The Very Best Way to Travel
Travel is about People.
Travel changes us in beautiful ways, you know that and I know that. When we leave home and venture out into another state or another country, we have the opportunity to see land which is very different from our own. We experience cultures that may be thousands of years old (vs. our own young country that is, by the world’s standards, hardly out of diapers). We get to watch artisans and craftsmen making things by hand with the same skill their great, great grandfathers and mothers did. We also get to taste foods we have never tried before. (On a personal note- I much prefer the chocolates in Belgium to the fried scorpions in Beijing….but that's a story for another day).
If I had to choose my absolute favorite part of travel, it’s the people we meet. We have ventured into many countries where the differences between our cultures seemed a hundred miles wide. After all, we speak different languages. We wear different kinds of clothes. We eat different kinds of food and may celebrate different holidays throughout the year. But then we sit down to share a meal or a cup of chai tea and, even if its just through hand gestures or sharing picture of our families from our phones, we begin to smile and make a connection.
And that’s when we learn that, we may look different and talk in different languages and celebrate different holidays, but we love our families and want to live in peace. So, next time you head out the door to travel, don’t act like you are visiting the zoo. Talk to people, introduce yourself to the couple at the next café table, attend a worship service in a new country and see how Christians in other countries worship God. I believe it will truly enrich your travel experience.
I would like to introduce you to some of the wonderful people I have met over the years, from high school students in the top high school in Beijing and an artist who sat on the Great Wall of China, day after day creating beautiful art with nothing but sticks and coal.
Once day, we met a café owner in the Old City of Jerusalem. His family had owned the café since the days of the Ottoman Empire. When we sat with him over a cup of chai tea and shared our stories, we found out he had spent 17 years in Houston, Texas as a limo driver for the Houston Rockets. Come to find out, we had eaten at a couple of the same restaurants in Houston. Small world, isn’t it?
But one of my all time favorites new friends has to be Szymon, a Holocaust survivor from the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw, Poland. He was the only survivor from his entire family. But when we met him 3 years ago, he had such joy in his heart. He was very active in his synagogue in Israel and was the Social Media PR man for his Holocaust Survivors Association. What incredible people, each one!
So next time you step out the door with your luggage, go with a heart to meet the people in the place you are going to visit. Strike up a conversation in an outdoor cafe, visit with the grocer who sells you some apples, tell the people who call that place home how beautiful it is and how blessed you are to be there. That gets a smile and opens the door to conversation almost every time for me. Travel is about people...it always has been. It always will be.
Until our next adventure...