The Travelling 99%

Well, maybe this is just a reflection, statistically speaking, of the entire world population, but since I haven’t met everyone, this is just something I am sure most people picked up during their holidays.

Maybe what I like the most in travelling is interaction. How people is just willing to strike up a conversation and share their experiences and hints with you. But what do I mean about “The Travelling 99%”?

Being a bit of a nerd, for a results to be statistically significant and minimize the error on the mean, one needs to have the number of samples large enough (the larger, the better). In other words, careful before labelling something by one single or a very small number of observations.

Interaction is a major part of travelling. There is, though, a fine line between interacting and trusting someone, that’s what this post is about. Interacting at a public place, in a pub is ok, but travelling with someone you just met, maybe sharing a hostel room or, even allowing someone into you home is what the vast majority of people are not comfortable or willing to do. Well, perhaps I understand that, after all, we live on Earth, a planet where we are raised to fear one another, that everyone is out to get you.

That’s why, in my opinion, the hospitality sector exists: The pure mistrust we have of one another. Today, there are several hosting websites where you can contact someone and be able to stay at their homes. These can be great, but they make me question the pure nature of trust. Do you trust anyone (and full stop) or do you trust anyone who may be of aid??? Well, I am an avid host. I have hosted over 50 people in the last few years. Is there a better way to interact and make someone feel welcome than welcoming them to your home? A lot of people are very comfortable going to a strangers’ home, for whatever reason ($$$$$$$), but only as long as no-one knows their address. Hosting is hardly a reciprocal business. A lot of interest-based trust out there, well, but it is trust nonetheless. It’s not because someone is not comfortable having you in their homes that they are not trustworthy. In my experience, they have all been great, but still getting used to the idea of meeting strangers.

It takes dozens of good experiences to break the ice and allow people to open themselves to trust others, but trust is a very fragile sentiment. An extremely sensitive area. It takes time, you can come to trust the world and everyone in it, but all it takes to tarnish it is a single act of selfishness (or necessity) from someone. You may get robbed, screamed at, maybe even hit, but that single event from that single person is what keeps you looking over your shoulder everywhere you go. From that time on, “trust no-one” instinct kicks in. It takes another 100 good experiences and years to get you back up there, but just another one to ruin it.

What I want to say is that these 1% are just an statistical error, the points at the edges of a normal distribution that are very far from the mean. Don’t let them mar the image of the remaining 99%. The world is full of beautiful and honest people! Let it show!

40+ strangers spending christmas day together and exchanging gifts… not so bad for a bad world, right? Photo form a meeting I helped organize in Paris, France.

Travelling in Group: A Dictatorship of the Minority

I love travelling in every way possible. I like to think of myself as a very tolerant and easy-going person, but when it comes to travelling in a group, it can be quite difficult at times (most of the time, actually).

I am so glad I learnt this early in my life and have avoided a lot of hardship. I cringe listening to the horror stories my friends tell me, so I will unite their stories and my own to write this outline of travelling in group!

Maybe I need to explain myself. It’s easier to go through the entire experience from the very beginning.

  1. Organization Pre Travel

Everyone loves to travel! A lot of us love travelling with the family and friends, but it is hardly a smooth business. Deciding on where to go is easier with the friends, as usually we just want to find a place to have a good time. When travelling with family, usually a couple of generations are involved, so the interests can be completely different. I like to organize my own trip, look for the tickets myself, hotels etc. When travelling with family, everyone wants to take the easy way out: Package deals, have the whole trip handed to them. Nobody wants to take the time to organize something according to their taste, so a brochure with several destinations is picked and a they are sorted out for you. Ah well… there is no discussion. Usually the person who is unwilling to be flexible gets their way, so the destination will be set for you.

  1. Getting to the Airport And Boarding the Plane

Three hours before the flight. That’s the rule. Check-in and security queues, trips to the shops etc. Since we are travelling together, we all must go through these steps together also. Good luck with that! One person will always arrive one hour before the flight and everything becomes highly chaotic. Rushing through security, shouting to guards to let us through because the flight is about to leave. By the time we board the plane, a couple of people are not talking to each other already. The person who was late and caused all the problems ALWAYS says: “We made it alright, didn’t we? You worry too much”, as if the last hour of running and screaming didn’t happen!

  1. Arriving at Your Destination

Keeping the group together is an almost impossible task. Every 5 minutes, someone is lost to shops without letting anyone know. Before reaching the hotel, hours have been wasted just trying to get there. Everyone is hungry, but the need to tour every shop in the airport is much greater.

Hotel check-in done and everyone reaches their room, time to go and get something to eat! Everyone is hungry. Let’s meet outside the hotel in 20 minutes, shall we? Get a quick bite to eat and go for a walk. Then 20 minutes pass by, 30, 40, 60, 90 and usually the same person who arrived late at the airport is not down. What in the name of the Lord is that person doing? Straightening his/her hair, make-up, bath… then it is the job we know will cause problem: Who is the brave person that will knock on the door and tell the person to get on with it? Yeah, nobody wants that! Just another drama. During this time, the whole group decided to go to a particular, very well recommended restaurant for dinner. Finally, the person of the hour arrives and the decision goes down the drain. This is a daily occurrence.

This is when I, as an individual, throw everything out of the window and go my own way.

  1. Deciding Where to Go, a Daily Challenge

Usually being package deals, one may think that everyone will go to the same place. Since there are times set to go, noone will be left at the hotel. Ah, some people won’t wake up, but this time they will be left behind. You will be cursed for doing so! Because “real groups stick together”… but when together, these people just wander off into shops and expect everyone to say amen.

  1. Days Off: What To Do When Someone Didn’t Organized it For You?

This is a wasted day. Only the prepared will thrive. This is travelling natural selection at its best! As no-one knows what to do, everyone will behave like headless chickens and a consensus won’t be reached. This is the time I recommend everyone to just announce “See you guys later” and do your own thing, whatever that is.

  1. Conclusions?
  2. Why a Dictatorship?

    • The ONE person will get one’s dream destination;
    • Their behaviour is not wrong and fail to empathize;
    • The group abides to their rule to maintain the peace;
    • Their daily faults, in the end, will be YOUR fault somehow;
    • No-one is prepared for the future, when the system crumbles when the brain behind the operation deserts them.

Travelling with family and friends can be a very enjoyable experience with a lot of cool stories that will, in time, become funnier and funnier. Just make sure to pick out the bad seeds from the get go! Ignoring someone, sometimes, is not an act of selfishness!

Or just meet them on the road, going to the same place as you! That always works too!