Travel Tuesdays: Maintain Travel Connections

Me with friends in the Philippines
When I was an exchange student to the Philippines (back in the olden days) there was no such thing as Facebook or email. A letter sent via air mail took 10 days. Heck, packages took three (3!) months.

So it's probably no surprise that I lost track of my friends. A lot of important friends. I felt incredibly sad about that once I reached my mid-twenties and realized I couldn't go back and undo my error.

Two good things have happened since I made that mistake so long ago:
  1. I learned from my mistake.
  2. Modern technologies like email, Facebook, and Twitter evolved, which makes staying in touch easy.
So here's today's travel tip: Stay in touch with people you meet when you travel. Carry simple business cards with your email address, Twitter handle, Facebook info. etc. Hand them out to new friends and ask for their card. 

L-R: Me, Mokhtar, my husband (in Morocco)
I did this while in Morocco and I'm happily still in touch with the man who indirectly helped name our daughter. Last week, I received an email from friends we made in Sicily last summer. I try to keep in touch with new friends via email or Facebook (most aren't on Twitter, yet), even if only sporadically. These are people who have enriched my life in one way or another. Seeing their status updates and exchanging private messages makes me happy. Plus, if they ever travel to my part of the world, I want to be able to reciprocate their hospitality. And, if I'm ever back in their part of the world, I want to have a friend I can visit or share meal with.

It's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life and let those relationships fall away. Please take the time to nurture them, even if it's just enough that you can still call them friendships. It will enrich your life and the lives of your children or students. 

If your friends have children, you could also encourage your children to be "Pen Pals" or "email pals," or "Skype buddies." 

When my son was five and Skyped with our friend's 5 year-old in India, their exchanges weren't particularly engaging to the adults nearby. They went something like this: 
My son, holding up a new toy tractor: "Look, my John Deere." 
Our friend's son, "Look, train." 

This continued until they exhausted their show of toys. When they saw each other again last year, however, they instantly played like old buddies. I'm confident the few Skype visits since they first met in 2008 helped nurture their friendship.

What special friendships have you made while traveling? How do you maintain them?