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Smiles Away From Home: Acts of Kindness That Saved the Trip

Smiles Away From Home: Acts of Kindness That Saved the Trip

Because of a rental car mishap, it was well after dark by the time Catherine Dupree and her father arrived in Canakkale, a city in northwestern Turkey, during a vacation in 2006. As they drove around the city, trying in vain to navigate to their hotel (this was well before the days of reliable mapping apps, like Waze), Ms. Dupree’s father spotted a man walking his dog and asked him for help.

“He somehow communicated to us that he had to bring the dog home and then could show us the way,” said Ms. Dupree, now 51 and living in Los Angeles.

The man did, indeed, gesture for them to follow him to his home where, the dog secured, he got into his own car and led the pair for miles, winding through the city’s streets, until he jubilantly pointed out his window to their hotel and then disappeared into the night.

“Our bafflement turned to incredulity turned to gratitude,” Ms. Dupree said of the experience. “My dad passed away in 2020, and he always wished he could have thanked this man for his help.”

As we dive into summer travel, it can be easy to get caught up in the frustrations that often accompany what promises to be another hot, crowded, potentially turbulent season. And yes, there will be flight delays, packed attractions and inevitable inconveniences. But it’s also an opportunity to consider what’s possible when you’re out exploring the world: the kindness of strangers.

Late last year, we asked you to share the memorable acts of kindness that you have experienced while traveling. Your stories are reminders that sometimes, the most memorable and joyful parts of travel can arise from challenging moments.

When Clark Peters was in his early 20s, he and a college friend were backpacking through Europe when disaster struck: They woke up on an overnight train in Italy to find that their cash, checks, Eurail train passes and his friend’s passport had been stolen. Even worse, it was Mr. Peters’s birthday. The two friends disembarked in Milan to regroup, and headed first to the U.S. Consulate to replace the passport and then to an American Express office to replace their stolen traveler’s checks. There, they encountered a family from Ohio, Mr. Peters’s home state, whose daughter was studying abroad in the city.

“They insisted that we stay with them and treated us to a wonderful home-cooked meal, surprising me with a birthday cake,” Mr. Peters, who is now 58 and lives in Columbus, Mo., recalled. “The day…

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