As your first backpacking trip approaches, you can’t help but feel the excitement.

You’ll be tempted to pack and re-pack, study maps of your first destination, go over your budget for the millionth time, confirm your hostel bookings, check your flight times and obsessively keep an eye on the drawer with your passport.

But no matter how much planning you do, one question will always remain – will I meet people?

This isn’t quite as easy to plan for and is often one of the big pre-departure worries for solo travelers.

After all, travelling is about more than just seeing the major sights, taking a few photos and moving on to the next major attraction.

Meeting new people, learning about other cultures and building relationships on the road is just as important. Failure to do so could mean hours of lonesome wandering or days without any sort of meaningful conversation.

Once you come across another kindred spirit or a group of friendly faces, those times of loneliness are soon forgotten.

Fast-Forward Friends

Friendships forged on the road are unusual, as if they exist in compressed time.

Within moments of arriving in a new city, you could find yourself sitting over fresh drinks in the bar, before hitting the town the following day to take in some sights.

The longer you travel together and the more memories you share, the more likely you’ll stay in touch down the road.

You’ll share a small moment of your trip with them, the ups, downs, and perhaps kindle a passionate relationship.

Inevitably, because they’re heading in a different direction, you have to say goodbye soon after you’ve said hello. Hugs may be given, email addresses will be swapped and then off they go, perhaps never to be heard from again.

There are other times on your travels where things seem to fall into place and some fantastic people cross your path who have similar plans to your own.

The longer you travel together and the more memories you share, the more likely you’ll stay in touch down the road.

Making A Connection

So will you meet people? Yes, you will. You’d have to try pretty hard or be socially hopeless not to meet people on your travels.

If you’re looking for lasting companions, try to put energy into developing friendships that last longer than a couple days at a time.

Stay flexible and be open to change. If that means adjusting your itinerary that had been painstakingly planned up to the hour, consider making the leap to new ground.

It’s the people you meet that will have you looking back on your trip with a huge smile to your face, not photos of famous landmarks or the stamps in your passport.

As an added perk, having friends scattered around the world gives you a great excuse to keep traveling so you can go visit them all!

Kirsty Henderson has combined her two passions (travelling and web design) to produce a variety of websites including Nerdy Nomad and Working Holiday Info. She’s soon planning to leave the rat race to work fulltime on her websites and has rough plans to head overland from London to Beijing in early 2008.