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How to Find Your Soul Tribe While Traveling

How to Find Your Travel Tribe - 01

 

When I first set off to travel the world on my own, my biggest concern was loneliness. I wondered if I’d be wandering the streets of a city, exploring deserted beaches daily, and sitting in a restaurant in the evening, all on my own.

 

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As soon as I showed up at my first destination, that worry was laid to rest. And after four years of solo travel, I can confidently say that the only times I have been alone on the road, have been by my own choice.

 

Thanks to hostels, tours, busy bars and cafes, curious locals, and the friendliness of travelers on the road, there’s always someone to pass the time with. I’ve been invited to tours and parties and excursions moments after checking into a hostel. I’ve been fed dinner by locals on the street. I’ve been engulfed in conversations as soon as I’ve sat my bum down in a café.

 

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Not to say that I haven’t been lonely. I certainly have. Because simply being around people doesn’t mean feeling connected. Just because you can find companions at the drop of a dime, doesn’t mean you find soul mates.

 

And quite frankly, the longer I spend on the road, and the more purpose I find in my life, the less I want to give my time away to anyone and any experience. The more I travel, the clearer I’ve become in how I want to use and share my energy. The longer I spend on the road, the more I’d rather be alone than engage in a shallow interaction.

 

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Though as much as I love my alone time, and as much as I believe that I am my own true soul mate, on long travel stints, finding deep connections with others is important. We all need to feel intimacy, love, and support, especially when we’re wandering the world and discovering our own depths.

 

So how do we find those people and make those connections?

 

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This is a question readers ask me often. They don’t ask me how to meet people when traveling or how to ensure they won’t be alone. They ask me how to make true, genuine friendships. Friendships that offer the same kind of fulfillment of loving supportive communities and families at home.

 

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While there have been plenty of times where I’m completely on my own, I’ve been blessed to have found so many soul mates while traveling the world. Like the travel writer I bonded with on the beaches of Colombia and her best friend who took me in a year later while I was traveling in Vietnam. Or the yoga teacher I met in Cambodia who I went deeper with than childhood friends. And the many many beautiful souls I have met and shared my heart with over the years.

 

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I’ll be the first to say that the connections I’ve cultivated on the road, even if brief encounters, go even deeper than the friendships I built over the course of years while living in the states. And it’s not by coincidence. It’s because since leaving to traveling the world, I approach life and relationships differently. Here’s my best advice, after four years of solo travel, to find your tribe while traveling the world.

 

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Become Your Own Best Friend

 

Yep, YOU are where it all begins. Most of the time when we’re feeling a sense of lack, it’s because we’re not giving enough to ourselves. If you want to cultivate a tribe of soul mates, you must first recognize YOURSELF as the soul mate.

 

Before I left to go travel, I didn’t really enjoy alone time. I scheduled up all of my free time with friends or my boyfriend. Though the initial phase of loneliness on the road introduced me to a very important relationship I had neglected. My relationship with MYSELF!

 

Make time for you. Get to know yourself. Sit with your own thoughts. Practice loving yourself. Begin to like yourself! Some of my favorite ways to build my relationship with myself include: journaling, taking long walks alone (especially in nature), meditation, and yoga. These are all opportunities to sit with your body, your breath, your thoughts and get to know who’s in there. The fun part is, there’s always new depths to uncover.

 

Once you recognize yourself as the soul mate, finding other soul mates is so much easier. For one, you know yourself better! You’re more in tune with who you are, what you like, what matters to you, and who you want to be around. You’re also less likely to spend time in relationships that don’t nourish you, because you’re not surrounding yourself with people out of fear of loneliness. And best of all, once you learn to really love yourself, you unconsciously attract people who reflect that love back to you.

 

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Be Willing to be Vulnerable

 

This, this, this, is what I believe to be the MAIN reason why many people feel alone and disconnected. They’re not showing who they really are! How can you expect other people to open up if you’re not open yourself? When you let yourself be vulnerable, you make it safe for other people to do the same.

 

I’ve learned consistently, that the more I speak openly and share my heart with strangers, the faster and deeper the connection forms. And the good news is, you’ve got nothing to lose! Most people you meet on the road will only be around for a few days anyway, so why not let it all out? There’s such freedom in expressing who you truly are, knowing that you can completely disappear in a moment’s notice.

 

These days, I connect with people very quickly. Whether it’s local taxi drivers or other travelers, I immediately take the conversation to a deep level. It saves me time and energy, but cutting through the small talk and filtering out the people who aren’t on the same wavelength as me. More often than not, I experience people from all walks of life opening up tremendously within hours (sometimes minutes) of meeting me.

