How you experience travelling depends much on who you are. We all have our own way of looking at things, our own things we like, but also our own abilities that influence our travel experiences. I was gently reminded of the latter by a 74-year old family member who explained to me that he liked my enthusiastic stories about travelling by bus and train, but that his experiences with travelling by train were not always that pleasant. He said it was sometimes hard to find a seat, which is extremely annoying when the distance between stations is half an hour or more. I was a bit puzzled, because I hardly experience that problem, especially not outside the rush hours. The answer seemed to be that I am able to walk faster (or even run), and will get to the right train door earlier. This gives me a higher probability of a vacant seat, and a better experience.
Thinking about the relation between abilities and travelling experience, I was reminded of an unusual train trip I once made. Unusual in terms of experience. So unusual that I will never forget about it.
It was a Friday afternoon and I met my travelling companion at the railway station. We were to travel to a rowing race that took place over the weekend, so we both carried a fairly huge backpack. It was warm, and the trains were pretty busy. We had to change trains twice in order to get to our destination. Usually, people on the train get a bit annoyed if you enter a busy train with a backpack that you have to get rid of somewhere. But this time, people said to me, ‘take your time, it is no problem!’ I was amazed. In the next train, people even offered that my backpack could go on the seat next to them. What had gotten into these people? Had they all won a big prize in the lottery? Why were they so kind to us?
The secret was that my travelling companion was blind. And I found out that wherever she went she found people that were willing to help her. Probably because of her positive attitude. When we got on the train, I had to help her first to find a seat and get rid of her backpack. People who saw that started helping me in return. It was as if I experienced travelling the way she did.