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  • Share a Life-Changing Travel Moment to Win Free Travel

    Travel contest*Editor’s Note: the Life-Changing Travel Contest is closed as of February 1, 2012. Click the link to meet our contest winner!

    *****

    Tell us about a travel experience that changed your life for the chance to win a flight to the destination of your dreams.

    The dawn of every new year brings with it a flood of memories, reflection, re-awakened dreams, and new-found inspiration to finally see those “one days” manifest in the upcoming 365.

    If you’re anything like us, many of those dreams are represented by circles on a map.

    As 2012 begins, we’re celebrating the launch of our new website and The Ambler by offering you the chance to win a trip to the destination of your dreams.

    Leave a comment about a travel experience that changed your life — whether it was an epic event or a single moment, a new-found appreciation or your greatest achievement, across the world or across the street. Post your story, browse the stories of your fellow travelers, and vote for your favorite beginning January 18!

    By leaving a comment, you are eligible to win a flight to any place in the world (in the form of a $1,500 voucher to the airline of your choice).

    Everyone has taken a trip that changed their life. Share yours.

    Win Travel – The Details:

    Enter to Win: To enter, write a short response (1-3 sentences) in the comment section below by January 15, 2012. For your response to be valid, enter a legitimate email address – this is how we will notify you if you are chosen as a finalist.

    On January 18: Check in on The Ambler to see if your response made it to the finalist round. Finalists will be chosen by Amble Resorts.

    You Choose the Winner: Vote for the entry that inspires you most - the finalist with the most votes will win airfare to the destination of their choice. Voting will be open from January 18-31, 2012.

    The winner will be announced on February 1, 2012.

    By entering the contest, you agree to our Terms and Conditions.

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    Post by Emily Kinskey

    When Emily’s not dreaming up her next journey, she’s brainstorming creative ways to get other people to travel as a member of Amble’s marketing...MORE

    More posts by Emily Kinskey

    167 Responses

    1. Lev says:

      Though this story is far longer than three sentences, the full development is required to express the ultimate life changing experience, and I hope that you can bear with me. People who travel should have longer attention spans, anyway.

      September 17th, 2011. Memmingen, Germany.

      A stressed out friend and I arrive at a town an hour and a half outside our final destination of Munich. The goal is to reach the opening ceremony of Oktoberfest in time to witness the city mayor tap the first keg of the festival. With no time to check schedules and routes, we hastily board the first train we spot full of lederhosen clad Germans, foolishly assuming that they all must be bound for München to quench their thirst.

      The train pulls to its terminal stop at an unassuming station following a short train ride through the beautiful Bavarian countryside, too short of a ride to have gotten us to the home of the 1972 Summer Olympics we alarmingly realize. With no hope of making it to the Oktoberfest celebrations by noon, we decide to spend the afternoon in this small characteristically Bavarian town tucked away somewhere in the German Alps. Our initial disappointment, however, soon gives way to confusion as we find ourselves in an empty street covered in cow dung, with onlookers hiding in shops and behind corners. As the foul smell and the sound of bells increases, we find ourselves confronted by a genuine cow stampede. Standing there in the middle of the road like a couple of unsuspecting tourists that we were, the burly farmers give us agitated looks while trying to direct the cow traffic away from us with their long sticks reminiscent of a mean spirited teacher’s pointer that I felt all too often on my arm as a misbehaved child. We finally snap out of the fascinated shock and find cover in a niche in the wall just as the cows charge past us. We survive unscathed, the biggest injury being the emotional stings from the verbal insults by the farmers for getting in the way. I don’t understand German, but the tone of voice hints at an unpleasant tirade. We deserved it.

      Finally at Munich later that day, we trace our route, figuring out that we mistakenly ended up in Immenstadt – a small town in the far southern region of Bavaria, an entire compass direction off from Munich to the east. I’m not sure what will stay with me longer, the faded memories of drunken afternoons in Munich, or the smell of German cow dung on my new shoes. As the journey unfolded, I realized Munich was not a final destination, it was merely a stop in a chain of locations that would serve as a present destination at that particular time. This surreal experience taught me to throw out the itinerary as soon as I land, because the things that make your travels worthwhile are not the ones you planned. There, lost in a stampede in a strange town with my best friend I was reminded why I travel. And although I end up missing my flight home from Berlin a week later and spend my rent money on an expensive last-minute re-booking, down on my luck I meet a wonderful person at the airport who becomes an instant friend and invites me for a visit to, incidentally, Panama*,and so a new future destination is born and my journey continues…

      Board the wrong train, miss your flight, take a chance.

      * Which is how I stumbled upon this site in the first place.

    2. Melody Miller says:

      After graduating from The University of Texas and working at the career for which I’d prepared for more than 16 years, I felt like I’d climbed a ladder that was leaning against the wrong wall. So, packing my giant, pink graduation-present suitcase with what I thought were necessities for life, which exploded with makeup,curlers, pantyhose and pink polyester pantsuits (did I mention this was l973) in the concourse of Luxembourg Airport upon arrival, I discovered my first problem was not knowing whether I was a Herren or a Damen…which restroom do I use? Forty-five countries and 10 months later, I’d learned a lifetime of lessons and was only shouldering a small backpack with a passport, a sleeping bag, two pair of jeans and 3 shirts…and was happy as a lark and free as a bird…of all the trappings of “normal” life…and transformed forever!

    3. Deborah Wallin says:

      We took our first flight as a family in the summer of 2010. It was memorable not only because it was such a new experience for us, but because we were flying out to Los Angeles for my oldest daughter’s destination wedding. It was quite an undertaking to get all eight of us packed, to the airport, and settled in. It was a memorable trip in so many ways…a trip to remember for a lifetime.

    4. Morgan says:

      To stand before the Masterpieces in museums all over Europe and witness first-hand the architecture above cobblestone streets conceived with unsophisticated tools was a life changing travel experience that I reflect on passionately while standing in long boring lines at the post office, grocery store, and unemployment line. But, I did not understand how fortunate I was to have 7-11′s, Waffle Houses, and Walmarts until I was forced to survive on vending machine food for dinner after 5:00 pm in the smaller towns of Europe. Although lacking in history, culture, and substance, we are blessed with convenience and capitalism in the United States!

    5. Tammy Greer says:

      A year before my dad passed away, he flew out to my home in California with his sister, her husband, and my mom, and we all took a trip up to Lake Tahoe and San Francisco. The time spent in the car, and the sights we saw together, were so memorable. Lake Tahoe was one of my Dad’s favorite places in the world and I feel so blessed to have shared that experience with him and my loved ones.

    6. If I had to pick the one moment of travel that most changed my life I would have to say it was when I was 18 and stepped off the plane in Florida. I grew up on a small island in Maine, never traveled out of state. It was that time in Florida that I truely realized there was a whole world out there and I wanted to explore it.

    7. Kate says:

      My best friend drove down the East Coast with me, we stopped wherever we wanted. It was a great experience to get us in a car together and work it out…as well as see a whole part of the country together.

    8. Alycia says:

      At 19, I traveled to New York City for the first time. In the span of 10 days, my typical shyness vanished (staying in a hostel will do that), I appeared on television, and I had my first kiss.

    9. Matt says:

      Have always wanted to take my Mom to Europe where she has never been. I lived there and traveled in 2009, it would be really great to show my Mom all those experiences I got when I was there and to share them together. Plus her birthday is coming up!

    10. Judy Connell says:

      My husband and I took a trip of a lifetime for our 25th wedding anniversary to Fiji. Both of our boys had moved away to college so it also was a time for us to get to know each other again. What a beautiful country to experience our life together again. River rafting, Kava ceremonies and snorkeling with the amazing blue starfish.Those memories will last forever but there are so many more islands in the South Pacific we would love to see.

    11. Keith says:

      You can change your life . . . for the better . . . so easily!! My 2010 backpacking trip through New Zealand was the absolute best. Wonderful countryside, amazingly friendly locals, and a sense of peacefulness that would be hard to match elsewhere in the world.

      Prepare to dIscover yourself there and become the change you want to be!

    12. S. Stone says:

      Hoping this will be the trip that changes the new year for my daughter. She was injured in Iraq and was forced into medical retirement. I made her promise me she would retire in her dream place which was HI. The problem is for me it’s been 4 years since I’ve seen her, we video chat but to hold my Soldier Girl again without worrying about using a mortgage payment to go see her would be a dream trip.

    13. seamus gallagher says:

      I really want to go to ireland. I use to go there a lot, but haven’t gone in a long time

    14. Christian Figueroa says:

      Trip of a life-time and second day of my trip to Australia I became ill. Not fit to travel home, my 6-day trip turned into a 2-week recovery adventure. After receiving medical attention, I was taken in by local with a heart of gold. Eight years later we correspond by emails daily and are the Best of Friends. Hope to revisit and surprise him on his birthday later this year.

    15. Kathleen Hollinrake says:

      My darling daughter treated me to a trip to Paris for my 52nd birthday. It was living a dream! The City of Lights is a magical place; every minute,every encounter was a delight. My child fufilled a lifelong wish for me.

    16. After losing my mom to cancer, I fulfilled a promise to take her dream trip to Australia and found my calling in a cage there during a 4-day great white shark expedition! It was so life-changing that I started a charitable project to create life-embracing marine encounters for cancer survivors and to help there “dreams become blue.” My own dream destination is South Africa because they have great shark diving and because it’s the final point in my journey to retrace my mom’s travel footprints and fulfills another promise to visit a place she briefly lived and forever loved!

      b22squared@yahoo.com

    17. Tim Anderson says:

      Have traveled very little and need a breath of fresh air.

    18. Timbo says:

      The moment that changed my life occurred 2 weeks after I exited school. Having never traveled before in my life, I woke up on that Tuesday morning, groggy and half-asleep, when I came to a realization that I had yet really to live life.

      I had just previously given away 80% of my possessions, after finding myself sickened by having to haul them around with me wherever I went, I surveyed the smoldering remains of the 20% that mattered. I was happier.

      At 9:30am, I felt something click in my head; almost a God-sent message of purpose, which gave me an itch to see what I could do with my life. I also wanted to see what would happen without any planning whatsoever.

      At 10:00am, I booked a 6pm flight to Arizona, from Texas, to begin what would become a 2-month-trump around the whole of the United States.

