When I decided to spend a couple of years backpacking, people said I was crazy to go alone but choosing who to travel with can be really difficult.
Placing an advert and then chatting over a awkward coffee in Starbucks is no indication of how quickly they’d come to the rescue when a huntsman spider is on your leg / you accidentally run out of fuel in the middle of the outback or your bank card gets swallowed up in a back street of Indonesia.
I like to go to a new country or move city by myself and then see who joins me along the way. I’m not a fan of sites where you can advertise for a travel buddy from the off and I probably wouldn’t find one because if I spoke the truth my advert would read pretty much like this…
Travel buddy required.
I like to see new places but it’s more about the party than the guide books..
I enjoy taking pictures of natural wonders but don’t want hear long winded versions of how they got there.
I’m happy to see temples/markets/galleries but one per city and an hour will do.
I’m not interested in living a full-on local existence, I would rather stay in a hotel and visit ‘local’ between 11am and 4pm.
I don’t do tents, mattresses on the floor or toilets without a flush.
I like to see landmarks but not the accompanying museum.
I can only tolerate the abridged version of any historical references.
Culture is great in small doses.
It’s all about fun so soul-searchers out to ‘find themselves’ can stay lost as far as I’m concerned.
So, what do you think? If you rate beaches over buildings, shopping over slumming it, parties over preaching and wine over all, let’s meet up.
The problem is that truth-telling is rarely the way forward in any sphere of life – it would likely cost you most of your friends, probably your marriage and definitely your job. People who share your traits, for better or worse, will find you naturally along the same path.
Although I set out alone, almost all of my travels have been better shared along the way and I’ve been lucky to meet so many like-minded people who have remained close friends for many years.
It was the laughter of a group of my similarly-minded friends that made me decide to stay in Australia for another year when I’d almost got to the end of my first working holiday visa and was thinking of changing direction.
We’d been sailing through the Whitsunday islands at the Barrier Reef, Queensland, for two days and our boat, SV Whitehaven, dropped us off on a tiny beach to watch the sun set. There was about 15 of us, five were good friends of mine who’d travelled up the East coast together and the others were new friends that we met on the boat.
I’d been the oldest in every group I’d been part of since I started my trip. The average age was always around 23 while I was already 30. Luckily for me no one would be able to tell – I’m usually one of the most prolific offenders when it comes to inciting jollity. We perched on a rock surrounded by boxes of wine, Tristan was playing his guitar and talk turned to the future and plans for what will happen when the trip is over. Most of the students were on a gap year holiday spending a couple of months in a few different countries; there are the odd couples on their annual holiday and then there are the official ‘drifters’ – the older people who are looking for something they can’t find at home. I was well and truly enjoying the drift – which is lucky because there’s a lot of time to enjoy the drift when you spend three nights in the middle of a reef, sleeping in what really shouldn’t have been sold as a ‘bed’, not least because it’s in the kitchen…
We dock back at Airlie Beach and maybe it’s just all the ocean air and lack of sleep but I’ve got something on my mind. We’re eating our way through a week-long hangover with a full English breakfast in Gloria’s Cafe at the harbour.
“No, I’m not sure all this is for me anymore. I’m 30, I should be drinking in a city cocktail bar and talking about the pressures of management, not waking up with sand in my mouth and wine in my hair.”
“It’s time to swap the backpack for a mortgage and motherhood and head home.” The words just flow out like it’s a done deal
And with that burden seemingly aired and resolved I go back to my gut-buster $5 fry-up. My friends look unconvinced but I’m sure I’ve finally turned the sophistication corner of adulthood somewhere in the middle of the Barrier Reef #Winning!
“Yes, that’s it. It’s finally time to grow up.” I take a dramatic breath of relief and pierce my fork in to a big, juicy sausage when a five inch stream of warm cheese squirts up and strikes me in the face landing creamy drips down my chin and across my chest!
The table erupts in hysterical laughter
Oh well, you can’t force these things…maybe in another year.