Travelling is testing. And in the same breath, it’s one of the most rewarding and fulfilling things I believe a person can go through. 

Although many of us travel for work, nature, culture shocks, or even escape, it’s the people that really make a place. Ultimately, they’re the reason we go – and the reason we go back. That’s why so many people are determined to keep going back to Bali, even…

At The Broke Backpacker, we’ve been humbled time and time again by the generosity and warmth of people. That’s how we’ve ended up with over 200 years of travel experience between us. It usually comes down to the most random and generous acts of kindness from strangers.

Today we’re going to share some happy times! Here are some of our most amazing stories of kindness from the road. 

If you’re suffering from travel burnout, a little frozen in fear, or just fancy a little pick-me-up, you’re in the right place. Here are our most EXTRAORDINARY travel stories of human goodwill. 

a Pakistani man selling to a tourist wearing boots and a backpack over a colourful blanket
Giving is a gift 🙂

Kindness on the Road

It’s not all doom and gloom! From being stranded roadside to being stranded riverside, these are the tales of big-hearted benevolence that we’ll never forget.

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    1. Hitchhiking With a Family in Portugal

    After an epic morning of surfing in Peniche, I was stranded. In classic Joe fashion, I was underprepared, disorganised and somewhat lost. I’d left all my belongings in my hostel in Ericeira and needed to get back.

    I began the afternoon with my cardboard sign, thumb out and earphones in, just vibing. I was confident I could hitchhike back to Ericeira and avoid paying €50 on a taxi (budget backpacker style). 

    After four hours of no luck, I was losing hope – quickly. The Portuguese don’t like picking up hitchhikers, especially homeless-looking solo males. 

    Man crouching by the side of a road with a cardboard hitchhike sign for Ericeira
    Would you pick me up?
    Photo: @joemiddlehurst

    Numerous scolding looks, the occasional middle finger, and some vigorous horn honks and head shakes from all the locals had left me feeling disheartened and ready to lose €50.

    Then, as if sent by the lord himself, a rickety-looking campervan appeared on the horizon. It was just cruising in the slow lane and I instantly locked eyes with the driver (who looked just as homeless as me). I pointed directly at him and he pointed right back with a huge smile on his face. 

    I asked him where he was heading and he said “I don’t know, where are you trying to go?” I told him I was staying in Ericeira. After a quick family meeting with his two young kids, wife, and smelly dog, he agreed.

    Smiling family stood in front of a camper van with Joe smiling in the selfie camera in the corner
    Jesus and his family saving the day.
    Photo: @joemiddlehurst

    Long story short, he was an even more hardcore traveller than me and had travelled all around the world on a couple of donkeys (WITH his family). Despite speaking limited English, he took me all the way to my hostel (which wasn’t where he planned on going). 

    Joe: Editor & Serial Side Quester

    He asked for nothing in return, but I blessed his little ones with some mango juice. Ant, thank you. I owe you a beer.

    2. A Ride Home From The Desert

    At this point, it’s day seven in the heat of the Nevada desert. We had just finished Burning Man, the craziest festival in the world, and we were starting to pack up camp. I love being spontaneous, but this might have been the most spontaneous move yet for me and my best friend Audy.

    We came to Burning Man with no plans on how we would leave. So, as our friends started to leave, we pondered whether our trek back to Colorado would be a rough one. The hitchhiking trip would entail at least 15 hours, with both of us carrying two suitcases, a bicycle, and two containers of survival goods (food, water jugs, etc.).

    Audy is super optimistic and told me she would find the answers… So she rode off into the desert with her bike. Two hours later, Audy came back nearly in tears… “I GOT US A BUS,” she declared. She jumped and giggled and gave everyone a huge squeeze.

    Turns out, there was a guy at Burning Man who was willing to let us drive his bus from Nevada to Colorado. What are the odds? A BUS.

    Aud, Amanda, and a kind stranger stood smiling in front of a bus in the desert
    The legendary bus owner.
    Photo: @amandaadraper

    That bus fit all our stuff and it had a comfy bed to rest in for the west coast road trip we were about to embark on. This – by far – was the most random act of kindness I have ever received from a stranger.

    Amanda: Junior Editor & Senior Dreamer

    Not only did he trust us with his bus, but he also gave us a week to drive back slowly through the small towns in Nevada, Utah, and Colorado.

    3. Goa’s Perfume Man…

    Mapusa is North Goa’s dirty, noisy, and thoroughly unpleasant metropolitan hub. Most who visit Goa and its hippy beach towns may only pass briefly through its chaotic, dusty bus station. But long-stayers know that the town’s market is THE palace to come to buy spices, kitchenware, bedding, veg, and incense.

