Friends are the family you choose for yourself
Travelers have a common understanding through our similar life values and motivations, but the relationships that we build is beyond that, as every relationship is more based on having compatible personalities, ambitions, humor and perspectives.
A subculture is a cultural group originating from a larger culture, like the global society, that often has beliefs or interests that differs from those within the larger culture. This is how I see the community of travelers or nomads, that I meet no matter where I go in this world. Meeting each other while on the most amazing journey creates a union, in a way that is incomparable to the daily relations you have at home.
The friends I have back home are people that I have a good connection with, after knowing each other for a longer period of time. They are dear to me, they are loyal, and they are my safe environment. These are relations I know I will have no matter where I am or for how long I’m gone – they are unconditional, as am I for them. Additionally, most people usually create relations within our sect of like-minded people, whether it’s through religion, sport, or other hobbies. My big passion is living the life of a traveler, or as a «nomad», as some people would call it.
As said in my introduction, the life of a traveler is one way of living life that has attracted an unbelievable amount of us, so many that I would dare to say that we make our own subculture in the global society. On average, I meet a handful of people every day with the same way of life as me. Some people have just started their journey based on an «inner call» telling them that this is what they have to do for this particular time of their life, others have been traveling for years.
There are some who travel for a short time, then return to their daily life and routine. Other times, people change their mind and continue on traveling instead, like I did. Then there are those who start their travel with no intention of going back for a long time. Yet we all hear that call, and have the feeling that this lifestyle is more right for us than the one back home. It demonstrates our common understanding of the value of life. It makes up a big part of who we are as people. It defines us. It unites us. It brings us together in a way that I believe could be compared with a strong belief in religion. That inner call is our motivation for life.
Of course, you can’t get to know each person you meet, no matter what situation you meet people in. For example, a person could play on a soccer team, be friendly with most of the other players, but remain close with only a couple of others after the season ends. Travelers have a common understanding through our similar life values and motivations, but the relationships that we build are beyond that. Every relationship are based on having compatible personalities, ambitions, humor and perspectives.
LES OGSÅ: 10 ting du ikke visste om Krakow
T H E F I R S T M E E T I N G
You have left your country and you’ve arrived at a hostel, maybe for the first time, or maybe it’s the next one after many. You might be tired after your journey, a little scared and insecure. You get to your room, probably a twelve person room, maybe even more. It’s cramped, you don’t know where to put your luggage or which bed to choose, you don’t even know the people in your room! It’s been maybe ten minutes since you checked in, and if it already hasn’t happened, someone who may be more confident than you and more used to this way of living, will start a conversation with you. The standard one: «Hey, where are you from? Where are you traveling from today? For how long are you traveling? What visa are you on? Oh, by the way, what’s your name?»
From there on, you have someone to talk to, a sense of security, and who knows? Maybe it’s the beginning of a great friendship. The first person you meet may introduce you to other people at the hostel, or you will get to know someone else while you’re cooking in the common kitchen. Someone tells you about the plans they have for the day, that they’re going to check out a part of the city, maybe go out for a beer in the evening, and they ask if you want to join. Of course you say yes, because you should never say no to a new experience and opportunity (unless you have traveled for the past forty-eight hours, ten hours into the future, without sleep and are super jet lagged, then it’s okay to say no!)
You’ll keep on meeting new people in all kinds of situations, ones with tons of fascinating stories and recommendations on where to go, what to see and how to do so. Maybe you’ll find someone who wants to do the same things as you. You could end up traveling with this person for a while. This is how it usually goes!
LES OGSÅ: 10 ting du ikke visste om Seoul
T H E J O U R N E Y – I N G O O D C O M P A N Y
Twice I’ve ended up living in a hostel long term. The first time, I used the remains of my money on a bus ticket from Mexico’s east coast to Puerto Escondido on the west coast, where I hoped to find a job (and I did, the same day). I got a job as a volunteer in a hostel, working as a bartender for food and accommodation. I did this together with a magnificent group of other volunteers; Julio and JJ from Mexico, Esteban and Nico from Argentina, Emanuel (Emma/Manú) from the United States, Nina from Switzerland, and Mia, also from Norway. For five weeks we worked and lived together in the dirtiest, tiniest eight person dorm with one bathroom, accompanied by a mice family and a lizard (and we loved it).