      The peripatetic journey took me from the desiccated stretches of Phoenix to the florid, floral beaches of Miami, and while I remember very little about the places, I remember a treasure’s worth of the people I met on the road.

      It always seems so difficult and impossible, and any excuse’ll do, BEFORE we set foot out the door. But what I discovered was that the most important moment to me was discovering how easy it really was.

    19. Stephanie Showalter says:

      I took my first plane ride last year to Vegas. The view flying over Arizona and Nevada was breaktaking and it got even better when I took a car ride with my best friends through the desert! I can’t wait to go back!

    20. Michael Mabrey says:

      I went to Alaska years ago to help at a church camp. I will never forget the beauty and peaceful area we were in! Trip of a lifetime!

      valshubby@hotmail.com

    21. Phillip says:

      Last summer, my girlfriend and I traveled to prince Edward island. It was insane how different the pace is there, so calm and relaxing. We camped right on the beach, and the ocean was our musical background, we explored the whole coast and made many stops at lighthouses through out the island. That place is like a fishermens/ farmers paridice, all In All it was a genuinely wholesome experience, that moment of awe for me hit when I arrived home and was scrolling through my photos, how awesome to think we were right there and how amazing it will be to go back :)

    22. Cameron Aidif says:

      My trip to Green River was: rafting within the Westwater canyon between walls towering over a small raft which contained our supplies fit for the next three days; descending towards the beach, as we passed the volcanic rock. A three-day trip became more than a break from suburban monotony, or a simplistic adventure into the wild; the people that I met while rafting left an impression on me. The open sky was clear enough to see every star, the moon so bight the red canyon walls glowed all night.

    23. Rosey says:

      I have traveled to the other side of the world…more than once. The one trip, however, that changed my life, was a trip I took from Florida to Ohio, where my loving grandmother from my youth would breathe her last. She was dying from Ovarian Cancer, and she knew it. The one thing she wanted was to hold my hand and tell me how proud of me she was, not for any of the accomplishments I had made, but for who I was as a person. She was always my solid foundation of love and support in my youth, at times, my only one, and even though we lived many miles apart and visited only on holidays or during vacation times, she remained one of my most favorite and loved people. Watching her remain so strong and so positive during that visit, our last visit together, made that trip the most special and life changing trip of my life.

    24. Gerri says:

      My world for the last several years has been quite tragic with the loss of my dad and grandmother. My family has had to over come the worst and I believe we have become stronger because of it. I don’t want to win this for me but for the amazing mother who has got me threw all of it. She has met a new man and is beginning to heal from the loss of my dad. I would love nothing more than to send them on a trip away from the real world but I’m in college and it’s hard enough for me to afford books.

    25. Patricia Wojnar Crowley says:

      The trip that made a huge impact on my life was a family trip to Niagara Falls in Canada. It was the only family vacation we took while I was young. Now that my Dad has passed away, I cherish that memory and traveling with my family has become a priority! I want to create tons of memories with my family!

    26. MelissaO says:

      In fall of 1999, I traveled to the Yucatan Peninsula in southern Mexico to do 3 months of fieldwork for my undergrad thesis, researching Yucatec Mayan migration to Cancun and how that affected villages and families. I had to find a village to live in but I spent a week holed up in a hotel in the colonial city of Valladolid freaking out from nerves. I eventually just showed up in a small village south of Valladolid and parked my butt in the town square, not knowing anyone and not having a plan. A young woman approached me and asked me what I was doing there and I told her that I wanted to find a family to live with so I could learn more about their culture. She brought me home for lunch, introduced me to her family, and they set it up so that I could live with their neighbor who had an extra roon (there were 8 people living in their two room house at the time and they didn’t have any space). I moved there the next day and ended up spending 6 months there instead of the 3 I had original planned on. Twelve years later, I am married to that young woman’s little brother and we have been living in the US together for 4 years and spent 5 years living in Mexico together before I applied for a visa for him. That random family I met that day is now MY family!

      wolverina401 at gmail dot com

    27. Diane says:

      When I woke up in Edmonton Alberta on the morning of March 4th 2011, I had no idea how profoundly my life would change later in the day while I would be on layover at Sea-Tac airport during my return to Texas from my business trip. In order for anybody to understand I must make you aware I was born and raised in Seattle and had moved to Texas 7 years prior, my parents had retired and moved to Arizona in the early 1990s and my oldest Son and daughter-in-law still lived in the area and were due with my first grand-child in just a few days. While waiting at Gate A8 to board my flight I learned that my father had just passed away…how ironic that I would be sitting in Seattle when I learned that news, and even more ironic, my daughter-in-law would have an emergency C-section just a few hours later and my grand-daughter would be born, making that day both sad and joyous for me…blending my past, present and future together….and completing the circle of life.

    28. Margaret Waters says:

      Some lives traveled large might require a barge
      Or a jaunt in the footsteps of Madame Defarge…
      While my life — pre-heiress– hasn’t yet inhaled Paris
      I’ve still stumbled on joy that I’m happy to share with…
      A grand, spacious life doesn’t need a big map
      or longitudes read by a robotic app…
      As my family and I have witnessed quite plain
      Heaven’s as near as Rangeley Lake, Maine
      Where late summertime calls us again and again…
      The sky there and loon-song reset our hearts’ compass…
      Like we’ve voyaged whole worlds…and no airlines to bump us!

    29. Kymm Evans says:

      In the spring of 2004 my best friend and I went on a cruise. Waking up and seeing nothing but blue sky meeting blue sea and no land was so amazing. I knew then that there was something so much bigger in the world. As I just recovered from 3 back surgeries in 8 months, I reflected back on that time of water and sky, which helped me get through my time laying in a tortoise shell brace while the world was having fun. I am now free of pain and at 55 ready to live my life again.

    30. It has to be a 3 month backpacking trip through Eastern Europe in 2005. From Italy to Israel by land and see. In between we stopped in Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Cypress. Me and one of my best friends – our mission was to a) have a blast (which was super easy to do) and b) produce a documentary about how the concept of love changes the further east you go. It was the first time we had tried to produce a documentary and quite frankly were in a little over our heads. We managed a piece focused on the siege in Sarajevo and how women’s roles have changed before and after. Quite a learning experience and it has definitely helped lead me to where I am today both personally and professionally.

    31. Susan C. says:

      In the Summer of 2009, my boyfriend (now husband) and I took a short trip to Stockholm with stops in Talinn and St. Petersburg. We visited some amazing places (The Hermitage) and ate some incredible food (a traditional Swedish smorgasbord), but the most meaningful moment came when were just sitting in a pub in Stockholm in the late afternoon enjoying each other’s company. Over a few rounds of beers and a simple dinner, we laughed together, had meaningful conversation and doodled on cocktail napkins as a cricket match played on a tv in the background and day turned into night. The experience reconfirmed what I already knew – that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him and continue to have amazing travel adventures together.

    32. Allison says:

      When I was 18 I was given the chance to visit my best friend who was studying abroad in Spain. I spent a month with her in a time when my life was free of work, family and other “life changes.” Now I realize the beauty, magic and wonder of freely exploring the unknown and the importance of reconnecting to self.

    33. Christie W says:

      In 2004 My husband and I took a month off an traveled all through Egypt. It was a magical and life changing trip. It was at this moment I realized how important it is to not only experience great historical sites like the pyramids but to also experience the culture of the people. We meet the most wonderful and amazing people I will never forget. now that I have two small children we are hoping to get them into traveling and appreciation of different people and cultures.

    34. Debby Seabrook says:

      My family said I should go to help my youngest brother buy property overseas, and my love of travel and adventure automatically said “yes” to their request.
      Forty eight hours later, my brother and I descended from a small hopper flight into a little village on the edge of the great Pacific rainforest. The roads were clay, with holes the size of small yachts. It was dusty. As Spanish was spoken all around me, I did not ask why he or anyone would want to purchase property here of all places, but my thoughts were screaming the question nonetheless.
      We boarded a large pickup to travel to our resort and it was dusk when we arrived. I ate a light dinner and retired to my room, flashlight in hand, to get ready for bed.
      It was upon awakening the next morning that first, I heard the roar of the Pacific and when I stepped out on the deck of my room, which jutted out over the ocean, I was breathtaken.
      Color was everywhere, from the soft green swollen waves of the pacific, to the flash of green thick foliage surrounding me. I saw a Macaw squelling in the sky above and flowers of all shapes and colors clinging to their hosts below. It was a raw, primitive beauty that I had never seen before.
      I was in love, a love that has lasted over twenty years. A love so passionate that I moved here.
      Yes, the roads are still dusty and the sewers not repaired, but the beauty of this natural world remains
      This glorious hand of the universe always lets me know what is truly important in life: and it was not the property my brother came to buy, it was the beauty of nature itself that held me in its dreams.

    35. Carissa says:

      Whether it is the breath taking scenery or the different fragrances and sounds of culture, the invigorating feeling of waking up somewhere other than home, or the memories to keep forever of those special places;Travelling to see a world other than your own is passion. This passion goes deeper than any crevice of the earth. This passion to travel across oceans and prairies, deserts and forests, to see all the beauty and wonder the world beholds, is mine. To deprive me of this, is to deprive me of the very air I breathe.

    36. Lauren says:

      It happened in a fleeting moment; everything changed yet it was all still the same. The adrenaline I felt pumping through my body as we pulled up our paddles and prepared for the free-fall down the 7 meter waterfall on the Kaituna river in New Zealand made me realize that there is so much more to this world that I need to see. It was a matter of seconds, but that’s all it takes to realize that there will be so many more worldwide adventures to experience.

    37. Marilyn Nored says:

      My oldest sister Marcia surprised me and my sister MaryJo with a long weekend in Key West this past summer. We lost our Mother a long time ago and our Father just a few years ago. It was a very generous gift. We had a great time to say the least, but more important we really bonded with each other. We were all over the island, we went to the beach, we shopped, we ate, and the most important we laughed, we laughed so hard at times we had to cross our legs so as not to wet ourselves. I am so lucky to have such awesome sisters, someday I would like to surprise Marcia with a great trip. It will be awhile for me to save up, I have been on disability due to 3 back surgeries.