    However, Mapusa market is also where the legendary Goa Perfume Man keeps his kiosk. The concept is quite simple: you rock up and wait for your appointment, and when the time comes the Perfume Man stares intensely into your eyes, reads your aura (or whatever) and then mixes you up a personalised, custom perfume (for just a few dollars).

    Man pouring perfume into a bottle in a tiny hop full of colourful bottles
    BEHOLD, the Perfume Man!
    Photo: Aiden Freeborn

    Well after a good wait, my time came. The experience of staring out a hefty, middle-aged Indian man is an unusual one. And I must say I kind of struggled to keep a straight face. This was made all the more challenging as the guy would fire off one-line bits of psychedelic, mystical wisdom at seemingly random intervals;

    “If the animals come into your garden and eat your flowers, build a fence!”

    Ok, so maybe that one was actually more akin to pretty solid horticultural advice.

    After a micro-eternity, he looked away, closed his eyes, smelled the ether, and then brewed up my perfume. Handing me the deep green and blue potion bottle he said to me; 

    “you have great work to do…. this will help you do it… no charge!” 

    Before handing me my free, custom-mixed cologne. And it was the best fragrance I have ever worn.

    photo of Aiden Freeborn, member of The Broke Backpacker team

    Aiden: Gear Manager & Senior Editor

    **Yes I am aware that handing out the odd freebie to foreigners may well be part of his brand-building strategy, but that’s a very cynical view that I choose not to adopt.

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    4. Getting to Bahia With a Free House

    3 p.m. on a random Wednesday: 32 sweaty degrees Celsius, my friend and I were hitchhiking on the side of the road (after having slept at a gas station the night before). We waited for two hours for a blessed soul that would take us to our final destination.

    My thumb was already tired and the water was running out. But the smile was intact. It’s the greatest tip for hitchhiking I can give you.

    Backpacker hitchhiking in Bolivia.
    Tired thumbs.
    Photo: @Sebagvivas

    A Volkswagen from the 70s was coming. I put on my biggest smile – in vain. It just passed by. But it stopped about 100 meters away and reversed. She rolled down the window and asked me (a woman of about 40 years old)

    “Where are you going?”

    Itacaré,” I responded.

    Jump in,” she said. 

    On the way, she told us she was living in Itacaré, but planned to leave town with her daughter after a recent divorce. We told her that we were going to spend more than three months there. The conversation was pleasant, open, and sincere as if we had known each other for a long time.

    She confessed to us that in three days she had to leave the house she had rented and that there were two more months already paid. Shortly after arriving in town, she said “Would you like to stay in the house? Everything is paid for, you only have to cover the electricity…”

    We didn’t hesitate for a second. It turned out to be a house in a beautiful condominium that we would never have been able to afford.

    bio pic for Sebastian Garcia Vivas

    Seba: Digital Wizard & Latino Legend

    To this day that beautiful person remains in contact with us. This reminds me that random acts of kindness along the way are possible, real, and wonderful.

    5. Turning the Bus Around

    I was heading back to my volunteer house after spending a well-needed rest day in Pokhara. It was 6 p.m. and the sun was already starting to set. Nepal is one of those places where solo female travellers shouldn’t reeeeally be out after dark – but I was having fun with friends and it was hard to leave. 

    I hopped on the bus at dusk and got chatting to a lovely lady next to me in broken English. Even as everyone got off the bus, we carried on chatting and we were soon at the end of the line… 

    SHIT. That was definitely the stop for my connecting bus – and now it really is getting dark. 

    I was soon alone with a bus driver and conductor. They already knew: I should have got off at that stop 20 minutes ago. 

    Without question, they turned this huge bus around in a chaotic Pokhara junction and rally raced this huge bus through the chaotic streets. They even made sure I got on the right bus.

    Group of ladies eating Nepali dinner in the dark
    Of course, in true Nepali fashion, they still saved me dinner.
    Photo: @Lauramcblonde

    I made it back in one piece and only received a small telling-off from my Nepali mum from my volunteer family. 

    Meet the Team

    Laura: Senior Editor & Chill Godess

    I promise, next time I’ll be home before dark if I’m walking home alone.

    6. Finding Guidance in Osaka

    I had just arrived in Osaka after my stay in Okinawa and was heading to my hotel in Namba. It was late afternoon when I boarded the train feeling confused and filled with questions about whether I was on the right train to my destination. Despite the uncertainty, I entered confidently and smiled at a stranger staring at me.

    I sat on the empty seat next to an old lady feeling nervous and troubled. Afraid of getting lost in an unfamiliar place.

    people stood next to a stationary train on the platform
    Not shown: my stress sweat.
    Photo: @Rhenzy

    The old lady next to me kept on staring as I looked at my phone browsing Google Maps. I know in my mind that I am on the right track (as Google Maps says so). But still, my gut tells me to ask the lady – just to make sure.

