Natalie from Chicago was here in Munich for four days and during that time developed a crush on Christian, the muscle bound security guard at the bar downstairs. On her last night here she had worked up the gumption to talk to him but didn’t yet know what an optimal outcome would be. Was she just trying to have sex? How would that relationship work if it was her last day? She hadn’t figured it out yet, she just knew she was going to talk to him and put herself out there a bit. Good for her.

When she discovered that he wasn’t even working that night, we lamented her misfortune over beers in that same bar that Christian was absent from. I watched all this play out from the vantage point of Natalie’s new friend and confidant, and we had only really met the previous day. It was a short term camaraderie but it was valuable for both of us.

Friendship is fast and furious on the road. Staying in a hostel is such a simple and effective way to meet other people who have a similar mindset and are building the same kinds of experiences. Solo traveling can be intimidating but hostels are accommodations with friendships built into them. You’re always alone and yet never alone.

When I arrived in Munich, I had no friends. I was new. It was a blank slate. When I checked into my hostel and put my bag away, two guys were there in the room. After the standard “What’s your name? Where are you from?” conversation, it was a quick decision to get dinner together at the brewery across the street. So within about 5 minutes I already had two new friends that I ended up hanging out with a fair amount over the next few days. When your itinerary is as loose as mine is this trip, it’s so easy to just ask “What are you doing today?” and then if what they’ve got going on sounds fun, nobody is going to turn you away from joining in. I know that the travel mindset has something to do with people’s openness, but I really value that welcoming attitude and I think it’s something worth trying to cultivate in more situations. Travel just happens to be a great place to practice. I hope I can manage to bring some of that home with me.

Besides the positive mental and social benefits, it’s just a damn good time learning about these individuals and becoming involved in their stories. We’re all out here on the road but everyone is writing a different storyline.

Michael from Edmonton just got laid off so he decided to get drunk in Germany with his newfound free time. We asked him to take a picture of us in the hostel lobby and then he just ended up a part of our group and hung out with us all day.

Chelsea from Swindon and I decided to go get Thai food but once we got there, we discovered the restaurant was a bit more fancy and expensive than we expected. When the waitress walked away, we looked at each other and bolted for the door before anyone could take our order. We ate cheap pizza instead, and had a really fun day together.

Jamie from Bath was chatting with a woman in our hostel bar late at night. I was just getting back to the hostel and wasn’t ready for bed so I decided to crash their party even though it looked like they may have been flirting. I’m glad I did because the woman’s husband came down from their room about 30 minutes later sleepy, annoyed, and wondering where his wife had gone. Jamie and I had a laugh about it.

Rachel from Ohio is a cute, outgoing, flirtatious young lady with a low cut dirndl. She was naturally getting a lot of attention from drunk men but she was secretly (or not-so-secretly, really) pining for another traveler she had met in London the week before.

It’s these kinds of details and storylines that I love. Many of us are out here alone, but you’re never really alone. Getting to know new people is one of my favorite things, and out here they’re all new.