WOW! What an incredible few weeks this has been scattering kindness throughout my travels! If you read my original traveling kindness post from June, you know that I started my travels in Los Angeles, California to present a virtual session about technology and kindness at the ISTE Conference, while also completing my final trip for the R.E.B. Award for Teaching Excellence. What an honor to share my adventures both in and out of the classroom!
Thirty-six hours after arriving home from California, I packed up my family of five and headed back out west for a family vacation where we explored national parks, state parks, and tourist attractions in Nevada, Arizona, and Utah.
Below are several kindness stories from my adventures to inspire you with lots of ideas that you can do when you travel, too!
There are so many ways to leave hidden messages for other to discover when you are traveling. The first thing I did was change the name of my Bluetooth connection from “Mom’s iPhone” to “You are loved!” It might seem a little silly, but just knowing that anyone sitting near me, looking to connect to Bluetooth, would be reminded that they were loved brought me such joy! It was a quick and easy way to make others smile without even having to say a word.
I love to bring post-it notes when I travel. I have them in my backpack, suitcase, purse, any space I can use. It’s such fun leaving notes of affirmation everywhere I go! Some of the places I leave post-it notes include store shelves, tables, chairs, restroom mirrors and walls, above water fountains, on airplanes, in hotels, even in gift shops! The power of a post-it note is endless as you never know how many people will read the note before someone claims it as their own. And for that person? It just might be the only kind words they receive that day.
I rarely purchase magazines, but it’s always fun to pick up one while traveling. After flipping through, I will often leave them behind for someone else to read, usually in a visible location. This magazine focused on mindfulness, so I thought it was a perfect read for someone traveling! I left this one at a food court table inside the airport, then when I passed by the table thirty minutes later, it was gone! Such fun!
I love bringing candy to give away during my travels. My favorites include 100 Grand bars with little notes saying, “You are worth 100 Grand”, individual bags of M&Ms, and individually wrapped Smarties with a note that someone is a “Smartie” (great for conferences or learning sessions!) Always make sure your candy is left in a safe place where small children or animals can’t get into it. I made sure to say “Thanks” to my flight attendants and gave a few candy bars to gift shop cashiers. I even saw Roz from my Traveling Kindness post the second time I went to the airport and made sure she knew how much I appreciated her kindness from the week before!
Even though pennies don’t have much of a monetary value here in the U.S., they are meaningful symbols when left in cemeteries or at memorials. While in California, I visited the final resting places of famous celebrities like Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe. In Nevada, we added our penny to a memorial for the Hoover Dam dog.
Pennies (and other coins) are fun to scatter around for children to discover as well. I was searching for fountains to lay coins along the edge for others to throw in, but ended up leaving coins along the flower garden walkway at the Getty Museum when I saw several children nearby.
While visiting the Santa Monica Pier, I was so excited to see an arcade filled with games! After walking around and seeing the different options, I ended up leaving quarters in the candy machines, and a few games: a traditional Skeeball game and an old-fashioned Pac-Man game. Many arcades now use swipe cards to load money, so in the future I may put a few dollars on a card and leave it somewhere to be discovered.
That same evening, I sat on a bench along the Santa Monica Pier, listening to the ocean waves and waiting on the sunset. A woman stumbled towards my bench a bit haphazardly. At a quick glance, I thought she might be homeless as she was carrying a multitude of items in her hands, including a well-loved baby doll and a Tupperware container with cereal rattling inside. I scooted over so she could sit down and she turned to me, mumbling about needed to gather all her things to go home. “It’s my bedtime and I don’t want to be late,” she muttered while trying to readjust her clothes and meager belongings.
Even though it was the middle of summer, she was wearing a heavy coat and a long scarf that was dragging on the ground. As she stood back up, I realized the scarf could easily get stepped on, or might cause her to trip. I looked up and said, “Hang tight, your scarf is dragging too low.” Her eyes met mine and she gave me the greatest gift that evening – her face brightened with the biggest smile on her face. “Yes, yes, that would be good!” she replied as I reached up and adjusted her scarf, gently taking the long end and wrapping it over her shoulder. She then turned and walked away, still talking to herself.
While our entire exchange lasted less than two minutes, I sat on that bench for a good while longer, thinking about how something as small as adjusting a stranger’s scarf can completely change your day. I wished I was able to do more for her, but I was grateful for the opportunity to do the small act that I could. Since I didn’t capture a photo of the moment, I snapped a photo of my view instead to remind me of kindness on the pier.
Another thing I like to do in my travels is offering to take photos of others on vacation, especially in large groups where one person is not going to be part of the photo because they are behind the camera. My family knows that I will ALWAYS lag behind a little as we walk from here to there as I can’t resist offering to help! The best part is when there’s a kindness boomerang and other people offer to take photos of us, too. Below is a photo of me with my family of five inside of Bryce Canyon, enjoying the kindness of a stranger!
