Why is it that, when most people travel, we spend so much time planning how to see new places, and not how to meet new people? To put it another way: When people visit us, do we take them out to see local sights and eat local bites, or do we introduce them to local friends?
Imagine you contact a friend in another city, to let her know you’ll be in town for the weekend. Most of us have received the reply, “Great! I want you to try this awesome restaurant I found!” Most of us are cool with that. How would we respond if she replies, “Great! I want you to meet these awesome friends I’ve found!” To put it another way: Your friend calls you and says, “A few friends of mine are visiting this weekend. I’d love them to meet you. Are you free?” How do you respond?
Maybe, at heart, many of us are introverts, or at least exhibit introverted tendencies, especially when in unfamiliar settings — the norm when visiting a new place. Maybe it’s prospect theory at work: The possible negatives of discomfort and disappointment outweigh the possible positives of meeting someone really cool. Maybe it’s a fear of inadequacy or rejection: People might see us for who we are, and not like us; restaurants and natural attractions have to accept us (if we pay up).
But I wonder, if we spent more time seeking out and building relationships, instead of checklists and photo libraries, would our travel, our lives, be more fulfilling?