Sunday, October 2, 2011

Rewarding Random Acts of Travel Kindness

MSNBC: A gallbladder stone ... a lost passport ... altitude sickness, diarrhea and dehydration — those are the sort of experiences that can really ruin a vacation. But sometimes a stranger, friend or family member comes to the rescue. And it would be nice if they could get a reward.

That’s the idea behind a contest to award a $10,000 vacation to one heroic do-gooder who saved a trip.

Over the summer, travelers sent tales of vacations rescued by random acts of kindness to Travel Guard, a travel insurance company. A panel of travel experts chose ten finalists.

Some examples:

- A stranger offered cash to a young woman to replace stolen travel documents;

- Someone arranged an interpreter, amenities and a medical evacuation for a couple with a medical emergency;

- A couple helped a woman and her baby trapped in a car that flew off the highway, flipped and rolled down an embankment.

Not all stories involved the kindness of strangers. In some, a friend or family member is the hero.

For instance:

- A woman on an adventure in Colorado with her best friend ended up in the hospital for five days with a gallbladder stone attack. Sara S. (no full names are posted in the online contest) wrote: “Laura was a champion of either catching or cleaning up my vomit, measuring and dumping out my urine bonnet, and listening to me whine about the pain until I was well enough for surgery. She had taken a week off from her nursing job to go on vacation and ended up being my own personal nurse.”

- Another finalist relates how he felt ready to die after coming down with “some kind of amoebic dysentery” on a Mount Kilimanjaro climb. “My father, with the help of two porters, carried me and our essential gear down the mountain,” wrote Ryan E., “stopping only once for a short five minute water break ... he finally got me to a clinic, and battled his way through Masai warriors with spears to get my medications. He never gave up on me, so I am alive.”

Travel Guard is asking the public to vote on which act of travel kindness should be rewarded with a $10,000 vacation. All ten tales of travel woe are posted here. Voting starts today and runs through October 31.

And because this is a contest about kindness, the traveler who submitted the winning story will receive $2,000 in airfare and one randomly selected voter will receive an iPad2.

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