Traveling is an activity that opens up a lot of avenues and broadens our perspective greatly. It opens our minds to different cultures, different traditions and to different people who have their own set of beautiful and enchanting ideas. Traveling is much more than just roaming around admiring the colossal scenic beauties or the lovely historical monuments – it is about forming strong human connections along the way.
Everywhere we travel we come across different people – some are locals and some are tourists hoping to discover something new just like us. In our journey, we meet with these strangers every time we travel, from the woman in the plane who asked me to pray with her to the banana vendor who told me about his plight of not seeing his family for ages. These are moments and stories that only travel can open up for us, and make us a better human being.
Most of my favourite travel moments have come from interacting with the locals, who tell me more than what the internet or a textbook can ever tell me. They told me fascinating stories about the place and about themselves and induced in some friendly banter which has always managed to put a smile on both of our faces.
My wonderful interactions with my fellow tourist have introduced me to so many different cultural insights about places I have never ever visited too, along with that it has made my journey as a solo traveller feel a little less lonely. From the tourist who spends the entire afternoon singing in his native language (Spanish) while I listened to him at the beautiful Gorkhana beach in Karnataka, to the Belgium girl who taught me the intricacies of their country and traditions while we shared a beer at a shady pub in Goa.
There are many travellers who just visit the place and come back, without indulging in some conversations with these strangers we meet along the way, and by doing so they are missing out on the very essence of travelling- the human bond.
By making this bond we transform ourselves we become a much better person. To explain it once and for all, we have curated a list to show how enriching and fulfilling it is to create human connections while travelling.
One of the first things I realized while traveling that every single human being has a story to tell. From the person sitting next to you in the airplane to the boat ride in Varanasi. These strangers only need a small push and they will be more than willing to tell you their life stories.
In my train ride from Switzerland to France, a seemingly bearded gentleman sat in front of me and started conversing. From simple talking about our trip to the same city, we divulged into different aspects of politics and tangent. He told me out his life back at Malaysia, and I learned intently, how he is a high school teacher and is now looking to marry and settle down.
His life was filled with insights and desires, and I saw myself transform into a better listener. Throughout my travels, I have been surrounded by amazing people, and in such cases, it is hard to not become a wonderful listener. As someone starts talking you realize how interested you are, and how insightful your questions have become. Being surrounded by interesting people all the time, too make you want to know more and more. You start deriving joy from listening to all these fascinating stories, even more, joy than while you narrate your own.
Travel gives you that golden opportunity to form some unique connections with the people you meet. Some of the people that I have met have now become my closest friends and true confidantes. Other people simply become your coffee partners, or bus ride partners or just drinking friends. Sometimes an even simpler relationship is formed when you just spare some change to the caricature artist as you cross Taj Mahal.
In my travel trip to Bangalore, every day there was a shuttle near my hotel. The same people used to travel every morning, even though their destinations were different. After two days, we even started greeting each other- some were office goers, some kids on their way to school and some just tourists like me. A different kind of relationship is formed, where we didn’t even know each other’s names.
These amazing and temporary that we foster while travelling teaches us how to embrace all the different connections in life no matter how different and flawed they are. All these relationships no matter how small, start meaning something to you and get etched in your brain forever. It brings something special to your life.
The best part about making human connections while travelling is meeting people who have a different perspective about things than you. This allows you to hear something and open yourself to an idea that you hadn’t ever thought of. It forces you to look at a thing from a different perspective and change your views on multiple things. You become more brand minded and inculcate the different notions that are around you. Through these conversations, you are forced to see the world through a different coloured lens.
While I was going from Sikkim to Kolkata through train, I came across a Hungarian tourist who started telling me about his life. His ideas on concepts like capitalism, socialism or even on our own Indian history was starkly different from mine. I realised a foreigner knew so much about our history that he is able to give me an unbiased opinion on it. Through him, I started viewing our own history in a different way, and suddenly I started understanding things I hadn’t before.
Conversing with locals is also another way to adjust your perspective. Whenever we are visiting somewhere we only hear about it through the net or textbooks, but locals might just be giving us another new idea about the same monument that was portrayed in a different in the books or on the internet.
Travelling shows you a way to be considerate, it shows you that you are in a world with different kinds of people and to be with them in harmony you need to be considerate enough. It is important to adapt to the environment and adopting the manners of the locals when you are travelling somewhere. You are an outsider who is being welcomed into someone’s home, it is basic to form some connections or at least have some respects towards the traditions of their own. You realise this only when you talk to the locals and understand what they like, what their traditions are and what they expect from a tourist. You should learn and model your behaviour in a way that makes the locals more comfortable.
When you see a fellow tourist who is confused about the place, take the effort and help them out, if you know anything about it. Many times a tourist has helped me out to find the right bus or the right entrance since they have already been through it. This has greatly touched me, and it is important to make that human connect and help others out too.
Making human connections epically with the locals goes a long way when you are travelling. In a foreign country or even in a foreign city it is hard to always know the language and culture. But if you connect with a local, he or she will be more than willing to tell you all the dos and don’ts of the place and maybe even give you some tips. The locals know their place the best, so having these small connections with them helps you to know the best places to visit or to eat. This makes travelling for you much easier.
A simple smile or a greeting can go a long way, and a small initiative fro your side can unleash a flood of stories and insights that will make your life and experiences even richer. Through these idle conversations, you get to learn so much more and you increase your knowledge much more than the average joe.