    Broken English, I asked, “This, going to Namba?” pointing at our train. The lady says “Namba-Eki Ikimasu ka?” I looked at her and smiled, responding with “Hai!” as if I understood her question, and then she talked straight in Japanese. 

    Me as my usual self, I smiled at her with a frowning face “What does she say?” I browse my phone, open Google Translate and let her speak. That’s how I understood what she was saying, she was giving me instructions on what to do and she felt sorry that she didn’t speak English. I smiled, said it was okay and thanked her.

    Rhenzy smiling and pointing at the train station in Namba
    Big smiles of success!
    Photo: @Rhenzy

    I thought that would be the end of her helping me out but I was wrong. Before she got out of the train, she poked me and said goodbye.

    She pointed at the door where the signage was, reminded me where I was getting off the train and waved goodbye. 

    photo of Rhenzy Caguioa, member of The Broke Backpacker team

    Rhenz: Empress of the Virtual Assitants

    This random act of kindness makes me want to believe that kind-hearted strangers still exist and genuinely help you out. One of the reasons why I started to love Japan and wanted to go back.

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    7. Mubarak Village Family

    Things were already going well: the beach was empty, I’d just gone for a swim, and it was 85 degrees (Fahrenheit, not Celsius – thank God) and sunny. Suddenly, a young man – who introduced himself as Yasir – came up to us and started chatting with us in Urdu.

    At first, I wasn’t sure if he was a tourist from the city, but I quickly discovered that he actually lived here and his home was only a few steps away. He insisted we come to meet his family and have a cup of tea.

    We hadn’t really gotten the chance to talk with any locals on our previous visits. So I was thrilled, to say the least.

    We quickly packed up our things and followed him through the sand and into the village that was filled with small wooden homes. His elderly mother and grandmother immediately hugged me and ushered us into their humble abode. Now, being invited into strangers’ homes is a common act of kindness while traveling in Pakistan, but what happened next was on an entirely new level.

    I spent the next hours talking with the women – something I could only do because I spent time learning a new language – but they wouldn’t let me leave without giving me the most incredible gift: a handstitched traditional dress unique to their Baloch ethnic group.

    mubarak village pakistan
    The incredible strangers who treated me like a long-lost family member.
    Photo: Samantha Shea

    As I left, they refused anything in return and implored me to come visit again. I’ve been lucky to experience a ton of hospitality while traveling off the beaten path, but nothing really comes close to this. It was a true reminder that the most incredible moments on the road always seem to be the least expected. 

    Samantha: Travel Writer & Adventure Expert

    It was my third visit to Mubarak Vilage, a small, seaside community along Pakistan’s Arabian coast. Little did I know I’d truly saved the best trip for last.

    8. Aussie Sean is a Legend!

    It was a stinking hot morning in our ramshackle hostel in Bucharest in the summer of 2016. In walks this guy and we’re sat there trying to figure his accent out. Is he Aussie or English?! 

    Breaking the ice – we ask him and he begins a story about Adelaide and how folks there have a posh accent more similar to that of Southern England. Proudly telling us it’s because the city was populated by nobility rather than convicts… 

    We get chatting about our plans to visit Australia and over the next few weeks, we travel around the rest of Romania together. Hiking in the Carpathian mountains, renting cars and exploring rural villages, staying in the same hostels and even a hospital trip after a bee sting.

    four people smiling in front of a vinyard
    The gang!
    Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

    Step forward 2.5 years and we’re living in a Stationwagon making our way through the Aussie outback from Melbourne to Darwin, dirtbag style! We stopped at Adelaide on the way to say “Hi!” to Sean… but we didn’t expect the levels of kindness and generosity thrown our way. 

    We spent a week on a mattress in the living room Sean shared with his two housemates. They showed us around Adelaide and we fell in love with this often-overlooked city.

    We climbed at local bouldering spots, swam in hidden coves, hiked to deserted viewpoints and saw areas of the city most visitors never know about. Thanks for being a total legend and for showing us that genuine kindness, friendship, and generosity are out there. 

    photo of Nic Hilditch-Short, member of The Broke Backpacker team

    Nic: Editor & Roaming Renegade

    Sean even borrowed his dad’s car for a vineyard tour and shouted us the most amazing pizza I’ve ever had. In fact, they literally wouldn’t let us pay for anything even when we insisted, citing knowledge of how it is to be a Broke Backpacker on the road!

    9. Blackout in Bogota

    Colombia can be a very dangerous place indeed. I had been backpacking the country for nearly 2 months when the thing you never think will really happen to you, happened to me.

    It was a Saturday night, I was feeling al’right and was sitting outside a supermarket in Bogota’s ‘La Zona Rosa’ sinking some beers with a hostel mate. To cut a long story short, we were joined by two locals and we all shared stories of heartbreak in broken Spanish.

