You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. – Plato
At the end of 2014 I was reaching the end of my 20,000km hitchhiking across USA when an interesting guy called Tony reached out and invited me to CouchSurf at his place in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Tony was a humble middle-aged man who lived by himself and worked as a freelance IT consultant. I liked his mindset and found a lot of commonalities between our views about the world.
I’d been interviewing interesting people I met on the road, asking them life’s tough questions.
I decided to do an interview with Tony.
One of the questions I asked him was “How do you define success?”
With no hesitation, Tony Replied, “relationships.”
Most people’s answers usually related to money, actualising or experiencing more.
This was a very interesting answer, which provoked me to think and write this article.
Realising the Importance of Relationships Through Travel
When I set off travelling in 2012, I thought I’d be able to stay in touch with all my friends and that they’d do the same.
How wrong was I.
Despite my initial effort, I was shocked by how many good friends I fell out of touch with.
Had I done something wrong? Why haven’t they got any time anymore? Is it me?
This frustrated me, and I thought about it a lot.
But after a bit more travel and reflection, I realised that we were living completely different lives, in different countries, and that our priorities were different.
Travelling really opened my eyes and encouraged me to question my own perspective on relationships.
Over the last 4 years I’ve met many people on the road, built a handful of solid relationships, and now I want to share what I’ve learnt.
- Always Choose Depth Over Width – After spreading myself thin forming average relationships and trying to be friends with everyone, I realised that less is more, and much more fulfilling for me to focus on the quality of my relationships. It’s inevitable that you’ll meet hundreds, maybe even thousands of people on the road. Be selective, because you have a limited amount of energy and can’t be great friends with everyone you meet.
- Relationships Come And Go – While you are travelling, you might spend a couple of days with a new friend then go your separate ways – and that’s fine. Remember, travelling is a lot different to your life at home because most people are stationary and living in the same place. But on the road everybody’s moving in different directions. Try not to get upset about that and accept the temporary nature of some of your relationships on the road by appreciating what you have with that person in that moment.
- You don’t have to be in contact everyday – I’ve built a handful of friends who I’d do anything for, and I know they’d do the same for me. These relationships are beautiful because they are not time bound. We can go months without seeing each other, then when we do see each other, the memories come flooding back, and it feels like we’ve never been apart. People like this are friends for life – keep them close to you.
- Your Success In Life Is Defined By The Quality of Your Relationships – Society teaches us that success is defined by things outside of ourselves such as materials, power and status. However, I believe, living a fulfilled life depends on the quality of my relationships. For me it’s about how much i’ve loved, laughed and experienced with people who truly matter. No amount of money can buy a great relationship because they are nurtured over time through experiences. Always focus on building good, genuine relationships.
Thanks for reminding me of the importance of building relationships Tony.
I had a lot of time for solitude on the road, and it felt great. But we are social beings and companionship is incredibly important.
Life can be much richer when we have people that really matter to us by our side to share our experiences with.
When you embark on your own travel adventure, you’ll meet thousands of people on the road. Build relationships with the ones that count, and remember that the truest currency of success in life is measured by the quality of your relationships. That to me is defined by how much you loved, laughed and experienced together.
Thanks for reading and all the best,
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About the Author
Hello everyone, I’m Daniel – a 25-year-old entrepreneur and writer from the north of England. I am fascinated by the human experience, especially the connection between travel, life and personal development.
For the last 4 years I’ve been on transformational journey, travelling 40 countries across 4 continents.
Along the way, I discovered that travel is a great catalyst for one’s personal growth, and now I want to empower and inspire others to hit the road and embark on their own journey.