I just had the pleasure of visiting 10 cities across the United States within the past 2 weeks. (Pheonix, Sacramento, Denver, Dallas, Baltimore, St. Louis, Atlanta, Chicago, DC, and Cleveland) I was on one of my whirlwind TV tours and showing baby shower gifts to TV news audiences across the country. I’ve been coaching new moms and moms to be for quite a while so showing gifts that they’d love was my goal.

Every city I went to had the most amazing people. In most cities, I was taken by cab from the airport to the hotel. Most of the cabbies in the US are foreign born and most speak English relatively well. Many of them were highly educated in their country and are here to get reeducated and are here to provide a better life for their children. They are hard working Americans and serving the people they meet as best as they can.

In the airports, I met loads of people who are working hard and experiencing life with friends and family. Along the way I met a Presidential secret service man, the band the Black Eyed Peas, Cal Ripkin the baseball player, Edwin McCain the musician, a woman from the National Institute of Health in DC, a Councilman from Miami Beach, a Marketing manager from Yahoo, several professional women who were considering transitions in their careers, Fr. George McKenna, the Priest from the Midway airport in Chicago, a gentleman in St. Louis waiting for a liver transplant, a couple who are about to open a bed in breakfast in NY state, and loads of TV personalities throughout the nation.

Whether I was in hotels, airports, or TV stations, I found people warm, inviting and helpful. I was curious about them and they shared their stories. For the people who didn’t seem to want to talk, I was bold and enthusiastic about their city and told them I was happy they were able to help me. In every case, I was able to warm them up and they opened up to share.

I’ve found that people in airports are open to talk. It’s a great place to collect information if you’re writing a book like I am. People are all stuck there together, some a little bit nervous so talking with a stranger is always a good distraction. People just seem to spill their guts and share whatever is on their minds. I heard about tough times such as the man waiting for a liver in St. Louis with his daughter; and the insurance executive who was bored stiff with her career but supporting 5 kids as a single mom. I heard about families who were separated such as the cab driver whose wife and kids are back in Africa as he waits for their papers to clear so he can reunite their families. I talked to a young woman who was an illegal alien, and she seemed as American as you or me and was dating a Marine. I spoke with an African American woman who is getting her second doctorate degree and is probably one of the most educated people in America who shared her excitement about her new younger boyfriend. I swapped stories with the hospitality coordinator at a hotel who had to bring me a receipt and she ended up talking with me in my hotel room for an hour. She told me all about how she wants to start a catering business for kid’s parties. I was honored to meet and hear about a man who lost the use of his legs four years ago in an accident that later helped his wife become a judge and he ran against an incumbent for a city council seat and won. Oh, they also have 4 kids! What a story!

Truly, I found that if a person is open and willing to meet the person standing next to them in line, or to speak to the person who is serving them or who is working with them, I found in every case, people willing to be friendly, helpful and open. People are hungry to connect with those around them and all it takes is ONE person to go out on a limb and say Hello and ask the words, “how are you?” By looking in their eyes, and giving them an approving smile, you’re letting them know that you’re a caring person and that you’re safe. When you look into another person’s eyes, you understand that we’re all the same in many ways, no matter their age, their race or their sex. It broadens our horizons to meet others to hear about their triumphs and their tragedies. Each person I met changed me a little for the better, because I learned something new.

Traveling can be a wonderful time to connect with others. And as we all travel through the road of life, lighten up, and talk with your neighbors. You just might find a new friend, a new opportunity or a new you!