Like so many long term travelers, Earl gets it; travel is all about the people.
In a nutshell, that’s why I travel too.
When I think back to my summer in Santorini in 2010, I think about the time I spent with close friends (Dan, Chris, Ashley, and Brooke) and all the new friends I made (too many to name) over the course of that summer. Nights getting fed Raki by Dave at Atlas. Going out with the gang at Beach Bar. ATV’ing up to Oia to see the sunset with Dan. Watching the new Braveheart at the outdoor cinema at Kamara Beach — and Dan driving all the way home in pitch black with no headlight. I think of group dinners watching World Cup at Atlas.
Thinking back to my time in Kenya (& Tanzania), I always think about the people I spent time with there. Rocky. Dan. Allan. The girls. Dan and my driver we used almost daily. The kids at the refugee camp we visited. The numerous breakdowns our jeep experiences while on our safari. Our guide Livingstone leading Dan and me up Kilimanjaro.
When I think about Chiang Mai, I think back to geeky wifi sessions with Jodi, Shannon, Ian, Will, and Monica (among others). I think of the bamboo river raft and visiting Tiger Kingdom with Monica, Tom and Kristin. Dinners at Chiang Mai Gate night market. Mrs Pa and her amazing smoothies.
I could go on and on. Every single amazing experience I’ve had abroad is because of the people I met or spent time with. Sure, there are some f’ing amazing scenery I’ve seen — but that’s not what I’ll remember in 20 years. I’m not alone in my thinking; the proof is in the pudding.
What made this moment truly special was our encounter with these welcoming folks and our immersion into the lives of Dutch cheesemaking. Not only did they share with us their heritage, they introduced us to various types of cheese and offered us the penultimate moment of cheese indulgence—some of which were among the freshest and creamiest I’ve ever tasted.
In Costa Rica, I became such good friends with a hotel employee that we wound up giving him a 3-hour ride to catch the ferry home, and he wound up literally giving me the shirt off his back.
For me, then, the essence of traveling is not just ending up with jumpshots in front of famous landmarks. What’s more important is how I got there and who I met along the way. It’s my interaction with the people and my experience of the events that make my travels memorable. I may not be able to remember how many temples in the Angkor Archaelogical Complex I had visited, but I do remember the kids who sold me souvenir items, especially the girl who had exchanged her Mickey Mouse dangling earrings with mine. Those are memories I treasure, not the sites itself.
Then it was time to return to the modern world. The canoe ride back was just as peaceful and quiet. The breeze cooled our moist skin. We asked our canoe boat captain, also a native Bribri, if he ever wished he lived in a city. “Why would I want to do that?” he asked. “People have to go to the grocery store and buy food! Here, I can grow my own and not pay anybody.” I never thought of it that way. That, my friends, is the beauty of travel.
meeting new people is a very important part of my life and i’m always grateful for the new friendships. you learn so much by making new friends and inviting them into your life. while i love to learn about new places and see new things with my own eyes, it is TRULY the people from all over that i bond with and what makes it the hardest to say goodbye.
There are a number of other stories about the people you meet traveling over on Nomadic Experiences.
People are what make traveling great. That fundamental belief of mine goes to the heart of the opportunity Oh Hey World is going after of connecting you with relevant, nearby people – both locals and other travelers. If you share that belief, sign up to be in the first group to try the BETA of our product. I think you’ll like the product we’re working on. If I didn’t believe that, I obviously wouldn’t be spending my time and money building it…
Expect more stories of the power of people leading to amazing travel experiences here in the future.