Travelers are the best. I hate to sound biased, but I think travelers are some of the best people in the world. Travelers are caring, adventurous, sociable, fun-loving, warm-hearted, trusting, neat, helpful and courageous. And they have the best stories to tell. Maybe not every traveler as a generality, but every one I’ve met so far in my own travels.
I had lunch with a traveler in Portland one day. They were driving up to Seattle as soon as we finished eating, and then heading back to Arkansas for a couple months before heading overseas for extensive international travel. They had been stationed in Italy when in the US Navy, and had some fantastic and engrossing stories, as well as wonderful advice for what to do in Italy. Incidentally, they are getting retirement payments from the navy which will help their travels. I am so jealous.
Another traveler I met in Bath, England while taking a free walking tour of the city was from New Zealand. They had already traveled around considerably, and had wonderful stories. We had a fantastic talk for several hours while we continued to talk around and explore Bath. I persuaded them to pursue a job opportunity they had in Paris, and they gave me great advice for traveling in Oceania.
Today, I met a traveler who actually inspired me to write this blog. Having finished uni a few months ago in Canada, they have been on the road traveling around various countries since then. And while they were a fairly new traveler, and I was able to help them out considerably with their travel plans, they were supremely enjoyable to spend a few hours with walking around Bristol. After all, only another traveler would spontaneously choose to climb up over 100 steps in a tower at the top of a high hill in the center of town just to see the view, while we both carried over-weighted baggage.
Those are just three of the dozens of travelers I have met in my journey so far, and all of them I can now call good friends. I look forward to meeting thousands more in the coming years, as well as again running into those travelers I have already met.
I’ve also noticed several benefits with traveling with a companion. While solo traveling is fun and adventurous, there are definite benefits in traveling in pairs or groups. Many restaurants I have seen have offered buy one, get one free deals. Hostels sometimes have discounts for groups. Having another person watch your bag while you take care of something, or visa-versa gives peace of mind when needed. Even just having someone to discuss works of art in a museum or attraction is wonderful.
Travelers tend to be much more trusting. I suppose you cold say you take your life in your hands when you leave the comforts and security of your own home and set off to explore the world. Anything could happen. But the truth is that bad things rarely do. The media makes such a big deal of bad stories because those stories are so few and thus are sensational when do happen, and because that’s just what the media does. This world would be a far better place without news companies…but I digress.
When I’m around other travelers, I feel comfortable leaving my bag unattended for a couple minutes to get a great photo, order some food or even use the restroom. Perhaps travelers just have an inherent sense of the Golden Rule to do to others what you would want them to do to you.
Many travelers also have the benefit of sharing houses with others, especially through the CouchSurfing.com network. I’ve met many people, including a couple new travelers, who are a little skeptical of this system. I can only say I have had fantastic experiences with every host I have stayed with, and I thank them for their hospitality from the bottom of my heart. I could not travel the way I do without their help, and beyond any help I was able to give them when they hosted me, I will be forever in their debt.
Couch surfing hosts almost uniformly tend to be travelers themselves, and thus fit into the description above. I’ve fully come to realize this myself, and thus know they are at least friendly, if not completely trustworthy. Of course, as with any service, I would always recommend reviewing the references and profile of the host you are staying with. But I would (and do) encourage every traveler to use this service, not just to help with the budget of traveling, but also for the opportunity for meeting fantastic new friends.
I suppose I write this with two purposes. One is for travelers everywhere as an acknowledgement for their courage, friendship and stories. The other is for those who help travelers. Some host out of friendship, some to satiate their own desire to travel and some because they are travelers themselves and pay it forward. Whatever the purpose, you not only make travel possible, but fun as well. And your help will forever be worthy of the highest praise. If you have never helped out travelers, or are not sure you would want to, simply reread this post again, and take a leap of faith.