Acts of kindness to fellow travellers and general human connections among the ways of easing the stress and strain of travel

10 December, 2019

While it’s no surprise that most people experience stress while travelling, a new report has revealed that kindness can have an outsized effect on our wellbeing while we make our journeys during the forthcoming festive season. The findings of the survey could also provide some valuable information on how we better manage traveller wellbeing.

Dignity Health, one of the largest health systems in the US, is responsible for this new insight having been inspired by one of its own advertisements that features real video footage of a toddler greeting a fellow passengers with a friendly fist bump while boarding his flight, showing just how much one kind gesture can improve our mood.

“At Dignity Health, we believe in the power of human connections, whether it helps a patient heal in our hospitals or puts a traveller at ease during a busy travel season,” explains Mark Viden, senior vice president of brand at Dignity Health.

According to the survey, three in four travellers have done something kind to make another traveller’s day better and more than half of travellers felt happier after performing that gesture of kindness. What’s more – these small acts of kindness can actually inspire a ripple effect of kind gestures.

The findings highlight that a gesture as simple as smiling or asking someone about their day can make all the difference in someone’s travel experience. In fact, something as simple as smiling would make most travellers feel less stressed.

The survey reinforces the fact that travel is seen by many as being a stressful experience. In fact, four in five (82%) respondents said just that, with millennials more likely to find travelling stressful (25%) when compared to boomers (14%).

Rushing around (44%) was ranked as the most stressful aspect of travelling, followed by waiting (30%) – such as standing in a security line or sitting in traffic – and staying entertained to avoid boredom (12%).

Travelling with children was found to be especially stressful for parents with one in three accompanied with children under the age of 10 most associating holiday travel with stress, irritation and nervousness.

So how can being thoughtful and kind to one another ease the stresses of journeys? Nearly all travellers (97%) surveyed agreed that receiving kindness from others, as well as being kind to others, can improve their overall wellbeing.

Just over half (52%) of travellers who’ve done something kind for another traveller said they felt happy after, and around one in four (23%) felt more connected to their fellow traveller. A similar number (28%) who had witnessed someone else’s kindness while travelling felt inspired to do something kind for another traveller afterwards.

In fact, almost three quarters (74%) of those surveyed have done something kind to make another traveller’s day better, and more than half (54%) of those travellers said another traveller did something kind for them, as well. Two thirds (66%) of respondents said that a smile or greeting from another traveller would make them feel less stressed while traveling – more than any other kind gesture.

It appears that the festive period does in some way remind travellers to be kind. Nearly half (45%) of travellers said they’re generally more kind while traveling over the holidays. “There’s something to be said about the fact that more than half of travellers feel better simply by being kind toward others and it goes to show just how important it is to express humankindness, even in moments when we might feel stressed or pressed for time," says Mr Viden

Dignity Health is attempt to help travellers to alleviate travel stress with a ‘Travel Kind’ checklist that it hopes will help travellers pack their most valuable belonging – kindness. This is based around planning accordingly, not getting worked up when hit by a hurdle, being empathetic toward fellow travellers and showing them compassion.

A test for any of us travelling over the coming weeks is to see if we can start a ripple effect of kindness and for each of us to perform a kind gesture. A small act such as holding the door, helping a traveller with their luggage, retrieving a dropped toy or simply smiling, can go a long way in helping others feel at ease. And when we are stressed about a long queue or a middle seat assignment, there may be somebody there to repay that kindness.