handy to make friends. Bring a pack of cards or offer someone a meal if you’ve made too much and you’ll soon get talking.
In bars and clubs
Talking to strangers in a new city may seem like you’re asking for trouble, but it’s a great way to make new friends. Okay, so there are a certain set of rules: try to talk to people that appear friendly, are a similar age to you and most definitely double check that you’re not crashing a romantic date. Stick to that and you can have an awesome night out with some locals who know the best spots, or have one too many with fellow backpackers and end up hatching a plan to head to Poland in the morning.
On the train
In Britain talking to strangers on public transport is considered the ultimate sin. But, if you’re sitting near someone who looks like they’re InterRailing too why not go over and talk to them. Obviously take notice of any signals that they’d rather enjoy their journey alone, but it’s likely that they won’t mind, especially if they are a solo traveller as well.
With a tour group
Yes, yes, no one likes being herded around a new city like cattle but tour groups, like city walking tours, can give you the chance to socialise with other travellers. As you’re all shuffling along the cobbled streets, you can find an opportunity to start a conversation about the city, what you’ve seen already, and ask other travellers if they have any recommendations. Before you know it you could be finishing the tour in the pub with a bunch of new mates.
On the gapyear.com boards
The gapyear.com boards are a great place for travellers to talk to, well, other travellers. Not only can you ask for advice about InterRailing or the must-see places of a city you’re visiting, but you can also ask if anyone would like to join you on your trip. This is a great way to meet completely new people, whether they are local to the area, have lived there for a couple of years, or wish to explore it with you. Just let people know the dates for when you’ll be in a certain place, or ask if they’d like to join you on the entire InterRailing journey.