Is it just me or does it seem like every time you open social media lately you get hit by a wave of negative, scary news stories? Bombings, mass shooting, political unrest, kidnappings – there’s certainly a lot to be fearful of. I can understand when people don’t want to travel because it’s just plain scary when that’s the only kind of story you get. Today I want to flip the switch a little because if you stay fearful and don’t travel then you can miss out on meeting a lot of wonderful people. I have so many good stories that I actually had to cut a lot of them because the post was getting too long, but here are some of my favorites to remind you of the good in the world.
The ladies who let me sleep in the nail salon in Dubai
When I recently traveled to Sri Lanka, I had a 9 hour overnight layover in the Dubai airport and to pass some of the time I decided to get a manicure. Sitting in the massage chair felt like a luxurious throne after the many hours of travel cramped up in uncomfortable seats and walking around carrying my overstuffed backpack. I chatted with the nail technician as she filed and buffed my nails and after mentioning that I looked tired she asked how long my layover was. Once I told her she slowed right down and just told me to relax. She disappeared after applying the top coat and I was left awkwardly waiting in the chair thinking that they had forgotten about me. Once another one of the ladies walked passed, I quickly asked if the manicure was finished so I could pay and leave and after I paid she insisted that I could stay and relax since the shop was quiet. She even offered me water and let me move to a chair out the back where I was able to sleep for a couple of hours. Every so often when the massage function timed out one of the ladies would come over to turn it back on. After I woke from my coma the ladies smiled and wished me well on my travels (which I was now a little more refreshed for). They asked nothing from me and showed me all the hospitality in the world.
The Couple who Drove me to my Hotel in Texas
During a Contiki tour in 2011, our group made a stop in Amarillo, Texas. It was on this night that we entered a smoky truck-stop bar filled with some of the most interesting characters I have ever met. I loaded up on the cheap drinks and began chatting to some of the locals, you know the kind of chats that turn into an impromptu pool tournament. At some point during the pool tournament that I was losing, I looked up and realized that the ENTIRE Contiki group had left the bar. So much for looking out for your travel buddies right? I went back to my Malibu and Coke, made some jokes about being left behind like Sid the Sloth and continued to play pool with my new Texan buddies. We had so much fun that time just flew by and before I knew it the bar was closing and we were being asked to leave. Now was the tricky part of the night, we were in the middle of nowhere at a truckstop bar, not a taxi in sight, I was way too drunk to remember the hotel I was staying at and my travel buddies were AWOL. A couple I was playing pool with offered to give me a ride and, though I was certain they were over legal limit, it was my best option at the time. Low and behold they deciphered my vague memories of the hotel and figured out where I was staying and dropped me back safe and sound.
The Couple from Nevada who saved me some money in Reykjavik
While I was soaking in one of the public hot tubs in Iceland, I got chatting to a lovely couple who were traveling around Iceland all the way from Nevada. A couple of minutes of chit chat turned into maybe 40 minutes or so (I was telling time by the amount of winkles on my hands), and people came and went around us as we shared travel stories. They told me about the Reykjavik City Pass which allows free entry to all the pools as well as buses, museums, and other discounts. As it turned out, the couple had a pass with a day and a half left on it that they weren’t going to be able to use before they left and they kindly offered it to me. I said thank you, thinking it was just one of those things that gets offered in conversation but nobody remembers at the end, but as I got up to leave a little while later they reminded me of the pass and got out to get it for me. They even drove me back to my hotel once they realized I was about to walk.
The staff in Sri Lanka who made sure I never went hungry
When I arrived in Sri Lanka recently it was late in the evening and I had arranged for a driver to take me on the 3 hour drive from the airport to the hotel. At one point, the driver asked me if I had eaten and if I wanted him to ask the hotel to leave some food out for me. By the time we would arrive it would be well after the meal service time so I had assumed I would be going to sleep hungry (which was ok since I was so tired after the 30 hour travel day that it didn’t really matter). Any-who, he called and the staff said they’d leave me out some food. In no way did I expect the feast they had prepared for me. As soon as I arrived the guards walked me to the dining area of the hotel where they brought dish after dish of food to my table which they had set aside for me. Chicken, fish, rice, pasta and vegetable dishes – it was all far more than I could eat. They had even saved a selection of deserts! Needless to say that I went to sleep on a nice full belly. Not only that, on another day I arranged an early start to go on a wildlife safari and when I got into the van one of the guards brought over a little breakfast for the road.
