Travelers and Hosts: The Best in Us

Dear Friends,

Over the years, I have developed a theory: a good traveler makes the very best of friends.  In other words, if you can travel the world comfortably, adjusting good-humoredly to the unexpected, respecting other cultures, tasting new cuisines and dishes, appreciating your hosts, and remaining gracious through discomfort, then you are not only a great traveler, you have proven yourself a fine human being.  You embody all that world religions encourage us to be:  kind, generous, selfless, appreciative of life, and treating others as you would want to be treated.

Traveling involves tasting it all!

I was sharing this theory with a friend recently, and she admitted that she has a similar theory: that good hosts make great friends.  She expanded by saying that there are those who love to host, and those who love to be guests.  Of course, you can enjoy being both. However, a great host is one who puts their guest first, who is ever-aware of others’ needs and graciously fulfills them without interrupting the flow of everyone’s enjoyment.  A great host makes every guest feel special and well-attended to, takes into account any special needs (diets or favorite drinks), and makes sure no one ever feels excluded, weaving them into the conversation with a well-placed question.

A great friend, being helped across a stream, Ait Ben Haddou, Morocco

It wasn’t until after our exchange of theories that I realized that a traveler is essentially a guest, and that my friend and I were simply focusing on two sides of the same equation. This balance of host and guest, traveler and host country, represent the give and take that is essential in all human relations.  We give and we receive, and it is the way in which we do both that demonstrates our care for others—and the quality of our humanity.

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