The more I travel to specific locations, the more friends I make. Okay, maybe the word ‘friends’ is used a bit loosely but I make a point to get to know people wherever I go.
For example, I know certain gate agents and even flight attendants recognize me from time to time; some I will have coffee or lunch with. Frequent visits to the airport lounge means they don’t ask for my identification anymore. When staying at a hotel, I always get to know at least the people working the front desk. The more I stay at a property, the more people I know like the concierge desk, bellman, even the housekeepers when possible. Wherever I eat, I try to get to know the wait staff and sometimes I am there enough that I meet the owners or the chef.
I have also met many fellow road warriors over the years, either as passengers or as hotel guests. While they might not rise to the level of friends, we see each other frequently and share stories about travel, work, and family. And then there are others I have met at seminars, trade shows, or clients. Some of them are indeed friends even after many years. I call all these people my travel family. Just this morning, I got a jab on the shoulder as someone I haven’t seen on a flight in a few months walked by me and said “Hey, Carol!”
No doubt the strangest example comes from my cruising. I have managed to have the same waiter on four separate cruises though none of this was planned. Even stranger, these were cruises to completely different destinations like Alaska, Panama, Europe, and South America. I can still recall the reaction by the head waiter when I saw ‘my waiter’ and ran up to hug him on one of these trips.
Speaking of cruises, this is a very easy way to make long lasting friendships because of the amount of time spent together. There are some people that I have met on ships years ago that I still have contact with. Apparently this is the exception according to this article. In this UK survey of 2,000 people, 58% of respondents said they often make friends when they travel. More than a third said they travel especially to meet others. The survey also found that 1% actually met someone they married.
Sadly, the survey also revealed that only 6% remain in contact with these friends. More disappointing, the reason was intentional for 22%, admitting they actually gave the other person a fake number or email address.
I can’t imagine anything lonelier than traveling all over the world and not really becoming friends with anyone. While it is difficult to be separated from my own family, just knowing that at least I have my travel family means when I am away from home, I am never alone.