One thing you don’t think about when you travel is how often you say goodbye. When you’re on the road, whether you’re going on an around-the-world trip, going on an extended holiday or living abroad, you’re always going to be meeting people and eventually saying goodbye to them.
Relationships are fleeting when you’re on the road. Instant friends form over the tiniest similarities and commonalities. Sometimes these relationships turn into great friendships. You pair or group up for days, weeks, sometimes months at a time, traveling the to the next country, living the life abroad. But the inevitable always happens. You’re going one place and they another, or your time or their time abroad is ending and you have to say goodbye.
Initially, Facebook and text messages are shared daily. Days then weeks go by without a message and soon before you know it, time has passed and the friendship isn’t missed as much. Promises to keeping in touch doesn’t seem as important as time goes on and soon enough these great people you connected with while traveling are nothing more than faces you scroll past on your Facebook feed.
There is nothing wrong with these kinds of relationships. Paths cross, friendships made and in that moment everything is right in the world. Everything just clicks. Celebrate these friendships, but also be realistic about them as well. They bring much needed joy and companionship at the right time and place. It is an important part of the traveling and living abroad experience.
The goodbyes start immediately when you leave and set foot on your adventure. That anxiety and worry about leaving your regular life, stepping off into the unknown and unfamiliar, can be difficult. It is made worse because you’re saying goodbye to your support network as well.
Overtime all these goodbyes can be hard and mentally draining. You may even become discouraged from making friends at all (don’t do that!). You never know what might happen as a result of meeting new people. If things click then you might pick up a travel companion for a while. Feel better knowing that you will meet more people and perhaps one day your paths with an old travel buddy will cross again.
Here are some ways to make saying goodbye easier and relatively pain free.
Don’t make promises
Everyone says they’ll keep in touch, but most of the time these are just empty promises said to make you (and them) feel better in the moment. It’s something to say when there is nothing to say. When just a hug and a goodbye isn’t enough to sum up your past days of crazy adventure. At the same time, do say it if you really do mean it. Technology these days makes it so easy to stay in touch with those that matter.
Do see people again
Travel is a funny thing. You meet people in one country and then you can run into them again in another. You can visit them at home, or they visit you at home and create more travel opportunities. The nature of being on the road means that you can see friends again. Usually in the most unlikely of places when schedules match up.
Don’t drag it out
Say goodbye and leave. You know you have to do it eventually so rip off the proverbial bandaid and just get it over with. Either way it will be tough and painful, but dragging it out makes it worse. Turning your goodbye into a hour long ordeal is emotionally draining and not worth it. Do you really want your last memories together to be of tears and awkwardness? Which brings me to...
Do leave it to the last moment
Building on the previous comment, leave your goodbyes to the very last moment, when you know for sure that you won’t see each other again. When you’re hopping on the taxi to the airport, going through security, getting on a train. Up until then, treat moments with each other as if you’ll still see each other the next day. A quick hug and a goodbye, and then turn around and go.
Don’t get discouraged and overly sentimental
Goodbye after goodbye can be tough, especially if you’re traveling to a new place by yourself or living in a foreign country on your own. Having good friends leave is hard, but there are so many people out there in the world. As the saying goes: “when one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
Do make new friends
As tempting as it may be to look fondly back on a friendship, it’s just as important to look forward to the next. Every person you meet is potentially a new friend. You don’t know who and when you’ll cross paths and until you put effort into meeting them, you definitely won’t know.
Meeting people and saying goodbye are all a part of the process of traveling and living abroad. It challenges you to get out of your comfort zone and say hello to the stranger in your hostel. You’ll be rewarded with amazing memories shared with people you’ve met from all around the world.
How do you say goodbye to people you meet on your travels? Do you like keeping in touch with other travelers on the road?