Looking to refresh your hope in humanity? Small acts of kindness happen all the time, yet good things happening in the world and positive stories just don’t get as much attention. Let’s change that together by sharing more uplifting stories, starting with some heart-warming tales of kindness discovered while traveling.
As someone who has traveled to 36 countries (and counting) I feel like I can say the world is a pretty dang good place where people are constantly helping others. I am not alone in this belief.
Here are 10 stories of kindness abroad from frequent travelers who I am also lucky enough to call my friends :).
Kelley Ferro: Travel Host & Filmmaker
Kindest Country: Hard to pick one, but I'm going to go with Japan.
Kindest Memory Abroad: I have never felt so truly welcomed than on my trips to Japan. I stepped into the Shibuya Metro Station in Tokyo (arguably the busiest metro station in the world) and looked at the map showcasing subway lines. I did my best to locate the stop for me destination, the Tsujiki Fish Market, and hopped aboard what I thought was the right train.
A few stops in, I had that nagging feeling that I was hurling in the wrong direction. I don't speak Japanese, but I tried my luck with the lady sitting next to me. She put down her book and listened to me fumble through requests. She kindly nodded and motioned for me to follow her to the subway door. I did, and at the next stop, she got off and I continued to follow her. She led me to another train and indicated with head nods that this was the right one. I said Arigato (thank you) and got on. However, she followed me.
She tried to say it's okay, then just smiled. She rode back with me in the direction we came and escorted me to another train, which indeed was the right train to Tsujiki. From there she waved me off, my mouth hanging open as the doors closed. Never could I imagine someone willingly losing so much time out of their busy day to help a stranger as she did. She didn't just tell me where to go, she took me there to make sure I made it. That act of kindness has stuck with me and has only been proven further by other generous acts like that while I’ve been in Japan.
Jessica Blotter: Kind Traveler
Kindest Country: Costa Rica. It’s no coincidence that Costa Rica has held its place as one of the happiest countries in the world according to the Happy Planet Index. Happiness and kindness go hand in hand!
Kindest Memory Abroad: During a trip to the Dominican Republic while on an impact cruise excursion, I participated in a variety of social impact experiences designed to give back to the community and create a deeper understanding of the destination. One of our assignments was to teach English in a local school, hoping that language skills would improve accessibility to employment.
While in conversation with a local teacher, they told me I had been walking around with the “gift” of teaching English. It made me want to share this gift even more widely and inspire others to also find their unique gifts as well. Helping me understand English is a gift I have inside of me was the kindest thing someone has done for me while traveling.
Patrick Farrell: The Ginger Nomad
Kindest Country: I believe there are kind people all over the world. From my experience though, the kindest humans I have found were in Indonesia. All the people were friendly, kind and compassionate.
Kindest Memory Abroad: I was recently in Munich and needed a place to stay for the evening. My friend Valerie offered her apartment, brought me out on a Saturday night with her friends, and cooked me breakfast the next morning. I think the simple things are the best, just having an incredible community around the world that will support you when you are in need of a hug, a place to stay, or an adventure.
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Jenn Malka, Who Needs Maps
Kindest Country: Canada
Kindest Memory Abroad: A few years back, my husband Jack and I went backpacking in Asia for four months. We decided to go see the Yellow Mountains in China, over 250 miles southwest of Shanghai where we were at the time. To get there, we took an overnight train ride. Our little train cabin had two sets of bunkbeds, Jack and I shared one, and two older gentlemen shared the other. We said our hellos, but the men didn't speak a lick of English.
They kept pointing to their bag and speaking Cantonese, meanwhile Jack and I tried to gesture possible translations, but nothing worked. So one of the men paused, walked out of the cabin, screamed something we didn't understand, and then came back with a nice young man. Turns out, he was a student that had been learning to speak English and one of the older men brought him to our cabin to translate our conversations. We shared his family’s moonshine, some Chinese snacks, and some laughter. It was so kind that this man invited another person to help translate and facilitate what turned out to be a really lovely train ride. It was a beautiful and unexpected friendship.
Megan Zink, Moderately Excited
Kindest Country: I would say Cuba stands out in my mind. The people are some of the warmest and most joyful I've ever met. Despite the circumstances they've found themselves in, they are happy to dance, laugh, sing, cook and share all of that joy with you too.
Kindest Memory Abroad: While in Cuba, we were on a break for lunch, which included a pre-fixe menu with our shore excursion. I had mentioned to our guide, Lisnel, that I was OBSESSED with maduros (sweet plantains). We ordered and were waiting for our salad, empanadas, and pork when all of a sudden our waiter plopped down a huge plate of maduros in front of me. The kitchen staff had overheard me and went out of their way to give me the most delicious taste of their country they could.
