Traveling always comes with warnings of safety and precaution, but acts of humanity—both simple and expansive—are rarely discussed. That’s why these true stories—from every nook-and-cranny of the globe—will warm your heart. And hey, consider doing a random act of travel kindness yourself—you might just make someone’s entire trip.

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A mutual act

While visiting Ireland in 1978, Kay Hession was the recipient of a random act of kindness from an elderly lady, and also the giver of one. As Hession explains, “We asked, ‘Which road would take us to Mayo?’ and she replied, ‘Do you want the fastest route or the scenic route?’ We said the scenic, and she hopped in the car, had us make a turn and drive for about 3/4 of a mile, when she suddenly said, ‘This is where I’ll get out to do me shopping. Now go back and take the first left and that’ll get you to Mayo.’ So it was kind of a double-sided kindness: She got her lift to the store, and we got our ‘scenic’ directions to Mayo.”

Good luck on the road

When Sean Starr was 18, he was on his way to Starved Rock State Park in Illinois when the drive shaft on his 1979 Ford Bronco fell off in middle-of-nowhere outside of Terra Haute, Indiana. To his surprise, a flock of locals came to his aid. “This crazy cast of backwoods people—they literally lived in the back woods and one of them was nicknamed ‘Gonad’—helped me fix it by taking parts off one of their own trucks. I thought I was going to end up in Deliverance II, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. These people were as different from me as I could imagine, yet they spent eight hours helping me. It was a pretty incredible experience.”

A change in flight

Christina Couch loves to travel, but hates to fly. But a chance encounter on a rather turbulent path helped her see a different perspective. “The woman next to me turned and said, ‘I used to be afraid to fly too.’ I asked her what helped her overcome the fear and she said, as if it was just nothing, ‘Oh, I just think about surviving a concentration camp.’ She spent the next hour or so telling me about her experiences in the Holocaust and I absolutely forgot about the turbulence. She Facebook friended me after the flight.”

A volunteer tour guide

While sipping on a solid glass of vino and browsing through a travel guide in Boston, a couple next to Bria Toulemonde struck up a conversation. The banter was great, but she didn’t expect they’d become her travel buddies. “They started telling me about the best ‘off the map’ places to go and where to avoid at all costs. Then, they spontaneously said, ‘Why don’t we just show you?’ They took me all over town and we had a great time. They dropped me off in the premium shopping district which was a plus. We stayed in contact for many years after. Major bonus: They weren’t serial killers!”

Translation in crisis

It’s every traveler’s worst nightmare: being robbed in a country where you can’t speak the language. This is just what happened to Erin Delahanty in China, when she found herself sans credit cards and passport. “A stranger came with me to the police station to file a report, translate everything and get me everything I needed to still hop on my next flight in the morning, despite not having all my stuff. And his girlfriend waited at the hostel with my friends and our bags. Totally saved us!”

A light in the dark

When Sean O’Brien, his wife and two children arrived in Jordan in 2015, they were unable to get a new SIM card at the airport. While frustrating, the worst bit was that they couldn’t navigate their way to the hotel. Luckily, help was on the way. “Once we picked up a car and some basic directions to our hotel it was dark and we eventually got lost. I stopped in a local cell phone store because I saw a large group of guys hanging out. They didn’t have a SIM card for me but a random man there had us follow him and he led us to our hotel, which was a good 10-minute drive. So we were obviously very lost. He wouldn’t take any money from us and just gave me a big hug and told me he was happy to see Americans in Jordan.”

A baby’s good fortune

When Dalia Colon was traveling with her one-year-old daughter via Amtrak train from D.C. to Philadelphia to celebrate her grandfather’s 90th birthday, a mom with two teenage daughters took note—and stepped in. “She announced, ‘When this train stops, no one gets off until she [me] gets off!’ The other passengers obeyed, and the woman’s teenage daughters carried my luggage off the train for me. God bless their New York chutzpah.”

No-questions-asked kindness

Imagine Matthew Lurie’s horror when after taking an eight-hour bus ride from Johannesburg to Swaziland, he couldn’t find his wallet or passport. Convinced they were stolen, he didn’t know what to do next until two fellow nomads from England stepped in. What he didn’t know was the universe had a different plan in mind: “They saw the panic in my eyes and paid for me to go to the same hostel they were going to, paid for taxis to go to the U.S. Embassy to apply for a new passport, paid for my room and board at the hostel and a couple brews we shared together. Total strangers! Such great humans. The next day, while I was hunkering down trying to figure out how to piece my life back together, a random Swazi woman rolls up to the hostel with my wallet and passport. She had found it at the bus station where they had fallen out of my pants, called around to all the international hostels until she found where I was staying, and then drove from an hour away to deliver it. She easily could have sold the passport on the black market and used my credit cards but she didn’t, [she] just took the $5 USD in there and called it a day. Will never forget the kindness of those strangers and will also never wear cargo shorts again—for various reasons.”

