The Importance of People
We often think that traveling is about heightening our senses. When we think back on past adventures, we remember the sights that opened our eyes to the bigger picture, novel smells that connected us to a culture, and tastes that washed us with emotion. We also remember the growth that took place. The risks we took. How we overcame anxiety and fear, how we did something that we never thought we’d do. When we look back, we smile…and rightly so!
When it’s time to plan our next trip, we seek these same sensations and plan accordingly. We turn to Yelp for restaurant and hotel reviews, travel blogs for “To-Do’s” and “To Dont’s”, and other sources for inspiration and information. Our itineraries quickly take shape. Sometimes we plan tightly, packing in many tours and towns, and sometimes we play it a little more loose. Either way, we’re still focused on what we’ll do, what we’ll see, and what we’ll eat.
We’re guaranteed a great experience, sure, but in our planning, we’ve left out one of the most important aspects of travel: people.
Think back on your most memorable vacations and adventures. What stands out to you?
Is it the view that you witnessed when you hiked above the clouds? The sound of waves crushing the rocks below or the food that you happily let scorch your tongue? I’ll bet these do stand out to you — just as they stand out to me — but if I’m honest, these aren’t the stories I tell when I get home. The stories I tell usually involve people. Conversations, strange encounters, unexpected escapades. All of these beautiful memories are made possible by people.
Whenever I plan trips now, I do my best to keep people at the center.
Instead of a hotel, I book a hostel. I’ll often join in on midnight escapades and end the night with a handful of new friends. Instead of using Yelp to find the best restaurant with the most popular chef, I’ll walk down a street until I find a seat at a bar that has a good vibe. Often, I’ll take a break from the road to stay with friends of family for a while, living life as they do. When I look back, these are my fondest memories and favorite stories.
If you don’t already, I challenge you to put people at the center of your next adventure.
Next time, try doing something that your partner would only do if they were traveling alone. Stay at the hotel that’s in the grungy arts district, not because of the art that’s there, but for the dive bars that are filled with interesting people. When you book a tour, think about who you’ll be doing it with and when you meet them, ask them why they chose that tour.
I promise that if you travel this way, you’ll have a completely different trip.
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