When catching up with people I met abroad, I have a habit of asking two very specific questions:
“How are you? …and where are you?”
It’s a wonderful tradition, one that I indulge in for partially selfish reasons. I love to remind myself of that wonderful spirit of traveling. I can still recall abruptly changing plans in favor of a new city, but also deciding to linger in a location because of a deep connection with a fellow traveler or local.
The questions also come naturally, as an expression of concern for my international friends. Many are avid travelers themselves, and I like to be updated of their whereabouts to be assured of their safety.
That is one tangible difference I’ve noticed, as a result of traveling. As a long-time wanderluster and human rights activist, world affairs have always captured my interest, but I’ve never been as invested as I am now. Just as I would be more attentive to news of a natural disaster in my home state of California, I now have the same knee-jerk reaction to reports from places like Brazil and Vietnam.
Travel connects us to people in ways we can’t imagine until we experience it ourselves. My global knowledge is constantly expanding because of the friends I’ve made. I feel more connected to humanity, as my personal network grows wider and stronger. Themes of compassion and interconnectedness are no longer theoretical ideas, but lived experiences.