The Kindness of Strangers

There are many people who choose to travel solo for a number of reasons. The magic of travel is about exploring the unknown, stepping out and taking some risks. It might involve a short journey from home to a place that is familiar or unfamiliar. Or the journey could involve long distances and international means.

I think travelling as a single, rather than as a couple or group, invites more of the serendipitous moments.

Sometimes the surprises are in the meeting of strangers who welcome you to their homes. As a story writer, what an amazing opportunity to embrace this. Into a living room with a cup of tea or shared meal, inside another’s space and surroundings to create informal conversation.

When I wrote Conversations with Strangers – the Art of Creativity and Connection, I wanted to share some of the wonderful unexpected encounters I have received in different countries, on trains or in national parks that lead to joyful chats and connection. You might never see these people again but an impression is made that can be transformative.

Travelling solo, is a lesson in trust. Trust in others, but ultimately trust in yourself. Scary. Unchartered. Different.

The downside is that there will always be moments of intense loneliness along the way.

Moments with friends and family provide companionship. Independent travel means a lot more responsibility and risks.

At the moment I am really enjoying a book called The Writer’s Map edited by Huw Lewis-Jones. It is a sort of atlas of imaginary lands. As Tolkein once said, ” I wisely started with a map, and made the story fit..”

Writers and illustrators share their personal insights, encompassing not only the maps that appear in their books, but also the maps that have inspired them and the sketches they create in writing.

On any journey, imaginary or real, the kindness of strangers can leave a strong lifetime impression on us.

Capturing memories, hearing stories and asking questions can lead the solo traveller to colour their world.

In the coming weeks, I hope you enjoy any opportunity you may have to step out and be curious. Be kind and compassionate to a stranger.



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April 23, 2021 at 12:36 am

I have always been too shy to strike up conversations with strangers. I do like to listen to people talk and enjoy their adventure stories.

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April 23, 2021 at 6:33 am

It’s okay to be shy and curious. Listening is a great skill.

M.J. Gibbs
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