We experienced another wonderful act of kindness as we traveled to Zion National Park. In order to visit the various canyons and cliffs, you have to park at the bottom of the park and take a tram to various stops. Half the parking lot was closed due to cleaning, so there was a mad scramble of cars trying to find a spot to park, then board the tram.
After circling through several times, this very kind woman making her way back to her car, caught our eye and said she was getting ready to leave, so she would stay in her spot until we drove back around so we could hop in when she left. I literally wanted to cry with relief from her kindness. It was the best act of kindness we experienced that day! To capture the moment, I took a photo of her car backing out of the spot to remind me to do the same for others in the future.
While in Los Angeles, CA, I signed up for an all-day tour since it was my first time visiting the city and I was traveling alone. I was one of the last people picked up for the tour, which resulted in limited seating availability, so I sat in the first spot open, beside a woman with a friendly smile. I later learned her name was Sheila and she was traveling from Texas with several friends, sitting nearby.
As we drove through the city, making various stops, we started comparing our photos to see if one of us snapped a photo the other one missed. She shared a few of her photo-snapping hacks and I shared my knowledge of apps and filters. We started sharing our photos back and forth through text messages and by the end of the day we had the best of the best memories from our trip.
When it came time for me to exit the bus at the end of our tour, I gave her a copy of my book as a thank you. She gasped and said, “I was sitting beside an author the whole day and didn’t even know it!” Thank you, Shelia, for being one of my favorite traveling kindness memories from my California trip!
I love to surprise my hotel room attendant with an extra little “Thank you” of some cash and a note of appreciation. While I’m sure that I’m not the messiest guest they’ve ever had, I still want them to know that I see the extra effort they put into making my accommodations nice and neat. I also make sure to follow whatever rules they have like putting all dirty towels in a pile for easy pick-up. When my stay is done, I do my own “clean sweep” where I toss out partially used items like soaps and shampoos so they don’t have to do it themselves.
At the hotel pool area, you might see me picking up discarded towels that were left by other guests on chairs at the end of the night or even adding a few pool toys like balls, extra goggles, or floating toys to the hotel’s collection if they have one.
On this trip, there was an ice cream vending machine right outside the entrance to the pool, so one night we surprised our kids with ice cream when they were done swimming! Next time I will bring a little extra money to tape to the vending machines so someone else can enjoy a sweet surprise!
Gift Shops and Souvenirs
It’s true that I can lose myself in a gift shop! I love to look around at all the novelties and see the creative ways people can remember their travels. Sometimes I will hide cash in various places with a note for someone else. Occasionally, I will give money to the cashier as a “pay-it-forward” for them to apply to the next person’s purchase.
At national parks, and other touristy places, you can sometimes find a machine that will take your penny and create a souvenir coin by flattening the coin with heavy gears, then imprinting it with a logo of the park. I found one of these machines at the Red Rock Canyon gift shop in Nevada and left some money so a stranger could make one of their own.
As I was walking back to the machine to tape my money and note, I saw a woman standing there, digging through her purse for money. I gently tapped her and handed her the note with two dollar bills saying, “Here you go! I’ve got it all covered for you! Enjoy!” She looked up in surprise then returned my smile, saying, “That is very kind of you! Thank you so much!” I then stepped away with a happy heart knowing for just that moment, all was right with the world.
Another fun RAK I completed was at the Hershey gift store when we visited the New York New York casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. I saw several adorable T-shirts that made me smile and my son helped me decide what act of kindness to complete in the store. We saw a display of candy jars in the shape of Hershey Kisses (which matched the theme of the shirts I loved!) so we hid a few dollars in one of them as a surprise along with a note of affirmation. It was such fun to do this act of kindness with my child!
If you’ve followed my author journey, you know that I always bring a few copies of A Passion for Kindness to leave in the cities that I visit. (I also love to take photos of my book as it “travels” around the world!) This summer’s adventures were no different. While in California, I left my book on a table in an outdoor restaurant simply because the menu colors matched the color of my book.
In Nevada, I visited Marion E. Cahlan Elementary School, where my teaching career began 24 years ago. Since I referenced the school in my book, I left a little note on page 101 in addition to my note on the cover and a personalized autograph on the inside. Visiting Cahlan again after so many years, reflecting on all the incredible experiences I’ve had since becoming a teacher, felt like coming full-circle!
While my summer break ends this week, I am grateful for the many opportunities I had to weave my passion for kindness through the memories I made across the country. I would love to know how you’ve scattered kindness in your travels, too! Feel free to leave a comment on the bottom of this post or reply back to my email if you are on my mailing list. Your ideas inspire! Together we can remind others of so much good in this world!