This author of several travel books, including best seller, Blue Highways, wrote, in the aforementioned book,
"What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do — especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road."
This is so true. During your travels, the strangers you meet know nothing about you and so treat you, based on how you are acting at the moment. As I think about this quote, however, I can think of a number of instances where people treat you as they think you are, based on some stereotype. For example, most American travelers expect that the French will be inhospitable to them, because of a perception that all Americans are "ugly Americans." Sometimes this happens, but I have actually found that, if you attempt to speak the language and try hard to be tolerant of the differences in cultures, people do not resort to these stereotypes. Hopefully, over time, these prejudices will cease to exist and you can be judged, not on what you look like, or what you were, but what you are at this moment, as the author suggests. Race can also complicate this equation — some people will judge, based on your race, according to some deep-seated stereotype, and this is also unfair.