Well, maybe we shouldn’t say the one thing. If we’re being completely honest, while travelling you’ll likely to lose flip flops, sunglasses, and maybe a few dollars here and there. Some of us might even lose our bags, our passports or something else that feels entirely irreplaceable. But that’s not what this post is all about. It’s about a different kind of loss, one that is both bittersweet and wonderful, all at once.
It’s the idea that while travelling, even with all the unforgettable moments, life-changing experiences and collections of memories you gain, you will undoubtedly ‘lose’ (for lack of a better word) a few friends along the way. I’m not talking about losing them forever over a dramatic fight or anything like that, but only that people will naturally come-and-go a lot more frequently than they might have in your day-to-day life back home. And the loss of those people, for however long it may be until you see them again, may be felt a lot more keenly that you would expect. The bonds you forge while travelling are sometimes some of the strongest, most intense relationships you will build throughout your entire life.
The people you meet along your travels, they are the ones you shape your experiences and push you forwards towards a new journey of self-discovery. Friendships made on the road happen more quickly than they would under ‘normal’ circumstances, making it that much harder to move on sometimes. But that is both the beauty and the challenge of travelling – people don’t necessarily stay in one place forever, but you can be guaranteed that you'll meet another amazing soul just around the corner. Nonetheless, parting ways to embark on new adventures can be heartbreakingly difficult.
The best thing you can do is to take this ‘loss’ and turn it into a celebration. Because that’s what backpackers do right? We celebrate everything, both big and small, and this should be no different. Despite the fact that it can be sad to move on and say goodbye to your new best friends or the picture perfect paradise you’ve called home for the last month, it signifies the end of one great chapter and the start of a brand new one, full of opportunity. I believe we meet each and every person in our life for a reason, and the people you meet along your travels will become a part of you in some way.
I think the best description I’ve heard for loss is actually from my Mom. We were discussing weight loss (of all things), and she said that she didn’t understand why people would want to lose weight. I, of course, started to list off all the reasons you would want to lose weight including health benefits, self-confidence, etc. She quickly corrected me and clarified that her issue was with the word ‘loss’ itself, and not actually ‘losing weight’. Her reasoning is that if you lose something, it automatically tricks your brain into thinking you may find it again. If you get rid of it, it’s gone forever.
What may seem entirely unromantic (but potentially a good tip) when it comes to weight loss, becomes much more applicable when we consider ‘losing’ people while travelling. Maybe we should change our perspective, maybe we should embrace losing them, because then, there’s a chance we may find them someday, somewhere – perhaps on the other side of the world. As the old saying goes, ‘If you love them, let them go’.