    38. MK Taylor says:

      My first solo trip was one of those times when a random idea crosses paths with one-in-a-lifetime opportunity. During the last 6 months before I left for Peace Corps, an acquaintance was inspired to quit her job and travel to Costa Rica. Which happened around the time my then-boss’ estranged husband decided that instead of going to counseling, he’s rather go surfing in Costa Rica. The country stuck in my brain and skip ahead 12 months, I’m working in the Caribbean (rough assignment, I know!) and randomly found out Taca was running a cheap airfare of flying from Puerto Rico to Caracas to Panama City to San Jose. I bought the ticket and it was an adventure of a lifetime. I fell in love and had my heart broken, discovered that I spoke fluent Spanish, had a run-in with both Contras & Marines, climbed a volcano, missed Kurt Cobain’s suicide, and learned that I was more resourceful and adventurous that I ever gave myself credit for. I’ve been all over Latin America since then, but Costa Rica set the bar for every trip I’ve done since then.

    39. Darcie says:

      It is not the places I have traveled, it is the people of the places I have traveled that have impacted me. I live and love travel; no matter the scale it is always an experience that I cherish. Whether that be where the Sahara Desert meets Nile River with an embrace of sand in Aswan, Egypt or where the winter snowflakes kiss the river outside my Alberta home in Canada. The scenery may differ but there is always beauty, and that beauty is loved and shared by all.

    40. Allan Cunningham says:

      2003/2004, my wife and I backpacked around the world. While we did spend time in the industrialized world, it was South East Asia and it people that showed us that money & material things don’t matter and that you can be happy with family, friends and a great attitude. Most North Americans would consider these people poor, but they live well and are alot happier that most of us.Life is Good.

    41. Meg Cool says:

      Each Sept. I travel about 750 miles to Boston to walk 26.2 miles for cancer awareness. I have done the Boston Marathon route for six years now, to raise money for children’s cancer treatment. The last mile the children join in with full police escort to the finish line :) My annual fundraiser “journey” far surpasses any exotic trips I have taken…

    42. Yei P says:

      My most life changing travel experience was last year, one year out of college. In the hot month of July and with the little savings I had from my part-time job, I flew overseas for the first time (ever on a plane and on a trip of such a scope) from Texas to the east of France to a little town called Morteau. According to the local couple whose home I visited my first week, Morteau was never visited by an American. This place was famous for its regional sausage and the view of mountains. To explain my visit, I was there mostly to spend an entire month with the love of my life.

      Absolutely life changing! I think anyone who travels to Europe will say this, but more so for me because I was the city kid in the mountains. It was really like a movie. Sure, the craved out mountains outside my window were stunning and Switzerland was sweet in the summer. But it was the little things that got me like the dairy and meat out all day in the little shops and the toilets in another room at every single flat I visited. The round “o” and the throaty “r” of the language made me listen more carefully and everything was an experience!

      It is exactly what travel is for. I was opening my life and mind to things I didn’t connect with before. Right now, my boyfriend is here visiting Texas for me. It’s difficult to visit each other, because of how expensive the flights are. I hope by winning this contest that I can go back and visit my boy again in his home country of France and continue to explore and travel.

    43. Amber Sartain says:

      Disney World with my kids was my favorite trip!

    44. George Schmerber says:

      The trip that changed my life, I was a college student who was fortunate enough to study in Austria for a semester. I never travelled a child, the furthest that my family went was 50 miles from home, so an opportunity to go halfway around the world to study was like a dream come true. I met so many wonderful people (who I keep in touch with many still to this day, thank you social media!), visit so many wonderful places and opened my eyes, heart and mind to so many cultures, languages and food! It is my lifelong goal now to keep exploring, travel to new places, continue to visit my favorite places and visit every continent (4 down, 3 to go!!!).

    45. Kirsten says:

      I went to Hawaii in 2007 for an Intercultural communications class. For three weeks, we were able to learn about the true hawaiian culture, and not being “Tourists” of Hawaii, rather, we were able to be engolfed in the culture and live their way of life. Their culture and spirituality has had a great impact on who I am today – almost 5 years later. For me, Hawaii is one of those places that leaves me speechless. I have been back twice since 2007 and I get the chills every time I am there. The typical tourist may not feel this way, but when you are able to spend time with local hawaiians and listen to their stories about their culture and way of life, it is truly an inspiration.

    46. Kerri Scherbinsky says:

      After moving to Australia for a year at 18, I took up a Nannying job in Melbourne. On my free time I traveled wherever I could go, whenever I could afford it. The most important ‘Australian’ experiences I had were the ones given to me, and taught by the family I stayed with, and the friends I got to know. I learned a country is not only beautiful because of landscapes and scenery, but because of the people and the culture that lives in it.

    47. Ashley says:

      During a winter vacation away from the freezing Midwest temps, I headed to Florida and the Caribbean for some adventure. From jet skiing to swimming with stingrays and climbing waterfalls, it was a blast. The last day of the vacation was spent in Miami where I did my first skydive that opened a door to an entirely new world. I now skydive religiously, traveling across the country, and one day hopefully the world, with my husband, doing what we love most: skydiving.

    48. Danielle says:

      Living in Taiwan for a year, my first time being away from home, was the most profound travel experience I’ve ever had. Learning my way around a completely opposite culture from my own taught me more lessons than I could have ever learned from a book or in a classroom.

    49. Rebecca says:

      While visiting England, I was driving on the M1 with my sister who had exact directions and a map for her to assist in getting us to our destination. About 20 minutes before our I exit I asked where we were on the map. She looked at me, and then the map, and then circled the entire map with her finger saying, “somewhere around here.” She had spent the entire time looking out the window soaking everything in. It was then that I was reminded of how important every minute and every location is. Don’t be worried about the destination, enjoy the journey.

    50. Laura says:

      When I was visiting Nicaragua, my first Latin American country, I split from my travel group to do some solo exploring, returning to our isolated guesthouse to find it locked and seemingly abandoned. Despite yelling for the guard and ringing the bell no one answered, so I used my ninja skills to climb over the metal fence; inside the complex I found a guard sleeping under a table cuddling his semi-automatic rifle like it was a teddy bear. Not sure how to wake a gun-clutching stranger inside a locked compound, I slunk back over the fence slightly distraught but also realizing I loved the absurdity and randomness of Latin America—and I have called it my home ever since.

    51. Toula says:

      Walking up the slopes of the Acropolis, with chills running down my spine as I paid homage to my ancestors was a moment that changed my life. It was at that point that my love affair with Athens began, and although the city is now plagued with economic and political problems, the magic of standing atop that ancient hill, gazing at centuries-old structures and the view of the city below, reminds of Athens’ Golden Age.

    52. I wish I could tell you about trip that changed my life but unfortunately I don’t get to travel very much. The reasons are my wife and i have always just tried to put my 2 year old son patrick’s needs and wants ahead of ours. The only real trips we get to take are to Edgewater, Fl to see my parents but lately with the economy thats even been hard to do. Unfortunately thats just the way things are some times. Nevertheless we are now planning on having a second child, which is on the way and I know that if this was something which my wife and I won it would literally change our lives. The ability to say hey lets go just about anywhere and travel to an exotic place some where on a beach and just relax a little would literally change not only my life but my wife’s as well

    53. Hanna says:

      My life changing experience happened in Dublin when I worked abroad in unfamiliar territory: the art industry. After working with community partners and government officials, I helped an artist get her public art installation commissioned and built. She, along with youth from the area, created this piece and fought for years for funding, which made my endeavor that much more gratifying upon completion.

    54. Ray Poland says:

      Sept. 2010 my wife and I attended a wedding in Katowice Poland, for our exchange student daughter. Afterwards we spent 2 weeks touring parts of Eastern Europe, Budapest, Vienna, Prague, and Berlin! Being “empty nesters” we want to continue those travels realizing there is a wonderful, exciting world out there we would like to explore while reconnecting as husband and wife, not mom and dad!

    55. Tracie says:

      Many years ago, i was lucky enough to be able to go to Alaska for work. While there, I spent almost every moment in awe of the true beauty of nature. There were times I’d just stand outside and simply breathe as my eyes took in all that was around me. The air was fresh and crisp, and there was so much to see that was untouched by human hands that I knew I needed to seek other places of true beauty and since then, I”ve augmented my work trips with personal travel to explore our world. So many of us don’t venture much further than our own neighborhoods, much less venture beyond our comfort zones. That trip inspired me to travel more, see more and experience the beauty that each place has to offer.

    56. Nicole says:

      The travel experience that changed my life was on September 11, 2001. I was living in Washington, D.C. After a life-shattering day, including evacuation from a U.S. Senate Office Building and chaos on the streets of Capitol Hill, we emerged from a Senator’s home to a silent, crystal-clear, blue sky afternoon on the eastern seaboard. Two girlfriends and I, amidst the worldwide confusion of the day, took a quiet ride up northwest Washington, a slow drive through the majestic beauty of Rock Creek Park to southern Maryland. We told stories, remembered friends and shared fears on a day that will forever be etched in our minds.

    57. Julie says:

      I hd a life changing experience this summer, May to be exact. I never left the country in which I live to spend the most difficult, terrifying, exhausting and ultimately the best adventure of my life. I walked the West Highland Way with some of the best people I know, including me.

    58. Eric says:

      My live changing experience was in Mozambique in 1997. After spending a summer working for an NGO in Zimbabwe (which at the time was relatively prosperous) my group of six American college students went across the border to Mozambique. It was incredible to experience a country that had only recently finished a civil war. While still desperately poor and amid a landscape littered with landmines, the people were amazingly resilient and optimistic. Plus, I was forced to utilize a bit of college Portuguese…which finally showed me the value of foreign languages and led me to actually learn Chinese is grad school. Xie xie (thank you) for the opportunity to share this story!

    59. Jan Hinze says:

      In 1972, I was blessed to be an 8-week foreign exchange student to Kobe, Japan. My experience fueled a fire within to become a teacher and a traveler. I have the opportunity each day, as a high school world literature teacher, to open the world to my students. Although I can’t afford world-wide travel on a teacher’s salary, my dream is to return to Japan before I turn 65 and see my adopted family, familiar places and all the beauty Japan has to offer that was not available to me as a teenager.

    60. Julian says:

      6 years ago I saw the very first episode of the TV ‘reality’ series, Ice Road Truckers. 10 minutes into the first show, sitting at home in the south of England I decided I had to do it, I just have to drive the ice roads for at least one season.