 

A simple way to start is to set a goal for yourself, to take an emotional risk every single day. Say something that you wouldn’t ordinarily say. Approach someone you wouldn’t normally approach. GO THERE. Showing your heart and giving others the space to show theirs is a truly beautiful thing. You’ll be amazed with the connections when you let yourself be vulnerable. And if people reject you? There are so many other fish in the travel sea.

 

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Set Boundaries

 

On the road, it’s easy to give your time away to anyone. How can you attract what you do want, unless you make it clear what you don’t want? Honor and respect your own time and space by setting boundaries. You don’t have to say yes to everyone and every invitation. Respect your precious time and learn to say no when something or someone doesn’t interest you.

 

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Choose Where You Go Wisely

 

While I do believe that its possible to connect with anyone, you can make it much easier on yourself by choosing environments that like minded people gravitate towards. For example, if you’re a more mature traveler you may not want to stay in a party hostel. Choose where you stay and what you do wisely, to put yourself in situations where you’re likely to be surrounded by the kind of people you want to meet.

 

For meeting people, I highly recommend staying in hostels (not party hostels, but more mature/clean/quiet yet still social hostels) and social guesthouses as opposed to big hotels. Stay places with common hang out areas and social events that interest you. Yoga studios are also a great place to meet people who are open to connection. If you can find a yoga hostel, I highly recommend it! You can also look into some local events happening in the community like farmer’s markets, open jam sessions, drum circles, etc.

 

How to Find Your Travel Tribe - 12

 

Attend a Retreat

 

This one is an obvious one. If you want to connect on a deep level with a group of strangers in a foreign location, go on a retreat. Consider what it is that you enjoy doing, and seek out a retreat that offers that. You can find anything from a yoga retreat to a surf retreat to an outdoor adventure retreat. Focus on what you’re into and you’re likely to meet other people who are like you.

 

Many retreats are designed to facilitate intimacy and not only offer space to make new friends but teach you how to be more open after the retreat ends. It’s like showing up to a new place with an instant tribe. It’s not guaranteed that you’ll become best friends with everyone, but if you’re open to it you can connect at least on some level with everyone.

 

My desire to support other women in living more adventurously, open heartedly, and in honor of themselves and nature, inspired me to start leading my own retreats in my home base on the South Caribbean of Costa Rica. By living together in a big beach house, doing daily yoga, going on fun excursions, and participating in all kinds of exercises for building intimacy, we go very deep very fast. Consistently the women on my retreats tell me they leave feeling like they made lifelong friends. (You can get more info on my Jungle Bliss Women’s Retreats here.)

 

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Create What You Want to Attract

 

I’m a huge fan of this one, because once again it puts the responsibility on you. All too often we can complain that the community or connection or experience we’re looking for doesn’t exist. Ok, so what are you going to do about it? CREATE IT!

 

Last Halloween I was in Oaxaca, Mexico for Day of the Dead and went on a tour organized by the hostel. We all complained that it felt shallow and lacked the spirit of the holiday. So, rather than dwell on discontent, I invited everyone to join me in a ceremony. A few of us went to the main square and I guided us with songs and meditations to connect with the pure essence of death. We drew oracle cards, shared our feelings on death, and people opened up tremendously.

 

I’ve made friends with traveling yoga teachers who showed up to a hostel and offer to lead classes on the roof. Chefs who organized a huge communal dinner with all of the guests. Musicians who threw together a jam session. One of the beautiful things about travel, is that people are open and everything is possible. If you want something to exist, create it! Create a gathering that draws in the community you are looking for, and watch how quickly you find your tribe.

 

How to Find Your Travel Tribe - 14

 

Learn to Let Go

 

This is the hard part. The transient lifestyle living on the road means saying goodbye often and quickly. I’ve formed deep bonds with people who left a day later. Fallen in love with someone in a moment just before catching my bus. The remedy? Appreciate and honor the connections when they happen and be willing to let them go. Letting go keeps you open to meeting even more beautiful souls, here to offer you even more beautiful lessons.

 

It takes practice, but over the years I’ve gotten pretty good at letting people go. You become adaptable and accept the inevitability of goodbye. And for all of its downfalls, one of the wonderful things about the online world is that you can stay connected to people you meet on the road forever.

 

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Comments

  1. You’ve got a good head for traveling on your shoulders, and it’s quite refreshing to read reports from a person like you about travel. I firmly believe that we are all “Citizens of The World”, and I discourage patriotism and loyalty to any particular country, culture, or religion.

