Today is #WorldKindnessDay
Experiencing the kindness of strangers is truly one of the most magical parts of travel. Making connections with people from different backgrounds is one of the best ways to broaden our horizons and open our eyes to how much goodness there really is in our wonderful world.
The thing about kindness is, often people don’t realise what a huge impact a small gesture can have. What takes just moments, can raise a smile for years to come.
We asked a few of our lovely team to share stories of kindness they’ve experienced on their travels around the globe. Have a gander below for a good chunk of that warm, fuzzy feeling. We really do live in a world full of fantastic people…
Fenton, HA Japan Specialist
“I’ve experienced so many acts of kindness in Japan. The people there are always so happy to go out of their way to help you or lend a hand. There was one day in particular that sticks out in my head from the first time I ever visited. I was setting off to visit the incredible Matsumoto Castle (now one of my favourite buildings in the country!) and got a little confused at Shinjuku train station, it’s the busiest station in the world so it’s not difficult too! A lady behind me in the queue for the ticket machine took it upon herself to not only explain the best route, but even took the time to walk us to the platform. There was a language barrier, but that didn’t matter at all.
And then, to cap off a day of kindness, a little old man introduced himself whilst we were in Matsumoto Castle. He asked if we’d be happy for him to show us around the castle and explain the history of the town to us. He wasn’t expecting a tip or payment and explained that his friend and he just did this in their spare time to practice their English and meet people from around the world.”
Harry, HA General Manager
Nothing illustrates this kindness more than travelling around Morocco with a family and young children: Kids are thought of as a communal blessing, and can basically do no wrong in Morocco. To a parent (who is only 3 hours into a trip with 2 tired, cranky children and already crackling with stress) this is utterly wonderful. Though I have always felt that it is rather dangerous if the kids figure it out! From the moment we stepped on the plane to Marrakech, my children aged 2 and 4 were elevated to demi-god status and wanted for absolutely nothing. A group of elderly Marrakshi ladies had quickly realised that daddy wasn’t at his usual jovial best, so the kids spent the flight being pampered by these ladies who fed them from an inexhaustible supply of chocolate, sang them songs and chatted at them constantly in Berber and French. My children didn’t understand a word but when you are giddy with delight and sugar, language is a non-existent barrier. The kids were encouraged to indulge their passions of pulling noses and ears without the usual repercussions should they have attempted it on me. I was encouraged to briefly close my eyes, which I gratefully did but not before uttering thanks to all the deities for the existence of Moroccan grandmothers.”
Emma H, HA Lebanon Specialist
“I was in a market in Tripoli, in northern Lebanon, and came across a small hatch in the wall. My guide told me there was a bakery inside, so I stuck my head in a saw a room teeming with life. There were the giant conveyor belts whipping these flatbreads all over the place, with people flinging the bread into stacks and packing them up for sale. The owner at the hatch door must have seen my wide-eyed face of amazement as he gave me a huge smile and plucked a giant disc of dough off the top belt, handing it over to me to sample. It was pillowy and still warm from the oven; I thanked him and ate folds of it as I continued to walk. Nothing says kindness like a grin and a simple gesture of bread – it was a real moment of connection.”
Gabby, HA Marketing and Content
“When I think back to my time travelling in India, the main memory I have is the overwhelming friendliness of the people. Everyone we met would go out of their way to help wherever possible or wherever needed. For some reason, I thought it was a very sensible idea to drive a tuk-tuk down the country. It was only day two, and we were a few hours South of Jaipur, when our entire back righthand wheel fell off. Brilliant. We were in the middle of nowhere, between two rural towns, so needless to say – felt a little stuck!!
This feeling of hopelessness didn’t last for long though, as before we knew it we were surrounded by smiling locals, happy to help in any way they could. Cut to an hour later and we were sat outside the local mechanic’s house, drinking homemade chai and eating samosas whilst he and his friends fixed our trusty stead. They wouldn’t accept any money, just photos and smiles. It was only day two of my adventure and it perfectly set the tone of what to expect from the local Indian people. So much kindness.”
Emma P, HA Africa Specialist
Rachel, HA HR Manager
“We’ve been lucky enough to visit Oman a fair few times. We love staying at the Anatara Al Jabal Akhdar Resort for a lot of reasons, but seeing Rajib is the main one! The kindness he shows us every time we visit is beyond words. He was so kind to our girls, one time even going back to our room to get them blankets as they were a little cold. During the days he’d take them for fun rides on the golf buggy which they still talk about to this day. He even arranged a birthday cake for our youngest, she was absolutely delighted. He could not have been more helpful and just goes to show, that what might seem like small acts of kindness can still raise a smile even years later.”
Rebecca, HA Sri Lanka Specialist
“I was visiting Sri Lanka over my birthday back in 2017 and stayed in the beautiful Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge (wow those views!!). Everyone there was just so lovely and made me feel so special. It was strange spending my birthday away from home and my family, but the kindness of the people here made me feel so at home, it quite honestly made my day. When I went down to breakfast they told me that they’d arranged not only a massage for me, but a guided walk to Hatale Tea Garden World’s End. When I thought the day couldn’t get any better, they came out singing and presented me with a beautiful homemade cake after dinner that night. It’s a travel memory that never fails to put a smile on my face. A perfect example of the kindness of Sri Lankan people! ”
Andy, HA Founder
“We’ve always met such kind people on our visits to South Africa. On one visit a fair few years ago, our favourite wine guide, Pietman, took the day off to take us around his favourite local vineyards to taste and sample wines for our wedding. Camberley, Waterford Estate and Franschhoek Pass Winery were a few of his picks, and if the winery wasn’t open, he would call up his friend and arrange for it to be opened especially. He went out of his way to make the day so special for us and we’ll never forget it. Plus, the wines weren’t half bad either!”
Helen, HA New Zealand Specialist
Cat, HA South Africa Specialist
“When you’re travelling for work, more often than not, you travel alone for an extended period and excursions can be a bit of a lonely experience. But, this wasn’t the case when I went on the Franschhoek Wine tram in South Africa. I struck up a conversation with an American family and they immediately took me under their wine tasting wing and insisted I joined them on all the stops. They even invited me to join them on their prebooked and paid for picnic lunch stop at one of the wineries. They took a group picture with me in it, but sadly I never got the picture from them. However, acts of kindness like this don’t need a photo to ensure they’re remembered. Their thoughtfulness made such a difference to my day.”
Experiences and memories like these are a huge part of why we love to travel. Local kindness has been everywhere this year, but we can’t wait to hop on a plane again, meet more locals, experience different ways of life and add more memories of kindness to our travel archives.
What tales of kindness have you experienced on your adventures?