      I still can’t really get my head around the concept of taking a 50 ton truck, 300 miles north of nowhere, on a road carved out over snow covered frozen lakes in the arctic, yet I find myself here in Yellowknife today, starting work in less than two weeks to do just that!

      Don’t be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can make it so.

    61. In 2006, I was in Mozambique as a volunteer for the whole year. It was a year which changed my life, with so many stories that there’s just no space here to tell them all. But you need one, right? Ok, so when I was on the final days of my mission, we went on a walk to Mount Mitucué to see the sunset. As we came down, some of the villagers started calling the “white people” to see a baby two months old. Me and my friend looked at each other and thought “what’s the big deal?” But they were insisting and so we went. As we were getting close, the man who told us the age corrected himself: “sorry, I said two months, but no, it’s two days!!” As we turned the corner to the house, there she was, on her mother’s lap, a newborn with two days of life. We got close and it was like witnessing the miracle of life happening. They said it was a girl and that we could name her, and so we called her Sara, the name of the friend who was with me, just staring marvelled, at the little girl. We went away and I never returned to that place again, but I still think of little Sara many, many times…

    62. Jacob says:

      I have always been a fan of comedy but never brave enough to try to do it. In 2008 I went to Chicago for the very first time and went to the Second City theater which was the start of many great careers like John Belushi, Chris Farley, and Tina Fey just to name a few. It was a huge experience for me. The show was great and I just felt like this is what I would love to do. The experience impacted me so much that when I got back home I started really researching what was going on locally. I am happy to say that I really am doing it now! I actually performed in my first live improv show in November and am currently working on about 4 different projects and different groups in the local improv community. That trip to Chicago gave me the desire to try it and I don’t think I would be doing it today if I had never gone to Chicago. I’m even saving up to go back and take a course at Second City in Chicago where it all started for me. Winning this would really help me do that!!!!

    63. Jacqueline Griffin says:

      It was 2001 when I asked my hubby if we could take a family vacation to Boston. I had always wanted to go there. Hubby said yes so we made our reservations to go. My hubby travels a lot and he had just got to Las Vegas when he called and told me to turn on the TV. I was so shocked as I watched the twin towers inferno! We were to fly to Boston just a week after the terrible 911 attacks. We didn’t get to go because the airports were shut down for so long and my hubby was in fear to travel to the East Coast during this time so we rebooked our flight and went to Maui. We have been going to Maui ever since. I did get to Boston but it was a couple years after. We spend our family vacations in Maui as often as we can. It has become our favorite place to be.
      jacqgrif@gmail.com
      Thank You so much!

    64. Ten years ago this month I made my first mission trip – to the country of Haiti – just for the “adventure” of visiting a foreign country. God used that trip to grab hold of me and shake me to my core, changing the direction of my life forever, for which I am eternally grateful. Those experiences in Haiti led to the formation of our non-profit organization, His Hands Support Ministries, which is now bringing help and hope to impoverished people in Haiti as well as Uganda, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala, India, Swaziland, the Philippines and Indonesia.

    65. Eric Maur says:

      A life changing travel experience of mine was visiting the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. Just being there brought back instant connections to my past, and created memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

    66. In the summer of 2008, I traveled to Peru where I met a underprivledged family of 8 living in extreme poverty. After spending 2 days with the family, I learned that they had been saving for years in order to get a clean water system in their village. After 3 years of saving, they only had 1/6 of what was needed. My fiancé, Siya, and I put together all of the money we had in our wallets and it equaled the exact balance of what it would cost the family for the pipeline. Siya and I took the mother aside and discretely handed her the money. We told her that we wanted her to have it so that her family would have access to what all living beings should have the right to – clean water. The moment we handed her the money, is one of the moments I will never forget. The mother covered her face and broke down crying. She was speechless for words but managed to get out “bless you and thank you.” At that moment, I felt so grateful for having the chance to do something that seemed so little but would ultimately change their life.

      Months after returning home, I got an email from a Peruvian friend with pictures of the family infront of their new water system with smiles that covered their entire faces.

    67. Michael says:

      A few years ago I took a trip to New York during the holidays. While i was there i met the most wonderful woman i have ever met. She was breathtakingly beautiful and spoke in the most captivating way. I was drawn to her immediately, It was almost hypnotic. We met in a club and talked for a while. I got a very important phone call and had to step outside. When I went back in I could’nt find her again. I never saw her after that and I always regret that I did’nt get her number. I’ve always hoped to go back one day in hopes of finding her but with the economy being what it is, making my way out there is difficult. I would love another chance to go there and find her. It would mean the world to me.

    68. A few years ago I had the amazing opportunity to visit my homeland of Iran. Being born and raised in Seattle, WA it was an incredible experience to travel to the country my parents were born, meet family members I had never seen, enjoy the amazing food, and just take in a culture that is so different than where I grew up. I was astonished and pleasantly surprised by how different everything really was compared to my expectations.

      Overall this trip was truly fascinating and enjoyable and I will forever reminisce upon the memories that were created. My advice would be to be open to traveling to all countries no matter how different to see and learn from the various cultures. I can’t wait to continue traveling the world and to create new memories in the future!

    69. Fay Summers says:

      I took my grandson to Hawaii for his high school graduation gift a few years ago. A typical teenager, he was impressed with the beach scene and nothing else mattered much…..until we took an island tour and he fell in love with the flora and the local people and food. Now we do not miss an episode of Hawaii 5-0, and we’re reading up on Hawaiin history and culture, as well as it’s fauna and flora.He has “Hawaii fever” and plans to take many more trips there.

    70. Molly Messier says:

      Last summer my twin brother and I saved up $4000 dollars by hosting dinners and fundraising so we could go to Panama. It was a group trip, with other students who were willing to use thier knowledge of their Spanish and explore the culture.
      For two weeks, we lived in a little village where we cooked and did various activities to gain a wider cultural knowledge. I lived with mostly a group of women and children and it was so wonderful because they helped me gain a different perspective on everything.
      I realized that regardless of how less fortunate they were, they still carried on with life and they were truely happy. I noticed that the people worked with eachother and were almost like a family.
      I became so close with the people I stayed with, I still keep in touch by occasionally writing letters but I really wish that I could go back!
      I want to travel the world and watch as people live, I want to gain a different view on life.

    71. Valerie Smith says:

      I enjoy all international travel, because the countries are slower paced, more relaxing. I usually travel alone. No one in my family wants to go anywhere. I really enjoyed Istanbul, Turkey. I didn’t know how I would be received, being a Black single female from the U.S., but everyone was friendly! I’ve been to Buenos Aires, Rio De Janeiro, Italy, Prague, Costa Rica, London, Paris, Dublin. I love to bargain shop! I find lots of unusual, fun things when I travel. My travels have inspired me, to appreciate what I have and to possibly write a travel book.

    72. Kelsey R. says:

      My trip to Egypt in 2007 was life-changing. The history was surreal, but it was the culture, the people, the lifestyle and the customs that left a lasting impression. It changed my perspective of the middle east and opened my eyes to the value of traveling outside your comfort zone and how important it is to learn about cultures that aren’t your own.

    73. Angel Green says:

      Our high school sponsored a trip for the school’s concert choir. I was a singing member, a second soprano. And our destination was Iceland! Landing in Reykavik, we were transported to Keflavik which was home to a U.S. Air Force base, and our military members opened their homes to us. While on tour we saw: steaming hot springs that laughing citizens frolicked in as falling snow capped their heads, frosting their eyelashes and shoulders. In Akuyreyri we tasted the most memorably delicious goat-milk ice-cream which made our eyes wide with every rich bite. Sheep that dotted the black volcanic landscape stared as us as we stared at them, wondering which one of them had donated to the thick classic sweaters we had purchased for family members, and ourselves..But it was the air, so clean, so crisp, that shocked the nostrils, that I will never forget. Coming from state-side where I was accustomed to varying degrees of smog, in Iceland my nares found none, and the prickling sensation of breathing vitalizing air has stayed with me as the refreshing memory that I conjure to banish daily stress,– another form of pollution–in order to revitalize my spirit..

    74. When I visited Israel, I went with a friend who was Jewish. Of course, we attended Sabbath services in Jerusalem, and afterwards we were invited to the home of a young couple for dinner. I was in awe the entire evening of such unique customs and ways of worship, and I came home determined to learn ancient Hebrew. That opened up so much more understanding to my trip after I returned home, and I’d love to have the opportunity to return with my knowledge of the country and people I learned from learning another language!

    75. Amanda smith says:

      Im from Australia and I went to Hawaii in the beginning of December travelling by myself, apart from having an amazing time seeing Dolphins, whales and Turtles I met someone there, we were inseperable, the first night we met we both agree that it was one of the best nights of our lives. For the first time in 8 years I have fallen for someone and he feels for me the same way. We have been in contact every day but it’s really hard because we only spent 10 days together both of us see it as unrealistic to just up and move, he lives in Vancouver. We both agreed that we should spend 2 weeks together in either his world or mine to know if what we felt was real or if it was just because we were in paradise. I can’t afford to go and he can’t leave work for that long until November which is too long to wait. I’d love to take 2 weeks and see if it was real, i really believe it was I haven’t felt like this for a long time

    76. Doris Risner says:

      A life-changing trip for me was my coming to the United States back in 2004.I came here to escape a raging civil war back in my country in Africa, so coming here meant coming to a refuge, a haven and a new life with new opportunities. It gave a new purpose to my life to not take anything for granted.

    77. Anne Reilly says:

      A colorful, exotic other world lies beneath the ocean, as I discovered when learning to snorkel in Mexico. I made a vow to snorkel at least once a year, for as long as possible. Now my sister and I are on a quest to snorkel around the world.

    78. michael woods says:

      I boarded the plane. The plane took off. Then the plane landed. (ahhh….that’s all folks)

    79. patricia bartley says:

      I would like to travel to Manchester NH. Our oldest son lives there & my husband & I just watched an aerial view of NH on the National Geo. channel. We loved the landscape and history & would LOVE to spend some time driving and viewing the countryside.

    80. Yongda Harris says:

      When I visited China I was witness to a changing world around me. Just a difference of a few years made everything unrecognizable from my last visit. It was an unforgettable experience and I will always treasure and share its memory.

