Visiting new places, exploring landscapes, and seeing new cultures are a big part of why we travel. But there is more to the story than just these three things. It is also about the people we have met and the connections we have made. Travel is more than just destinations; it’s about the people we meet. The more we travel, or even host travelers, the more bonds we form that span the world’s borders. That is what makes our travels meaningful.
Finding Friends on the Road
Meeting others has created some of the most impactful moments of our travels. People have a need to be social, and it is very easy to be alone while traveling. But the friends we make along the way can drastically improve our perception of any given place. Locals know the area well and can provide advice on the area they live in. They can also provide perspectives on life that are vastly different than our own. This makes travel more memorable and valuable.
Websites like Couchsurfing.com provide opportunities to meet others while traveling or even to stay with them. We have hosted many people and have been hosted. Each person comes with their own story. We also create new stories with these people while showing them around. Some of our unique experiences include drinking like a Russian, enjoying a graduation party in Norway, and even going on demanding hikes. All of these bonding moments are much better than sitting on the couch watching Netflix, although we do that too. 🙂
Like Couchsurfing, we’ve also met some incredible people through Servas. One such host not only kept us up late each night with engaging conversation, but they invited us to stay with them for two weeks! On top of that, through our being there, they decided on some direction in their retirement: they wanted to travel more! In fact, they want to meet up with us later in our trip! While we always strive to inspire others to travel, we didn’t feel like we were particularly trying in this instance, so it was such a surprise when they told us how much of an impact our staying with them had. Wow!
Random People Who Left an Impression
- Puertipo: In Costa Rica he was a comedian performer at the Double Tree Hotel in Punta Arenas, but he was one of the most memorable people in our trip. The shows inspired me to write “Rico” on my stomach on my 40th birthday.
- Canadian Couple in Costa Rica BnB: We had a wonderful dinner together at our BnB in Alejuela and talked about Costa Rica, politics in America, and other topics. We seemed to connect really well. It was also pleasant to have a good conversation in English as were aren’t fluent in Spanish.
- Tour Boat Captain on Canada Day: We were so decked out in Canada gear that he complimented our patriotism. It was a fun moment when we revealed we were Americans. Why not celebrate foreign holidays? They can be a lot of fun!
- The Yakatabune Boat Tour Host in Tokyo: Our host was extremely friendly and nice to talk with as we had very little Japanese language experience. She saw that I was wearing a “Baka Gaijin” (“dumb foreigner”) shirt and laughingly shook her head at me.
- Crocodile Tour Boat Host: This guy was nuts and actually lifted up a crocodile. We are glad he was very experienced and not crocodile dinner.
- Other Mentions: Our very animated underground tour guide in Seattle, friendly local doing yoga Stanley Park, our first taste of English after three days without with our bike tour guide in Tokyo, and the list goes on.
We look forward to meeting many people and even some of our readers while on the road this year. We are not tourists; we are travelers who know that travel is more than just the destinations we visit.
Which people have impacted you on your travels?
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