I first traveled abroad when I was about twelve years old. Back then, I was fascinated with travel because I grew up thinking I never would be able to (I was born in Lithuania which at the time was still part of the Soviet Union and the border with the West was sealed).
I also had this crazy theory as a kid: if people in foreign countries spoke different languages, surely they all laughed differently, too? I became obsessed with the desire to find out what German, American, or Japanese laughter sounded like.
Later, in my teens, I traveled because I read Kerouac and fancied myself a lost bohemian vagabond.
In my twenties, I traveled to escape.
Then, I set out to South America, expecting to see a strange and faraway land and meet exotic peoples and mysterious tribes, and finally discover...something.
Now, I travel because of people and connections. And I'm beginning to realize, more and more, that:
- people do laugh the same all over the world.
- people also break and cry the same all over the world, too.
- a Lithuanian motorcyclist and an old indigenous abuelita herding llamas in the high Andes can bond over peeling potatoes in the kitchen with amazing ease, without speaking a word of the same language.
- people all over the world appreciate it when you compliment their children.
- offerings of coffee, ice cream, or chocolates is a universal language around the planet.
- people in Mongolia, France, Ghana and Brazil want the same basic things: safety, a roof over their heads, good health, and for their children to be safe and healthy and get a good start in life.
- if you are a transgender lobster diver living on a small Caribbean island, you can still bond with beer-drinking German backpackers over playing volleyball and gossiping.
- best conversation starters round the world are: food; relationships; horrible bosses; food; compliments; weather; food; food.
What expectations or stereotypes about world travel have changed for you?