The Journey Measured in Friends

Last night, I travelled the world. From my chair on the beach in the Dominican Republic, I visited Ireland, Madrid, London, Canada, Argentina, Italy, and Uganda. I learned about political unrest, national dishes, international aid, and family dynamics. I became aware of fascinating differences and humbling similarities, all from people I had just met.

When travelling, I find that I share more of myself—in ways I haven’t with even my closest friends. I have listened more intently to stories that inspired and stories that broke my heart. I have rediscovered a desire to deeply know people, and have been moved by their desire to deeply know me. I’ve crammed an entire relationship into a weekend and I’ve fallen in love.

In just a small step-up from the “Fight Club”-single serving airplane friends, why are travel relationships so powerful? What makes people share, listen, laugh, dance, so much easier than in their ‘regular’ lives?

Perhaps it is a sense of urgency that makes travel relationships so powerful. If you’re lucky, you might have a few days—though too often,  even less time—to discover everything you could want to know about a person.

Maybe, it’s being far from home. Being outside of our normal communities and comfort zones makes us vulnerable. We let go of reservations and ask or share whatever is on our mind. It seems as though the notion of travel, a little like college, gives us a clean slate. We can be whoever we’d like to be.

I think travel is a risk, and it opens you up to taking risks on people too.

This morning, the good-byes seemed as though we were parting with childhood friends. Travel had turned singleserving friends into partners in adventure. In a rare moment of vulnerability, these good-byes made me choke up.

At Onwards we believe in the community that is formed through traveling together. We run group expeditions because we see the opportunities for learning, fellowship, and growth when traveling with and alongside others, as some of the greatest benefits of your trip. We promote community-based tourism not only because of the authentic cultural exchange, opportunities for education, and global understanding, but because community moves people.

Just as we strive to improve the communities that we work with, we seek to improve the lives of those that travel with us. For some, that will mean cultural understanding and for others great friendships. For all of our participants we hope for a deeper understanding of oneself as a citizen of the world.

“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” -Tim Cahill

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