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How to Convince Someone to Travel with You

Are you a lonely traveler?

By: Matt Van Swol + Save to a List

It’s really difficult to convince people to travel. I've spent nearly my entire adult career trying to do exactly that. Everyone says they want to travel more, but few actually follow through. There’s a reason the airline industry spends billions on advertising: travel scares people. They like the idea of it, but then throw them into a busy airport, small hotel room, and a rental car (not to mention delays and extra fees…) it starts to feel like it’s not worth it. We humans are afraid of change and the unknown. To most people, traveling is too stressful to be worth the effort, yet there is an innate desire in all of us to leave wherever we are, and go explore the world. It’s a built-in wanderlust. The key to convincing someone to travel is by overpowering their fear with wanderlust.  Every photo I take, every article I write plays into this narrative: that traveling is better than staying put.

Stories are the best way to garner attention and stir up a wanderlust desire. Ever been to a church or seminar in which the speaker starts with a story? Even if it’s a drab one, it’s usually more interesting than hearing them lecture and often times we remember the story, but not their main point, why? Humans are hard-wired to remember stories. For thousands of years prior to written history, humans kept an oral history filled with stories of the past, not facts. Stories are easy to remember, facts aren’t. So when you are trying to convince someone to travel with you, tell a story instead. Don’t list prices. Don’t even tell them all the places you went! Just tell them a story, you’d be surprised how well this works.

The second way, and probably the easiest way to convince someone to travel with you is through pictures. One of the reasons I became a photographer was so that I could travel and then convince others to come with me. Photography isn’t the reason I travel, travel is the reason I photograph. After years of being bombarded with photos of Bear Lake in Colorado, Lake Maligne in Banff, Horseshoe Bend in Arizona…I finally gave in and went. The pictures convinced me, even though I really didn't know anyone who had actually been to them. So show people your photos, show them that these places really are as beautiful as they seem in photos (far more beautiful, in my opinion). Better yet…why don’t you tell a story to go along with that photo?

So let me put it all together and tell you a story, maybe it'll help you understand what I mean.

October of 2015, I hopped on a plane in Atlanta, headed for Phoenix. I hadn’t ever been west of the Mississippi, and only a handful of people thought it was a good idea…so naturally, I bought the ticket ahead of time so I couldn’t back out and no one could talk me out of it! I landed in dry 100 degree weather of the Arizona desert, and road tripped the entire six hours from Phoenix to Horseshoe Bend. Unfortunately, the car my friend and I took didn’t have AC, so we kept the windows down, sweated like hell, and sang through the afternoon drive. Around 6PM, we made it to Page, Arizona, the tiny town built next to Horseshoe Bend for all the tourists to stay in. After a quick Taco Bell stop, we steered our tiny SUV over to the parking lot for Horseshoe, just as the sun was making its descent. It was crowded. People were yelling, pushing each other over to get the perfect shot of the sunset (not to mention almost falling over the edge themselves…). I was peeved. I expected a quiet reflection and a reverence of the place…but what I got was a raucous crowd of iPhone-crazed photographers. I almost left. Then…the sun’s last rays were eclipsed by the cliffs, and as quickly as the people came, they left. The sun left the canyon, and with it…the crowds. I sat there and watched as the canyon began to darken and the noise subsided. Almost no one was left. They had gotten what they came for: the photo. I was there for the experience, the memory, the thing that can’t be lost on a hard-drive. But what no one ever tells you, and what few ever stay long enough to experience are the stars. The bright, brilliantly shining orbs that lit up the sky that night, long after everyone left…that was true experience. We laid there in the warm sand and soaked up the treasure of the sky that everyone else decided to leave behind. We had it to ourselves and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. You see…the amazing thing about Horseshoe Bend isn’t the sunset: It’s the stars.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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