Top 3 Travel Hugs

Thursday is for Huggers

Do we hug more when we travel? I mean, hug people you’ve known for 10 minutes and will never see again? I’ve had some memorable ones — by teachers on train platforms, grandparents on Polish balconies, drunk telephone line workers near a crocodile-filled pond in the Yucatan. But I’ve narrowed it down to my most memorable trio:

When I first went to Vietnam in the mid ’90s there was still real concern how locals would treat Americans. Sometimes things feel different on the road, like this full-on hug from a former North Vietnam captain in an empty cave in Cat Ba a couple years ago. Maybe he liked my zip-off-pants/shorts.

I always talk with taxi drivers, particularly on the road, because there’s always stories to hear, and there’s time to kill anyway. Recently my first THREE taxi drivers in Las Vegas were all women. All seemed from the same worn-out-from-Midwest club, and indeed they hailed from Ohio, Illinois and upstate New York (kinda Midwest). But the best experience was the Nigerian-American man, a very large one, who responded to my $15 tip one time with a lasting bear hug at the JFK curb.

–> New travel rule? Taxi drivers and their passengers should hug more often, particularly in New York.

I’ve only been to Istanbul once, but the ‘time spent: likely hug’ ratio was stunning. At least for me. The biggest and most bruising hug came from a large bearded guy at a bar in an alley off Istiklal Caddesi. From the get-go, he sort of adopted me as his new buddy, splitting time with his laughing girlfriend and embracing me ways that I still don’t comprehend. My friends thought it was hilarious. The free beer was a nice touch though.

About Robert Reid

Lonely Planet's US Travel Editor. Written 24 LP guidebooks and articles for NY Times, WSJ, ESPN & CNN. Into cereal, Dylan, travel.
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7 Responses to Top 3 Travel Hugs

  1. brian | No Debt World Travel says:

    That was a different take on it. Love it! The hugs are all great stories unto themselves.

    Amazing how someone who has never met you will just take to you. Great part of travel.

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  3. Rutila says:

    May I hug you on my inaugural walk across the Manhattan Bridge next Thursday?

  4. Tracy says:

    I love the idea of random hugs abroad. In a strange day in Kyoto, my friend and I adopted Joy, a young African woman living in Japan. Quite early in the day Joy not only sort of forced her company on us but also started holding my hand. At first I was quite suprised and a bit put off by this (and oh how my friend teased me for it!)but by the end of the day I was looking out for Joy’s hand whenever we separated!

  5. Emma Field says:

    I just left a hostel in Salento, Colombia, and was given a lovely hug and a peck on the cheek by the owner, Enrique, as I walked out the door. It really made my day :)

  6. Las Vegas Hotels says:

    Nice post! I wonder that you had three taxi drivers woman in LA. I remember from my last vacation there all the drivers were male. That is very interesting, because in other countries I travel I see many woman taxi drivers:) Good Luck on your way;)

  7. Marty says:

    Once in Istanbul! You should come Istanbul again. There are too many things to do.Maybe this article makes you wanna come to Istabul :) :