Experiences

The Origin of the Sign

There has been an idea developing in my mind for about half a year now. The original idea was to start a blog about the travelers I meet around the world. This was a simple idea where I would travel to super cool locations and have the guts to talk to the strangers staying at the same hostels or eating at the same restaurants and hear all about their amazing journeys.

The longer the idea sat in my mind, the more it developed. I didn’t want to sit around waiting for my next trip abroad to speak to travelers; I wanted to do it now! There was so much excitement about writing this blog that I could not wait to get started, so I began to ask some close friends that love traveling to tell me their stories. It was everything I hoped for and I continued to want more. Eventually, I reached the point where I wanted to talk to others desperately about their traveling, which is when I came up with the idea for my sign. This is when my true adventure began.

Some people think it’s difficult to talk to strangers, but I love it. The thought that there are an indefinite amount of personalities and experiences out in the world amazes me. So, I decided to create a sign that says, “Tell me a story, please” and go out into the wild and sit there with my sign and a latte. In my mind, people would come flocking to me and be desperate to share their stories. In reality, that did not happen. Here’s my first experience with the sign:

On Sunday, February 3rd, I sat on a bench at Holland Park in London with the sign. I was so anxious the entire day before and convinced my friend Simon to come along with me because of murders and Trump supporters. It wasn’t a hard concept: all I had to do was sit on a bench while holding a sign and pray that no one spat on me. So, why was I so nervous? I had this expectation in my mind of how the day would go down. I would sit on that bench and people would come RUNNING to me with the most extravagant stories and I would write about them the same exact day and publish them and BOOM! My blog would go viral. Yeah, yeah. Wishful thinking, I know.            

That’s not at all what happened. Here’s what really happened.

Simon and I wandered around Holland Park looking for the perfect place to set up camp. I knew there was a hostel in the center of the park, so that was an ideal location because there would be travelers entering and exiting. We found a bench somewhat near the entrance and decided it was the most beautiful bench in the entire park. Just kidding, it wasn’t that great. We sat down and I instantly panicked. What do I do now? Just whip out the sign and start smiling at strangers? I put my latte down (I told you there would be a latte) and did exactly that. And it was SO AWKWARD! Seriously, what was I thinking?

My ego was completely bruised after the first ten minutes of sitting there with that sign. There were so many people walking by and zero of them stopped to tell me a story. Some would make direct eye contact and giggle, others would read the sign and basically start running away, but most people would just avoid looking all together. I didn’t want to look too desperate for someone to stop, but I have also never felt more desperate in my life! When people would make eye contact and smile, I would yell out to them, “Do you have a story?!” They would just continue walking. My favorite was a man walked by and said, “There once was a cat in a hat on a mat.” He chuckled and kept walking.

Finally, we decided to give ourselves twenty more minutes at this location and then we would move somewhere new. It was obviously the location that was the problem, right? We continued sitting there in our bubble of awkward hope waiting. These two guys strolled by together and did a bit of a double take. The one on the right kind of nudged the other and told him to tell us “that one story.” I started responding and egging him on as well, and guess what? THEY STOPPED! Not only did they stop, they told us a story! I was so excited the entire time. If no one else stopped the rest of the day, that one story would be more than enough. I was so happy to be talking to complete strangers and hearing THEIR stories.

Once they finished the story and I gathered their information and a quick photo, I was on a high. I wanted more, more, and more! So, we waited. Waiting was a great choice! I gathered three more great stories and talked to a few others about the blog I was starting and my goal with the sign.

I was so happy that I didn’t get spat on! The people I spoke with seemed to be genuinely interested in what I was doing. I received a lot of positive feedback and it felt so good to be validated. All I want from this experience is to create authentic connections and give travelers the chance to be heard. My first experience with the sign took a lot of bravery. Having an idea is completely different than actually making the idea happen, and I give props to all you out there that have reached for the stars despite your fear. The desperate need for talking to others and listening to their stories was stronger than my fear of rejection and I am so proud of myself for making that sign. Stay tuned for more adventures with the sign!

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4 Comments

  1. Veer

    March 14, 2019 at 9:37 am

    That is such a cool idea! Love it that you didn’t give up when you felt awkward in the beginning and that eventually you collected 3 travel stories. It’s always great to hear travel experiences from others and get inspired. 🙂 ! Good luck with collecting more stories, I’m curious to read more.

    1. admin

      March 20, 2019 at 7:09 pm

      Thank you so much for your comment! It really means a lot that you’ve enjoyed the stories so far. Keep your eye out for more to come and let me know what you think of them!

  2. Fiona and Jerry

    March 16, 2019 at 3:26 pm

    Hi Caro
    Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. It is so refreshing to see a unique idea in travel blogging. We know it has to be intimidating initially just waiting for someone to come up to you with their story, but it’ll get easier. You are obviously really passionate about what you are doing , and rightly so, it is a great idea. If you ever come across us we will bore you to death with stories! We have hitchhiked quite a bit so we can empathise. Standing there with a sign (albeit a different one) and then sitting in a vehicle with a stranger(s) and swapping stories. It really is fascinating just striking up a conversation with a stranger. Please keep sharing everyone’s stories. All the best, Fiona and Jerry (Your Drifters)

    1. admin

      March 20, 2019 at 7:08 pm

      Hi Fiona and Jerry!
      Thank you so much for your comment. I would love to hear some of your stories! Especially the hitchhiking ones, there must be a good story in there! Feel free to send me an email and we can try to swap some stories as well!

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