Few meals in my life have been more dangerous than those I have spent with travelers. Attendance to such a meal risks a change in career goals, abandoned college degrees and an overall inability to maintain a savings account. I don’t want to scare you, but rather inform so you can proceed with caution.
It will be overwhelming. Dinner with travelers often includes friends met on previous trips, a couple introduced on a hike yesterday and people met at the hostel an hour ago. These dinners are a uniquely open environment that often hosts people from all over the world going in and out of several languages. If you are looking for an easy, fast meal, this will not be it.
The talk will be endless. And may require a map. Any type of food will remind travelers of a similar food in an exotic location sparking stories of exciting people and experiences that pale to all other table chat. The simple smell of food transports travelers through space and time, awakening their senses to the past and connecting to the present.
Your passport will never be the same. Travelers compare countries visited like children collect baseball cards. They exchange cities and itineraries, new ideas and plans, making it impossible to leave the table without a list on your napkin of great temples you must visit, festivals you have to attend and reefs to dive all over the world…AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!
Your lawn will grow out of control. Discussions about regular house maintenance are rare at a table of travelers–the question of whether to seed or sod or what shade of white paint will be best on the patio will never be answered at this dinner as many travelers have never even owned a patio…or grass. However, all questions about the most durable backpack brand and what it’s like walking with penguins in Antarctica will be covered in depth.
Everyone will try to top your stories. And may very well succeed. Overcoming the challenges of visiting a new location is the greatest travel gift of all. To survive the raw chaos of entering into a new city is to feel alive! But everyone feels their chaos was crazier than yours, so to tell your favorite travel story is to invite stories of being even MORE lost, MORE broke, MORE sick and therefore it was MORE amazing to live through it! Be prepared.
Your secrets will be revealed. It is a small travel world out there, and as you compare travel experiences, you will often find you are about one degree away from some of the people at your table. Or have already met. So if you were wearing your party hat hard in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua last Easter, be careful. You may owe a beer to someone at the table!
Sleep will be lost. Travelers love to talk about new flight deals. With the tips gained at this meal, you will find yourself watching flight prices at strange hours, researching ways to connect through cities you hadn’t thought of before, counting legs of your journey on both hands. If you value your precious rest time, you may steer clear of listening to any “advice” regarding new budget airlines.
You will want to quit your steady job. Travelers validate your dreams, inspire you to go for more, and share ideas on how even you can afford to travel full-time. They don’t wish they could do things, they actually do them and will excite you to do the same.
In conclusion, be careful when agreeing to dine with travelers. They are a kind, passionate group of people that put much more emphasis on experiences than possessions and will light a spark in those around them to dream big and pursue the extraordinary.
This warning was inspired by the tables of master’s degree holding, insanely well-traveled professional hikers, climbers, English teachers, divers, writers, guides, captains, yoga instructors, photographers and friends that I have had the pleasure of dining with this summer and over the past ten years worldwide. For the ideas and support exchanged in each and every one of them, I am eternally changed and grateful.
Thank you and I hope you like and share this article as a reminder to your friends to keep getting out there, taking risks and following your heart because it is, in fact, life changing.