Travel: Making the Connections

Aug 11, 2015

One of my favorite things when traveling is connecting with new people. It reminds me that the locale is more than a dot on a map, it’s a place with other humans just like me. And we’re all in this together.

On this last journey, we took a train from Vienna to Budapest. We had reserved seats, but this particular train was so gobsmackingly over-booked that we couldn’t get anywhere near them. As we boarded the train with our luggage (grateful for only one bag each), we saw a sea of passengers in the seats, standing in the aisle, and crammed into the vestibule between cars. Which is about where we found ourselves. Realizing we’d never be able to climb over everyone to see if we could convince whoever was in our seats to move, we settled in. We sat on the steps leading up to the train carriage, looking out the doors and watching the countryside fly by. What made this not terrible was the group of British backpackers sitting on the floor behind us. For three hours, they cracked jokes, kept us laughing and held our luggage when we had to jump up to let people off at stops. “Don’t worry,” they said when I thought my luggage had gone off the train. “We’ve got you covered.” Later, we decided that even if we could have gotten to our seats, it was far more fun to hang out with the Brits.

Stories of connecting with others are my favorite travel souvenirs:

On a family trip to my father-in-law’s Italian hometown, we were approached by a man who walked up behind us and yelled “ENGLISH!” We said, no, actually, most of us are Americans; to which he replied, “NO, I SPEAK ENGLISH!” He had stopped to help when he saw us puzzling over a sign in the local town hall.

In Istanbul we became friendly with a couple from Iran as we waited on a long line. After taking turns taking photos of each other, they gave us their cell phone number and asked us to visit any time. When we saw them later at a restaurant, they offered to share their plates with us.

A trip to Montenegro introduced us to Luigj. He became our de facto bodyguard as we traveled through areas that weren’t necessarily friendly to people driving a rental car with a license plate from a city that had just beaten the local city in a big soccer match. Thankfully, the most “saving” he had to do was freeing me from two public bathrooms I managed to lock myself in. Yes, two. Hard to live down. We’re still friends on Facebook, liking each other’s photos and posting the occasional hello. I can only imagine how he talks about the crazy American woman who can’t figure out a simple door lock.

I love this quote from Andrew McCarthy, talking about his travels:

You go make yourself vulnerable to the world and the world receives you. That’s my experience. The world is a much safer, more welcoming place than we are led to believe by our politicians and so that’s been my discovery.

The first step to amplifying your life is simplifying your day.

Enter your email to receive The Simple Start: A strategic toolbox to help you simplify your email inbox, your priority to-do list and your morning routine, starting TODAY. You'll also receive my (pretty much) weekly email sharing stories and strategies to help make running your business simpler, easier and funner.