    81. In 2008, I traveled to Ecuador with Rotary International to deliver free medicare to families in an underprivileged village in San Pablo. We taught educational classes, distributed free medication, and spent time with children whose lives were full of poverty and struggle. It was eye-opening, heartwarming, and, since my return to the states, it has effected nearly every decision I’ve made in a positive way.

    82. Sandy Klocinski says:

      For me it was Bonaire in 2007, the place where the inhabitants and the environment were equally interesting and particularly astonishing because we Americans have so much more and are so much more discontented.

    83. Alexandra says:

      This past summer I studied abroad in Costa Rica and while living there I noticed the discrepancy between consumers in the United States and Central America. The family I lived with used every product down to it’s last use and I mean EVERYTHING. A plastic grocery bag from the store was used as their trash bags, scraps left over from las night’s dinner was scrambled with the eggs, the last drop of egg yolk was scooped out of the egg shells. This sparked my interest in how more developed countries can be more envrionmentally aware of the several resources available to us. As a result, I am pursuing a Masters in Public Health at the conclusion of my undergradute courses this Spring. I hope, no I promise to promote methods of resourcefulness in existing developed countries as a reminder that a penny does go a long way.

    84. lucy says:

      While visiting a remote island near Fiji, my husband and I were rewarded for school supplies we provided to the village, by young children singing to us in their tribal language.

    85. Gail Crawford says:

      The most single travel trip that changed my life for the better was when my oldest daughter flew out to Calistoga CA. Our hotel was at the foot of a beautiful mountain, the scenery was so tranquil. On the morning that we were leaving, I had to go on the back porch of our hotel to take in th beautiful site, one more time, before we left.

    86. Miodrag Kojadinovic says:

      My very first trip abroad without my parents, a day trip to Venice from Istria by boat — the only proper way to travel to once Queen of the Seas — changed my life tremendously.

      It made me realise, at age 14, that I can get about in the world by myself and prepared me for a life that has so far included residences in 8 countries, three of which for 4 years or longer on three continents.

      But none of it may have happened had my parents not trusted me, decades ago, to be responsible enough to travel internationally on my own, fresh out of grade 9, first on that day trip to Venice, and a month later for 10 days to Paris with just the air ticket and bed and breakfast prepaid and no one to boss me around.

    87. Shannon Schulte says:

      In 2005, my husband and I backpacked Europe for several weeks. Traveling by rail, seeing the countryside, and meeting the locals totally changed our perspective on the world. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

    88. Kimberly Cook says:

      I was on vacation in Sault Sainte Marie, MI, when my Cousin decided to have a surprise wedding. Little did I know, that at the wedding I would meet my future husband. We,ve been happily married for six years, but have not been able to take a honeymoon.

    89. Angela Amenta says:

      Standing at the Ramon Crater in Israel at 20 years old and knowing that I could go anywhere and do anything. I had never imagined I could end up there even though I had been an orphan growing up foster homes and in the streets of San Francisco.

    90. Meagan says:

      My life changed with one view when I flew from my tiny town in Kentucky to Albuquerque, New Mexico. From the moment I set foot on the desert sand and took a look at the endless sky, I knew I couldn’t live without it. Weeks later, I moved my whole life to the southwest and have loved every minute living in the southwest for more than three years.

    91. Nicole Herman says:

      My life changing trip was on my honeymoon. When I married my husband I was young and unsure. However on our trip to Hawaii for our honeymoon, I looked into his eyes while on the beach and realized this was my soul mate! Due to the clarity and mind clearing atmosphere, my eyes were opened! 15 years and two children later, I realize I made the best life changing choice of my life!

    92. Mishelle A McCormick says:

      Snowstorm in Seattle just before Christmas …. waited 10.5 hours for our flight…. Take off… Cabin fills with smoke…. captain announces we must return to Seattle …. In spite of the smoke, we all yell: “No! Anywhere but Seattle!” I wrote a note to my son and hid it in my briefcase… just in case! Ha! Landed safely… plane can’t be fixed so they load us into a turbo-prop that the cabin never warmed up…. Home by 5:00 am…unforgettable!

    93. Kathy says:

      I took my mom to Hawaii, the place that she fell in love with. I knew it would be her last trip there as her health was declining, we spent 3 beautiful weeks on the Island Kauai. We rented a convertible and put over 500 miles on that car. But the Joy that it gave my mom was the best. She felt like she was in Heaven and she was so happy. that is all that mattered to me!

    94. Cheryl Watt says:

      I have just returned from walking the 780 km pilgrimage, El Camino de Santiago, across northern Spain. Nothing changes your perspective on life better than walking 20 to 30 km a day, meeting people from all over the world, staying in close quarters with other pilgrims and realizing the inner strength one can have to over come physical and emotional pain and the joy that can be found in the littlest things.

    95. June English says:

      My life changing moment was whale watching in Australia. the Humpback whale surfaced real close to the boat and took a deep breath, an amazing sound.

    96. Kathy Johnston says:

      My life-changing moment was Katrina.

      I was selected by my employer to essentially rebuild a two-story Target in Mettarie, LA. The entire face of the building had been sheared off in the storm. It had been lotted, & eventually taken over by the military.

      We got lost in the Ninth Ward. It was the creepiest experience that I think I have ever encountered. There was no electricity. The street was lined with debris from the once inhabited houses. And on each house was a circle with a “X” on it. It told how many people (and animals) used to live there & how many had succumbed to Katrina’s wrath.

      It is an experience that I don’t think I will ever forget. That I shouldn’t forget. That none of us should forget.

    97. Pamela Coleman says:

      I always wanted to be a mom and that wish came true i when I traveled
      to China to adopt a baby girl. The trip was an amazing experience. One I will always cherish. My daughter has been a dream come true. We hope to someday return to her homeland.

    98. lyndsey says:

      I spent my final semester of college in Prague, and nothing could have been more magical. Walking through the breathtakingly picturesque old city on a daily basis was nothing short of a dream come true. It taught me to appreciate the beauty of every day, and embrace my freedom to see the world.

    99. Bob Richold says:

      My life changing moment was in St. Thomas, USVI when I met Dian Jones at The Island Beachcomber two hours before we each were to return home from separate winter vacations, she from NY and me from NJ. We got engaged in St Thomas 3 years later and married at Walt Disney World the same year where she became Dian Richold. The complete story behind the fateful meeting of 2 soulmates at a beachbar far from each other’s homes continues with our first date on Valentine’s Day and our marriage of 14 years.

    100. Melissa Leinart says:

      Visiting Maui for the first time with my kids was life-changing. It is so ethereal and gorgeous. We had such a great vacation and plan to go back as soon as possible.

    101. Rebecca says:

      I haven’t been anywhere far from my home, but I can say that everywhere I have been has touched me deeply. My latest mini adventure was Zions National Park with my husband. I’ll never forget the amazing sights and history of that sacred place.

    102. Neil E. says:

      We had all just finished our first semester of college. Worn and weary, my high school buddies and I flew back to our home state of Washington, traveled out to the middle of nowhere to a cabin by a lake, and we talked.

      “College sucks,” I said.
      “There’s got to be more to life than school.”
      “Remember when we went on that mission trip? We were out in wild but it was pretty damn great.”
      “I guess that’s all we really need in life. For once we’ve got to learn life by experience, not by reading about it.”

      I remembered something Robert Louis Stevenson wrote:
      “It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive.”
      I realized I didn’t want to live adventure vicariously. To be, existentially, wouldn’t happen by studying. I had to walk out the door and live out there.

    103. Pamela Davis says:

      The first time I visited the Grand Canyon left me wanting for more. The enormity and timelessness of the stone along with its layers and shadings made me feel so small in the scheme of things. It was then that I became addicted to nature and determined to see all the beauty it has to offer.

    104. I made my way back to the dock in Capri for the ferry ride back to Sorrento, not knowing my life would change in an instant. I hadn’t noticed him that morning. Maybe I wasn’t ready. Yet, there he stood with his disarming smile, hiding behind stylish sunglasses, looking like the sun-tanned descendant of Apollo himself. He asked me is I knew salsa and we danced on the deck as if no one was watching. As the crowd melted into the Bay of Naples, I knew my life would never be the same.

    105. kay dougherty says:

      In 2004 I went to China. During a brief opportunity to get outside of one of the main cities I was very struck by the hard lives of the people and the way girls weren’t valued. I’m a firm believer that only education can bring about long-lasting change and that “The Girl Effect” is very powerful. I began to volunteer with two organizations that build schools and libraries and offer scholarships to girls in various parts of Asia. We complain about our public school system in the U.S., and rightfully so, but at least every child in this country can get a free education through high school which to so many children in other countries sounds like a dream that can’t possibly be true!

    106. Mike says:

      While the countries change, that moment does not. You step off the plane and you begin drinking in all the sights: look at the apartments, look at the shops, look at the people. You are now taken to the place of what might be and you begin to see the adventures that wait.

    107. Melinda B says:

      In November 2011 I was able to take my daughter out of the USA on her first trip abroad to New Zealand. We stayed in Torbay and toured Auckland also. It was beautiful in their Spring, the people we met will be forever friends & we both fell madly in love with the country. Our trip was only 4 nights & 5 days so not very long & I would love the opportunity to go back and see more of this country.
      It was a life changing experience as a single mom of a daughter in college, we had the opportunity to experience culture half way around the world.New Zealand is a leader in green living & protecting its land and environment and its such a young country. It was wonderful seeing how my college daughter took every bit of the experience in. Honestly, a trip of a lifetime & not long enough.

    108. Ben says:

      When I was 18 I had a chance to leave home for the first time. It was with my grandparents and we went to Rome. This was not only my first trip abroad, it was the most time I’d spent with these two amazing people in my life. I had always brushed them off and never got to know them. Over the course of a week they became the people I most respected and appreciated. Two months later my grandfather would have a stroke and six months later he would be dead. It’s through traveling that I was able to get to know him better. I would never have spend a week with them at home, but if you offer me a vacation, you have my attention. I see things differently now. I focus on people and relationships. It may be locals in a new place or backpackers in a hostel, but everyone has a great story to tell.

    109. Steve Stone says:

      great contest. love to win this for taking the wife somewhere. thanks.