    One of the most common questions which I am asked when I am traveling is, “You’re an American, aren’t you?” I always happily reply, “Yes, I am! I wonder if you know what that means?” The person will usually reply, “Well, it means that you’re from the USA, doesn’t it?” I’ll usually answer, “If that’s what you wish for it to mean, then, ‘Yes’…”

    Long story short… I’ll show them my Costa Rican Passport, and declare that I am an “American”… from Central America. If they’re in the mood to listen, I’ll buy ’em a beer and explain to them how 50% of Planet Earth is technically “American.” I don’t define myself that way. Why should I? I am a “Citizen of Planet Earth.” People can draw lines on maps if they want to, but I’m not buyin’ it.

    Unlike you, I don’t do “Tours”, “Hostels”, and the like. I’m not interested in “groups” or people trying to “define” themselves… even if they are trying to define themselves as “undefinable.”

    We probably won’t see eye-to-eye on this issue, because we’re different kinds of people, and that’s OK. “Citizen of The World”… that’s me.

    • Camille Willemain Says: March 9, 2016 at 10:47 pm

      We are miracles made up of particles and you are the particles that I am and I am the particles that you are and you are the miracle of me and I am the miracle of you :)

  2. I’m a single guy in my late 40s the stress of running my business has got me thinking of doing some solo traveling do you have any suggestions ?

    Kevin Birch

  3. The best part about making friends while traveling is that they’re usually up to do a trip sometime in the future or let you stay by them!

  4. Hey Camille!

    I just found your blog a few days ago and it is AMAZING! You’ve really got me thinking about breaking free and trying out a nomadic life.

    What would you say is a safe starting base before beginning a journey like you’ve gone on? I currently have $5000 saved. Would you recommend saving more, or should I seriously consider hopping onto a plane and beginning this journey tomorrow?

    Thanks for all your extremely helpful posts,

    Ian

    • Camille Willemain Says: March 17, 2016 at 9:33 am

      Thanks so much Ian!! It depends where you decide to go, but I think $5,000 is more than enough to get started for many parts of the world. Depending how you travel and where you go, expect to spend $800 – $2,000 per month (low end, Southeast Asia staying in hostels etc and high end staying in simple private rooms in Latin America). I definitely recommend figuring out a way to make money on the road so you can keep going, but in my opinion $5k is a great start xx Excited for you!

  5. YES!! YES!! YES!! Camille, my Magical Fellow Solo Trekker! I hope we meet on the path or at an airport one day soon. I too am a little “solo” trekker, and I started because it helped me combat being alone (my family have gone to the next life now). Such is life, but some people never even get a great family like I had had.
    From your blog, I like the concept of being our Own Soul Mates. XOXO (thanks for that.. mwah)
    I stay (live) in Italy a lot when not in the US (actually traveling there in a bit over a week), and you’re right; it’s cheaper than living in Seattle!
    You wrote the words that have been written on my heart for years, “The more I travel, the clearer I’ve become in how I want to use and share my energy.”
    I truly find, when we travel we can be Gifts to others, as we give our own presence and the gift of listening to a local share the passion of their own home in a new light. It’s beautiful and enriching.
    THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR posts and generosity and being just you (OH!! and THANK YOU for the totally FREE “100 ways to stay healthy on the road.” I’m going to buy you a coconut soon!). Sending lots of love and happiness to you!
    ~Namaste ~

  6. Karina Villa Says: July 12, 2016 at 8:56 am

    I am in love with your blog. I have traveled the world but never longer than two months at a time. I am just returning from a month abroad and I my heart no longer feels at home anywhere. I long for a year somewhere other than “home”. I am 37 and my commitment to a responsible life of a mortgage, career and pursuit of the elusive American Dream holds me back…

    thank-you for your writing.

    • Camille Willemain Says: July 12, 2016 at 7:03 pm

      You are so welcome, I am touched by your words. I trust in the sovereignty of your soul to propel you towards whatever your heart desires <3

  7. Hi!!! I currently have the opportunity to apply for a grant to get certified in yoga this summer.. My hearts desire is to go to Thailand to do it. Upon googling, there are sooo many locations and very. Programs. What advice/ recos would you
    Give to start my search/ studios to check out. Also, do you have any recos for attractions or must see’s/do’s related to mindfulness/yoga?! I have a limited time to apply, but am dedicated!
    Thanks so much!!!!!! Looking forward to hearing back from you!

    • Camille Willemain Says: January 16, 2017 at 3:03 am

      Hey love, congrats :) I don’t personally know any YTTs in Thailand, but Koh Phangan has a lot of programs. For recommendations on Thailand, go to the destinations section of my site, or just put “thailand” into the search bar on my blog and you will find all of my articles with tips. Happy planning <3

  8. […] For more tips on meeting friends on the road, check out How to Find Your Soul Tribe While Traveling. […]