Posted on December 29, 2013
Travel buddies – you are not alone
The last post of 2013 is dedicated to my travel buddies that I met and shared many amazing moments with in South America. I traveled alone, but I was hardly alone. Yes, I was alone when I boarded the plane in Europe, sometimes when I went off the beaten track or when I needed my space after meeting too many new faces. It was very beneficial that I spoke the local language (learn some Spanish before you travel there) and I could also join the local travelers. Did you know that Argentinians are the hippies of South America? 🙂
Ocean, mountains, inspiring cities, tallest waterfall, caves, vulcans, sunsets, delicious food, sweet drinks, carnival… all of this is amazing when you’re traveling. But there is one more factor that makes our trips an unforgettable journey. The moments that are shared, spent with people that you DO or you DO NOT know. Locals or foreigners, travel buddies will be the ones that you’ll talk about when the trip is over. They are great to laugh with, to plan the next step, to eat, to surf, to party. Most importantly they are the ones who help in difficult situations (cause they understand what you’re going through!) or tell you an inspiring story that can change your life.
I was very lucky that I met people who were kind and helpful and I want to encourage everyone who wants to travel and is still waiting for a perfect travel buddy that… don’t waste your time and go. Perfect travel buddies are already there… traveling! You are not alone and you won’t be alone. Search for backpacks, say hi and offer a shot of homemade “hruškovica” 🙂 That was my strategy, but you might have another one. Don’t be afraid to make the first step. Actually there are lot of local travelers in South America who will be happy to share the moments with you. The language barrier will be a problem in the beginning, but Spanish is very easy, so don’t worry about that.
Characteristics of a good travel buddy:
1. Good vibe/Fun – you have something to talk about
2. Trust – this one might be difficult in the beginning, listen to your instincts
3. Same direction – or flexibility to change plans and adapt
4. Challenges you/supports you to achieve something, e.g. a difficult trek, surf buddy
5. Local – practice the language of the country where you’re traveling
6. International – you will learn so much about new cultures, that it’s amazing
And when you feel that the chemistry is not the right one? Leave or let go. You started the trip alone, so there is no need to stick with people that are not the right travel buddies – in that particular situation. This is your trip and you want to enjoy it to the fullest. The next travel buddy is waiting in the next bus station, hostel, trek, supermarket, square. hahaha
Finally, I want to present you to my “South American” travel buddies and tell a short story about them. I can’t include every one, because it would take me one month to do this post, so I decided to included especially those ones who I traveled with in more than 1 country or I spent more time with them. I also want to mention that I had an amazing time with my hosts (friends, their families or couch surfers), but this will be in a separate post.
Dan/Colorado. Dan was my first travel buddy. I met him when I arrived to Buenos Aires. He wanted to see my Lonely Planet and I offered him a shot of homemade hruškovica (Slovak alcohol). We spent 3 days hanging together in Buenos Aires and later we met in Patagonia.
Adam/Australia. I met him when I lost my bank card in Uruguay. He is a friend of a friend and he helped me immediately with some cash 🙂 Later we met in Bolivia and Peru.
Rayen and Raul/Chile. This was love at first sight 🙂 I met them in a hostel in Uruguay and I them offered a shot of hruškovica. Raul’s grandparents came to Chile from Slovakia, so he was used to drink this stuff. R&R invited me to stay at their place in Santiago de Chile and I spent a great “family” week in Viňa del Mar with them. Muchas gracias amigos!
Rebecca/Canada. I met Rebecca through couch surfing, because we were both looking for travel buddies. I had lot of fun with her, especially when walking in parks in Argentina or in Peru 🙂
Yamna/Rania/Ben/France and Henri/South Africa. This was the first “group of travelers” that I traveled with. We hitch-hiked a new bus from the mountains in Argentina almost to the beach in Chile. We also spent Xmas together.
Misa and Dolfik/Czech republic. I met Misa and her dog Dolfin in Berlin some years ago. In the meantime, they moved to Chile. We made a one-week long road trip, camping in Chile and we finished the bottle of hruskovica 🙂
Kate and Amanda/Ireland. I met Kate (very left) and Amanda (very right) on bus in Argentina. Thanks to these girls I survived the W trek in Torres del Paine/Chile. Later we met in Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. So I can say that I saw them every other week 🙂
Oruro crew/International. I didn’t go to Brasil for the carnival! I went to Bolivia instead. And it was a good decision. Thanks to Juan Carlos – a local couch surfer – we were around 50 couch surfers from all around the world and we had an amazing time together. Even when it rained, it was cold, or we experienced the altitude sickness, robberies and food poisoning. It was worth it.
Andreas/Germany. Andreas was one of the couch surfers that came to Oruro/Bolivia to celebrate the carnival. Afterwards we traveled to Potosí where I was sick and Andreas made tea for me 🙂
Eyal/Israel. I met Eyal in El Bolson in Argentina – for the first time. The second time I met him unexpectedly on the Salt flats in Bolivia and we had a spontaneous reggae half-n-hour party before we both had to leave with different tours.
Arica crew/International. This was the craziest hostel night ever. All of us were in a great mood and after a nice dinner, talks and music we had pillow fight. 8 people in one dorm!
Mathias and Mari/Chile. This was the sweetest couple that I traveled with. I felt a bit old with them (they were 21 and 23). But everything was alright when we listened to the chilean hip hop on Isla del Sol, Lake Titicaca in Bolivia 🙂
Luna/England. Luna was my loudest travel buddy, very passionate about human rights which was inspiring. We went to Machu Picchu together and I will never forget that day.
Mikra/Slovakia. Mikra is my one and only Slovak travel buddy, we studied together at Uni. She flew all the way from London to spend a week surfing in Ecuador. It was great to speak Slovak, exchange life plans and have fun on the beach.
Emily/Hawaii, Leslee/California, Bree/Australia. This combination was the best! Girls just wanna have fun 🙂 And we did, especially during the world surf championship in Montaňita, Ecuador.
One more photo of my girls and our special “travel buddies” – Layne Beachley/Pro Australian surfer and her husband Kirk Pengily from INXS. Wooooaaaaah! I love INXS!
Leslee/California. Leslee was my “longest” travel buddy. I estimate that I had to spend more than 20 days with her. I admired how brave Leslee was (or is). For example this crazy swing was in Amazon in Ecuador. Leslee, I miss you! 🙂
Salento crew/Colombia. When I came to Salento I was tired. I was over saturated and I didn’t want to meet new people. But Michelle and Jespah were too cool to avoid 🙂 Later we met more people and we did lot of things together (hiking, canyoning, repelling down the waterfall, dancing, limbo hehe). Great connection.
Fabian/Colombia. This is my last travel buddy, I met Fabian on Isla Margarita in Venezuela. Fabian loves reggae as much as I do so the last week of my South American trip had lot of positive vibrations 🙂
Uf, now I started to be too nostalgic. I miss you guys. You made my trip the best adventure of my life (so far!) Thank you!
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