I was recently scanning through my 600 Facebook friends when I realized that less than 10% of them regularly interact with my posts or engage in conversations with me. In total, perhaps only 10-15 people regularly engage in dialogues that demonstrate a deep and meaningful interest in my life, work and passions. I’m not criticizing, by the way. I know how busy life can get. But, it’s still interesting how much we have come to rely on surface-level interactions with the people we care about.
One other interesting thing that I noticed was that the people who engaged with me most are almost all people that I met while traveling. As I thought back over the adventures that drew me to my closest friends, I couldn’t help but wonder – why are friendships that we form while we are traveling so special?
When you travel, you interact with people that you wouldn’t normally meet. They are, by definition, outside your normal social circle of work colleagues and family members. People that you meet on the road often surprise you. They offer a new way of looking at the world. Their intriguing stories have a tendency of attracting you with a powerful magic. They can even show you a side of yourself that you didn’t know existed.
I met my ex-husband on a train. My best girlfriend is someone I met on a trip to India 15 years ago and I met one of my best guy friends on a flight from Moscow to London.
On a recent Road Scholar trip, I started out in a group of 15 strangers. By the end of the journey, I had 13 great acquaintances and two new close friends. My two new friends were different on so many levels. At the same time, they represented two sides of my personality.
Penny was 86 years old and was on her 30th Road Scholar program. Every single time we talked, Penny would look me in the eyes and ask a question that absolutely amazed and energized me. She cut straight to the point and shared her experiences and secrets with me as if we had known each other for 40 years.
Brenda was my age. As we explored the city together, we talked about her life, careers, hopes and dreams. She wove a story, filled with vivid colors, deep meanings and unexpected twists and turns. There was something about Brenda that brought out the warmth in both of us. Before the end of the day, we were completing each other’s sentences. The chemistry of our relationship created serendipitous moments that would never have happened had we been travelling alone.
Why do I consider Brenda and Penny true friends and not just surface level contacts? Because we shared secrets and we weren’t afraid to ask the tough questions. We cared about each other.
Some people are scared that asking the “difficult questions” will harm a friendship. I would say that the opposite is true. Expecting substantive answers gives a relationship a deeper meaning.
Managing a community of dynamic women over 60 has shown me that making deep connections requires a different approach. We can’t wait for people to come to us. They won’t. We need to step out of our comfort zone and explore the world.
Group travel, with a focus on learning and adventure, like that offered by Road Scholar, is the perfect way to meet new people. It is a powerful way to make friendships based on common interests.
Travel is the perfect way to discover the unexpected. It gives you the opportunity to talk with people that you wouldn’t normally meet. This is so important, because, as we get older, we don’t just need more people in our lives. We need the right people in our lives.
If you are interested in meeting other amazing people, while traveling, I would definitely encourage you to give Road Scholar a shot. Since Road Scholar is a sponsor of Sixty and Me, for a limited time, our members can enter to win $500 off of their next learning adventure. So, there is really nothing to lose. All you need to do to enter is sign up for their free catalogue.
Have you met any interesting people on your travels? Do you agree that building meaningful connections requires us to step out of our comfort zone? Why or why not? Have you ever been on a Road Scholar trip? Which one? Please join the conversation.
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