When In Doubt, Travel To Your Friends

Wondering how to start traveling to more places?

If you’re like me, you probably find it a bit overwhelming to look at a globe and start tallying up all the places you’d like to see.

You probably also find it daunting to plan, accumulate resources, and then spend those hard-earned resources to go to a place that could turn out to be a dump.

Here’s a good rule of thumb for avoiding this traveler’s conundrum: go to where your friends are.

Assuming you’ve cultivated a group of likeminded friends (who also enjoy adventure and travel), you probably have some friends – or friends of friends – in really cool places. I have a friend in Wyoming, two in Mexico, several in the Netherlands, a couple in Puerto Rico, a couple in Arizona, and so on.

Why not go see them first?

Save the expensive solo trips for later. If you’re young, find a way to combine traveling with visits to your far-flung friends. Odds are your friends will be happy to host you. As I write this, I’m lying in bed at a beautiful house on a bluff in Puerto Rico. In the morning I’ll be able to open a door, go onto the porch, and look out to see the ocean. Cost? $0.

These friends have shown me some of the coolest places in northern Puerto Rico – one of them even let me borrow his car today for a rainforest trek. In return, I’m doing my best to be a good guest, keeping (relatively) clean, paying for a dinner, sharing groceries, taking photos, etc. In the end, I’ll still have had expenses for this trip, but they won’t add up to much.

And the quality time is excellent. It’s so nice to see how old friends live in new places, but still to have the same easy connection and shared humor. We are three gringoes who can enjoy each other’s company without self-consciousness despite not feeling quite like locals. If you travel somewhere new and *don’t* like it, you’ll at least have friends you enjoy.

So, where are your friends now?

Think of a good reason and a good value prop/pitch for visiting. “I’ll come down for three days and house-sit/dog-sit/baby-sit if you let me stay in your guest room.” “Let me come down and help you with your boat/car/house repairs.” “I’ll come down and teach you diving/flying/surfing/dancing” for a few days. It’s not wrong to invite yourself if you’re planning to offer equal or greater value in return.

And when you get back from those first few trips, don’t forget to find a way to *be* that friend, too. People may have been wanting to visit you or your city all this time, and they could use some hospitality.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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