Traveling as a Group: Finding Friends on the Road
Traveling as a group was something for which I hadn’t planned. But as my time in Sihanoukville ended, I found myself on a new group adventure across three countries.
I met Mona, from Norway, in my dorm in Sihanoukville and hung out with her a few times. On Christmas night, we met Chris and Jon, two mates from the UK who were traveling together.
We had a great time that night, making for a fantastic Sihanoukville Christmas. Then I assumed I’d never see them again.
Well, just a few days later, the four of us found ourselves staying in the same guesthouse in Siem Reap!
That’s the thing about the backpacker trail — you meet the same people again and again. And even more often if you stay at the top-ranked place in Lonely Planet, which we had done in both Sihanoukville (Monkey Republic) and Siem Reap (Green Village).
The four of us had a blast together in Siem Reap. So when Chris and Jon’s plan to spend New Year’s Eve in Vang Vieng was thwarted, I suggested they, and Mona, join me for New Year’s Eve in Bangkok.
And so a travel friendship was born!
In the past, group travel has often irked me. But that didn’t happen this time.
Traveling with fellow backpackers is very different from a weekend in Vegas with your girlfriends. Backpackers share the same travel style, similar budget concerns, independence, and often a love for the nightlife.
But most importantly, great groups come together organically. The five of us had amazing chemistry as a group and with each other individually, and that’s what made it work.
After arriving in Bangkok, we met an Irish guy named Anthony at an open-air restaurant and convinced him to come out to a Bangkok ping pong show with us. Less than 24 hours later, he was on the train with us to Vang Vieng.
And for a few weeks, we traveled together, partied together, ate amazing food, had epic nights out, and took hundreds of hilarious photos. New friends — Neil and Ben in Vang Vieng; Mike and Stephanie in Bangkok; Paul, Anna and Frederique in Siem Reap — joined us in destinations along the way.
What I loved about traveling in a group is that there’s always someone to join you, whether it’s for dinner or dancing or on a bike ride around town. I especially appreciated this in the party town of Vang Vieng.
Our final night together was in Luang Prabang, Laos. And then we scattered:
Jon went home to the UK.
Mona took the slow boat to Chiang Mai.
Anthony went diving in Koh Tao.
And I went back to Vang Vieng with the intention of finding an easier route to Vietnam. Chris joined me for a few days, then left for Bangkok to get his China visa.
These past few weeks were some of the most fun I’ve had in nearly three months of travel. I have these awesome people to thank for that, and thanks to Facebook, we’ll always be able to keep in touch.
I’m still a solo traveler at heart — I love the freedom that comes with traveling solo. But joining a group for a few weeks taught me that with the right people, group travel can be amazing.