I worked in the bar. Esteban was in the kitchen, serving guests food and drinks. Julio and Nico worked in the reception, welcoming everyone, and showing them to their rooms. JJ and Emma sold tours, held surf and yoga lessons, and hosted welcome drinks. Mia and Nina organized events, such as theme parties, Monday night karaoke, pool competitions and volleyball tournaments. We were the face of the hostel, so everybody knew us, we knew everybody, and together we had the time of our life. We became a family, La familia, with such a strong bond that those of us who could afford it tattooed «Lykkelig» eller «lykke» on their body, as a description of how we felt when we were together.
When I first came to Australia I had a horrible first week in Sydney, all by myself on the other side of the globe, more jet lagged than I could ever imagined. I felt very lost and didn’t really know how to do all the things I needed to do. I was traveling all on my own for the first time, and I realized pretty quickly that I had to put away expectations of this trip being the same as my time in Central America. I was in Sydney for six days, and four of those I spent in bed hiding away from people, avoiding the overwhelming city, feeling only my own anxiety and the terrifying loneliness and longing to go back to my safe and known environment. Suddenly, I was a grown-up and a child at the same time, with no one to lean on but myself. I was scared, insecure, and the only hope I had was the bottle of gin I bought at the airport, that I hoped to use to make some friends. It turned out to give me one good night, followed by another forty-eight hours in bed. I felt the depth of hopelessness, but I had a small hope of better times, once I got to Melbourne.
I had booked a week at Melbourne City Backpackers hostel, located right in front of Southern Cross Station in Melbourne. I walked in, checked into my twelve person dorm, then went downstairs to make some food in the common kitchen. I sat down at a big table with two people that later became some of my closest friends and roommates, Jade from London and Matt from Manchester. It was already around 6:00 PM, so to break the ice after the standard opening conversation, I asked if they wanted to go out for drinks for the night. It was Saturday, so the party was huge. I got to know all the people that were to be my hostel-roomies for the next three and a half months. We were a group of around 15 people, who ended up staying at this hostel for as long as we could, even though our plans were something else to begin with, all because the group was so loyal and safe.
Together we struggled through the job search, sharing both our frustrations and accomplishments. We have grown together, learned together, been happy, sad and angry together. We have shared beautiful moments together, like birthdays, Halloween, Christmas and new years. We have been there for each other in good and bad times, as I described in my last blog post. For as long as it could take, we were inseparable.
On Luuk’s third day in Australia, he checked in at Melbourne City Backpackers hostel, which was my home for about three months. He had never traveled before, and like others before him, he felt insecure and a little lost – totally normal when you have taken your first step into the great unknown! Luuk is a twenty-one year old guy from the Netherlands. He’s a trained physiotherapist, but he’s also a rapper, a hobby philosopher, and a lover of the free life. As long as he has bananas and cigarettes on hand, he is full of energy and will surely win you over with his big, contagious smile and wonderful laugh. I met Luuk in what we later on named The Epiphany Stairs, where he struggled with opening the door to get back inside after a cigarette. Fortunately, I was there doing exercise, and I helped him. After two weeks of hanging out and getting to know each other in the profound way that two like-minded travelers do, he left for his next destination and didn’t return for another two months.
During that time Hanna, my friend from Norway, had decided she wanted to come to travel with me. Me and Luuk were still in touch and one day, over a phone call, we decided that the three of us would buy a car together and camp our way up the Australian East Coast. Neither him or I had imagined before we left home that we would end up doing this, especially not with a person we barely knew, or in his case, with Hanna, who he’d never met before.
So now, we are living on the road, in Hella the Honda (Hell of a Honda) and a tent. We are constantly on top of each other, sharing all our thoughts and feelings so we can keep our group functioning well. We are, as Luuk calls us, a well oiled machine.
No matter if you are an experienced traveler, or a new one, we all go through the same when we first arrive at a new place. We’re in the same boat, and that’s what makes such unique connections. No matter who you are, and where you wanna go, check if there is a hostel you can check into, just for the experience’s sake. I really do recommend you to, and I’m sure you won’t regret trying!
A great thanks to all my fellow travelers, that have made my journey the past years xx
If you want to follow my travels, got feedback on my blog posts or have any questions, don’t be shy to contact me on Instagram @mofffasa. Cheers