Before I embarked on one of the greatest trips of my life (to Jerusalem), I spoke with my grandmother on the phone. She rattled off several bits of advice, but one has really stuck with me and I think it's so important to remember when traveling anywhere.
"Listen to the people, Catherine", she said. "Listen to their hearts."
|Orson Hyde Park, Jerusalem, Israel, Spring 2008|
When traveling to foreign lands, we are given such an amazing opportunity to learn things straight from the source. Instead of relying on news outlets, books, or stories from other people, we are able to meet people firsthand who have actually grown up in a specific culture or lived through specific experiences. Of course, vacations are good for relaxing and enjoying the company of the person(s) you're traveling with, but I've always found that my most rewarding travel experiences involve interactions with strangers (who quickly become friends).
The ability to connect with a person despite language, cultural, or socio-economic differences is real and it is what makes this world such a beautiful place.
So, if there's one piece of advice I give you when traveling to a new place, it is this:
"Listen to the people. Listen to their hearts."