1. Drop Everything for a Good Time (The Philippines): With 300$ and three days preperation a Road Less Traveled beauty pageant was organized. The secret ingredient was a mayor and people who were willing to prioritize something fun. In many other countries this would have been mired in red tape, but in the P.I. they know that peak experiences are a precious commodity in life.
2. Practice What You Preach (India): India has the most fertile spiritual soil in the world. There exist sadhus who left everything, counting on providence for every meal; monks who dedicate their entire lives to meditation; and black magic practitioners who would have killed me if the conditions were right. I'm not standing behind these choices, but you have to admire someone who does as they say.
3. Talk to Strangers (Ireland): On the way to my hotel in Dublin an older gentleman came around the corner and began speaking as if we were old pals.
"You'll never believe what the lady at the bar said to me," he began.
"What did she say," I replied with a smile.
From there an amusing five minute chat unfolded. We had a good crack.
Recent studies demonstrate we all prefer interaction, but we are afraid to bother others. Therefore heaps of interesting people sit silently together in public spaces, all retreating into phones for mild stimulation. What a shame. Connection is what truly makes us happy in life. If you don't believe it ask yer man in Ireland.
4. Be Hospitable (Serbia, Jordan, Romania): In Novi Sad, Serbia a friend of a friend gave me his apartment keys within 5 minutes of meeting, saying he'd sleep at his girlfriend's.
In Jordan a bus driver suggested the hotels by the Dead Sea were overpriced, but his buddy would host me for free. His friend, a roadside tea vendor with kids, gave up his one and only bed, refusing my offer of money.
In Romania I struck up conversation with a family on a train. They insisted I get off at their stop for a home cooked dinner. After the meal they took heirlooms off the shelves of their modest apartment, insisting they be brought to my parents and sister.
The hospitality experienced on the road is one big reason everyone should travel. It taught me that kindness to strangers is a great virtue. It's something people never forget, carry with them, and often pass on to others.
5. Be Brave (Sarawak): There is an area which was once home to brave hunters (Penan) who would stalk the forests with spears and poison darts. They were recently displaced for a hydroelectric project. The government relocation homes looked decent, but they were truly in the middle of nowhere, with zero facilities around. Moreover, they were almost empty. The Penan came to their new homes and left them.
Where did they go? An old chicken coop, adjacent to a school where their kids could learn the ways of the modern world. The world which had blindsided them. Their choice, sacrificing comfort and pride to give their children opportunity, was a beautiful act of the human spirit. These Penan are not facing savage boars in the jungle anymore, but they maintain indomitable bravery. We all suffer setbacks in life, often at the whim of an uncaring system or unjust people. No one knows this better than Sarawak's indigenous tribes. They teach us that no matter how crappy your hand of cards, you must not fold, but play them as best you can with your chin up high.