“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.
P.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!