    The time came for me and my hostel buddy to leave and I realised he was a bit legless… like, unable to walk. It was then I knew that he, and maybe WE, had been spiked by Scopolamine – the Notorious Devil’s Breath.

    And that’s the last thing I remember. At least for the next 16 hours when I woke with a sudden start in a strange bed, with a familiar woman, Maria who I had met two months earlier, had a brief dalliance with and then broke it off.

    It turned out that I had been found in an intoxicated, confused, and vulnerable state by ‘Christian’ who had taken my phone from my picket. Rather than steal it, he called the one and only local number in the directory and Maria had answered and come immediately to my aid.

    I am so very eternally grateful to these 2 kind people who quite possibly saved my life while resisting the urge to steal my $50 telephone. (I am less grateful to the 2 not so kind gentlemen who poisoned us, most probably with the hope of stealing my $50 telephone).

    photo of Aiden Freeborn, member of The Broke Backpacker team

    Aiden – Giving Kindess: Round 2!

    Although I do regret to add, that in subsequent days, Christian did mount a bit of an attempt at sliding into Maria’s DMs…

    10. Rescued from the hounds

    We had been exploring all day, far and wide amongst the unreal moonscapes and intriguing ruins of Hampi, India.

    The day had been long and the day had been hot, but arriving back at the river crossing found us being waved away by locals. “Tomorrow, tomorrow”…. it dawned the boat had closed significantly earlier than we had remembered.

    Crowds of people waiting by the side of a river after sunset
    The promised land was RIGHT THERE.
    Photo: Clair Cathryn

    Surely there was another way, there usually is… But on this occasion, there was not. There was no bridge (anymore) and the subsequent boating operation was run either by the local government or the mafia.

    With our dreams of a cold shower and icy Kingfisher dashed, we wandered back towards the main street, looking for, a place to re-group, a guest house, our dignity as seasoned travellers. 

    Suddenly, dog packs started appearing around us. Some “curious”…. maybe, most… many clearly aggressive… The situation quickly escalated from inconvenient, through “kinda desperate” to downright dangerous. 

    “Where you going?” “Where you stay?” Two young men called from the front step of a closed shop.

    “The other side of the river” we reply. 

    “No, not possible, not possible….. Come, you stay here!”

    A completely unexpected offer and although not quite sure where “here” was, we conferred between ourselves, assessing the situation – stranger danger vs the aforementioned dog packs. We quickly accepted their offer. 

    “Here” was indeed right inside their shop. Looking around, there was just enough space for the five of us: two of them, three of us on the floor.

    As the night unfolded, somewhere between their fair English and our very poor Hindi, we laughed, joked and made conversation. We also discovered we had a further companion for the evening: a female relative to one of our hosts!

    Kindness Continues: Chapati Workshop

    Busying herself in a small room to the back of the shop, which we came to realise was a makeshift kitchenette. Inviting us in, instructing us on how to make chapati from scratch and grill it over an open stove top. Perhaps not an entire success on our part, but after many months of travel and extremely limited contact with Indian women we savoured this rare moment to learn from our kindred kind.

    Later we feast on chapati together with delicious dhal, a much much much welcome and again unexpected kindness. We had now not eaten in hours.

    Our generous hosts cleared space and put out some blankets for us all to sleep on. They shared their mustard seed oil, mixed with something, a remedy to keep the mosquitoes at bay and we all squeezed in, glad to be inside – not out.

    Waking early, it was a rough night’s sleep. I had unfortunately become a delicious feast for the river mosquitos, perhaps even basted in their favourite oil, rather than repelled by it, and the ground was indeed as hard as anticipated. However, nothing could have outweighed our gratefulness for this kind and unexpected hospitality.

    cute dogs sleeping. sri lanka
    You think you’re so innocent now, don’t you?
    Photo: @themanwiththetinyguitar
    photo of Clair Cathryn, member of The Broke Backpacker team

    Clair: Superstar PA

    As we headed back down to the river, the town was coming alive, as only India can. It once again looked inviting. Even the dogs, now curled up sleeping soundly on the street, seemed docile and serene amongst the chaos.


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    Final Thoughts on Our Kindness Stories From The Road

    In our experience, these travel stories of epic kindness are not stand-alone. There’s magic in people and they are the reason we keep doing what we’re doing. 

    Of course, we believe in karma. So be a good human and humans will be good to you.

    Spread some love, smile at strangers, and trust in the goodness of the world – you’ll find yourself mixed up in all kinds of happy stories too. 

    If you’ve had some amazing stories on your travels. Tell us about any of your best kindness stories on the road in the comments!

    Two people smiling in the back of a pick up truck on the road
    The world is a little brighter with some kindness.
    Looking for more info on travelling the world?

    And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!