6 Times Stranger Kindness Proved Travel Shouldn’t Be Feared
It feels like too often I speak to people worried about travelling because of the supposed “rise of terrorism”, or some other form of personal attack. You can’t blame them. Switch on the news every morning and the first stories you’ll hear are filled with a narrative of more bombings, more murders, and more sexual assaults. After all (and without getting too political), fear sells.
This kind of media reporting makes the world out to be a scary place, which it can be. What rarely makes it onto the front pages of papers though, are the small but significant acts of kindness the majority of people are making every single day. I guess I’m writing this post because, in the years that I’ve journeyed across four continents, I’ve experienced a million more acts of stranger kindness, than I have crime. By listing some of them here, perhaps I can help instil some faith in humanity for those who are losing it, and confidence in those too scared to grab their backpack and go.
So, here’s a list of six acts of stranger kindness that I’ve experienced around the world, first-hand…
1. The time a couple in Guatemala travelled for hours with children on their laps
After a booking error meant myself and a female friend would be removed from a crowded, sweaty minivan in the middle of Guatemala City and made to take a public bus the rest of the way to Antigua, a concerned couple chose to travel the remainder of the journey with their young children sitting on their laps, rather than risk our safety. Their insistence and thoughtfulness despite the hot and uncomfortable situation will always be appreciated.
2. The gentleman that paid my bus fare in Argentina
Not realising that buses in Buenos Aires take only a purchased travel card, instead of cash payments, my boyfriend and I boarded the last bus back to our hostel after a night out in the Palermo district. When we were left standing foolishly in front of the bus driver, a young man simply swiped his travel card for us, then refused the fare we tried to pay him in cash. He didn’t need to be so kind, and we would have been stranded if it weren’t for his generosity.
3. The dive shop owner that insisted on driving me to a doctor herself
As a new backpacker on the road in Mexico, I was feeling a bit sorry for myself when a fever hit. The friend I travelled with was taking her PADI at a local dive shop, so when the owner, a middle-aged lady that treated us as though we were her own daughters, heard that I was unwell she insisted on driving me to the doctor herself. She even waited and explained to the doctor in Spanish what my symptoms were. It was only a throat infection, so no real health risk, but by going out of her way to ensure I was OK she calmed my ‘young girl far from her parents’ worry.
4. The woman that simply asked if she could help
This one took place in Argentina too and was nothing more than a local woman spotting Dave and I peering into a map on the underground and simply asking if we needed help to find somewhere. It wasn’t a grand, newsworthy gesture, but this woman had noticed our puzzled, foreign faces and genuinely wanted to help.
5. The time a hotel worker rushed me to a doctor in the Malaysian rainforest
I can tell you right now that the last place you want to have asthma attack is in the depths of the Malaysian rainforest. At least in the instance it happened to me, I had the help of a worker at our hotel taking me to the out of hours doctor himself, and waiting outside for the hour or so I recovered. On the journey back to the hotel Dave and I tried to offer the man some money to thank him, which he declined at first, but then took “whatever you want to give,” after we insisted we at least pay for his fuel.
6. The Thai ladies that cared about how I was after seeing me admitted to hospital
OK, there’s a bit of a theme happening here with the illnesses – yes, I get ill a lot! This time though, I’d got myself a tad bit of food poisoning and had to be very embarrassingly carried to the hospital on Thailand’s Koh Phi Phi island and admitted for 24 hours. Multiple times that night, and the next day, Dave would pop back to our hostel to grab a travel insurance document or similar, and every time the ladies sat outside of their massage parlours asked how I was feeling. I was a stranger on their island and they really had no need to care about how I was doing, let alone take the time to ask. It’s sentiments like that that show the heart in everybody.
Of course, there have been plenty more times I’ve encountered stranger kindness on the road. These are just the six that stick out the most in my mind. What they all show though, is that despite the doom and gloom in the majority of news programs, world travel is and will continue to be, a real eye-opener into the positive, friendly attitudes of the majority of the population. Don’t be fooled by the negativity, take the trips and the risks yourself… you’ll soon feel the same.
Got an example of stranger kindness you’ve experienced while travelling abroad? Leave it in the comments below and sign up for more travel inspiration and advice.