Friday, August 14, 2009

The identifying mark of a traveler

There must be a set of core characteristics among people who like to travel that makes them inherently kind, generous, and friendly. I don't know why that is exactly. If I had to guess, I'd say it has something to do with why people travel in the first place. People who travel want to see and experience that which is beyond the boundaries of their own backyard, their own cities and states, their own country. They are open-minded and want to learn about other cultures. If you are a traveler yourself and meet someone else who identifies themself this way, you can already assume all these things about the type of person they are.

So what has me thinking about this, before I've even left? Well, I've already experienced that kindness, that generosity, that friendliness of people who are, in some cases, complete strangers to me. They have no reason to want to help me, they get nothing in return. And yet I've had people offer all kinds of suggestions based on their own experiences, from what are "musts" to pack to what are tourist destinations that can be skipped. I've had someone offer to pick up travel related books for me because he lives near a used bookstore and he noticed they had a lot of them in stock. I've had someone offer to put me in touch with her friend in Singapore who loves to play tour guide to out of town visitors. I've had people recommend hotels/hostels, restaurants, websites, markets, clubs, and caves (yes, caves!).

It's all pretty cool, actually. It's making me look forward even more to meeting other travelers over the course of my trip, to those moments when someone I've met at the hostel tells me I've got to go to such and such place because it's so fabulous. . .and even though I've never heard of that place, I suddenly decide that I need to go there now, more than anything. Because anything coming from a fellow traveler is something worth paying attention to.

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