Let’s face it: we live in a world that is constantly changing. It is a world where individuals are often only focused on their lives, and, perhaps, those of their inner-circle of family and friends. Strangers in one’s hometown or local area are still strangers, and people in other countries are often disregarded because there is no personal or emotional connection.
As someone who has traveled and lived abroad, it’s a marvel to me that this sort of thought actually exists. Regardless of any differentiating factors, people are people - all over the world. We all have basic human needs including nutritious food, clean water, secure shelter, warm clothes, and unconditional love.
It may be your first time traveling abroad, or you may be a regular, intentional wanderer. Wherever you are going, you will meet local people and there is nothing better for consensus-building or the betterment of humanity (not to mention your personal life,) than to connect with locals. Slow down and take a moment to understand the world around you as you assimilate into the local life. You never know what sort of impact you will have on others, and certainly, the lasting memories that people will imprint on your own life.
1. Friendship is a universal thing. Strangers are only strangers as long as you allow them to be. Communication is the first step to getting to know another, and ultimately, yourself. Even when speaking different languages, a smile, coupled with eye-contact, can say everything you need to say. Connecting with people on a basic level is the first step to understanding your existence in the world.
2. True discovery with a local resident or guide can influence the entire outcome of your trip. Locals know the best places to eat, the best places to visit, and can truly introduce you to parts of their culture that you might not see otherwise. People tend to have this notion of what travel should be and what it should accomplish. Going into an experience with zero expectations allows for the flexibility of time and spirit that will surprise even the most assuming people.
3. Speaking of surprises, sometimes being in that open-minded, open-hearted mental and emotional space will spark something inside you that you had never realized before. Knowing other people, other places, and life outside of your tradition day-to-day can be the best way to truly learn more about yourself. Many people think they know themselves, but it’s often their Ego shuffling into the space between reality and perception. Get to know who you are, what you believe, and what life truly means while traveling or volunteering.
4. Keep things simple. Life is not truly about extravagance or extremes. Big Business and corporations want people to believe that they are only worth what they can buy, and subsequently demonstrate or portray as their personal identity. Moving away from a constant focus on money and things—while being willing to experience new things—will change your life. Meet people. Talk. Try new foods and drinks. Experience and enjoy.
5. Smile. Everyday. A smile - that initial human-to-human acknowledgement - is one of the most personal and powerful things a person can do. Try not to smile when someone smiles at you. Try not to smile while you’re experiencing the thrill of walking in forests older than any you’ve ever been in. Try not to smile while watching a group of young children laughing and kicking around a ball. They’re so engrossed in the fun they’re having, that they’re oblivious to everything else. It is so important to be mindful, present, and open-minded. Let the experiences flow through you and allow yourself to flow through them.