Can Being Nice Enhance Your Travels?

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On average, how many strangers do you think you encounter in your day-to-day life? One? Three? Maybe five?

Chances are, if you work in a suburban office (or at home like me), you probably don't encounter many. If you use public transport to commute to work or frequently run errands, then maybe your number goes up slightly – but it's still not a whole lot.

But compare that number to the number of strangers you encounter when you travel.

Travel is all about new destinations and experiences – and usually comes complete with plenty of new people, too. Plenty of strangers to make an impression on you, either positive or negative, that can sometimes shape your entire travel experience.

Haggis Adventures
On a group tour, everyone is a stranger at first!

DoubleTree by Hilton wants to spread the nice in travel this spring. They believe that “nice is contagious,” and that small acts of kindness can have a big impact in the long run. Which is why they've launched the Nice Travels campaign.

The campaign “will show that the best way to have a stress-free travel experience is to give out what you want to get back… because Nice Travels.”

The campaign to encourage simple acts of kindness launches today – National Pay It Forward Day – and got me thinking about some of the small (and large) acts of kindness that have shaped and influenced some of my own travel experiences.

Acts of kindness on the road

I've been traveling regularly for more than five years, and have traveled solo, taken tours, and met strangers in more than 40 countries all around the world.

I'm a firm believer that travel helps break down barriers and crush stereotypes, and one of the best ways to do this is to talk to strangers, whether you're visiting Canada or Cambodia.

I mean, think about it – how many times has a stranger had an influence on your perception of an unfamiliar destination, or played a part in a particularly memorable experience? Chances are you can think of at least a few instances right off the top of your head.

Kids in Vietnam
Playing soccer with these kids in Vietnam was definitely memorable.

Sometimes these experiences are negative (we've all met That Person who makes a flight miserable, or who berates a service worker, or who complains non-stop throughout a tour). In fact, according to DoubleTree by Hilton's “Nice Travel Index,” just 36% of the conversation online about travel is positive. And I get it; travel can be stressful, and it's easy to lash out at people – and especially strangers – when something goes wrong or your plans get interrupted.

But imagine how great our travel experiences could be if we were just a little nicer to our fellow human beings.

New friends being selfless

Strangers often become friends when you travel together, and I've gone on to meet new friends in their home countries all over the world. Most recently, I met up with my friend Tammy who I'd met on a tour in New Zealand in her home province of Alberta, Canada. Tammy found out via Instagram that I would be in Banff for a day, and insisted on driving down from Edmonton to ferry me around to Banff's most beautiful lakes and viewpoints.

I know Canadians are known for being incredibly kind, but this really went above and beyond!

Me and Tammy at Lake Louise
Tammy and I at Lake Louise

Strangers on a train

I've traveled by public transport a lot (especially in Europe), and quite a few times have come across complete strangers who decided they would take it upon themselves to look after me. Sometimes it's just a man helping me stow my bag, or a driver letting me know when we've come to my stop.

Once in Slovenia, I had an old lady not only help me stow my bag on a train (despite the fact that she couldn't even lift it), but also sit in the row in front of me to keep an eye out for me as I took a nap. We couldn't exchange any actual words because of the language barrier, but smiles and hand gestures between me and my Slovenian grandma left me feeling good for the rest of the day.

Hanging with locals

Some of my favorite travel memories have been when locals have taken me under their wing and invited me to do seemingly normal things with them. Like the day a tour guide in Bulgaria invited me and two friends to a water park with him and his girlfriend, gave us a ride, and even paid for us to get in.

Or the time last year when my contact at a local tourism board in Norway invited me to her house for dinner and to watch the Eurovision contest with her and a friend. It's something that certainly makes me look back on my time in Trondheim with a huge smile.

Bakklandet in Trondheim
Trondheim, Norway

Things YOU can do to pay it forward

Even the smallest acts of kindness can have a ripple effect on those around you, especially when you're traveling. You don't have to buy someone a plane ticket or open up your hotel room or anything like that, though – small gestures help, too.

Things like giving up your seat on a train if someone else needs it, or saying a heartfelt thank you to a bus driver or flight attendant. Things like buying your tour guide a cup of coffee, or lending some money to someone whose ATM card just won't work. It can even be things that don't benefit one specific person, like picking trash up off a beach, or donating travel supplies you don't need any longer rather than throwing them away.

I also donate to sustainable charities, always have ginger chews on hand to pass out on windy bus rides, and try not to waste transport passes that I buy – if I buy a 7-day metro pass but only use it for 5, I always give it to someone at the train station when I'm done using it.