Efia Sulter, Effy Talks Life
Kindest Country: Traveling solo around the world I’ve really learned just how kind people can be. From helping me with translations to inviting me into their homes. If ever you need to believe in a good again take a solo trip and watch as the magic happens. I’d have to say one of the kindest places I’ve been is Hawaii. I’m lucky to have visited twice in the past year and was overwhelmed by the most beautiful energy from locals and visitors. Every time I leave, I’m left with a deep sense of gratitude for the days I’ve spent there and the people I have met.
Kindest Memory Abroad: Once in Thailand I walked past a motorbike on a hot day and the exhaust pipe stuck to my leg and burned me. I was in a total state of shock and just burst into tears as a painful blister began to form. A Thai woman saw me crying and walked me to the local pharmacy where they put a mysterious ointment on my wound. I soon learned it was toothpaste … but hey, the sentiment was there! In a moment when I was scared I was so grateful to feel less alone.
Skye Class, Skye Travels
Kindest Country: While there are people everywhere whose primary mission is to harm and destroy others, they are a minority. Some countries, particularly in Asia, are educated from a very young age to be friendly. So while I would rate most countries pretty highly, there's one I've always put at the top of my list. And it's probably the last one you would ever guess. Albania! Yep, the acts of kindness I saw in this country were just countless. I met dozens of people on the streets who just wanted to chat, give assistance or make a new friend.
Kindest Memory Abroad: On my second night abroad, I arrived at a Couchsurfing.org event in London with no plans for where I would stay and basically no funds. After trying unsuccessfully for hours to come up with a plan, a man named Matt helped me find a host for the next couple days. Over the next few days, he continued to follow up with me to ensure I was doing okay and has actually stayed in touch to this day. He continues to help me with my travels. Oh, and he also invited me to the first-ever flash mob at Waterloo Station that first week. Beyond that, he's helped countless other travels around the world. Matt is the best definition of a true friend, one that can be counted upon and trusted.
Angel Castellanos, Angel’s Travel Lounge
Kindest Country: Japan has the nicest people. Whether you are in a big city or in a rural ryokan, Japanese people are truly kind. I have yet to find a Japanese local who can say the word, “No,” when someone asks for help. If they don’t know the answer to a question, they will find someone who does. They go out of their way to be kind and respectful to all people.
I also recently went to Laos and found the Laotian people to be some of the kindest I’ve ever met. As in other parts of Southeast Asia, they have a mild temperament and are always smiling. Their type of Buddhism permeates throughout their everyday lives and it’s evident.
Kindest Memory Abroad: While in Marrakech, Morocco I was exploring the food stalls in the DJemaa El F’na Market. I finally settled on a simple place selling soup that was served at a communal table. When I took a seat, I sat down next to a fellow traveler: a muslim from Saudi Arabia on vacation with his family. He insisted on paying for my meal. That small gesture was like a beacon of light in the bustling dark square. His earnestness was clear and while the soup didn’t cost much, he insisted because he wanted to welcome me, a person who was clearly a stranger in this place.
Justin Walter, Around the World with Justin
Kindest Country: Some of the kindest people I've encountered on my travels were in Thailand, the Philippines, Borneo, Austria and Italy.
Kindest Memory Abroad: A few years ago, I took my first-ever trip to Europe and visited Wales. One of my favorite adventures was coasteering: a sport founded in Pembrokeshire, Wales that involves cliff jumping, rock climbing and swimming along the coastline. On that trip, I became friends with one of our local guides, Dave. The two of us bonded over our passion for adventure travel.
After coasteering, Dave offered to show me Wales like a local. For the next three days, Dave took my friend Brianne and I around Pembrokeshire as if we had been lifelong friends. His self-made tour included a hidden seal beach, breweries that only locals frequented, his home to meet his family and a beachside bonfire under a full moon with his friends. My time in Wales and first trip to Europe was so memorable thanks to Dave's generosity, kindness and friendship.
Kelly Pillar, The Awkward Tourist
Kindest Country: Off the top of my head, the kindest people I have ever encountered are in Japan! Tokyo is a very confusing city and I got very lost. It seemed everywhere I turned there was a Japanese person there trying to help me, even if they didn't speak any English.
Kindest Memory Abroad: One of the kindest things anyone has done for me was when my fiancé Kevin and I went to a really crowded restaurant/bar, and someone saw us and had us come over and sit at their table as they were just about to leave.
We talked for just a minute as they finished up and then they left. We ordered a couple of drinks and the server told us that the couple before us had taken care of our first round, it was a very pay-it-forward moment and we were very touched.