    110. Rashaad Jorden says:

      One afternoon, I was in Thailand taking a ferry to Ko Samet when I spotted a young, friendly-looking Thai sitting near me. I hadn’t had a lot of luck getting to know the locals, but I figured I had nothing to lose. So I decided to chat him up. I quickly found out he was born exactly five days because I was, loved soccer (like me), and liked similar musicians. After chatting for several minutes, Pop invites me to hang out with he and his friends upon arriving on Ko Samet. And the next thing I know, I’m staying in the same bungalow with them (after partying all night long). Pop and I have kept in touch through the years, and he even invited me to his wedding.

      You never know where a simple conversation might lead to.

    111. Maari Casey says:

      When I was 10 my mom told me about the place where people live right on water and drove boats instead of cars. The day I stepped off the train to onto the Grand Canal I was forever changed. With the wonder of a 10 year-old and the forever changed soul of a 22 year-old I haven’t stopped traveling since.

    112. Gaurav Vaidya says:

      Mt Rainier National Park had me enchanted on my first visit there, with numerous waterfalls and an evergreen forest, but Mt Rainier itself had eluded us by staying behind a thick cloud cover. As our airplane took off the next day, however, it granted us an awe-inspiring view through the little window – silhouetted against the rising sun was the overpowering mass of Rainier, humbling us even though we were 10000 feet in the air. Nature controls what it wants to show us, and it will show us what we won’t ever forget in a lifetime.

    113. Gina Zammit says:

      My life-changing trip was to Seoul, Korea in July 2010. I finally realized a lifelong dream of traveling abroad and hosting a travel show. I was chosen out of thousands of applicants to become the host of the Sell Your Seoul campaign. I was followed around by cameras during my entire 9 day stay in Seoul and wrote about my adventures for the Seoul city government’s website. It was the 1st time in my life I had been outside of North America and it was the most incredible experience of my life!

    114. neil a pasquasle says:

      i broke up with my girlfriend of ten years.I went to aruba it was beautiful there .i have traveled all over since.

    115. Marc Escanuelas says:

      Wandering around Morocco, my path kept crossing with a group of Spaniards who I eventually joined with. One sunny day, I went with them in a rental car to a beach south of Essaouira. Several camels sat near us on a break from their labors. A bit further, a crumbling old stone building loomed over us. A vendor wandered up selling jewelry, my friends only spoke Spanish and English while the vendor only spoke French and Arabic, so I happily translated between them with my passable skills in both French, English & Spanish. In the midst of all my head swiveling, I paused to catch the glint of the sun on the waves and suddenly was struck by the notion that I was on a beach in Africa, negotiating with a guy on a camel in several different languages. I felt confident all of a sudden and realized how small the world feels once you start to venture into it and how liberating that feels.

    116. Terry Heiman says:

      my life changing travel moment was in Belize at Xunantunich when my seven year old daughter and i climbed to the top of the ruins and had our picture taken by one of our guides. thats when i realized how important it is to spend as much time as possible with her before she grows up and replaces me with a boyfriend or husband, daddys girl will be grown before i know it.

    117. Yin H says:

      Stumbling out to a lightless beach in northern Australia after midnight, my nine-year-old self had just recovered from nearly losing his footing when the tree line suddenly ended and the darkest, clearest night sky I’d ever seen opened up in front of me. The Milky Way, the Magellanic Clouds, and by chance, the tail end of a meteor shower splashed themselves across the sky above an endless expanse of gently rolling ocean.

      That is the definition of spirituality.

    118. Xavier Ramey says:

      I went to Ghana in 2002 when I was 15 to study during my first international trip and, as my father told me, I was the first man from our family tree to go back since the first Ramey was sold here two centuries ago. It was surreal to see so many similarities that made it across the ocean, and I drank up the sights, from the beautiful Atlantic to the west to the drumming contests in the countryside at night, to the somber, blood stained slave castles on the coast. Just last month, I booked a 6 month trip to Africa for 2012, turned in my letter of resignation to my boss, and decided to get off the conveyor belt and live the life that travel has taught me I ought to: A life of legacy, serving people and using my skills to develop a way to make a socially responsible, for-profit enterprise that helps low-income people in the US stabilize their finances through training and network-sharing.

    119. I was on a Panama Canal cruise that stopped in Gatun Lake. My wife went on a ship tour but I just went ashore to the Gatun Lake “Yacht Club”. No “yachts” in sight but I did meet some remarkable Embera Indian people and spent the afternoon drinking beer with Erito Barrigon and his brothers from Embera Puru. They wanted me to visit their village in Chagres. I went back to California and started looking for information on the Embera and along the way discovered all the benefits of retiring in Panama. When we came down to visit Panama and see if it remained “on the list”, I made a surprise visit to the Embera Puru. Riding up Rio San Juan de Pequini in a dug out canoe, looking up at birds and monkeys with my new friends, I knew I could never go back to the Southern California Rat Race . . . and I haven’t! And Erito and our Embera friends have often visited us in Chiriqui.

    120. Samuel Brown says:

      Gazing up at the immaculate Colorado night sky on a road trip around the United States last summer; I felt a slight twinge of pain, which would soon become the cancer to end my adventuring and change my young life forever. Sometimes you cannot choose the path in which you must take on your journey, for pain is inevitable, but the beautiful love in this world can alleviate any anguish and provide new destination. Now, awaiting my final cancer treatment, I see travel as a way to spread love, and when I finish this battle I plan to travel because if “Home is where the heart is”, then I want to show my heart and share love whether it be hiking mountains, walking through great cities, or paddling rivers with friends new and old all around the world – MY HOME.

    121. Ben Richey says:

      I have had the fortune to travel overseas twice, and both times changed my life. The first time was to Haiti after the earthquake last year, where i spent three weeks helping clear debris From around Leogane and begin rebuilding. The second was a three week trip this summer to Europe with the love of my life.

    122. Andrea Abel says:

      When I left for my first trip to Europe, I did so armed with countless tips and tricks from many friends who had traveled through Europe previously. I had a ticket to Dublin and a ticket home from Munich four months later. I had no set agenda, no connecting flights or plans arranged, simply a few places I knew I always wanted to visit. Although each town I visited and each place I stayed was wonderful enough to warrant it’s own novel, the most significant moments for me came when I arrived in each city. A new language, a completely different region, a new method of travel to learn, a new city and culture to explore. I loved that feeling of disorientation. I came alive in those moments and learned that although I would sometimes stay fixed in one location, I would always be traveling in my heart.

    123. PJ Hennigan says:

      While living in the South of France for several months, post 9/11, I expected to be treated poorly. However, the people I interacted with on a daily basis treated me with a kindness and respect for which I will never forget. I learned that as long as we allow our hearts to shape our minds; we can become immune to propaganda, free to relate to one another on the most basic human level, and able to work collectively in overcoming political, social, and idealogical obstacles that are only exist to keep us divided.

    124. My first trip abroad that wasn’t a heavily guided tour started with a layover in Munich on the very first day of the 2006 World Cup, hosted by Germany. The electricity of the people in the airport just hinted at how enjoyable the trip would be. That first night began with me sitting out on a rooftop bar in our hostel in in Athens, looking up at the Acropolis while the first game of the World Cup blared out on a small TV. As I chatted with fellow travelers from all over the world, I realized that I absolutely wanted to do more of this and make travel a major part of my life.

    125. Jamie P says:

      In 2006 I went to New Zealand with International Student Volunteers to do environmental conservation work with other fellow university students. Besides meeting lifelong friends and learning about the Maori culture, this rite of passage inspired me enough to change my grad school major from clinical psychiatry to environmental science, and now i am currently in law school for environmental law and animal rights law. Prior to starting law school, I also returned to backback in 2011 and couchsurf to remind myself why I want to help preserve nature, and was once again re-inspired by being invited to have tea at the home of my favorite New York Times- best selling, animal rights author Dr. Jeffrey Masson.

    126. Diane O says:

      When I joined the Foreign Service in 1992 my mother was pretty unhappy about it. She likes to keep her kids close and there I was moving to South America, the land of drug wars and terrorism. She was quietly resistant, not that it made much of a difference to me because I went anyway. My second posting was to Europe and my parents came to visit me there and we traveled to Paris together, which is where my life changing travel moment happened.

      I got out my map, guidebook, and phrase book and took us from our hotel to and through the Louve, up the Champs Elysees, to the Arc de Trioump to a restaurant where I ordered dinner for the three of us, down to the Eiffel Tower. That night we were sitting in our hotel room, resting our tired feet and having a glass of wine when my Mom told me that she thought this Foreign Service thing was very good for me, She missed seeing me and having me close, but I was more confident than she had ever seen me before and that I made her proud. Thinking of it still makes me emotional, all these years later.

    127. Michelle says:

      April, 2011, I had the opportunity to travel to Budapest, Hungary. The intention of this adventure was to create a communication/connection/network between Hungary, Israel and U.S. young leaders. One Friday night I sat at dinner lighting Sabbath Candles with representatives from 7 different countries, many lived in countries with few individual freedoms. A moment can change your life, there were no barriers, freedom to be ourselves as individuals and as a group…out of which my “global family” was created. I have become a global communicator connecting all people, freely to make a difference in the world.

    128. Aaron S. says:

      When I wen to Guatemala several years ago, it showed me, a native of the midwest, a whole new side of he world I had never seen. We had a local guide we knew through work who took us to places to see how locals lived with nearly no resources, but still happy and cheerful to have what they did. Every day I need to make a decision in my own life I think of that trip.

    129. Judi Graham says:

      I was in my mid sixties and my son said he’d take me on vacation, anywhere I wanted to go. I chose Atlanta, Ga., mostly because I love baseball and I am a Braves fan. We had two great weeks of baseball, and sites, great food and great care by Hyatt Regency. Next I’d like to go to the home of my ancestors, Schiefer, Germany.

    130. Liz says:

      Two summers ago, I spent three weeks in Lebanon to meet an entire side of my family that I had never met before. It was a truly amazing and cultural experience- Lebanon is a gorgeous country with breathtaking sights and great people. This was a life-changing experience for many reasons- it allowed me to explore a unique country, it fueled my desire for travel, and it awakened me to what else is out there in the world.

