Honesty hour…I’m not the easiest person to travel with. Sure, I have experience traveling and I’m fairly low maintenance. I can even be a very organized person about some things.
However, with other things, often while traveling, I can be quite the opposite. I appreciate Olivia and Maggie for putting up with both sides of me. It is truly impressive to me how good of a team we became on this trip. I think that when some people see pictures or hear about the places I have been they imagine I am out here living a very lavish lifestyle with waiters bringing me cocktails on the beach or staying in five star hotels. Don’t get me wrong, these experiences are truly incredible; but the lifestyle is usually anything but lavish.
When I invited Olivia and Maggie on this trip with me I warned them that a lot of things would end up being low budget and flexibility was a must, which they understood. They were perfectly okay with, and even preferred, staying in the $6 a night hostels and cooking our own meals. They often joked that we could make a backpacker cookbook for people traveling on a budget with all of the creative meals we made for so cheap. I already knew this about their personalities, so I had a feeling traveling together would be a good fit.
Friends you can travel with, like reallyyyy travel with, are hard to find. You have to find somebody that understands no matter how much you get on each other’s nerves you’ll always get over it and be friends in the end. It’s important to find someone who won’t take it personal no matter how much attitude you have because you waited to cook dinner until the latest possible moment and you’re all already hangry by the time you get home…
We had a kind of weird dynamic of explaining how we knew each other at first. It started with “Well Olivia and I grew up together because her sister has been my best friend for 10 years…and Maggie and Olivia were college roommates, so therefore now we are all…” Eventually we just answered with “hermanas” or “sisters.”
I remember something that someone said to us in our hostel in Cusco that made me appreciate Maggie, Olivia, and our friendship in general. They said that they were impressed for three girls traveling together how independent we each were, and at that moment in the hostel we were each not far from each other but conversing and making friends with new people who we would soon integrate into one large group of friends. There are times that traveling with friends can be a crutch. It can make you stick to who and what you know and not force you outside of your comfort zone; but if you choose the right, outgoing friends to travel with you will never have that problem. They may even push you outside of your comfort zone more than normal.
We have all changed on this trip in our own ways, and there aren’t many things that bring people closer and help them get to know themselves as well as others better than traveling. There were many days we did not know where we would be sleeping that night, many delayed flights, buses we did or should have missed; but nobody missed a beat.
Puerto López is a town on the coast of Ecuador. It’s a town we truly had no intention of visiting on this trip. There were several places we were able to work into our itenerary because of the flexibility we allowed ourselves in planning. However, Puerto Lopez was a place we didn’t realize we were going to stay in until we were there and realized there would be no more buses leaving for Montañita that evening. I mention this because we didn’t mean to be there, but we end up making it an amazing and memorable stop on our trip by making friends and going whale watching!
Friends like that, the kind that can laugh at the mistakes and misfortunes and turn it into something positive are the best friends to travel with. We will definitely be changed after this trip, but I believe in many ways it is for the better. From our experiences, wisdom we have gained, time spent out of our comfort zone, compromises, and our newfound perspectives on the world I hope and I believe we are changed for the better. I know that at the very least I have strengthened my appreciation for good friendships like these.