Travel friendships are uniquely different than any other type of friendships. People who don’t travel, or who have never bonded with other travelers on the road, might not realize how fast and deep travel friendships develop.
First of all, time works differently in a travel friendship. Knowing someone for two weeks in “the real world” may equate to, at most, getting coffee one day, maybe dinner another, and, if you’re really bonding, maybe spending most of the day together on Saturday or Sunday. Whereas, two weeks in a travel friendship means, virtually, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week are spent together. From living in dorms to a lack of other commitments (like jobs, doctor appointments and other friends and family), time and space are shared from the moment you meet!
If you think about it that way- a two week friendship in the real would consists of, tops, 20 hours together. In the travel world, it consists of 336 hours together. Using this math, that would mean a two week travel relationship equates to about 8 months in the real world. The calculations are somewhat crude but the point remains- travel friendships develop much faster.
Secondly, you get to know people in a different, and in my opinion, deeper and more authentic way than you would in a “real life” setting. This is part of what draws me to the travel world. All the things that bind people to certain preconceived notions, like addresses, job titles, hobbies and clothing, are washed away when traveling. Even if these things are discussed, the stigmas associated with them are significantly minimized due to the freedom of the road and the lack of cross-cultural context.
It’s true, you don’t learn the details about a person’s “regular” day to day life. The very things their friends back home probably define them by. But traveling gives insight into a person’s character in a way that knowing their daily routines never could. Every moment of travel is spent on the edge of one’s comfort zone, if not miles outside of it. This leads to some high highs but also to some low lows. Things don’t always go as planned and adjustments need to be made. Seeing how gracefully (or not so gracefully) someone handles unexpected situations, teaches you things about a person that could take months to learn in a predictable setting.
Finally, because goodbyes are inevitable, friendships are built around the moment. It’s simply about life, as it is, right then and right there. There is no judgement about the past or anxiety about the future.
When traveling, friendships are based solely on quality time, good energy, humor, and the shared travel experience of the moment. What’s more real than that?