Claire and Amanda met as they boarded a rickety boat in the Amazon Jungle.
“Do you know where you’re staying in Iquitos?” Claire asked.
“Me either! Let’s find a place together.”
They traveled from Colombia to Peru as strangers down the Amazon River, then continued on to Bolivia and Ecuador as friends — eventually parting with tearful farewells to continue traveling in different directions.
Claire is from England and Amanda is from the U.S., which has made keeping in touch tricky, but the two have since met up in London, where Claire introduced Amanda to Pimm’s Cup, and again in San Francisco, where Amanda introduced Claire to the Pacific coast of California.
They don’t see each other often, but they have so many stories together, from hiking to Machu Picchu to picnicking off Highway 1 in California. Through their lasting friendship, they’ve shared their lives and cultures.
Friendships made while traveling — whether between fellow travelers or travelers and locals — are special. The coming together of different cultures, personalities, and life experiences amidst the thrill of a foreign place results in relationships that can stand the test of distance.
International friendships might mean eventually having to say goodbye — but the strength of these bonds overcomes miles and borders, bringing not only two people, but two places, closer together.
[bctt tweet=”International friendships overcome miles + borders –> “]
Here at Discover Corps, we love that our volunteer vacations provide travelers with opportunities to create international friendships all over the world. Not only are our travelers’ volunteer efforts improving the places they visit, but the friendships they form are improving the lives of everyone involved.
Here are four reasons international friendships make the world a better place:
They create networks
Whether you’re looking for jobs, travel recommendations, or a couch to crash on, expanding your network to new cities and countries expands your connection to the world at large. International friendships open doors that may have been shut without them.
And when your international friends head to your neck of the words, you’re able to pay it back. Sometimes, friends of friends even benefit from these cross-continental relationships, through introductions to people they may have never met otherwise.
When you share your travel plans on social media, a friend may say, “I know someone who lives there; I should connect you two,” — and often, they really do!
Those connections proliferate into more connections, more friendships, more travel, and most importantly, more people who understand the importance of supporting and helping one another, wherever you are.
They are unusually strong
When you share a bout of Delhi Belly after a particularly adventurous meal, or a 24-hour bus ride with a chicken on your lap, you develop a closeness that would take much longer under more typical circumstances.
Travel forces us out of our comfort zone. The friendships we make during travel have already been tested by the stress and pressure of unfamiliar territory — and are stronger because of it.
While we can’t often count on our international friends to stop by our place with a bowl of soup when we’re feeling sick, we can trust that the strength of our relationships will bring us together in other ways. Thanks to the myriad of connection options we have online, our international friends can still be there for us.
They lead to understanding
Travel brings people from all different cultures and backgrounds together to share in new experiences. When you experience the nuances of a new culture with someone from that culture, you’re awarded with a more intimate glimpse into what it’s like to live in that place.
You may discover differences that surprise you, but more likely, you’ll discover that people all over the world — despite their different taste in food or clothing — are surprisingly similar at their core. Friendships expose us to the fascinating differences and surprising likenesses of the global human race.
Teaching each other new things about ourselves and our world makes everyone feel closer and more connected. When we return home, we’re able to share those connections with other people in our lives, continuing to spread that knowledge and understanding of the rest of the world.
They encourage further discovery
Once you’ve made friends all over the world, it’s unlikely you’ll be satisfied by staying in one place. International friendships open our eyes to all the adventures we can have and the many wonderful people we can have them with.
Travelers with friends in faraway places will be regularly tempted to visit them for a special occasion, another trip, or just because it’s been too long. And we think that’s a great reason to hit the road again.
The more we travel, the smaller our world becomes. Those connections benefit us, as well as the people we meet and the people back home, bringing more understanding and greater empathy to our world.
[bctt tweet=”The more we #travel, the smaller our world becomes. And that’s a good thing.”]
Do you have any international friends? Share this article with them!