Backpacker Tale - Fast Friends on the Road

Tom and I burst into giggles in one of those 'you had to be there' moments that no one else can share. We have enjoyed some unforgettable backpacker memories together and consoled each other when the going's got tough. He has seen me laugh, cry, conquer my dreams and dribble in my sleep. Yet until a few months ago we had never met as backpackers.

As I stepped onto the coach I was unsure what to expect from this group of strangers. Although I am a fairly outgoing person I was nervous about setting out on my own and looked around for a friendly face to make me feel at ease.

Tom was the first person that caught my eye. With his curly mop of ginger hair it is difficult to miss him but it was his warming smile that made me take the seat next to him. From that moment on we were inseparable. Not in a romantic way. In fact most the time we bickered like brother and sister but secured our friendship through the highs and lows.

We bonded over a beer at Munich's Octoberfest, fell out on the phone in Italy and marvelled at the prices of McDonalds in Switzerland. When we visited a spa in Germany it was Tom that I insisted walked between me and the pool to hide my lumpy bum. In Florence it was Tom that I dragged round the shops looking for the perfect pair of shoes. And in Monte Carlo it was me that got to enjoy the walking tour of the Monaco race track!

The main thing that worried me about going it alone was not having anyone to be able to appreciate those magical moments with. In the end though I can't think of anyone that I would have taken who could have appreciated them better. We had no history together and therefore no baggage.

We had nothing to prove, just an experience to enjoy. If we wanted to spend a whole day on our own then we could, without jeopardising our relationship. Or when I decided to spend a week's food money on a handbag it was only me that I had to justify it to.

Unfortunately, so often on trips away, unresolved issues come into play. Lack of trust, insecurities and incompatibility are highlighted when you spend all your time with someone. Tom and I were still in the honeymoon period though and enjoying every moment of our new found friendship.

I returned from my trip a stronger person, more confident traveller and with one more person to add to my Christmas card list. A month after coming back from Europe we are sat on the sofa pouring over our holiday snaps.

From next week we will be able to share those 'had to be there' moments without boring people because at the weekend Tom is going from my holiday mate to housemate.

Emma Jones

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