When you spend over 3000 hours on the road, you pick up a few things about traveling.
Here are just a few of the ones I feel are worth sharing that might make my – or your – next trip even better.
It Is Better To Give AND Receive.
I’ve always liked giving little gifts and/or doing small things for others. I’ve found that a tiny kindness can go a long way toward making a big difference in someone’s life – especially if it is Divinely timed. But a couple of years ago I realized that while I was good at giving I absolutely sucked at receiving. I was the guy who got something and kept repeating, “Oh no, you shouldn’t have.” And I was the guy who got invited to lunch or dinner and made a fuss about wanting to help pay the check. Then it dawned on me that I was absolutely stealing the joy from the giver. I was denying them the same pleasure of giving that I so thoroughly enjoyed. So I made a commitment to myself to be better and reinforced that with a mantra, “I am a generous receiver.”
I can tell you that it made a big difference to the kind people who wanted to take me site seeing, go hike at their special places, buy me dinner in one of their favorite spots, cook me a favorite meal, bake me a pie, invite me to family events, etc. They got the joy of giving and I got the joy of receiving. And when the time was right, I was able to return their kindness and treat them to something – which made me very happy.
Being A Good Guest Is As Easy As 1, 2, 3.
Since I was invited to be a guest in over 50 homes, I eventually learned a simple formula for timing the length of visits so it was both comfortable and rewarding. 1. If it was someone I had never physically met or seldom – if ever – spoken to on the phone, I limited my stay to one night. This allowed both of us to get to know each other. And if it worked out, we could always plan another visit. 2. If I was visiting someone I knew pretty well and/or had previously talked to about visiting, I would typically stay two nights. That gave us enough time to catch up and explore their world. 3. If I was visiting family, former roommates or lifelong friends, I would stay as many as three nights. This gave us plenty of time to reminisce, create new memories, etc., and time to do the things we both had to – like laundry – without the pressure of having to be in that constant “entertaining” mode. Now of course there are exceptions to this rule, but not many. People typically have very busy lives that they put on hold in order to host guests, so it is better to leaving them “wanting more” than “totally exhausted”.
Listen For An Opportunity To Be A Blessing.
When someone invites you into their home they are also inviting you into their life. And since we never really know what people are going through, we won’t know how or why we can bless them unless we truly listen. Side note: I taught college level communication classes for many years. I have come to believe that average people listen to respond, sneaky people listen to retaliate, and wise, compassionate people listen to understand. If you want to learn how to be a terrific listener, check out the ground breaking book Just Listen.
On this trip I had the opportunity to listen, comfort, support and encourage some people who were going through some really, really tough times. Here are a few examples. I just sat down to lunch with a friend when he received a call from his Doctor telling him he had cancer. I consoled two very strong women who broke into sobs over their at-risk children. I received a call from a grieving widow that a buddy I was planning to visit had just passed away that day. One friend told me she was living with a severely debilitating disease. Another friend was going through a divorce so devastating she was inconsolable. Yet another woman was preparing to put the love of her life into hospice where he would spend his brief remaining time on earth. One couple was scrambling to change their entire lives so they could parent teenage boys. One woman spoke how she was abused as a child, and another spoke about how she had been in a physically abusive marriage.
One last thing: If you have ever suffered tragedy, profound loss, depression, injustice, heartbreak, etc. and have asked yourself, “Why me?” then this may be one of the answers. Once you have finally healed and gotten stronger and wiser, you may find you have an entirely new skill set of compassion, wisdom and empathy that you can used to truly help someone. And when and if that person just happens to be one of your hosts, you will understand that you may have been placed there to use your experience to comfort someone. Important Note: If you are not a trained therapist, you shouldn’t try to diagnose or cure anyone as it could become more harmful than helpful. If you feel someone needs outside resources, here’s a list that you might want to offer them as a starting place.
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