    131. Chuck Crider says:

      After 27 years of responding to emergencies, extinguishing fires and rescuing people from all sorts of dire situations which many times included attempts to resuscitate the lifeless, I found my own self in dire need of new life energy. I took a solo trip across Panama for a month by rented car, taking time to visit places less visited by foreign visitors as well as the must-see spots. In the magical village of Boquete, the exhilarating, fresh and clean mountain air accompanied by the sounds of a flowing river outside my window provided the much-needed tonic to revive my weary soul.

    132. Jessie Algar says:

      Life changing? Life changing. A little Kiwi girl, me, spent a year living in Germany. During that year I took a “holiday” to Paris, that is if couch-surfing qualifies as “holidaying”. There is nothing I could tell you about Paris that hasn’t been said before, but walking Hausmann laced streets, being subject to art and literature, making friends in the metro, the after-closing drinks with the waiter, cigar sharing with blacksmiths from New York, observing the rawest of the human condition, and the most glamorous.. I hate to be a cliché but something about Paris was life changing. Let her change you.

    133. Carissa Portugal says:

      My trip to Dongguan, China in 2008 was my very first trip alone, and I received the shock of my life when my non-English speaking taxi driver let me down in the middle of the highway. I stood at the side of the highway in some small Chinese town where no one else spoke English, and all I wanted to do was cry. But it was at that moment that I realized that the point of travelling is getting lost in a place that you’ve never been to before (otherwise why bother leaving home?) and that is why I’ve been travelling to get lost in new places and cultures (and collect random adventures) ever since.

    134. Sara says:

      It was our first trip abroad by ourselves, and we were on a whirlwind through France en route to Austria. We stopped in Nice, and Jill (after returning from a walk) announced she’d found some sort of castle atop a hill. We climbed it and as soon as we reached the top, the sky found it fit to pour all its water right on top of us. I may have been soaked but I knew right then I’d never felt more alive.

    135. Cindy says:

      I recently spent a month in eastern Europe with a cousin I had never met, stayed with a wonderful family I barely knew and visited places I only dreamed of. The cathedrals I saw and people I met renewed and opened my beliefs of the wonder, love and spirit of humanity.

    136. Brandon A says:

      I spent June of 2002 in St. Petersburg, Russia as part of an exchange program in college. In the past year, my father had a massive heart attack and I had to sell a vehicle, start paying for my own college, and take over the family business all at the same time. I had the opportunity come up and my Dad was well enough to work again so I took it and it was a great decision. I spent that 30 days learning and exploring and to this day I consider that trip a pivot point in my life. I spent a lot of evenings just sitting out in front of my apartment and watching people go by. I loved talking to normal people there and learning about their lives and struggles. It really puts your struggles in perspective. Instead of AD and BC, I have BR and AR (before and after Russia).

    137. Adam Ren says:

      My GF was to fly to Australia for first time. She got to Heathrow Airport & just stressed out and couldn’t get on the next flight. So she asked me to come over there instead. So I quickly got a flight to London and we had two fun weeks there with a night in Paris. The Lourve was amazing. That was a few years ago & she reminds me of it and shows her appreciation of me ‘rescuing’ her. It was so pricey due to exchange rate but we made do and enjoyed each others company, window shopping into the cold dark nights and seeing the beautiful architecture of London.

      Next time in Europe we’ll be sure to go to Paris or Amsterdam first and take a side trip to London.

    138. Bryan says:

      One year during high school, we went on a school trip to Europe. This was my first time going somewhere without my parents. It was really eye opening as we went to Berlin, Germany. The city itself was really unique in the way it was split between East & West Germany and you could see the differences in the development of both sides. Another eye opening experience was to visit a concentration camp, the day we went it was raining and cold, but could not even come close to understanding the pain and suffering the people suffered there during the Holocaust. The trip involved a journey to Prague and it was my first time riding a vintage European train. From this trip, it sparked my interest in traveling the world. That was one trip that I will never forget for the rest of my life.

    139. Joseph Murphy says:

      While at a trade show in Munich a few years ago, I went into the medical aid station with a bad case of heartburn after a hearty Italian dinner the night before, looking for some antacid tablets. Next thing I knew, I was being transported to the Munich hospital emergency room by ambulance with what they told me were symptoms of a heart attack.

      While laying in the emergency room while the doctors conducted several blood tests and EKGs, my mind went through so many crazy scenarios about dying overseas or how I might not see my family back in Chicago again. Finally, nine hours later the doctor in charge told me I was fine and could be released after paying the $2,000 fee in cash or by credit card. Now, every time I travel I make sure to tell my family how much I love them before I leave and always carry with me a couple packs of Tums.

    140. Emily says:

      When I was in high school (in 2002 and 3) I was able to take a volunteer trip to a town on the Mexico/Texas border (near Reynosa). There people down there had so little, but were so happy. It really opened my eyes to what I valued and what was important in life.

    141. Mike Nguyen says:

      After a 14-day adventure in Europe last month, I was out of vacation days and it was time to drive to work. The sights along the way looked so foreign to me, even though it was the same familiar route I took daily. The coworkers and friends I passed throughout the day seemed like strangers. What changed wasn’t just re-acclimatization from a few weeks away. That drive to work was the moment I realized I wasn’t meant to stay here and continue to repeat the grind I’ve been doing. With that realization, my world changed. It only took a handful of two or three-week trips across the globe over five years to settle in.

      I have to grind away just a little bit longer. But if I won this ticket, it would be a one-way flight.

    142. It was the day after Christmas, my younger sister and I flew to Guatemala to visit each of our sponsored children. To actually meet the child you have been writing and giving money to live off of for years makes a person nervous and terribly excited. We pulled up to a clearing in the forest near San Lucas Toliman and the children bombarded us with 100+ smiling faces, hugs, kissing and sticky hands. We were ushered to a circle and then greeted by the children’s parents…….they were giving thanks to God in their Mayan language for us being brought into their lives. The unrecognizable Mayan chant was whispered up into the heavens, hands were raised to the sky and tears pooled at the corner of my eyes.

    143. Spencer green says:

      In 2003 I spent 8 months in Europe and walked ~1000 miles including in the alps in my chacos. I had rocks explode out of fires, I slept in a cockroach infested park, on a pier in Venice, learned how to order ice cream and the menu del dia in 5 langiages, climbed mountains from the pennine to the tatrys, sawenough castles and cathedrals that medieval art started making some sense to me, got locked in the basement of a museum, did some country line dancing, and ended up in a police line. I made a lot of new friends and lost two old ones.

    144. Nate says:

      I had an amazing opportunity this may to travel on a transatlantic cruise from Florida to Rome, Italy. This broadened my travel horizons in an excellent way – for the first time in my life, I experienced life in countries where culture, traditions, and languages were completely different from my own. Ever since then, I’ve had the “travel bug” and have wanted to go everywhere!

    145. Rodrigo says:

      Since i was 15 I decided that when i was 18 I wanted to travel somewhere. I spend hours looking for the best location. Finally I decided to do it at the age of 19. I went to Vancouver for 3 months, stayed in a family house all that time and I went to an english institute. That trip changed my life and my point of view of life for sure. That was the moment when I knew I was a grown-up. I met people from all over the world, exchange ideas, learned not only english, but also french, portuguese. And if that´s not all i fall in love for the first time. I`m sure I will never forget this experience.

    146. Jonathan Harquail says:

      When I traveled to China I experience such a different culture. The culture was beautiful and I would dream to experience more. The trip to China was such a life changing experience because I now appriciate my country in numerous ways for example, the freedom my country offers, the cleanliness, vastness, not crowded, the food and security.

    147. Ashley says:

      I’d been to Yosemite a few times, but in the summer of 2003 I tackled Half Dome. The destination wasn’t particularly exotic, the trip certainly wasn’t expensive, and I wasn’t visiting in the name of any “culture” — but that trip was transformative. It tested my mind, my body, and my soul, and I could never be more grateful that all it took was a change of scenery.

    148. Tressa says:

      I had breast cancer last year and had chemo and radiation for 7 months. I’ve always loved to travel and we had a 3 week vacation planned for Nicaragua during the summer. I almost cancelled but the oncologist said I could make the trip. It was the best and most rewarding trip of my life. I was forced to slow down and absorb the culture and see things that I normally would have been too busy to see. It changed the way I travel and changed the way I live my life.

    149. Allen says:

      Going to Honduras when I was 18 was probably the most life-changing trip I have taken. Working at a hospital and an orphanage was eye-opening and moving. Also seeing how happy people were with much fewer material things than I was accustomed to back home was humbling and a learning experience.

    150. Stephen says:

      I was traveling in remote Western China when the Uigher minority group began rioting to protest treatment by majority populations. The Chinese government cut off cell phones, internet, international banking, and monetary exchange; I was totally cut off from the world. With the help of a friendly taxi driver and determination I managed to get out of the area and figure out a way to get more cash, realizing in the process that with combined self-reliance and the hospitality of others I would never really stranded anywhere in the world. The start of real self-reliance for me.

    151. [...] travel in 2011: Morocco, Cabo, Big Sur, Portland, New York City, San Francisco, and Belize. So when Amble Resorts approached me with their Life-Changing Travel Contest, to celebrate the launch of their new blog [...]

    152. sarha says:

      This past year for the first time in my life, I ventured out of my backyard and into a whole new country called Belize. It was amazing, breath-taking and exotic! We went snorkeling with sharks and rays, took in the beautiful sights at the Mayan ruins and sipped drinks on the beach with the locals. Each moment spent there is like a story i want to tell again and again! It was truly a great getaway and the whole experience just me feeling awake and hungry for more:)

    153. Adrian DeSimoen says:

      On the island of Molokai I was lucky enough to travel to the North side of the island, referred to here as the backside. This part of the island is coveted as one of the most beautiful and sacred parts and it is highly frowned upon to go there unless taken by a local with the correct judgment to decide whether or not you deserve (and can truly appreciate) the experience. Characterized by the highest sea cliffs in the world and some of the most exquisite valleys, we camped and stayed in a shack built on the rocks on the shoreline of a small cove by the family of the man who took us there. The shack was built years ago by a group of three local families to give people a flat surface on which to sleep on and shelter from the rain. This selfless act represents the way of life on Molokai. Being there gives you a feeling that can be described only by awe followed by peace and a bond to the land. There are few places in the world which remain that untouched and I will forever hold those few days camping in the forefront of my memory.

