Two Travelers Share Their Secrets For Making Friends On The Road

Life & Culture Writer
08.27.18 4 Comments

Jana Schilling and Fabian Menzel

Life on the road is exciting. No doubt about that. But it can also get lonely. Staying in a town just long enough to take some great photos and tourist it up is a surefire way to make memories but a terrible way to make friends. This is probably why so many vagabonds and wanderers travel in pairs. And though we’ve asked couples about the impact of near constant travel on their relationships, we’ve yet to talk about the importance of creating relationships as they go.

Jana Schilling and Fabian Menzel (who you may recognize from our article on Vanlifer Instagram accounts) face a double whammy of isolation while living in a 1982 Mercedes Benz 407D named Fritz. Not only are they away from family and friends back in Germany, they’re also traveling through an entirely different continent as they motor down the Pan-American Highway. So when the duo offered to share their tips for on-the-road-socializing with us, we were eager to listen. What follows is expert advice on the fine art of friend-making.

Tip 1: Plan Ahead

Jana Schilling and Fabian Menzel

Jana: When we were still in Berlin and we had our apartment, we hosted couch surfers, which turned out to be really, really great before vanlife. That way we got to meet so many people from all around the world, even before we went on our adventure. And it happens that some of them live where we would pass by. It’s such a great way to give to the travel community before you travel yourself. And then you get to see these people again. You already have a couple of friends on the road.

For instance, we met a girl from San Diego that lives in her van. She was traveling through Europe last year. Now that we are in San Diego, we got the chance to hang out with her again. She’s a local, and she introduced us to a lot of great people. She showed us a lot of places that we wouldn’t have seen if it wasn’t for her, you know? So, even before you start something, you can really think about that aspect. When we go further down south, we’re just really looking forward to reconnecting with these people.

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