No matter how many travel arrangements we make on our own — we still rely on people we meet along the way to help us out. Our travel happiness depends on them.
For example, we stood helpless staring at the train ticket machine in Tokyo. We did not have a clue how to purchase tickets, and time was running out before we needed to catch the train to Kyoto. Panic set in. Then, a lovely young woman approached and offered assistance. Sheer panic turned instantly to joyous relief!
Other examples abound. We relied on a farmer at a market stand in Crete to dictate a step-by-step recipe to use local greens that we’d never tried before; local birdwatchers have taken us around the countryside in New Zealand, Australia (in three places), and Thailand to see well over 200 bird species (at no charge!). We’ve shared drinks, meals, and numerous outings to see the sights with people in other countries whom we didn’t know before our trip.
To say all of these experiences have enhanced our trip would be an understatement.
We rarely pay for a guide but made a few exceptions on our round-the-world trip. For instance …
Those were good exceptions to our general rule, but, usually, we relied on the friendly help of others. Everywhere we went, the kindness of others was made evident to us.
Sometimes we found help when we didn’t even know we needed help. We often used the services of a tuk-tuk driver named Leo in Siem Reap, Cambodia. One day we asked him to take us through the west gate to Angkor Wat, a gate we’d not been through before. He looked at us, and with a wry smile, agreed. Little did we know that Leo took us on an adventure of exploring areas not often visited in Angkor Wat.
Oh, the stories we could tell of the kind people who stepped in and helped us with directions, suggestions, and translations. The kind people who have offered smiles and made us feel we that weren’t strangers.
We spent 14 months traveling around the world and were never threatened, pick-pocketed, or fearful. We did take care to limit our vulnerability, and, yes, we know risks abound. Yet, we learned that our travel happiness depended on the strangers we would meet. Thanks to them, it was a trip that exceeded our expectations in every way!