What is Your Favorite Travel Moment?

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2013-03-10 13.14.41Has anyone ever asked you, “What is your favorite travel moment?” I know it happens a lot, but why is this question so hard to answer?

A few days ago I was asked on Twitter about my favorite travel moment. This should be a simple question for a person with a decent amount of travel under their belt right? Well in the process of thinking of a response short enough for a twitter reply I realized a few things:

  1. I have so many great travel moments so it is just to hard to decide on one to call my favorite.
  2. I don’t have to decide….or do I?
  3. I’m feeling a loose sense of travel incompetence…I mean everyone has that ONE favorite travel moment right?
  4. And the most important…am I really making such a fuss about this?

I soon understood that my problem with this question was not that I couldn’t think of a quick response but that by definition a moment is a point in time. This restricted my favorite travel moment to one single event and that I could not do, at least not at this moment (pun intended).

To give an honest reply on my “favorite travel moment” I couldn’t just call out one moment. I had to consider:

  1. What did all the moments that came to mind had in common?
  2. What makes me the most happy when I travel?
  3. After each trip what moments stick with me and as a result changed a little part of me?

Let’s get started…

What did all the moments that came to mind had in common?Bench in Sacred Valley of Peru

  1. Personal interactions with locals
  2. Local food in non-touristy places
  3. The frustration of getting lost followed by the triumph of finding my way
  4. First impressions

What makes me the most happy when I travel?

  1. The 4 points mentioned above, whether they happen in tangent or individually, describe what really brings joy to my travel experiences.
  2. The joy a vendor gets from making his or her first sell of the day
  3. Unknowingly making a fool of myself, then laughing the shame out over some local booze.
  4. Having conversations with locals. From the little girl selling banana bread after school to help her family to the taxi driver stuck with you on a 1 hour ride that should have taken 15 minutes without the traffic. Everyone in a new country has something new to offer and you (believe it or not) will learn more about how the world really works from them than from your guidebook.DSCN1547

After each trip what moments stick with me and as a result changed a little part of me?

  1. First impressions – This might seem like a cliché so I want to discuss this a little further. I am referring to the fluttering sensation in my gut when I experience something new. Whether it is seeing a new place, doing something I have never done or hearing a language that I have never heard before, the new is what keeps me going. You may say with so many moments why can’t you just choose one? But I can’t decide which one of those moments is more powerful than the other. They all hold a place in my moment’s arsenal.
  2. Having conversations with locals – Have you ever thought of how a 15-minute conversation can change you? Opening up your mind and your soul to how people live and think around the world is one of the reasons I travel.
  3. Doing something I would never do at home, then thinking “why the hell do I not do this at home”?.Puente Monte Nubloso Monte Verde Costa Rica

What did I learn and what did I reply?

To compare things they need to have a grade of similarity. If every moment and every feeling is the same then why travel at all? Reason number 100 that my brain just can’t go through the process of picking one favorite travel moment. It would be like comparing the fired up taste of the street tacos with extra “salsa” you dared to eat in Mexico City to the tingly sensation in the back corners of your mount when you sip on that freshly squeezed orange juice you just purchased from the Mayan lady in the streets of San Pedro in Guatemala.Tacos de Canasta en Ciudad de Mexico

In the end my reply was simple, “having conversations with locals is the best”. What a shame of a response considering the painful thought process I put into it. But the travel awareness revelation that followed lead to 200 words in my notebook that in turn lead to this post and the awareness of what I treasure the most when I travel.

Do you have a favorite travel moment?  

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