Like I said, small gestures. Because those can definitely be contagious.


Share your own #NiceTravels moments

As part of the Nice Travels campaign, DoubleTree by Hilton wants to know how YOU are paying it forward on your travels. In order to do this, the brand has created the Nice Travels Index, a real-time social listening and measurement tool that tracks online sentiment towards travel.

Using this and the interactive #NiceTravels online photo mosaic, DoubleTree by Hilton will identify and reward travelers that are doing their part to bring the “nice” back to travel.



For your chance to win free stays (and to be inspired by random acts of kindness being captured all across the globe), all you have to do is snap a picture capturing the everyday kindness that you encounter and share it across Instagram and Twitter using #NiceTravels and #ContestEntry, or upload your picture directly to

All of the photos shared come together online at to form an interactive mosaic in the form of a cookie (based on the delicious cookies DoubleTree by Hilton provides to guests when they check in). The contest is open through May 25, 2016.

Click here to see how Nice Travels

So what do you think? Can being nice affect your travel experience, or that of others around you? Share some of your own travel acts of kindness (either observed or carried out) in the comments below!



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"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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26 Comments on “Can Being Nice Enhance Your Travels?

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  1. I think while one needs to be careful when they travel it also never hurts to be a bit nicer a bit more open. This not only allows you to meet beautiful souls along the way but you also get a chance to pass on some positive energy around 🙂 great read

    You are so right about all of this. Your attitude and the way you treat others really does impact your traveling experience in a positive way. A kind act and a smile can go a long way. This is a great post! Thanks so much for sharing!

      Glad you enjoyed it, Morgan!

    I love your website, Amanda, I discovered it today and am having great fun reading your posts. I’m setting out June 1st on a solo trip around the world as a senior traveler and find your advice quite helpful. The first post of yours I read was about Dunedin as my first stop will be New Zealand, I’ve saved it and Wellington as guides.

    But, on the topic of nice memories, in 2008, I took a TGV train from Rome to Venice with a big backpack. I journeyed back on Christmas Eve day; the train was completely booked with people heading into Rome for Christmas. The aisles were filled with huge rolling suitcases (full of presents) that rolled one way when the train went up a hill and back when it came down. Everyone helped keep the suitcases moving safely and watched my backpack when I needed to use the WC. They even found different seats for my backpack as people arrived at their stops. By the time we reached Rome, I knew the history of a half a dozen families and had directions to three “best Italian pastry” shops and where to buy the best homemade lasagna noodles! Such a great memory, celebrating the Christmas holidays with my fellow travelers!

    Did you paint the watercolor masthead for your website? I wish I could find something like that for the travel blog I’m creating (ineptly in WordPress).

    Well, back to reading your posts, I’m hoping you’ve visited Mongolia, Russia and Australia so I can benefit from your travels. Thanks for sharing!

      What a great holiday memory! Those are the best kinds of travel interactions. 🙂

      And no, I didn’t paint the masthead on my site – my very talented friend Candace did. You can check out her site at

    Interesting concept and contest – I wonder if Hilton started it to improve employee morale from dealing with crabby customers! I cringe when I see people verbally abusing service staff, especially at the airport, as if that will get you anywhere!

      That’s an interesting thought! I always feel bad about that, too, when I see it happening.

    Last time we were in France, my husband left his bag including his passport at a tram stop in Strasbourg. One lady alerted him to it, another man was trying to convince the tram driver to wait till my husband jumped off and got the bag back (the driver didn’t stop but then he couldn’t really!). Husband managed to get the back and caught the next tram to meet me at the station so it ended well but the people were literally jumping to their feet to help us, even though they didn’t know us at all and it was obvious we spoke next to no French. A very stressful experience which turned out to be a lovely memory of France.

      Wow, nothing like a whole group of people banding together to help some one!

    I’m not always a big fan of sponsored posts, but this one is amazing. I definitely agree being nice goes along way. When I think of my most memorable moments, I think of the times everything went wrong, and the times people have helped me out. (Fortunately, those two often went together.) I also want to highlight the importance of helping travelers in your area. Maybe you don’t encounter a lot of strangers every day, but if you live in a city and know there are tourists, pay extra attention. When someone looks lost, offer to help out, walk them to their destination instead of just pointing it out on the map, give additional suggestions for sights to see or places to eat. You can have a positive impact on how others see your hometown.

    Good points all around Amanda. I always say that the people of countries make the experience memorable. Getting to somewhere beautiful or doing something awesome when traveling might not have the same impact had someone not helped you along the way or added to the experience of it all. Like, when I was in Yangon during Thingyan and all buses were booked and everyone was complaining and stressed — I thought…just be positive and something will come. And then we randomly met “John” a 70yr old Myanmar guy who walked us to an off street bus stand and made sure they called and checked everywhere and we scored tickets for all of us. And even warned us not to book hotels with them because they would rip us off for that part.

