Meeting people is one of the most important aspects of travelling solo. Being alone in a place far away from home forces even the most introvert among us into contact with both locals and fellow travellers. Most backpackers choose to stay in places where they can meet people easily. Day trips and other activities will further open opportunities to make new friends. However, most of these encounters end up being what I like to call “One Day Stands”.

Unrelated picture of people I met while travelling.

Unrelated picture of people I met while travelling.

On Unicorns

It is quite hard for me to “click” with people. Scoring “ENTJ” in the Myers-Briggs test makes me an extrovert with a deep longing for real connections with people. Such connections, however, only form with a tiny fraction of people. ENTJ’s have a somewhat ridiculous standard when it comes to people, thus we rarely meet people we really like. I usually only “click” with one out of one hundred people I meet.

Such occasions might be a rare occurrence, but when they happen, they are amazing. Meeting people that I get along with greatly puts me into a state of ease that I truly cherish. I enjoy genuine friendship much more than I do talking for the sake of talking. Like-minded people are like unicorns for me, as they hardly exist. Therefore, I am deeply grateful when I meet one.

Unrelated picture of people I met while travelling.

Unrelated picture of people I met while travelling.

A hundred faces but where are the people?

As said before, it is ridiculously easy to meet people while travelling. Facebook groups for major backpacking destinations, the hangout function of the Couchsurfing App and even Tinder will get you to never spend a day alone. It is good that these apps and groups exist, as they make it easier for nomads to feel comfortable in new and strange places.

Constantly feeling the urge to not do stuff alone can, however, be exhausting. Having to check your mobile phone for people to meet up with all the time is not what most backpackers have in mind when they leave home. There is a sort of pressure that keeps you from unplugging from the stresses you have just fled. And while most people you’ll meet will be open-minded and fun, people on said platforms can be sketchy or, more often, simply boring.

While travelling I usually meet dozens of people through those Apps every week. But sometimes I feel that it is just a substitute for doing things alone. I am meeting these people because I just want to be around someone, without really caring who it is. And the reality is often as follows: I’ll never see those people again.

Unrelated picture of people I met while travelling.

Unrelated picture of people I met while travelling.

The One Day Stand

What I mentioned before is the more exhausting part of meeting people for the sake of being around people. It often ends in getting drunk pointlessly and regretting a lot of different things. As I said, however, there are the unicorns. The people that I genuinely like spending my time with. With whom I shared amazing moments or that I just liked talking to for hours. There might even have been some romance involved, but that is not a necessary requirement.

Imagine you are spending a day with someone that you would really love to call a friend. But at the end of the day, that person will continue his or her journey. The bittersweet realisation will be that you will never meet again. The contact will be restricted to the occasional Instagram posts, because, who really chats with strangers? And at some point, both parties will be back in their everyday life, the memory just a couple of .jpg files on an sd-card.

Such is the nature of the “One-Day-Stand”: Spending a wonderful day with a great person, realise that you get along very well and then never see each other again. The reality is that most encounters end this way. Planning the onward journey together might be too cosy for most people as it beats the meaning of travelling alone. Thus, we truly are restricted to the present moment and the memory of that moment. It is, indeed, a very hedonistic way of getting by.

Unrelated picture of people I met while travelling.

Unrelated picture of people I met while travelling.