“You guys seem cool, just take my house for the weekend and leave the keys under the mat,” says Neil our Couchsurfing host, whom we’d known for all of twenty minutes back in 2013. After a fun chat about our shared love of travel, his original offer of a one-night stay in his guest room just upped to three days and a private home in the seaside town of Nelson, New Zealand. “Wow, are you sure?” we asked with our mouths agape. “Of course, of course,” he said as he swung open the kitchen door with his 6’4” wingspan. “Now let’s go in, before our dinner burns.” Sitting down for home-cooked chili, Neil, a dock worker in his 50s, told us about his plan to fly to Los Angeles, buy a motorcycle, and road trip The West. Without even thinking about it, I said, “I’m from LA, you should totally stay with my mom!” He kindly accepted…now to explain this to my mother.

“You did what?!” my mother Robin replied. “Why would you invite a strange man to stay in my house?” We told her of Neil’s incredible generosity and did all the convincing we could to avoid rescinding our homestay offer. “He’s such a nice guy, tons of fun, and we want to show him the same hospitality he showed us.” She eventually gave us the “Okay, fine, but he better not be weird.”
 
Flash forward two months, my mom (still a little nervous) opens the front door. “Hi Robin, I’m Neil. Pleasure to meet you,” he said with his charming Kiwi accent, silver-fox good looks, and manners of a boy scout. She welcomed him in, on what would become the first of four trips to Los Angeles over the next seven years.
 
In 2016, it was my mom’s turn to stay at Neil’s house. At 67 years of age, she probably wouldn’t have flown across the world by herself to backpack New Zealand, but she had a friend to stay with. He gave her the VIP tour of greater Nelson and a home base for days of adventures from Abel Tasman National Park to Marlborough Sound.

#ITravelBecause one act of kindness can have enough momentum to circle the globe five times.

HoneyTrek Kindness of StrangersP.S. When Neil heard we were RVing Oregon this summer, he drove across the state on his latest motorcycle and we finally got the chance to have him over to our place.

Note: The HoneyTrek #ITravelBecause series is inspired and sponsored by Allianz Travel. Get yourself some travel insurance and get out there!

27 thoughts on “#ITravelBecause: Kindness Makes the World Go Round

  • September 2, 2019 at 12:56 am
    Permalink

    You guys are incredible. I have told this story many times over the years, I thought I may have pushed my luck a bit with filling up your mom’s entrance with auto parts, but no worries at all. I see where you get your amazingness from! Take care, Neil

    Reply
    • September 4, 2019 at 6:30 pm
      Permalink

      Glad you feel the same way about this story. What a fateful meeting! Glad my mom could be your LA rock for all your US adventures. FYI my sister and bro-in-law are planning a trip to NZ for Dec 2020. You may get a knock on your door 😉

      Reply
  • September 2, 2019 at 8:18 am
    Permalink

    Thank you for sharing your experience! With all the negative news out there, it’s truly inspiring to see kindness going round and round

    Reply
    • October 14, 2019 at 4:05 pm
      Permalink

      Of course Arya…totally agree on the negative news these days. Seems that all people want to consume (and the media is happy to oblige and share the scary/negative/death/terrorism/war stories). Hopefully some happy news will start flowing in more regularly!

      Reply
  • September 2, 2019 at 7:23 pm
    Permalink

    I’ve not couch surfed before but we’ve been looking into it for our upcoming trip to Indonesia! It’s so great to hear such a good experience.

    Reply
    • September 4, 2019 at 6:17 pm
      Permalink

      Couchsurfing appeals to some because, hey it’s a free way to stay, but everyone soon realizes it’s all about the lovely people you meet. Indonesia couchsurfing should be a fascinating…go for it!

      Reply
  • September 2, 2019 at 10:07 pm
    Permalink

    I don’t travel very often, but your post makes me want to commit to traveling more

    Reply
    • September 4, 2019 at 6:16 pm
      Permalink

      Travel is the greatest experience. Gotta get out there…that’s where the magic happens 🙂

      Reply
  • September 2, 2019 at 10:58 pm
    Permalink

    What a nice story! Seems like your mom ended up being great friends with Neil as well 🙂

    Reply
    • September 4, 2019 at 6:15 pm
      Permalink

      Oh yea, we’re all friends. It has been a few years, but we saw Neil a couple month ago (on his way to see my mom lol) and it was like no time had passed.

      Reply
  • September 2, 2019 at 11:35 pm
    Permalink

    Traveling is the best!! It has shown me just how universal kindness is. It is the norm everywhere I go despite everyone often thinking the world is a scary place!

    Reply
    • September 4, 2019 at 6:12 pm
      Permalink

      Ain’t that the truth! People just have to stop being scared and they’ll realize kindness IS the norm!

      Reply
  • September 3, 2019 at 1:15 am
    Permalink

    This all worked out so beautifully! I love to travel, but this puts a whole new spin on meeting new people and staying connected beyond the road.

    Reply
    • September 4, 2019 at 6:11 pm
      Permalink

      One good thing after another. Neil believed in us, my mom believed in him, and now we’re all like family

      Reply
  • September 3, 2019 at 4:56 am
    Permalink

    i love this post !! i believe that random acts of kindness make the word a better place !

    Reply
    • September 4, 2019 at 6:08 pm
      Permalink

      Aww thanks, we’re on the same page! If you put out good vibes, they come back to you!

      Reply
  • September 3, 2019 at 10:20 am
    Permalink

    It is awesome that you guys were able to make a life long friend and be able to visit each other’s homes! My mom would have had the exact same response if I had invited someone she didn’t know too. LOL I loved this!

    Reply
    • September 4, 2019 at 6:07 pm
      Permalink

      Whenever one lets their guard down a little bit, good things happen! If you invite a stranger to stay with your mom, let us know if you need back up 😉

      Reply
  • September 3, 2019 at 11:11 am
    Permalink

    So amazing how kindness can keep snowballing like that. It’s all about helping others and sharing the travel spirit!

    Reply
  • September 3, 2019 at 2:55 pm
    Permalink

    Wow you’ve built an incredible relationship with him now from what should have been a short stay. So lovely for your mum too!

    Reply
  • September 4, 2019 at 9:23 pm
    Permalink

    awh – love this story! It’s amazing how the best of friendships always come from unexpected circumstances!

    Reply
    • October 14, 2019 at 4:05 pm
      Permalink

      Could not agree more Stephanie. Sometimes when you put yourself out there (or are in between a rock and hard place) someone comes to the rescue and you have the BEST time!!!

      Reply
  • September 7, 2019 at 1:16 am
    Permalink

    Hi Mike and Anne, so glad you can travel the world with your loved one. Also if you ever travel alone, you always find some strangers to help you, but they are your friend throughout your life. You make new connections on the way and build up till the last breath of your lives. Thanks for helping others realize this as well.

    Reply
    • October 14, 2019 at 3:57 pm
      Permalink

      You are 1000% right Anson…there is SO much kindness in the world. People just need to be open mind and have a smile on their face to experience it!

      Reply
  • September 7, 2019 at 9:06 am
    Permalink

    Something similar has happened to us , in the sense we hosted a family whom we had met during a train Journey in India.The ladies mother was apprehensive staying with us saying how can anyone stay with strangers. Now we are the thickest of friends.

    Reply
    • October 14, 2019 at 3:54 pm
      Permalink

      Love that Vasu!!! Seriously, once you do it, you realize everyone is kind and open to new friends and new experiences. Hopefully you get to visit them someday (what country were they from?)

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.