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Trust – sometimes in others, always in self

So it’s pretty fascinating. When we travel or move somewhere new we deeply crave control and preparation. The interesting thing is that no matter how much we prepare, we can never have full control of anything. No matter how much we wish that was the case.

So many times on my travels over the past 10 years I’ve had to trust. In strangers, travel buddies and most of all in myself and my ability to judge what steps to take next. From time to time we stand there with someone reaching out to help us, and we have to decide in a split second if we want to get into the car with them or not.

My most vivid trust moment to date was in far north Queensland, Australia, in 2010. There was a big storm coming in and my travel buddies and I realised that our sad looking little tent would simply not stand up for this kind of weather. We found a farm and decided to pitch the tent nearby so that we could at least run for help of needed. The farmer came out and instead offered us to come in, join his family for dinner and sleep in the spare room if we wanted to. Horror stories of murdered backpackers flickered through my mind for a second, while I looked at my fellow travellers. But all of us knew that this was a kind and genuine offer. So we stepped in for tea and biscuits as the storm raged outside. The next morning we got to help out with farm chores and went horse back riding. If we had not trusted, we would have missed one of the fondest travel memories I have.

This is all well and good, but how then do you know when to trust? Maybe I just got  lucky that time and the farmer really was a crazy man with a shotgun under his pillow? I’ve found that there are some things that go for all cultures. These tips can be applied to more extreme situations (like taking shelter for the night) as well as more general ways of seeking advise on practicalities around your move.

  1. Come somewhat prepared. In hindsight we should not have gone through the Australian outback reliant on a tent. We should probably have had a campervan big enough for all of us to sleep in. If you’re looking at more basic travel decisions like where to live and what job to go for, do some basic research before asking strangers for help so you have a vague idea of where you might want to head.
  2. Listen to your gut feeling. The ego will throw in possible danger scenarios immediately in your thoughts, which is a safety check to see if you’re aware of the potential dangers. Focus on the gut feeling that comes after that initial reaction. Is this something you should do or not?
  3. Is the person offering you help consistent in their communication (body language, tonality, what they say and facial expression). If you notice that they smile, but not with their eyes, or their words and tone of voice is inviting, but this is not matched by their body language. We communicate all the time without even knowing it, so look for what is said as well as what’s not said.

Travellers and expats are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met and I find that what you put out there is always what you get back. Karma is a funny thing, whether or not you believe in its existence. I’ve met some amazing people along the way, mainly thanks to my ability to know who to trust and when. Most of all though, we need to trust in our own ability to make decisions. Making fast decisions (that are right in the short and long term) on the spot takes practise, unless it’s something that comes naturally for you. If it’s something you struggle with it can be helpful to start with small things (like what to wear, eat or meet up with) and build up from there.

What are your best tips on who you trust on your travels? And what experiences have you had as a result of it?

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