      It’s pretty amazing what having a positive attitude can do! I definitely aim to do that on my travels. And, in the end, most things do tend to work out!

    Being nice does wonders, I can’t tell you how many times at hotels/restaurants/airports have gone the extra mile and I really think it has deal with being nice to them.

      Oh for sure. It’s amazing how much better service you get if you just smile and are a generally nice human being!

    What an awesome idea for a campaign! It’s making me all warm and fuzzy inside haha. It’s through travel that I’ve learned that there is still (thankfully) so much kindness and goodness in the world and a firm believer in kindness being both extremely, positively impactful and contagious. I never forget the acts of kindness I’ve been shown while on the road. Like the insane generosity of a local Aussie couple who offered me their spare room when I found myself stuck in their town with no accommodation and transport. They made me a part of their family and I feel that now they’re a part of mine 🙂 I’m forever thankful and indebted to them.

      I’ve found the same – despite what the media tries to tell us, there IS a lot of kindness left in the world. Glad to hear you’ve experienced it, too!

    One memorable moment (of many) on my trip of southeastern Europe in 2014… After arriving in Dubrovnik, I still had leftover Bosnian convertible marks (BAM) in bills in my wallet. I didn’t know what to do with them!
    I went into a wine shop while walking through the old town. The lady store owner spoke fluent English so we got into a friendly conversation. (She said her dad lived in New York City many years ago) I mentioned that I had Bosnian money, and she offered to take it off my hands! She explained she regularly went to Bosnia, and it was a pain getting BAMs from the local bank. So I gave her my leftover bills and got Croatian kuna in return. This was wonderful! Plus not every shop accepted credit cards or required a minimum amount to charge.
    I’m sure my leftover BAMs weren’t a huge amount converted to US dollars, hopefully, it probably was enough for this lady owner towards her next trip to Bosnia.

      It’s always great when you can do little favors like that for one another!

    I’ve definitely found being kind while travelling is almost mandatory unless you want to have a terrible travel experience! Especially if you’re travelling in a group travel (ie. Contiki or G Adventures), when people are travelling they’re in a great mood and negative or rude people are even more repulsive than they would otherwise be back home. Plus, the great thing about travelling is meeting people and how can you meet people if you’re a jerk? The only caveat I would say though is to be very nice, but be firm and smart when dealing with the occasional rip-off artists that one will invariably meet while travelling abroad. To those scumbags, be a jerk all day long!

      I totally agree! You want to be nice, but you don’t want to be so nice that you end up getting scammed!

    I love this post! The people you meet ABSOLUTELY help mould your appreciation of a place, and I for one am always keen to help out a traveller as I’ve received so much help myself over the years. I watch The Amazing Race and one of the best things about it is seeing how much help the racers get from random people everywhere – the little things really matter when you’re vulnerable on the other side of the world.
    On the flip side have a really bad day and encounter jerks and it’s hard not to paint everyone with the same brush. I will definitely check out #NiceTravels as I love to get the warm fuzzies and with all the hatred in the world it’s important to remember there’s only a relatively small number of selfish arseholes who cause it.

      It’s crazy how just one person can have such a huge impact on an entire travel experience! Thankfully I’m the type of traveler who likes to focus on the good and forget about the bad as much as possible. 🙂

    Apart from the amazing memories and adventures, the main reason we love travelling is that it allows us to experience how good and kind people are all over the world! And experiencing it is not only easier because we meet more strangers, but also we are more vulnerable during our travels especially when we visit places we’ve never been before. And all these acts of kindness are so heartwarming to think back and definitely have a fair share in our overall experience about a place. Like the random guy at the gas station helping to measure and adjust tire pressure for our rental car. Or the one giving us a ride, because our next accommodation is complicated to reach by public transport. Or our hosts inviting us for dinner with their family. And most of these gestures are such small acts of kindness. Like smiling at us when explaining directions and wish us an enjoyable stay at the end. Still they make such a difference!

      I completely agree – I think the biggest thing travel has taught me is that people on the whole are good and kind. And yes, even the smallest gesture really can go a long way and completely make a travel day!

    Some of my best travel moments have occurred to due kindness from strangers, or my own kindness towards strangers.
    Kindness always goes a long way.

      It does really go a long way! And I’d wager a guess that just about every traveler can give examples of having kindness shown to them while away from home.

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