It was 1978, maybe 1979, and I was on a cycling trip in Prince Edward Island. We left Summerside in the morning and crossed the hilly interior of the island looking forward to the coastal run into the port of Souris where we would camp the night before catching the ferry to the Magdalen Islands in the morning. What we hadn't anticipated was the head wind.
I was a solo traveler on a small tour of 10. As I had traveled with the company before, it was decided that I would take up the rear of the pack so as not to leave anyone behind. (I am not naturally at the head of the pack anyway!) But, with the headwind, being at the back meant falling behind. I was on my own when a pick up truck slowed up beside me.
With more than a bit of anxiety I looked over. The big grins on the guys' faces put me at ease. They explained that our group was spread out over many miles and that they and one other pick-up were collecting us. So, my bike was tossed in the back and I climbed on board. Within the hour we had collected half the group. The other truck had the other half. We were taken to their respective farms where we were fed a classic farm meal with hot biscuits and fresh milk from the cow included. Later, they took us to our campsite for the night.
Yes, the kindness of strangers!
Most solo travelers have received kindness from strangers. When I asked the Solo Travel Society on Facebook for their experiences, I received a number of great stories.
- Karen – On two occasions, I've had little old ladies (both shorter than me, and I'm short!) stop what they were doing, take me by the arm, and walk me to where I needed to go. One was in Scotland, the other in Costa Rica, and I still remember them both for their kindness. 😉
- Lee – I've received many great gifts of kindness but the MOST bizzar was on a simple road trip in the USA, from Florida to Atlanta. Yes it was hot and long and I looked pretty bad. I stopped at a chain restaurant on the way back and found when I went to leave and pay that the woman behind me had PAID MY BILL. i am still mystified about this but i hope it was a “pay it forward” and not that she thought i was destitute! So now I pay it forward whenever i can – from a dime that the check out woman wanted to borrow from a coworker to get a soda, to giving away my coupons at the check out line. The last one saved the man $15.00. We all interact with strangers every day, I just seem to notice it more since I travel This Road Solo
I won't bore you with the rest, but speaking of older women (reference to Karen's story above), I was on a bus, the only non Italian, trying to find the correct stop. HA, No signs and no map. The woman in front of me saw my distress and kept pulling me back when I tried to get off! So kind. And there was also a Japanese woman in the department store in Toyko more than 25 years ago who kept bowing and gesturing at the check out. SHE had given me a coupon to buy my “house” kimono on sale……. too kind. sorry, shall shut up now.
- Unnur – In Fukuoka in Japan I stopped an older couple to ask for directions and they kindly told me where they thought I should go. A few minutes later I heard someone running behind me and then taking my arm – it was the same couple having realized they pointed me in the wrong direction. They literally led me to the right place, holding my arm and smiling the whole time.
In Japan, also, I had the misfortune of landing on a bank holiday and I couldn't withdraw money for a few days and my cards weren't accepted anywhere. The staff at my hostel in Hiroshima were amazing. They let me stay although I had no money. They gave me noodle soups and other basics and one staff member even lent me a bike and came with me on a fruitless 2 hour bike tour around the city to look for an open ATM. It was amazing and made me feel like no matter where I go I'm never really alone.
- Midlife Passion – I was traveling by train in the middle of the night in Thailand. A lovely older monk had invited me to sit across from him and chat. I let him know where I was heading and he told me when it was time to get off the train. Unfortunately, it was the wrong stop! Speaking no Thai and the “cab” drivers (on motorcycles) spoke no English, there was much gesturing, pointing and pictures in guidebooks involved before we figured out the problem. The station master had me wait right outside his office so he could keep an eye on me and flagged down the next train so that I could get back on to head to the right town! I loved how they looked after me and made sure I was safe.
- Janice Solotraveler – My most recent story about the kindness of strangers is that of Steve from Seattle who served me Starbucks in Patagonia.
If you have a story about the kindness of strangers, please leave it below.