Chrisopher Elliott, Especially for USA TODAY
Published 11:25 ET ET June 5, 2020 | Updated 11:26 ET June 5, 2020 CLOSED
Piper Franklin’s 7th birthday party must be canceled. Friends find a way to celebrate, and it triggers something bigger in their city.
USA DAYS INISanne Wesselman meets her travel angel in a Spanish grocery store. At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, he was locked up in Alicante, Spain. Wesselman, who runs a marketing agency in the Netherlands, was scheduled to fly home the next day but could not find a face mask. “I’m a little nervous about taking the flight right at the time of the plague,” he said. “So not being able to buy a face mask definitely increases my stress level.” Another shopper heard him talking to a friend about his problem. Friendly strangers offer to make it a face mask. “He prepared a good package for me, containing a face mask, gloves and hand sanitizer,” said Wesselman, who documents his trip on his travel blog. “I took it the next day.” The science behind random acts of kindness. A recent survey by Dignity Health, one of the largest health systems in the United States, found two out of three Americans said that smiling or greeting from other travelers would make them feel less stressed while traveling. The majority of travelers (75%) say that they have done something good to make other day travelers better. “Kindness also reduces anxiety, which usually increases when we travel during busy times like summer,” said Sara Whatley-Dustin, a doctor from Camarillo, California. And that is especially true for this summer, when there is so much uncertainty and fear. Travel angels are an indispensable part of flying, driving and sailing. It’s not just travelers who take random acts of kindness during the tense summer travel season. Travel industry employees also show their charity side. The employee is a travel angel, also Jess Ekstrom, a professional speaker from Raleigh, N.C, remembers arriving in Philadelphia one night. He waited for a car rental shuttle outside the terminal. “It was dark, the waiting room was not well lit, and I stood alone,” he recalled. He felt insecure. “The shuttle Enterprise came, and the driver parked his vehicle and waited until the right shuttle stopped so I wouldn’t stand there alone,” he said. Now he says he will always rent from Enterprise. Sometimes travel angels work in lost and found departments. They did it at Staybridge Suites Rapid City when a young guest lost his lovely giraffe doll. The hotel’s general manager, Patricia Redder, said her team was trying hard to find the owner. “We post information to Facebook, hoping that the owner likes our page or someone who knows the owner will see our post,” he said. “About an hour or so, someone sees a post who knows someone who knows the owner.” And the hotel reunites the giraffe with its young guests, who are happy. Have you met an angel during the trip? Silvana Frappier recently offered help to fellow passengers on flights from Boston to São Paulo via Miami. The woman was overwhelmed by travel pressures and quickly handed her 3-month-old daughter to Frappier, owner of a video production company in Boston. He promised to help her when they changed planes in Miami. Crew members pay attention to his random acts of kindness. He received a boarding pass in Miami with a free upgrade to business class. “A flight attendant told me that they pay attention to my kindness and that they want to pay it back with kindness,” he recalls. The act of kindness that I usually encounter is also a travel angel. He has a Vrbo apartment that I rented in Nice, France, in March. When the pandemic struck, Luisa canceled all upcoming reservations so that my children and I had a safe place to wait for the lockout. He checked us regularly until my children started calling him Aunt Luisa. He is the best .ollie Krengel, a traveler who often creates travel guide websites, says in today’s world, acts of kindness are randomly surprising. “This reminds us that humanity does exist,” he said. “This proves the opposite of what is reported on the news every day. When you travel, you realize how truly great people are.” With the busy summer travel season increasing, and with the political landscape showing sharp divisions, can’t we all use a little kindness? How to travel angels Here’s how to spread good intentions when you travel: Spread love. If you have elite status, consider giving other passengers a portion of the wealth. It happened to Jamie O’Donnell, an event planner from Orlando, Florida, on one of his first flights after graduating from college. Suddenly, a ticket agent gave him a first-class ticket. It turns out that strangers secretly make up for upgrades that will end. He will never forget that kind gesture. “I have never flown in first class in my life, it always feels so out of reach, like something I could never do,” he said. Pay forward. One easy way to do good is to pay a stranger’s food or drink. That’s what Nicole Sunderland, an Instagrammer from Washington, D.C., did. “When I get coffee, I always pay the people behind me without them knowing,” he said. “Someone did it for me years ago, and I never forgot what it was like to make me.” Go above and beyond. If someone asks for help, consider working harder. Catherine Gregory remembers flying to Lima, Peru, a few years ago. “I asked the Peruvian couple next to me on the plane for advice on how to navigate the taxi situation,” Gregory, a writer from Portland, Oregon, recalled. “To my surprise, they didn’t just give me instructions. They took me through customs and rode with me in the taxi, making sure I got into the hotel before they continued on their way home. I will never forget their kindness to go up and out. “Christopher Elliott is a consumer advisor. Contact him at [email protected] or visit elliott.org.AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow the Last Text of the Last SlideRead the Slide or Read this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/2020/06/05/05/travel- age-coronavirus-random-action-goodness-aid / 3154487001 /
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