When you’re traveling solo, it’s common to meet new people and immediately go out for dinner/drinks/dancing/etc. People who were complete strangers an hour ago are now your best friends for the evening. You build new memories with people from all over the world and become part of each other’s stories. It’s your crew.

I love travel for travel’s sake, but I think I love meeting new people more. Who you meet can make or break a trip.

I wrote about this recently in a blog called Social Growth: How to meet people while traveling. This is a continuation of that, in a way. It’s a compilation of pictures and stories about some people who have been part of my crew the past few months. Prepare yourself for an onslaught of selfies featuring my ugly mug!

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Munich: Julia (part 1). One of the first people I met on my journey. Sweet, funny, and a native Münchener, so she was able to show me around and give me a taste of what local life is like in Munich. This is a pic of us at Oktoberfest, but she also took me to Schloss Nymphenburg and some really great restaurants outside of the touristy/Oktoberfesty parts of the city.

 

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A typical Oktoberfest crew. Three of these people were hostel roomies, six others are Australians that a hostel roomie had recently met, and two people in this picture were just sitting at our table. Sometimes your crew is full of single serving friends, and that’s ok. I’ve stayed in touch with a couple of these people, but not most of them. Still, I don’t regret that. A single serving friend can still contribute to your overall experience.
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Vienna: This particular pub crawl had a list of challenges with prizes for completing certain objectives. One of them was taking a selfie with the pub crawl host. That’s her in the center. Most of the others in this pic are a group from Brazil. The guy photobombing in the upper right is an Aussie named Finn. He and I had a great time hanging out that night but we didn’t exchange contact info and we will probably never see each other again.
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It’s not always that your new crew turns out to be fun, cool people. Generally people are great, or at the very least tolerable, but every once in a while you meet someone you don’t click so well with. This guy with white guy dreadlocks was very interested in proving how cool he was to everyone. He was loud and interrupting people to talk about how much he loves EDM music/festivals and how much he hates hipsters. Sometimes a single serving friend needs to stay that way. (The other two guys in this pic were awesome though.)
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This is Chelsea, a sweet, tiny English girl. We met in Munich and our travel plans coincided so that we could meet back up in Budapest a few weeks later. It’s great when you’re not sure if you’ll see a person again and then you can coordinate like that. We had a great time in Budapest. Not pictured in this one, but definitely an important part of the Budapest crew was an Aussie named Tony (Why are there so many Aussies here?). Of note in this pic is the fact that I’m taking a selfie of myself with her taking a selfie.
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I was in the common room of my hostel in Prague and I heard a guy talking who had a voice that seemed strangely familiar. He reminded me of some people I know from back home in WA. So I introduced myself. It turns out he’s from Portland, OR, which is not very far from my hometown. He was talking to a group of college students from Copenhagen and we all went out to dinner together shortly after. I also convinced a Canadian hostel roomie to come with us. We had a good time that night, drinking and dancing and whatnot. I ended up traveling on to Berlin with Matt from Portland and we spent about a week and half together. Prague was a good city for me in terms of developing new relationships.
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I’ve mentioned these two before, but Amelie and Joe had a significant impact on my time in Berlin, not only did I stay at their apartment for a few days, but they told me all the coolest things to do and tastiest places to eat. I met them through a mutual friend from back home. My friend had met them while traveling in South America a few years ago. So travel relationships can have an impact not only on you but sometimes the people around you!
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This is me with Matt from Portland (in the glasses) in Berlin, at a weekly food market in Berlin (as suggested by Amelie and Joe). Also joining us is Paul from Dublin and Lewis from England, who we met in our hostel lobby. They were great friends for a few days, and I’d love to see either/both of them again. This was a particularly good night, we would go to one food vendor and order something small and then share with the whole group and then move on to the next vendor. We got to try a lot of different amazing food that way. It was like tapas but better. The next day, Paul cooked a full Irish breakfast in the hostel kitchen. It was incredible. I ate like a king in Berlin.
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This is Daniel and I at a Halloween party. Daniel was part of the group of college students I met in Prague, who I was able to visit once I got to Copenhagen. It’s really amazing being able to reconnect with people who you met in a faraway land. Some of the other people I met in Prague were so confused and excited to see me in Copenhagen. I stand by the fact that single serving friends are totally fine, but reconnecting definitely solidifies the relationship.
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In Hamburg, I was hanging out with some really lovely Italians and we were about to go to dinner. Mackenzie from Texas had just checked into the hostel and was staying in my room. I invited her to dinner (basically immediately after she had checked in), and we were both pretty excited to talk to a native English speaking person after weeks of talking to people who speak varying levels of English. We ended up spending the next couple of days wandering the city together and doing touristy things. We also went to a St. Pauli soccer game together, which was a pretty crazy experience. European football fans are nuts.
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And here are the lovely Italians! There’s also a Mexican girl from our hostel and a slightly annoying British guy. They’re all giving a thumbs up as a way to make fun of me because I’m a weird American. Thumbs up isn’t universal apparently. Seriously though, there are some really great people in this picture. I hope to cross paths with these Tuscans again. I’m also starting to realize I make the same face in a lot of these pictures…
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The somewhat annoying British guy did do one thing right. He started a conversation with this hilarious old German man who didn’t speak a word of English. The whole conversation was through Google translate. We asked him to be our Grandpa and he got really excited. He was definitely part of the crew that night.
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Amsterdam: Julia (part 2). A reconnection story! One of the first people I met and also one of my favorite people that I’ve met, Julia caught the travel bug from me, took a long weekend, and met me in Amsterdam. We had a fantastic time visiting breweries, doing some touristy things like boat tours, and visiting… ahem… an Amsterdam coffee shop. Say no more!
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London: Yet another reconnection story! Yes! That means that I’ve made new friends that are worth seeing more than once! On the right is Rachel, a hostel roomie I had hung out with two full months earlier. Our paths went in different directions but we reunited in London. She brought along a friend she knew from back home in the States and this was our crew of three for a couple of days. We wandered all around London together. Good times had by all!
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This is another crew group selfie with Rachel and some other single serving friends we met at the hostel bar. I like this one in particular because Demitri has crazy eyes.
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CRAZY EYES!
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In Dublin, I’ve spent most of my time with my ex-girlfriend from high school. We’re friends now and she lives in Dublin. We went into a science museum with an exhibit about scars and trauma, and there was an interactive piece where you write down how you got a scar. True story. She hit me with a rake and I have a scar on my arm.
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Galway, in western Ireland, has been a pleasant surprise. I actually like this town quite a lot. The Galway Bay reminds me a bit of the Puget Sound back home. Presented here are James and Sorcha. I think they fancy each other. Ah, young love…

And that brings us up to the present. There are many more people worth mentioning. This is just a cross section of the people I have pictures of.

I mean this when I say it: The relationships with the people I meet are the reason why I travel. It’s the most rewarding part. If I wasn’t constantly meeting new people and developing these bonds, I wouldn’t be so enthusiastic about the concept of travel in general. Sure, it’s great to see new places and learn the historical significance of things. It’s cool to see castles and religious monuments and the beauty of nature, but it’s the people that keep me going.

So here’s to keeping that up. I’ll be out here pushing boundaries.

Hi. I’m Jake. How’s it going?