I have always associated my family with traveling, or ‘going home.’ I attribute my comfort level with traveling to my parents, who are both originally from Sweden, and would bring us ‘home’ to Sweden every single summer between the age of 0-18. My mother was a Pan Am flight attendant and would efficiently pack my siblings and I up every May to live at our grandparents’ summer cottage in the outskirts of Stockholm for 10-12 weeks. It was during those never-ending, sunny summer days that we gathered with our relatives and neighbors for some of the best family meals and celebrations I have ever had. We celebrated birthdays, name days (a Swedish tradition), midsummer, and simply – the fact that it was summer.
Summer in Sweden meant we would eat open-faced shrimp sandwiches after a long flight, homemade pies made from freshly picked wild blueberries or raspberries, princess cake, Bernhard tarts, drink elderflower juice that my grandmother had made, or pick wild strawberries along the stone paths in front of the summer cottage. To me, gathering with friends and family equates to a deep sense of being home.
How to Meet Others While On the Road
So how does one meet others while on the road while traveling, if not visiting family? If you are part of a program, like Remote Year, the program leaders and city hosts schedule regular outings such as the one below to a local food street. In Kuala Lumpur, it’s all about the food, and we have several street fair tours scheduled throughout the month.
If you are traveling on your own, I have found that joining organized tours, retreats, or going to cafes is the best way to meet people. You can join a cooking class, a walking tour, or adventure outing. While traveling solo in Bali a few years back, I signed up to do a sunrise temple tour and downhill mountain bike trek where I met several other people traveling.
On a separate solo trip to Bali, I stayed at a small yoga/meditation retreat called Zen Resort where I met several other solo travelers. Last July, I went on Yacht Week by myself, which turned out to be one of the best vacations of my life! I used their crew finder app to ‘interview’ a few boats looking for one more person, and ended up meeting the most fantastic group of Dutch and Portuguese friends.
I also have several friends in Remote Year who are trying out Tinder while on the road. The key for online dating while abroad is safety – let someone in your group or on the hotel staff know where you are going and always meet in a public space.
Finally, if you’re not having luck meeting people abroad, your friends and family at home will always be there for you.
5 Ways to Keep in Touch with Friends and Family While Traveling
- Port your current phone number to Google Voice/Skype and buy a local SIM card so you can stay in touch with those you love (after all, your phone number is now apart of your identity!)
- Schedule regular updates on your social media channels and blog
- Schedule regular FaceTimeor Skype sessions with family and friends
- Share some of your recipes and rituals through gatherings with people you meet on the road or, in my case, with my new Remote Year family (credit to Jackie Bona for this tip!)
- Connect with the local community in each country and do at least one act of service to give back to the community
My Exploration Goals
The things that I will explore during my journey this year in each country I visit are the practices around gathering in that country. What are the rituals people engage in to connect with one another? What is worthy of celebrating as a community? How does being together create a sense of contentment, joy, home, tribe? In a world where we are growing more disconnected from one another, more mobile, and further from our physical homes, how do we maintain a sense of being rooted in where we come from?