    154. Adriana says:

      I remember the beautiful, transparent, glittering water of darling harbour in Sydney this summer. It was heavenly, it had the magical calming and enlivening effects on me throughout all the dramas and all the craziness of my summer in Sydney, The ethereal feelings that the water of darling harbour gave me is what made me survive in the new continent, where I went just with a suitcase expecting my life to surprise me. And indeed I found many surprises, which later I realized, helped me become more true to myself, sincere to myself and the world. Cheers to all the travellers who are trying to find themselves, and cheers to that ethereal beautiful water of darling harbour

    155. Adrienne says:

      While five months pregnant, I went to Israel to visit family and see the Holy Land. We were staying with my very Jewish relatives in Jerusalem and we would embark everyday on new adventures. The biggest realization that I had was walking through the Arab Quarter of the Old City. Everyone we spoke to had a very Us vs Them mentality, whether Jewish or Arab. It was disheartening to see how prejudiced these people were against each other while we, as foreigners, could see how similar they are. I would love to see peace within Israel within my lifetime and I would love my daughter to experience the beauty of the country without feeling like she was being recruited to take a side. I know I will always do my best to teach her that in general, people have more in common than they think.

    156. Jason Martin says:

      A trip that changed my life? I’ve been lucky enough to have had many of those. I taught seminars for years in many exotic, and some not-so-exotic places. unfortunately, on business travel you rarely get time to really see a country and meet it’s people.

      Five years ago, I went fishing in Costa Rica. It was great, so I went back several more times. Always nice, a beautiful country with wonderful people. I began to thinkn of retiring there. I even bought a vacant property.

      Once I really began to get serous and look into the legal ramifications of retiring I came to realization that there are better situations to be in. Panama offers a far better package of benefits for retirees than most any other country. it’s called the Pensionado program. It’s easy to get into, and can lead to permanent residency or even citizenship, if that’s what you want. Look into it. Choose carefully. The world is your oyster once you decide to make it all it can be.

    157. Wade Foley says:

      My missions trip to Guatemala three years ago was absolutely life-changing. I helped build a church for an entire village and visited a local orphanage. The pastor and the whole village were so grateful for the church, and the kids at the orphanage didn’t want us to leave. I will never forget one little boy holding on to my jeans as I was preparing to leave. We just met that day, but I could tell that both of our lives were forever changed.

    158. Marline says:

      23 countries visited & counting. After China, Vietnam, USA, Argentina, Greece, Turkey, Lithuania, France, Spain and many other European countries, I have finally arrived in Panama. While cruising on the Pacific, dolphins came up to the boat & I could see how they turned to their side to look at me with curiosity. The moment was so emotional, it moved me to tears.

    159. Jeremy says:

      My thirst for travel can not be summed up by one “A Ha” moment, but, I have to stay the upward spiral began with a free trip to Israel for 10 days on the dime of some wealthy Jewish donors through a program called Birthright.

      I was raised traditionally Jewish, but by the time I reached college, I had become pretty agnostic and definitely felt an ambivalence towards the religion. My friend Dave told me about some new program being sponsored by Israel to bring young Jews from around the world to visit and experience the country first hand and to see what it truly means to be “Jewish”. I smirked and said “yea yea, and a free Jewbotomy to go along with it?” Needless to say, I’m still Jewish and couldn’t turn down the free trip, and the next thing I knew, I was on a FREE flight form JFK to Tel Aviv with my eyes rolling the whole way.

      I’m hard to impress, but from the moment we landed and an uproar of cheering began from babies to bubbies, I was mesmerized by the country. Beautiful and stark landscapes, amazing living history, delicious food and a strong-willed and welcoming people made my experience something truly remarkable.

      It was from that point on that I knew I was connected to something bigger, not to feeling anymore Jewish, but to the world. I had become a global citizen. And four years later, I have made every effort possible to live life winning (thanks Charlie Sheen) and see as much of my planet as possible, because in the end, all you have is the skin on your back and those amazing memories of the places you’ve been that every so often convert from synapses to smiles. Travel is my heroine.

    160. Cynthia V. says:

      Until you step out of your four walls, you can never truly appreciate the gem of life you have. My first trip to my parent’s native countries of Honduras and Nicaragua was a trip that put my life into prespective. Visiting the poverty stricken villages and staying in a town where cars were a rare sight, children in tattered clothing were as common as trees and humility was the word to describe everyone I met.

    161. Michele Stanley says:

      I so badly want to hike through rain forests, visit active volcanos and watch monkeys in their natural habitat in Costa Rica.

    162. Louise Orr says:

      The first time I went on an African safari (Okavango Delta in Botswana) I was overwhelmed by a feeling of “coming home,” a not-uncommon sensation felt by first time visitors to the continent. Upon my return I sold my home; downsized everything in my life and immediately booked another safari for the following year! My third safari (2 years later) was my personal reward to myself for having fought and survived cancer. Africa is my “soul” place, and the one destination I hope to see again and again before I die.

    163. When I was 19 and a summer exchange student in Ecuador, I left the safety of my wonderful host family and traveled alone along the Amazon for a week. Not sure what I was thinking, but I had my South American Handbook as a guide and a sincere belief that anything is possible and fear only holds us back. I spent $20 total on the trip (ok it was 1978!)…riding in dug out canoes with outboard motors, finding local indians for guides and meeting wonderful friendly travelers along the way who offered me insights and conversation. I saw, felt and believed that we are greater contributors to this life if only we reach out and understand. I still believe that a lot small differences can change the world..

    164. Lauren says:

      When my husband and I were planning our honeymoon, a good friend of ours was going home to visit family around the time of our intended travels and offered to show us around his homeland. The destination? India—and multiple cities therein. We jumped on the opportunity to not only have a private guide throughout the duration of our trip, but to see the country through the eyes of someone who still loves it so much. That trip was one of the most rewarding travel experiences to date. I cried at the rampant dirt, trash, and overall squalor; marveled at the opulent forts and palaces; and raved about curries, masalas, and naan. I saw a lifestyle and culture that no movie or newspaper article can prepare you for. When we left India, I labeled it a “been there, done that” and was ready to move on to other destinations. But after allowing the trip to settle, I can see that I’m not done with India and am ready to give it another go. And this time perhaps my husband and I will brave it alone.

    165. Kristen says:

      April 2010 – The Icelandic volcanos were leaving hundreds stranded all over Europe. My flight to Madrid, Spain was almost changed. The trip almost didn’t happen. I boarded the plane and fell in love. Without this trip I would have never met my now-husband. He would not have proposed in Venice – We would have not married in Gibraltar and I would not be living in Europe. Board the flight – take a chance – change your life!

    166. Holly says:

      The year I spent traveling in Thailand truly changed my life! It was the first time that, as a white female, I truly felt like I was the odd one out and found myself learning so much about a culture so different from my own. Traveling alone, learning a new language and creating a life for a year in a country halfway across the world from my own was a year i will never, ever forget!

    167. keRi says:

      I was lucky enough to be summer skiing on a glacier in the swiss alps in Zermatt, Switzerland this past summer, alone. My ‘anchor lift’ to get back up the mountain lost tension at one point as the weather took a turn for the worse, & I was left hunched over with the wind blowing so hard 14,000 feet up that I thought I might get blown off. With the massive Matterhorn in front of me, I had a moment of realization of just how small I am within this beautiful universe, and I am forever grateful for the experience.

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    *****

    Tell us about a travel experience that changed your life for the chance to win a flight to the destination of your dreams. The dawn of every new year brings with it a flood of memories, reflection, re-awakened dreams, and new-found inspiration to finally see those "one days" manifest in the upcoming 365. If you're anything like us, many of those dreams are represented by circles on a map. As 2012 begins, we're celebrating the launch of our new website and The Ambler by offering you the chance to win a trip to the destination of your dreams. Leave a comment about a travel experience that changed your life -- whether it was an epic event or a single moment, a new-found appreciation or your greatest achievement, across the world or across the street. Post your story, browse the stories of your fellow travelers, and vote for your favorite beginning January 18! By leaving a comment, you are eligible to win a flight to any place in the world (in the form of a $1,500 voucher to the airline of your choice). Everyone has taken a trip that changed their life. Share yours.
    Win Travel - The Details:
    Enter to Win: To enter, write a short response (1-3 sentences) in the comment section below by January 15, 2012. For your response to be valid, enter a legitimate email address - this is how we will notify you if you are chosen as a finalist. On January 18: Check in on The Ambler to see if your response made it to the finalist round. Finalists will be chosen by Amble Resorts. You Choose the Winner: Vote for the entry that inspires you most - the finalist with the most votes will win airfare to the destination of their choice. Voting will be open from January 18-31, 2012. The winner will be announced on February 1, 2012. By entering the contest, you agree to our Terms and Conditions.
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    [post_content] => Travel contest*Editor’s Note: the Life-Changing Travel Contest is closed as of February 1, 2012. Click the link to meet our contest winner!

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Tell us about a travel experience that changed your life for the chance to win a flight to the destination of your dreams. The dawn of every new year brings with it a flood of memories, reflection, re-awakened dreams, and new-found inspiration to finally see those "one days" manifest in the upcoming 365. If you're anything like us, many of those dreams are represented by circles on a map. As 2012 begins, we're celebrating the launch of our new website and The Ambler by offering you the chance to win a trip to the destination of your dreams. Leave a comment about a travel experience that changed your life -- whether it was an epic event or a single moment, a new-found appreciation or your greatest achievement, across the world or across the street. Post your story, browse the stories of your fellow travelers, and vote for your favorite beginning January 18! By leaving a comment, you are eligible to win a flight to any place in the world (in the form of a $1,500 voucher to the airline of your choice). Everyone has taken a trip that changed their life. Share yours.
Win Travel - The Details:
Enter to Win: To enter, write a short response (1-3 sentences) in the comment section below by January 15, 2012. For your response to be valid, enter a legitimate email address - this is how we will notify you if you are chosen as a finalist. On January 18: Check in on The Ambler to see if your response made it to the finalist round. Finalists will be chosen by Amble Resorts. You Choose the Winner: Vote for the entry that inspires you most - the finalist with the most votes will win airfare to the destination of their choice. Voting will be open from January 18-31, 2012. The winner will be announced on February 1, 2012. By entering the contest, you agree to our Terms and Conditions.
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