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Making friends while travelling alone

When you travel alone, you are never really alone! These are some stories of women who certainly know how to make friends traveling alone. The friendships in these stories may not have eventuated if these ladies had travelled with friends and because of this, they have met new lifelong friends that perhaps they might not have.

If you have a story about a time when you went traveling alone and made a life-long friend, get in touch with the form at the bottom, we would love to share your story.

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Cairo, Egypt, 2011. The Revolution had died down for several months now, not that you would know it from the Media. After already having spent my previous day's off from work at a nearby horse stables in the city, I decided I had seen enough of the "tourist sites" and wanted something a tad more familiar for a change. I headed out to the mall where I find myself the only blonde, white woman in sight. I had grown accustomed to standing out but it was beginning to draw too much male attention. I ducked into a series of local shops selling Arabic paintings, necklaces, scarves and the likes. To my delight, a woman in hijab was working behind the counter. She welcomed me with a warm smile and her English was perfect.

She greeted me and, as if forgetting I was a customer but rather a guest, she immediately sat me down and offered me a cup of Hibiscus Tea (on the house!) We sat on the comfortable cushions for what seemed an eternity sharing cultural stories and diving deep into one another's strange and mystical way of life. She shared everything with me and we became great friends.

We met many times after this first encounter. She took me into her families home and shared the breakfast meal with me while we both fasted during Ramadan Kareem that year. Her younger sister even put on a--strictly ladies only--belly dancing show for me! I am forever thankful for my "habibti," (Arabic word for female friend) for showing me not only the kindness of Egyptian people in an unusually compromising time, but for also befriending me and treating me as if I were a sister! It just goes to show that the sisterhood is strong with women in every country and culture and all we need to do is open ourselves up to the possibilities and unite.

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It all started with a group tour. Those types of trips are quite good because they provide you with a theme, such as “Northern Thailand” with all of the logistics behind that are taken care of such as hotels, local transports and a guide. The trip itself is much easier than organizing it all on your own, especially when you decide to travel solo to a foreign country. Although traveling within Europe by myself does not scare me, the fact that Asian countries have a totally different written language did not put my mind at ease when it came to communicating and traveling alone. So I took the decision to book a group tour with Geckos Adventures, as I thought that their Thailand adventures seemed well-rounded.

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Because the trip was separated into “northern” and “southern” Thailand, my guide explained that both week, there would be different people joining or leaving us. I quickly realized that I might be the only one doing both weeks, until two other girls mentioned that they were continuing their journey with me. Sheena from England and Nicole from Switzerland had the same travel plans as me, traveling through Thailand for 2 weeks with the same tour booked; great relief!

Being in a different environment than home I believe brought us closer together, challenging the backpacking lifestyle we endured for those 2 weeks. None of us has done such a trip before, and all 3 of us being girly girls, it made it that much more entertaining to see who could pack their backpacks fastest! The hardest part was leaving Thailand, each our separate ways, but the best part ended up that we created a forever friendship.

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Promising to see each other soon, we Skyped a few weeks later, and booked ourselves a common destination: Berlin. Easy to reach for all 3 of us, it was the perfect meet-up place from France, Switzerland and England. Our weekend getaway in Berlin made our friendship stronger. Little did we know, Nicole ended up getting engaged after this trip, and invited us all back to her wedding in Zurich in September!

We’ve cherished some ups and downs together, and making friendships while traveling can sometimes be even stronger than those back home. The perks of making friends abroad are that we get to meet worldwide, wherever our little hearts desire. The effort it takes to maintain long-distance friendship though is enormous, but most definitely worth it.

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This is a collaboration post which means if you would like to contribute and tell your story, please do! As we get stories we update this post and will reshare it as there is more interesting information. Feel free to drop me a line on the comment form below if you would like to contribute your favorite story about a time you went travelling alone and made a lifelong friend

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