Whether you’re traveling a couple of hours away or two time zones away one thing remains true – travel has the power to be a transformative experience. It’s the little moments like stopping at a quirky roadside attraction or taking an alternative route that can bring you to people and places that end up making the most memorable times of your trip.
I’ve been traveling throughout for most of the month and I thought I’d ask the travelers I meet along the way what some of their unforgettable moments in travel have been. Here’s what they told me.
1. “A Mayan shaman performed a prayer and cleansing ritual at a place in Mexico I stumbled upon. It was one of the most powerful moments of my life and I felt very lucky to be a part of the group that day, to have chosen to come to the village on that day, and witness such an extraordinary moment.” – Christine, 33.
2. “Sorry, this isn’t inspirational at all but one time I was traveling across country to move to Washington state with my girlfriend. We stopped at a truck stop to grab a bite of food because we were starving and exhausted. My girlfriend went into the bathroom and a couple of guys came over and asked me how much she would go for. I was like, huh?? I didn’t understand. Then I realized they thought my girlfriend was a prostitute or that I’d sell her to them for the night or something. I told them she wasn’t for hire and they tried negotiating, telling me it was in my best interest if I’d just name a price. It was so fucking weird. As soon as she got out of the bathroom I told her we needed to leave ASAP. I remember feeling freaked out for awhile after that.” – David, 27.
3. “I was on a flight in the 80s when I met a survivor from a big plane crash that had happened a few years prior. The man was holding a rosary and praying nonstop for the entire 4 hour flight. He said he had to fly to see his daughter. I always thought he was one of the bravest people I’d ever met.” – John, 38.
4. “Some girl gave a bunch of guys blowjobs in the back of a bus when I was riding through New Mexico. Strangest travel experience of my life.” – Dave, 29.
5. “You know how they say the world is really small? Well, it’s true. I’ve traveled around the world and ended up finding people I used to know from older stages of my life. Like one time I landed in an airport in India and I saw someone from my highschool graduating class. Another time I was waiting for a bus in Costa Rica and I chatted up a girl and it turns out she was the sister of an old friend from my first internship in college.” – Michael, 33.
6. “I traveled through four countries to find my college girlfriend. We broke up when we graduated and she went on to Africa to do some field work as an anthropologist. This was back before Facebook and all that so it was much harder to find people. I searched through so many towns and cities looking for her. Finally I asked some towns people if they had seen an American girl with blonde curly hair and bright blue eyes. She was the kind of girl you’d never forget if you met her. They said yes and told me where they thought she had gone. I ended up in a tiny, tiny village in Tanzania and sure enough, there she was. I told her I was still in love with her, 3 years later, and that I would do whatever it took to find her. She was dating someone at the time and told me I was being silly. She wasn’t interested. I went home heartbroken. 5 years later I’m on a train in Poland and who gets on it? My college girlfriend! 10 years later and we’re still together.” – Marco, 44.
7. “I was traveling in Nicaragua and I met a doctor from Austria who told me he had a stem cell clinic and used it to cure cancer and disease. At first he seemed somewhat legit until he told me he lived in a tree. “Where’s your tree?” I asked him. “Just around there,” he pointed off in the distance. “It’s a great tree.” He then went on to tell me had the cure for Alzheimers and AIDS but the American government was keeping him down and didn’t want to cure those diseases because they make too much money off of them. He gave me his business card and I went home and Googled him. Apparently he is an actual doctor and he does have a stem cell clinic in Nicaragua but he’s obviously a little off. Definitely one of the strangest conversations to take place on the road.” – Kelly, 30.