Gratitude: As Americans gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, most will be focused on being glad for family, food…and maybe football. A day of abundance and a pause before the frenzy of Christmas.
For those of us who travel, there is all that–and more. We are especially grateful for our opportunity to explore Earth. No matter how far we go, or for how long, we’re given gifts that make us better citizens of the world.
I find three reasons to express my gratitude to the people who live in the places I have been:
- Welcome: Despite our reputation as loud “Ugly Americans,” most people seem friendly and courteous to U.S. travelers. A bit of etiquette and awareness easily overcomes the notion that Americans are rude. Read advice from Rick Steves to get started. No matter where I’ve been, smiles were genuine and interest was authentic.
- Patience: No matter where we’re from, we must learn to travel…and that means goofing up. I think back to some of my mistakes, made from being new at travel, or unfamiliar with a place, rather than being rude. (Thinking of when I tried to order a pint of brew in London…those men are probably still talking about me.) The patience, kindness–and good humor–of those who showed me how to do things will never be forgotten. In turn, I’ve tried to do the same for others. I also appreciate the polite responses of locals who tolerate “American” behavior, the actions that lead many people to believe we’re just a bunch of buffoons.
- Understanding: My gratitude abounds for the countries and cultures that protect their history so that travelers can visit meaningful sites to grasp the importance of events. From ancient ruins to natural wonders to incredible architecture, humanity needs these reminders of our collected experience. Of course, we’re thankful for UNESCO and its preservation efforts. Read my blog post about why UNESCO matters.
“The world has enough beautiful mountains and meadows, spectacular skies and serene lakes. It has enough lush forests, flowered fields, and sandy beaches. It has plenty of stars and the promise of a new sunrise and sunset every day. What the world needs more of is people to appreciate and enjoy it.” Michael Josephson
Travelers understand how fortunate they are and how rich their lives have become, thanks to the ability to see the world through the eyes of others. Gratitude? Boundless.