“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” ~ Henry James
Travel is a lifelong pursuit, passion, and pleasure. It’s an adventure, but more than that, it’s a way of life. As you travel boldly in the pursuit of your next adventure, it’s important to remember that every trip you take touches the lives of others, in big ways and small.
From the shuttle bus or taxi driver who transports you to your resort, to the tour guide who tells jokes to make your experience more memorable, your vacation is filled with tiny touchpoints that can have an impact far beyond yourself.
World Kindness Day is Nov. 13, and it’s a great opportunity to find a new way to show a little kindness to the world. During your next vacation, consider trying one of these 10 travel tips for showing kindness to a stranger.
1. Eat Local
When you’re on vacation, it can be tempting to keep it easy by sticking with familiar chain restaurants. But your dollar means a whole lot more to a small business owner who is running a local café, diner, or steak house. Ask at the front desk and you’re likely to get a whole host of local recommendations, and chances are, you’ll be in for a fantastic feast.
It’s a great way to show a touch of kindness to the local community you’re visiting. Bonus: If you had a great meal, take the time to go online and leave them a positive review on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook, and the like.
2. Help Someone Skip The Selfie
If you see someone attempting to snap a selfie in front of a cool landmark or unique historic site, be kind and offer to take the picture for them.
Many travelers are too shy or uncomfortable asking others for assistance, but chances are they’d love to have a photo of themselves or their group with the landmark appropriately sized in the background, rather than a close up of their face with the landmark barely visible behind.
Always make sure to snap two or three to make sure they get at least one Christmas-card-worthy shot.
3. Talk To The Big Boss
If someone does an amazing job or goes above and beyond to offer you excellent service, odds are they’d love to hear that they made your day. Whether it’s the concierge who gave you excellent advice on local attractions, a server at a restaurant who kept your glass refilled without being asked, or the activity host that had the best attitude, tell them they’re awesome and then take the next step and tell their boss, too.
You can always ask to speak to a manager to share praise, and if their boss isn’t available, ask for their office phone or email and follow up later. It could make a big career difference for someone, and if nothing else, it’ll make their day.
4. Be Benevolent
Maybe you waited tables in college, maybe you didn’t. Whether you did or didn’t, chances are you’re willing to admit that being a restaurant server is a hard job with little reward. Servers are on their feet all day or night, carrying heavy loads again and again, on call for spills and refills, and often deal with rude customers.
Whether your server is doing it all with a smile on their face or not, start by being kind with your words and manners, and then be kind with your wallet. Many servers work more than one job to make ends meet, and a big tip can go a long way. If you can afford to be generous once in a while, you won’t regret it — seeing their smile as you walk out the door will make it all worthwhile.
5. Keep It Clean
No matter where you vacation, chances are you’ll find trash. Trash is everywhere in our world — you’ll find it in the parking lot, on the beach, on the sidewalk, in the park, and just about everywhere you turn. Picking up your own trash is just good manners, but picking up an extra piece or two is a great way to show kindness to our world.
If you’re walking down the beach or sidewalk and you see some garbage, find a way to dispose of it. So often there is a trashcan nearby that someone just didn’t see or didn’t care to see. Just make sure you wash your hands after, or pack some rubber gloves in your purse or pocket, just in case.
6. Remember The Folks Back Home
Whenever you’re on vacation, there’s always somebody you miss back home. Whether it’s a family member, friend, co-worker, or neighbor, think of someone who may be missing you and let them know you’re missing them too by sending them a bright and colorful postcard in the mail.
Pick one with a cool local image on the front, and write them a kindly “wish you were here” note on the back. Then, pick out the perfect souvenir and bring it home with you to give to them to let them know just how much you missed them.
7. Get Chummy
When you’re passing through the owner’s lounge or sitting on the pool deck, make it a point to say hi to someone new. Show kindness by striking up a conversation to find out where they’re from, how long they’ve been an owner, and which resorts they’ve been to.
If you’re genuinely interested in what they’re saying, chances are you’ll end up chatting and finding out you have something in common. Before you know it, you’ve made a new friend. It’s surprising how many lasting friendships have started with just a hello on vacation!
8. Feed The Feathered Friends
Kindness isn’t only applicable to humans — it’s important to show kindness to animals as well. When you’re out for a stroll in the park or public area, bring along some birdseed for the resident population of birds. The birds will all get a healthy dinner that night, instead of foraging for scraps of human food, which is unhealthy for birds to eat.
Experts suggest that selecting a high-quality birdseed is important, as the cheaper stuff may have less nutritional value to the birds. And never feed them bread or crackers — it fills up their tiny tummies quickly and offers no nutrition, leaving them full and weak and more vulnerable to predators.
9. Shop Local
When you’re shopping for that perfect souvenir for your loved ones at home, make an effort to purchase something special from a local artist or craftsman. These individuals work hard to create something unique and beautiful that represents the culture of the area, or the beliefs and customs of the individual or group.
Handmade baskets, artistic prints, sculptures, pottery, woodwork, and even locally made consumables make a great souvenir, and the money you spend is an investment in the artist and artisan community — way better than bringing home another shot glass or t-shirt.
10. Deliver a Delectable Dessert
There is great kindness in anonymous giving, and there are many opportunities to make someone’s day when you’re eating out. Pay for the next person in line’s cup of coffee, pick up the tab for another table in a restaurant, or even more fun, anonymously send dessert to a nearby table and watch their surprise and delight at the unexpected gift.
Eating out, especially for young families with kids, can be a rare luxury and it’s a real treat to be able to end that meal with a complimentary treat.
For more information on World Kindness Day and additional ideas for showing kindness, visit randomactsofkindness.org. Together, we can make kindness the norm!