Karma follows the principle that how you live your life determines the kind of life you will have. So, does how you travel determine the kind of travel you will experience?
I like to think there are more well-intentioned people in the world than, well, the others. I believe that by sharing kindnesses, especially whilst on the road, we can help each other and hopefully encourage others to be kind too.
There are always times when things go wrong of course and, as a traveller, when they do you can very quickly find yourself in a difficult situation. As a traveller you can be more vulnerable than on your own turf where things are more familiar, or second-nature even. Being without food, water or accommodation in a new and confusing place is not necessarily fun.
The Little Things
It is for this reason that I am always happy to help another traveller if I am able. You don’t need to take in every homeless wanderer, but even something as small as stopping to give someone directions instead of bustling past can be enormously appreciated. Sharing snacks, water and sun cream are easy kindnesses that most of us are capable of and which can make a huge difference to the day of the person receiving them.
I know the difference it can make because for all the fantastic experiences I have enjoyed through travelling, I have also had some ‘pants’ days too.
I have been confused and grateful for instructions on how to do something (buying a ticket in the hell that is Malaga bus terminal comes to mind). I have been linguistically incompetent and appreciated a translation (a Greco-english explanation of my meal the day I was served what looked like a turd in gravy is foremost in my thoughts here). I have been lonely travelling solo and appreciated another traveller’s company (solo travel can be liberating but can also be a bit of a lonely experience some days). I have had cars seize up in some pretty awkward places (at the bottom of the hill driving West out of the outskirts of Antalya in 40+ centigrade, with the dog in the car). In each of these situations I have experienced and appreciated huge kindness from other people, some I sort of knew but most of whom were complete strangers.
You don’t need to be in trouble to see the goodness in people. I remember being the happy recipient of a bowl of fresh figs from an old lady in Portugal and I have drunk endless cups of apple tea kindly offered in Turkey. My 93 year old Grandmother always calls ahead with a progress update whenever I meet her off a train. Despite not having a phone herself, she always manages to convince someone to lend her theirs.
I’m not sure why I have noticed kindness more poignantly whilst travelling. Does the sometime necessity of trusting people, force us to become more trusting? Especially whilst in shared accommodation travellers must trust the others sharing the space not to rob them while they sleep or pinch their favourite Tshirt from the communal washing line. Is it because we share a vulnerability? Do we simply worry less when away from base? Perhaps since most people only travel in short trips, people are kinder when distanced from the stress and difficulties of everyday life and it is easier to live the way you think you should?
In conclusion, despite not being a very spiritual person, I believe in ‘traveller karma’. I believe in karma generally in fact.
The kindnesses I have received reassure me that as a traveller you are never really alone. You are probably in the company of kind strangers who might or might not also believe in traveller karma.
Do you believe in traveller karma? Do you have any stories about it?
Photo credits: Worldnomads.com, David Sifry, pkconfessions.wordpress.com