The waitress at Dennys who gave me a free ‘welcome to America’ desert
I landed in Los Angeles on my first ever visit to America with big, bright eyes, a travel card loaded with all the money I had saved and a suitcase full of poor fashion choices, I was ready for a big adventure! After checking in to my hotel, I went walking to get my first feel for the city and, of course, find some food. I found a Dennys. So cultured, I know. But, for some reason that big, yellow sign drew me in and eating at a diner was on my America bucket list, so in I went. The lady who came over to take my order was so warm and friendly. Sure, she was working for tips, but she took a lot of time to ask me about Australia and tell me about things to do in Los Angeles. She just had this big, happy smile every time she came over to the table and it was so nice that on my first night in America I met someone so welcoming. After dinner she brought over a desert and let me know that it was on the house as a welcome to America gift.
The mother and son duo who kept me company on the Swiss Alps
Standing atop Mount Titlis in Switzerland, I remember seeing a couple taking a selfie and I offered to take their photo for them. I noticed they had Australian accents so we struck up a little conversation about where we were from and our travel stories. It turned out that these two were a mother and son duo traveling around to a few countries in Europe on the mothers first ever overseas holiday. Seeing this woman’s excitement as she told me about her holiday was one of the most heart warming things I have ever seen. She was just so happy to be traveling with her son and it shone out of her as she talked. As I wished them well on their travels, they mentioned they were just about to have lunch and invited me to join them. I joined them and we shared an overpriced lunch with lots of wonderful conversation. Afterwards we took the cable cars back down to the bottom of the mountain and they even offered to give me a ride to one of the towns closer to where I was staying. I didn’t end up taking them up on the offer because I wanted to see more of the town but the gesture and the lunch was so kind and it’s a lovely travel memory I have.
My neighbor in Italy who took me to Jazzercize
Soon after I moved into my apartment in Italy, my husband was sent away and it was just me and my dogs. One day I had a note on my doorstep and I immediately thought ‘oh no, it must be a complaint about the dogs barking’. I couldn’t have been more wrong. As I translated the note in the Google Translate app on my phone, it was a note from my neighbor inviting me to join her for Jazzercize class. I began taking the classes with her and another neighbor twice a week and even though we could barely communicate, it was such nice community bonding. She also gave me some of her homemade jam, helped me set up my heater for winter and helped me figure out the ‘case of the water not working 2017’ which was a matter of frozen water pipes. In this chapter of my expat journey, she has certainly been nothing but kind to me.
The owner of the cabin in Norway who saved me from driving in a snowstorm
Ahh my favorite place. I visited Norway for Christmas last year and rented the most gorgeous cabin out in nature. While I was chilling out there (literally) playing in the snow, I got a message from the owner of the cabin, Tor, who let me know of a big snowstorm that was heading our way. On that advice, we decided not to do any adventures or long driving that day and it was very lucky that we didn’t because that snowstorm came in strong! We walked in it to check on the car and even just walking was an intense experience. I couldn’t wait to get back into the toasty cabin where I remained for the rest of the night. It was such a small thing to do, and it may not seem like much, but had he not messaged me, I probably wouldn’t have known about the weather and would’ve probably gotten stuck somewhere after venturing out exploring. It’s always the little things that we sometimes overlook that make a big difference.
The stranger in Hawai’i who invited me to Christmas dinner
When I moved to America, I had sold all my belongings and moved with just two suitcases. It led me to this moment where a stranger reached out in kindness without hesitation. Let me explain. Once I found somewhere to live I went to the closest furniture store to buy the basics – after all, I needed something to sleep on ASAP. The lady who helped me was an older, local woman and she walked me around the store to help me pick out what I needed. Of course we got to chatting (do you see the theme in these stories), and I told her about how I had just moved there. She was so surprised slash shocked that I was there by myself and didn’t know anyone and even more so that I would be alone over Christmas and New Year. She was insistent that I couldn’t spend the holidays alone and invited me to her family gathering for Christmas, letting me know that there would be lots of food and people to meet. She gave me all her details before I left and you know what? I didn’t take her up on that offer. It’s one thing I wish I did but at the time I remember thinking that I didn’t want to put anyone out and thought they would enjoy their time better with family instead of me. So silly of me but I have always remembered her kind gesture.
Author: Katie McIntosh
Author Bio: Katie is a former fat-girl loser turned dream chasing travel blogger with a mission to inspire others to see the beauty of the world and live life to its fullest. She has a passion for all things travel, photography, nature and generally anything outside of the ever dangerous comfort zone. When she isn’t traveling, you can find her cuddled up with her two dogs and a warm cup of tea, blogging away on her own website.
Link to social media or website: https://www.thekatieshowblog.com & @katieshowblog