people watching


the action or practice of spending time idly observing people in a public place.

What is it that makes people watching so much fun?

I love seeing people passing by and picking up on their idiosyncrasies to try to guess at their story. The couple who look like they’ve just had an argument, the group of friends travelling for some kind of occasion, the sad looking man sitting by himself who looks like he may have been stood up.

I adore seeing interesting people and creating a story for them that exists only within my head. I think it goes hand in hand with being a creative person. As a writer and blogger (and company owner) I’m always full of ideas, crazy stories, and have ideas for a thousand articles written down inside random notebooks and on Notes in my iPhone.

Seeing the way strangers carry themselves, the clothes they wear and even how they carry their phones and bags is, to me, fascinating. And because I don’t know them personally – and likely never will –  I can imagine a whole life for them. My imagination creates scenarios, dramas and situations involving people who pass through my life for a few minutes, a few seconds, or just a nanosecond.

I especially love indulging in people watching when I’m travelling and I come back from every trip with a camera (or iPhone!) full of images and a mind full of people’s stories. Sometimes these people serve as inspiration for things I’m working on and other times they remain only in my mind, as fleeting memories and stories that I’ll never get to the bottom of.

It’s far easier to notice the people around you when travelling rather than in every day life. Most days we’re all too busy trying to remember to answer that email, phone that person back, book that doctors appointment, figure out what we’re having for dinner that night and think about when we can fit in some time on the couch with Netflix to really notice the people around us.

But, when travelling, most of the worries and pressures of everyday life are alleviated and we’re much more open to our surroundings. That means we’re more likely to notice the little kid who won’t let go of her doll, the couple who look so happy they could burst and the woman who is having an excited conversation with someone on the other end of her phone.

People watching is something all of us take part in each and every day, whether we realise it or not. As humans we instinctively look at other humans to gain an insight into their lives, what they’re doing and what they look like. It’s natural and something that cannot be avoided.

Best, I think, to embrace it and have a little fun with it. Find a seat in a cute cafe – outside, or by the window – and order a coffee, stash your iPhone in your bag and just sit. Take notice of your surroundings and the people around you. And enjoy.