Kindness of Strangers Around the World

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Traveling Alone and the Kindness of Strangers

Traveling solo I often wind up in neighborhoods where there are no other tourists when I’m traveling simply because that is where some of the art museums happen to be located. As a solo traveler I must rely on my own navigational abilities but I often seek assistance from strangers.

When I was in Medellin, Colombia I visited the Casa Museo Pedro Nel Gomez in the Aranjuez neighborhood. I was definitely the only tourist walking along the street and I did feel a little uncomfortable at first, it just seemed a bit dodgy.

I kept walking for a while until I was not sure if I was lost or not and I passed someone on the sidewalk, pointing up the road I would ask “Museo Gomez?” and each time the person smiled warmly and assured me that I was on the right track.

I felt more comfortable in the neighborhood simply because I had interacted with some of the people along the way. I saw kindness in their faces.

With everyone’s help I found my way to the museum and spent the afternoon taking in the extraordinary collection of work by Colombian artist Pedro Nel Gomez.


Medellin Colombia - Museo Pedro Nel Gomez - Painting

Painting at Museo Pedro Nel Gomez in Medellin Colombia


Getting Lost While Traveling Solo

Time and again during my travels I have been warmly welcomed by strangers, helped with directions, sometimes even before I knew I was lost.

I remember standing on a train platform in Paris with my sister. We were trying to figure out if we were on the correct platform or not when a Parisian man passing by informed us that the train to Brussels was in fact the adjacent platform. He saved us from missing our train.


Kindness of Strangers – Trying New Things

I probably never would have discovered the wonders of SCUBA diving if not for the kindness of strangers.

I had gone snorkeling off the coast of Bali with a group of divers and afterwards I was chatting with some of them. They asked why I hadn’t gone diving instead of snorkeling. I explained my fear of diving and my fear that I would become very claustrophobic while under water.

“Well try it now!” offered one of them as he motioned towards the water and then enthusiastically explained that I could put on his gear and check it out to see if I would be claustrophobic. Sure!

He explained the basics and helped me to put on the gear, which felt a little awkward while on land but once I waded into the water it was all fine as I became weightless.

Breathing underwater is a bizarre sensation. My brain knows I can’t breathe while submerged under water but I was breathing and I was underwater.

It was euphoric!

Later in my travels to Thailand I spent three weeks on the island of Koh Tao and received my PADI open water diver certification. I wouldn’t have done it without the kindness of the diver in Bali allowing me to try out his gear.


Koh Tao Island - SCUBA diving location in Thailand

I spent three weeks as a beach bum at Koh Tao Island SCUBA diving and earned my PADI certification


Kindness of Strangers When You Get Sick While Traveling

When I was in Indonesia I became ill after eating a chicken salad sandwich for lunch one day. I should have stuck with the local food, some nasi goreng (fried rice dish) or bakso (soup) would have been a wiser choice. I was nursing a bad case of food poisoning instead.

For a couple of days I couldn’t hold any food down and I was thoroughly exhausted. Sitting alone out on the veranda of the guesthouse in Padang Bai I must have looked truly pathetic.

No one came near me. I felt like crap. I’m sure I looked like crap too.

I am very grateful to the German woman who took notice and came to my rescue. She said I needed to get some salt into my body, to rehydrate and get my appetite back. She gave me a couple of little packets of chicken broth, one of which I prepared and happily drained the cup.

I felt better immediately, not just for the basic nourishment but also for the kindness of the woman who took notice and helped me out.

I will always remember these acts of kindness from strangers.

One of the things I have found I could rely on while traveling solo is the kindness of strangers. Have you had similar experiences?

Read more posts about traveling alone

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About the Author

Susan Moore spent 7 months traveling around Southeast Asia back in the 90's. Returning to Canada she found a job working on rotation in Siberia Russia. She later moved to Austin Texas where she started a bookkeeping business, allowing her to work remotely. Currently Susan is in year 4 of living a nomadic life, roadtripping around the USA and Canada and writing about her experiences with a focus on hiking and cultural encounters. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

10 Replies

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  1. Very inspiring and made me think what good I have done to strangers myself. XD Venturing out into an unfamiliar place, it is reassuring to know there are still a lot of good people out there always wanting to share and lend a hand.

    I am wary about strangers ( I probably watch too much tv! ), but to be honest I have received countless good deeds from people I do not know during my travels…Beautiful post. :)

    • Thank you! I also try to help out other people, especially travelers, whenever I can. What seems like a small deed can mean so much to someone who needs a little help.

      I am grateful for all the help I have received over the years. Glad to know you have had similar experiences both helping and receiving help from strangers.

  2. Reader Wil says:

    Wow, you are very adventurous! And brave too. When I was young I travelled a lot in Europe. I had no money so I hitch -hiked, but never by myself. Now I have a lot of guests from abroad, but they are no strangers, I met them before. I had a once a Maori woman from New Zealand staying for a couple of nights, some Australians, English friends, Danes, Norwegians, an American artist, a peace activist from Ukraine, who walked from Paris to Copenhagen, two relatives from South Africa and finally 4 Polish young people. It was always great to exchange ideas.
    Thanks for your interesting post
    Have great week.

    • Wil, Thanks for your comment. It’s wonderful that you get to see all those people from your previous travels – so great to have people from all around the world visiting and sharing stories.

      I think you were brave to hitchhike around Europe – I never had the guts to do that when I was younger and now I think it’s not really very common, nor recommended. I think of myself as being adventurous but not brave, just chronically optimistic :)

  3. Such an unexpected gift.

  4. I admire your adventurous spirit. the kindness of strangers truly goes right to ones soul.

  5. ellen b says:

    I have found kindness from strangers. I know people who are a lot better at seeking out that kindness than me but I’m learning more and more when I travel to reach out to people around us and enjoy more than the sights…

    • Very often we are reminded to be cautious when we travel and not to trust people but I really do find that for the most part everyone everywhere wants to do good.

  6. Ann says:

    Reminds me of what the Bible says about entertaining strangers–Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers for by doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

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