There’s definitely something special about being alone in nature. However, quickly you’ll learn that these moment’s are only made better when shared
It’s March 2016, I’ve been on the road for a while and I’m sat on arguably the most beautiful beach in the world on a small island just off Cambodia…It’s the kind of beach that shows up on google when you search ‘paradise island’, you know the one, white sand and palm trees.
It’s sunny blue sky weather, the water is that clear warm cerulean blue and I’m sat beer in hand with my biggest decision of the day being ‘What can I do this afternoon?’. There’s only one issue:
I’m unhappy, and what should be a perfect day just isn’t.
A couple of weeks pass by of amazing sights and brief on-the-surface friendships, but something needs to change.
I book another plane ticket and sign up to get my dive qualification, I’d spend two weeks getting both my open water and advanced diving certifications which turned out to be exactly what I needed.
After the first couple days with my dive group I felt alive again, everything was right.
Anyone that’s done a course like this will know that you quickly form close relationships with those you dive with, it’s easy to connect on a certain level when you go through moments like that and on reflection it’s really easy to see why it’s what I needed.
I spent those weeks with an amazing bunch of people going through an epic shared experience and forming real, genuine relationships. Those friendships are still there today and are very real, unlike many others before.
It was a lesson the hit me straight in the face, but one I have to constantly remind myself of:
PEOPLE > PLACES
It took the best part of three years on the road for me to really appreciate that people are always the key.
As a photographer it’s easy to chase locations, sunrises and hidden views, you’ll happilyget lost in this routine and for a while it might work, you’ll feel amazing and you’ll get a lot of nice shots. There’s definitely something special about being alone in nature, amongst the sights, sound and smells you normally only hear described in documentaries.
However, quickly (or slowly in my case) you’ll learn that these moment’s are only made better when shared.
It’s strange that a lot of the best memories come from situations that are nothing to call home about or share with friends on social media.
Conversations in the back of a cramped suspension-less night bus, missing sunset as you ordered three dinners because they’re $1 each, reuniting with an old friend before running to only to miss your flight as you had so much to catch up on. Sometimes these moments line up with a beautiful location or sunset and embrace each moment this happens but also realise that the location is far less important than who’s around.
Even as a photographer some of my best shots came when I hadn’t chased the locations and instead gone to hang out with a couple of mates. I still find myself guilty of ditching opportunities to hang out with others to chase a sunset but 9 times out of 10 I regret it. One day I’ll head my own advice.
Where tech and travel shine together from my experience, is in connecting people
It’s where I think a platform like Friend Theory has the capacity to change the game. For a long time I travelled solo, jumping from hostel to hostel with the occasional hotel or private room when I really need to crunch out some work.
The hardest part of that lifestyle is constantly meeting people, becoming friends and then watching them disappear in a taxi knowing you’ll likely not see them again. You’ll probably, as I’ve done on several occasions, start to lose interest in making new friends after months of this repeating itself, which isn’t a good place to be in:
If you could call on a friend, or a friend of a friend, have a base to stay at and know that there’s already a connection there, it would be a total game changer.
Not only to spend time with someone that likely knows the area, but to know you’re far more likely to form a friendship that lasts beyond that first visit.
I’ve tried couchsurfing a number of times and for the large parts the experience was good, but I’ve had a few where I definitely wish’d I had been in a hotel instead. With a platform like Friend Theory you have it on good authority from one of your own friends that the person you’re staying with is going to be pretty sound, that’s an enticing security blanket when you’re in a new place.
It’s undeniable that technology has become an integral part of travel and there’s a million and one apps that can help you with everything from planning a trip to finding a local to share an awesome experience with. Where tech and travel shine together from my experience, is in connecting people.
Most of us live that constant battle between utilising the tech and not letting it control our lives and platforms which promote real human interaction, like Friend Theory, are going to become more vital than ever.
Max White, United Kingdom ❤️