I am nomadic at heart. I adore home, but only in short bursts. Really I am happiest when I am on the move, carrying everything I need on my back. I have traveled alone, or together with friends, family and lovers. The most memorable experiences are not of the scenery, of the food or of the tourist attractions but of the people I met.
I think there are three simple things that make traveling most enjoyable, no matter where you are or how familiar you are with that place:
Food (and drink): Eating is something we all have to do. It unites us in our fragility, and sharing food highlights our humanity. Food though, is different all over the world. I believe food, and the rituals that surround it, are often representative of the culture itself. And, in most cultures I have visited, meals are the time when people interact the most.
Local people: Culture is not in the landscape, not in the wildlife, and not accessible if you isolate yourself. Culture is about language, habits, rituals and religions. Only by meeting local people and by talking to them will you get to know the personality of whatever location you’re in. It is people that tell the stories.
Stories: Stories, not histories, hold the truth of a society or culture. The creation myths, local legends, and the simple stories of local people will enrich your view of the culture that surrounds you. Make friends with people, listen to the stories, and you will learn far more about the culture.
I am always conscious to remember that I are a visitor, an outsider. I may be richer, better educated (by some standards at least) and only there for a short time, but I rely heavily on their hospitality. I try to appreciate local peoples’ generosity, and share with them what I have in turn.