Your travel happiness depends on them

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.


We met Cliff and Ruth through their travel blogs, Detours, and they invited us to join them at their place in Keri Keri when we were in New Zealand. Who knew we’d go out for a cruise on “Agnes”?

IMG_7194 - Version 2

We relied on the Hanoi Serene Hotel clerk in Hanoi, Vietnam to help us mail our absentee ballots back to the US.

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 …

Maasai wilderness camp hike in late afternoon with everyone Huntington Gardens

The experience and knowledge of Chigamba (middle) and Mika (right) turned our Tanzania safari into one of our most trip memorable experiences. Where else could we have seen a Maasai spear throwing contest?

A high point of our trip to Morocco was hiking in the High Atlas Mountains with our thoughtful and knowledgeable guide, Rachid.

A high point of our trip to Morocco was hiking in the High Atlas Mountains with our thoughtful and knowledgeable guide, Rachid.

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.

Leo, in a rare moment of seriousness, by his tuk tuk

Leo, in a rare moment of seriousness, by his tuk tuk

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!


May 2015

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
This entry was posted in Around-the World - 2013-14 and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Your travel happiness depends on them

  1. So well said, and so important

  2. David Mog says:

    Thanks for sharing these important stories that match our experience as well. Learning to “trust the Universe,” so to speak, liberates the Spirit within each of us and helps build the enduring peace that is our destiny.

  3. Meeting people is one of the joys of travelling, especially when they are helpful as well. We’ve only used the services of a guide a few times and each time it was so worth it. They took us to places we would never have gone to on our own.

  4. bernice rowe says:

    Yes, my travels taught me long ago that I am living proof that God protects the ignorant…and that guardian angels do exist, sometimes disguised as “locals”!’b

    Sent from my iPad


  5. So heart-warming. It’s been our experience, too.

  6. westerner54 says:

    What a wonderful post, focusing on all of these grand folks. Affirming, indeed. Thanks.

  7. What a great post!
    Meeting people and hearing there stories and sharing peices of our lives is one of if not the best part of traveling. It is so amazing to connect with people all over the world!


  8. plaidcamper says:

    The kindness of strangers – very affirming!

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