Not that long ago that friends were folks who met in your neighborhood, church, clubs or work.
Most were local; long-distance relationships were rarely forged, except for relatives scattered around the country. Today, social media, cheap flights and an explosive increase in cruising have radically changed the dynamics of friendships.
Most of these new friendships are carried on via social media or email. Through Facebook, we feel joy when they feel joy and sad for them when things go south. We care about our travel friends just like we do our neighbors and work associate friends.
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Some may argue that friendships developed and maintained in this kind of virtual neighborhood are superficial and meaningless. But from our experience, our friends really do care when we fall ill, we celebrate life events and face danger.
There’s a good chance we will never again see many of these newly made friends again — at least in person. But we all still remained linked by the shared traveler’s values of curiosity about
the world and a desire to explore it. Shipboard friendships don’t always work out for the long term, though we all promise to stay in touch. Back home, we all move on with our busy lives, our brief friendship a lingering, but pleasant, memory.
Some relationships sustained with social media are renewed in person when travel brings us together again. We meet “old” friends on a new travel adventure, join them for lunch or dinner when our paths cross, and even act as tour guides for them when they visit our home turf.
Because we have traveled extensively over the last dozen years and met a lot of amiable people, it is not uncommon for us to reconnect with friends made on previous trips. On our last trip, we had great visits with friends in England and Norway and made new friends from the East Coast who recently dined with us when they visited our hometown of San Diego.
Our new friends around the world are one of the significant benefits of our travels and deserve more recognition that it gets. So here’s to our new friends and old. And to the ones we will make on our next adventure.