A token of peacock

Once when travel-lover Jamie Ramsay found herself off the beaten path in the rural area of Kerala, India, she was bummed to have missed her public transport back to her hotel. In a twist of fate, a family who ran a church came to her side. “They invited me in while they found me a ride, gave me a copper peacock in a gesture of kindness, and got a local to escort me back to town safely on the back of his scooter.”

A hard fall, a comforting landing

Many years ago, Hank Sartin and his sister were hiking coast-to-coast in northern England when they decided to take separate paths. She wanted to climb high for the scenic view, and he took the faster route so he could get back to the bed & breakfast sooner. Unfortunately, his sister stumbled on a rock and fell, hitting her forehead. She was bleeding immensely. Sartin was waiting at their lodging, unaware of what had happened, so she was all alone—what was she to do? “A family also hiking on that scenic trail used a T-shirt to wrap her head—they didn’t have a first aid kit with them—and slowly walked her down into town. I am sure it added an hour to their hike, but if they hadn’t stopped and helped I don’t know what would have happened. This was pre-cellphone, and I was waiting oblivious at our B&B. She needed three stitches in her forehead. We met them again a few days later at the end of a day’s hike at a pub further along the trail, and bought them a round of drinks at the pub. Such nice people.”

A chance proposal

When Tim McCormick and his girlfriend happened to be at the Saints and Scholars Pub in Dublin, a stranger named Raymond predicted they’d be together forever. Tim took it as a sign to propose. So, he did—right then and there. Ten years later, they still toast to this clairvoyant.

Dirty laundry, clean help

When Terry Peppers and his wife were traveling in Paris in 2003, it was his turn to take on the task of doing a load of laundry before they made their way to Munich. He forgot about a little thing called language barriers: “As a dude that prepares for everything, I thought I was well equipped to go into a French laundromat and just figure it out. Boy was I wrong. Not only was everything in French, but the system for turning on and turning off washing machines and dryers was impenetrable. As I smiled and struggled to figure out what the hell I was supposed to do, a French woman approached me and asked me something in French. I, of course, said in English … ‘Man, my French is terrible.’ She said, ‘How can I help you? You totally look stuck.’ What a lifesaver.”

Free passes, happy kiddos

Judy Sutton Taylor was traveling with her husband and children to New York City over the holidays, and finally made their way to the iconic American Museum of Natural History. A super-long line made for some cranky kiddos—but also good fortune. “We were just getting in line to get tickets with our already impatient kids when a family that had just left offered us their passes—which were good all day. We walked right in, and paid it forward by making a donation to the museum and handing off the passes to another family when we left.”

scooter in front of beach in rhodes greece

A serendipitous day of sightseeing

In the ’90s, Amy LeGrand was dating an Englishman and she crossed the Atlantic to visit whenever she could. Once, they decided to take a side trip to the Greek Island of Rhodes and explore via scooter. When their scooter broke down after they swam in a lagoon, they weren’t sure what to do. “An older couple who spoke very little English gave us a ride, but they had to pick up their kids from school real quick. They gave us a tour of the island that we would have never had as tourists. We saw how the locals lived. They bought us street food, they drove us all around. After a while, we were getting pretty nervous because we had no idea where we were being taken and it was getting dark. They ended up driving us to a beautiful cliff overlooking the ocean and the stars were all around us—it felt like we were floating in space. They opened a bottle of wine and gestured to the sky and laid a blanket down for us to sit on. My boyfriend said, ‘Well, if they’re going to kill us, they are sure being nice about it.’ It was a lovely night.”

Feeling sheltered

When Martina Sheehan traveled alone for the first time in college to Bilbao, Spain, she adopted her normal fly-by-the-seat attitude and arrived with no reservations. Thinking it’d be simple to get a room, she was frustrated—and distraught—to come up completely empty. As she went into panic mode in a phone booth, an older English woman with two sons in their 20s spotted her. “She asked ‘What’s the matter, love?’ Through tears, I told them what was happening and they said, ‘No worries, come with us.’ They let me sleep on an extra bed in their hotel suite and I then ended up traveling around Spain for several days with one of the sons. That quirky, kind family was the only thing standing between me and spending the night on a park bench.”

A kind bus driver

Experienced traveler Jessica Tatham needed a ride to Albania and decided to hitchhike all the way with a friend. To their amazement, they got not just a lift, but an experience they’ll never forget. “The man not only drove us five hours to the main city, but also bought us lunch, paid for a bus for us to go the rest of the way and gave us his business card for if we ever needed any help while we were there. I still have his card because it reminds me of how amazingly kind complete strangers can be.”

Japanese immersion

When traveler Matthew Williams found himself living in Kyoto, Japan for a month, he made an effort to connect with locals. One was a woman who owned a small restaurant. After some banter, this lady invited him, along with two pals, to her country home in the Obama Province. “She met us at the train station and showed us around an elementary school autumn festival. After seeing some temples she took us to her home where she taught us more about her culture, sang karaoke and performed the tea ceremony with us. Her English wasn’t that great so we used Google translate to communicate. She then drove two hours out of her way to take us to the train station back to Kyoto. Her kindness was so genuine and something I will never forget.”

Travelocity compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site; such compensation may include travel and other costs.

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