Do You Believe in Traveller Karma?

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.

‘Pants’ Days

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.

Random Kindness

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.

Traveller Karma

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 credit: Sean Foreman


  • Ren

    Oh, definitely. I believe in general that “what goes around comes around”; that concept isn’t limited to the spiritual or religious. Most of my personal experience with traveler’s karma comes from CouchSurfing; it was nice to see hospitality reciprocated when I went on my European trip, and I’m all too happy to reciprocate their hospitality when they come to visit my country.
    My recent post My First Travel Massive Singapore Experience

  • Andrea

    Yes I believe! Do good unto others and it will come back…do the opposite and well….you catch my drift! I have not traveled much yet but my travels so far have taught me so many valuable lessons and the more I see out there in the big world, the more I want the people. It would never cross my mind to travel to a country and just sit back and eat up and drink up and use up all their resources without giving something in return. So many people travel to a resort town and stay on the resort and do just that without even trying to get the know the local people their struggles. This seems selfish to me. These same people will complain when tourists travel to their towns and do the same thing but they think nothing to go somewhere and strut around like they own the place!
    My recent post It’s Official…I’m Off to Costa Rica this Spring!

  • Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    I absolutely do! And I notice a lot more kindness amongst travelers as well. It’s one of the reasons I love the travel community so much. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve never been treated so well by strangers. I guess it’s cause we’ve all been in the same boat at one point or another, so when we see someone in need, we know how it feels. Honestly, I’ve never had so many random people offer me rides, food, shelter, even money than when I’m on the road. And I always make sure to pay it forward. I’m really thoughtful of karma as well. Even the littlest things I think about. Great piece! Glad to read other travelers feel the same!
    My recent post Tips for Driving in Australia

    • Avatar photo


      Hi Bobbi – I think it is great that travellers go the extra mile to help each other. As you say, it is probably because we have all been in the same boat before, but it is still refreshing that as a community travellers offer such a good level of support for each other.
      My recent post Travel Adventures of an Expat Cat

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