Some people think that it’s hard to form long-lasting bonds if you’ve embraced the nomadic lifestyle. It’s not uncommon for traveling girls who are constantly moving from place to place to find it tricky to keep up with the lives of their friends back home. Without those frequent sharing and bonding sessions with your best friends, where can a wandering soul get her regular dose of sisterhood?
In my personal travels, I’ve found that sisterhood has crept up on me during the most unexpected times, in the most surprising forms, and often in times when I needed them the most. During my time traveling alone, I have met women from around the globe who helped shape my wild adventures and influence the woman I am today.
A female traveler has different concerns than that of her equal male counterpart. While all travelers question things like their finances, how to navigate a foreign culture or language, or crossing their fingers that they don’t fall victim to the local brand of food poisoning, female travelers have a whole other host of roadblocks to contend with.
For example, backpacking men don’t have to worry about finding suitable tampons in a third-world country, or about walking back to their hostel alone late at night, or guarding their drinks during a night out. The truth is, woman have a lot more to look out for when traveling on their own, and since it’s difficult to cover all of our bases at all times, we women have to look out for one another when traveling abroad.
On the road, there is no time or energy for cattiness or judgment. All the ugly facets of the ‘girl world’ fall away when you’re alone in a foreign country. Suddenly, every girl in your hostel is a friend and confidant. In my experience, even local woman are open to lending a hand, despite any language barriers. During my past travels, I have met incredible woman around the world who have helped me out when I was in need.
I can think back with fondness at the Filipino hostel receptionist who helped me tend to a huge gash on my knee and a bout of food poisoning one night. Without asking any questions, she went beyond the requirements of her job and helped me in my time of need, even checking on me in my room a couple of times since she knew I was traveling alone.
Or the older German woman who found herself angry and alone one night in the same Thai bar where I was taking shelter from a particularly long and intense storm. Her and her husband had gotten into a fight, and he left her on the beach and sailed off back to their home island. I was hours away from my hostel by motorbike, I had almost no possessions and I was quickly running out of baht. Both of us women found ourselves in sticky situations, but by sticking together and pooling our resources, we were able to get dinner and a few drinks while sharing a laugh about our current situations.
Or the trans woman in Chiang Mai, who rushed me to the hospital on the back of her scooter after I had a bad accident during a Thai cooking class. In her broken English, she asked me if I was okay, and when she saw that I wasn’t she led me out of the class by my hand and told me she would take me to a hospital. Later that night, once I was all fixed up and relaxing at my hostel, she stopped by with a bowl of tom yum soup and well wishes.
Or the countless women I’ve shared a meal with, a room for the night, an adventure I’ll never forget, a meaningful conversation at the beach, or even a few weeks as a travel companion. I am eternally thankful to all the women I have met while traveling.
So ladies, what does this mean for you? The next time you’re traveling and you see a kindred traveling soul, don’t be afraid to reach out. Making friends with other women on the road is effortless, as long as you’re open and willing to develop a strong connection with someone else in a short period of time.
Just because we choose to be girls of the world, who aren’t tied to a specific location, job, or friend group, doesn’t mean we have to give up on the notion of sisterhood altogether.
In fact, the exact opposite seems to be true. Sisterhood shines through more purely and organically than ever when all the trivialities of life are stripped away and all that’s left is an open road, a momentary sister, and a shared taste for adventure.
Alicia Schneider is from Montreal, Canada and currently lives in Rishon Lezion, Israel, where she is a volunteer English teacher with Masa. She earned her degree in English Literature & Creative Writing from Concordia University in Montreal. Her passions include travel, reading, Nutella, and cats. She hates writing about herself in the third person. You can find her online at https://aliciatravelsblog.wordpress.com or https://www.instagram.com/travelsofalicia