This is the second part of a series of posts from travelers across the world who share moments when a complete stranger did something out of the ordinary and uncalled for and which had a positive impact in their lives. For Part 3 click here.
Because traveling is not just a dangerous, risky and brave undertaking but, most of the times, a lesson in generosity and gratitude.
I hope that these posts inspire those that are still sitting on the fence to take the leap. May your travels be always full of these memories.
Travel stories part 2: Money troubles
Deia from Nomad Wallet
I had one day to spend in Taipei while waiting for my connecting flight, so I decided to explore the city. I ended up spending more money than I expected on cab fares. 🙁
When I ran out of money I was at Taipei 101, which is a huge shopping center. I thought I would be able to exchange more money there. But it was Sunday and the only currency exchange booth that was open didn’t want my CAD or AUD.
I was in trouble; no money, no credit card, no way to get myself to the airport to catch my flight, and I barely spoke the language.
After some thinking, I made my way to the English bookstore. I hid behind a big book while I spied on the customers. I spent a long time hesitating before approaching a couple of guys.
I nervously delivered the pitch I had practiced in my head…and they agreed to exchange my money. I couldn’t believe it; I could’ve been a scammer with counterfeit money for all they knew! Thanks to those kind strangers, I made it back to the airport to catch my connecting flight.
Travel stories part 2: Megan Jerrad
Traveling means you meet people from all walks of life and from many different cultures, and traveling the world can mean you witness humanity at its very best. There’s a comradery amongst travelers, an unwritten rule if you will, that travelers help other travelers out. You may not know each other, you may not even speak the same language, though if traveling the world has taught me one thing, it’s that travelers stick together – they are willing to help each other unconditionally, and when a traveler is in need, others selflessly step in to their aid.
One such instance was when I was about to hike Mt Kilimanjaro. I had washed and hung my clothes out to dry over a communal balcony the day before our departure, and when I came back to my room they were missing. Probably stolen, could have been monkeys – who knows. The chill on the mountain is incredibly harsh in the evenings so I thought I was screwed – my thermals and socks were included in the clothes which disappeared. Loudly complaining about my situation over dinner that night, a group of Danish girls who had just completed the climb came up and offered me their clothes. They didn’t need them, they said, as they had finished the climb and were all heading home. Total strangers who I didn’t know, offering me their clothes.
Their gesture was so incredibly touching and generous, this is exactly the type of kindness and comradery between travelers you witness on the road, and it was this kindness which completely restored my faith in humanity.
Travel stories part 2: Elke
Full-time student traveler
You know that kid who always does the opposite of what their mom tells him NOT to do? – that’s right. That is exactly who I am. Sometimes, just sometimes, I prove my mom wrong, just like last weekend when I last minutely decided to fly to Dallas TX for the long weekend.
I had a great sleep on the airplane but unfortunately there was no on board meal service so my stomach felt like it was being torn into pieces. As always I had printed out the route to my hotel (just in case my iphone would let me down as that first trip to Singapore. See, travelers learn a lot on the road!). It involved walking, a shuttle bus, the metro and some more walking. A big hour by public transport for a cheap price instead of a twenty minute car drive. Everything for my student budget!
I walked to the left, I walked to the right and then to the left again. This shuttle bus was nowhere in sight and a man who just came out of the airport exit – cowboy hat included – noticed I was clearly looking for something. “Howdy! You seem new to Dallas! What is it exactly you’re looking for missy?” I explained him I was looking for the shuttle bus that would take me to the metro station from where I could proceed my journey. “Lordy lord that will take you hours, I need to go downtown anyways, why don’t you jump in my car and I drop you of.”
I don’t know what convinced me more to actually jump in his car, his spontaneous hospitality or his hilarious accent and cowboy hat. Five minutes down the road I told him how great my nap was but how I couldn’t wait for a big piece of barbecue meat. Five more minutes and I found myself shopping in a supermarket for a quick snack, guided by the man and his cowboy hat “those are just insanely yummy, missy.” Ten more minutes later I was dropped off at my hotel, with a full bag of food.
Sometimes, just sometimes mom, it is okey to take a lift from strangers. On condition they wear a cowboy hat and greet you with “howdy”.
Travel stories part 2: Carlos Guimaraes
Superman, although he won’t admit to it. And consultant and writer)
This story happened in Tripoli, Libya, shortly after the revolution. The situation was relatively peaceful, but the militias that ended up starting a civil war were already active in the city. I was warned not to go out on my own after sunset and only take official taxis.
On my first night in the city, I received a phone call asking me to go to a meeting. The official cars of the hotel had all been taken. Since the place was only 10 minutes away walking, I decided to take my chances and try to get a taxi on the way, if I found one. Not many people were on the streets, though. One block away from the hotel I see a taxi and try to stop it. It didn’t. Instead, a regular car behind the taxi stopped and asked me where I wanted to go. It was a very old car, driven by a relatively young guy. As it is not unusual for ordinary cars to serve as taxis in some parts of the world, I decided it was OK to take it. There was, however, another problem: I hadn’t exchanged local currency yet. The smallest change I had was a 50 USD note. I showed it to the driver and asked him if he had change (it was a 2 minutes, 5 dollar ride). He just told me to get in. Having experienced the same in other places, I just assumed the driver would take the 50 bill for the ride, claiming he had no change. When we arrived, I handed him the 50 dollar bill, prepared to hear the excuses and to have the most expensive 2 minutes ride of my life. He refused the money. “It is OK, no money”, said him, “At night, no walk in Libya”.
Travel stories part 2: Isa Lana
Product Development at Mattel
I was with Mar and another friend of mine in Vilanculos, Mozambique. We were traveling around the country’s southern part for a week mostly taking buses. We had a plan, a general one, and a sense of direction. Both in Vilanculos and Tofo we had booked hotels but in Maputo, the last stop on our trip, we had not got around to it yet.
I decided that I wanted to get my Open Water certification and so spent quite a bit of my time in Vilanculos going out diving while Mar and Sol (beautiful names by the way, Sea and Sun) were staying behind and doing other activities. One of the days, they came along to snorkel but the waves were so big that they couldn’t see much. Diving with us that day was also Simone, a friendly Italian who had some investments and charitable projects in Mozambique. We went for dinner to his backpacker’s place and had a wonderful night. Chatting about our travel plans we mentioned that we didn’t have any bookings in Maputo to what he immediately offered us her home. He was not going to be there but the cleaning lady could give us the keys and show us around. We had just met him and this was a good way for us to save some money so we took his offer and headed for Maputo a couple of days later. We got the keys from the lady and had the apartment all to ourselves. On our departure, we just left the keys inside. It was a truly generous and kind act from a complete stranger.
We remain facebook friends ever since and he continues to do good in Mozambique.