How many times have you promised to keep in touch with someone, only for life to get in the way?
Making friends on holiday is often the easy part – everyone’s particularly relaxed, the drinks are often flowing, and there’s a brand-new environment to explore.
But how do you keep those friendships going after you’re back in the daily grind?
Laura Adams, 39, went on a solo trip with adventure-travel brand Flash Pack to Brazil in 2018, where she made five new best friends that she’s kept to this day.
Laura, who works as a national marketing manager, says: ‘Most of my friends back home are married or have children, so quite rightly want to spend their holidays with them.
‘I’d never tried group travel before but from day one, me and the other women on the Brazil trip hit it off. We were all of similar ages and in the same situation where most of our friends had other commitments. But we wanted to continue to travel and have a great time.
‘We shared this similar mentality, and a huge appetite for adventure, which bonded us from the outset. Even though we’d only just met, we felt like we’d known each other for years.’
Laura, from Nottingham, and the rest of the group spent eight days in Brazil together, making caipirinhas and soaking up the sun.
After the trip was done, the six of them stayed in touch and what’s more, as they went on further trips later down the line, their friendship group continued to grow as they kept meeting like-minded travellers.
Want to know how you make your own holiday pals into forever friends like Laura? She’s shared five simple tips on how she and the others in her group make it work…
How to keep the friends you meet on holiday
Always have your next catch-up planned
Ever say to a friend: ‘Let’s put something in the calendar’ only to not put anything at all in said calendars? Yeah, us too – but unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, that’s not going to work.
‘My fellow group of girls and I have travelled everywhere from Costa Rica to the Cotswolds, Argentina and Tanzania since our first trip to Brazil,’ says Laura.
‘We don’t all do everything together; sometimes people go off in pairs or threes – it just depends who’s available to do what, when. But since we all share an appetite for adventure, that really connects us – we always have something new coming up.
‘Those of us who live nearer have arranged meet-ups for meals, afternoon teas or a show in London. But for those who are further afield (in California, say), it’s an excuse to travel for trips. I now have sofas I can crash on all over the world.’
Throw yourself into the friendship – put the effort in
Yes, maintaining friendships of all kinds takes effort.
‘This is especially true of friends you make while travelling because you don’t get that day-to-day contact or the long history you might share with other loved ones in your life,’ says Laura.
‘So, you have to give it your all: be flexible and open, make time to arrange reunions, and don’t be fussy or high-maintenance in how you choose to get together.
‘One of the things that’s nice about our group is how flexible and open it is. When we fancy a trip or a meetup, we post a message on our WhatsApp group and whoever can make it along turns up.
‘Even if we don’t meet up face-to-face for a while, we make the effort to stay in touch – checking in on one another and what’s happening in our lives.’
Celebrate the good times, and support during the bad
Part of the work you need to put into the relationship isn’t just admin – it’s emotional too, no matter the distance.
Laura explains: ‘Part of putting in effort comes in our ability to share and celebrate each other’s major life moments – no matter the distance between us. It helps us to stay connected and involved.
‘Since we came back from Brazil, there has been so much happening in our lives – from engagements to new jobs, house moves and people returning to study for a degree. It’s important that we’re there for one another in these moments, to validate and share in each other’s successes.
‘The same goes for providing support in tougher moments. It doesn’t matter what situation you were in, no one had an easy time of it during Covid. But during lockdown, it really helped to speak to three other girls in my travel group who – like me – were living alone and knew exactly how it felt not to go out or speak to anyone in person. It doesn’t matter that we live miles apart, as long as we always feel able to share these highs and lows.’
Keep the laughs coming with shared history
All that isn’t to say you should forget about the little things – having a laugh is the foundation of pretty much any friendship, no matter how you met.
‘The girls and I had such a laugh together in Brazil,’ recalls Laura.
‘All those moments we revelled in – like getting told off for being too rowdy at breakfast the first morning, or having a silly catchphrase – have formed part of our shared history.
‘It’s something we can keep coming back to. It’s the little things that bond you all.
‘For example, on our first night in Rio we learnt to make a classic Brazilian cocktail, the caipirinha. Now, wherever we are in the world, if we happen to come across a caipirinha, we always take a photo and share it with our group.’
Be willing to be vulnerable and take a risk or two
While it is sometimes easier said than done, it’s worth remembering that putting yourself out there is consistently key when making and keeping new friends.
‘There’s always an element of risk that comes with making friends with people you meet abroad,’ says Laura.
‘They start out as strangers, so you have to put yourself out there a bit and perhaps stretch your comfort zone in getting to know people. For example, we had a WhatsApp group before we even met in Brazil and it was silent for a week.
‘Everyone was waiting for someone else to make the first move. Then finally, one of the guys shared a gif and it broke the ice – we all started chatting from there. The same process goes for staying in touch after you travel.
‘You have to share things about your life and be proactive – maybe even a bit brave – in keeping the bonds you share together alive.’
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