I had always been interested in reading about stories on the road. I believe that the most compelling reads are not the guides or itineraries but those that often go unmentioned, told only to friends and family (but rarely online). So for this year, I asked other travel bloggers for experiences that are positive and inspirational.
Here are 10+ travel stories from around the world.
Being welcomed in a Filipino fiesta
After an outreach event in Sorsogon, our group of volunteers (composed of about 18 people) headed to the town of Gubat. It was afternoon and we looked for a place to have lunch. It turned out to be a fiesta day and most eateries were closed. When we found an eatery with an ‘Open’ sign at the end of the main street, we barged in.
There was a long buffet table with Filipino cuisines and delicacies. A bit perplexed, we finally noticed that all the people inside were staring at us. It turned out they weren’t open after all, and there was an ongoing private celebration.
We apologized for the mistake and turned to go, but the owners urged us to stay and eat. We did and even though we felt a bit guilty about it (we were a large party!), we also felt the heart of Filipinos’ generosity and the essence of fiesta celebrations.
– Katherine and Hali
Meeting a significant other on the road
Saving up for my next adventure, I was working at a hardware store full time which had a great team. One man was especially great, though I was due to leave soon so I always kept a slight distance even though there was the casually flirting.
Either unfortunately, or fortunately, one month before my trip, he asks me out. Two weeks later, we are officially dating. Fast forward two weeks and I am crying while saying goodbye as I leave the country and make plans for him to visit me a couple months in.
These couple monthly quickly turn to just 2 weeks as he books a flight to come and join me on Valentine’s Day in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The next whirlwind 5 months, we visit 11 countries, conquer the highest trekking pass in the world and survive endless flights together. Knowing someone one month before traveling together is not something I would recommend, though we grew closer with every difficult situation thrown at us and now we are planning to get married in Chiang Mai where he flew to see me on Valentines Day.
– Tasha Amy of Backpackers Wanderlust
Four years ago, I had a life-changing experience traveling though Southeast Asia for a couple of months.
My last stop on the trip was the Philippines, where I hoped to find a nice surfing spot for the beginners. I went to San Fernando, a small town in Luzon island. The only budget accommodation there was a surf hostel with open-plan dormitories. There were quite a few other single travelers. One of them was Campbell. We surfed together all day and late night went to a local market. I wanted to travel around a bit and Campbell had the same plan, we started doing 2-day trips from San Fernando to different parts of Luzon.
These short trips turned into traveling together around the Philippines for two months, already as a couple. I used to go home occasionally and then we met up somewhere again to travel together. Since then we’ve traveled Southeast Asia twice, Latin America for a year and Europe for a couple of months.
Two years ago we started a travel blog, Stingy Nomads, to share our experiences with the rest of the world. A year ago, we got married in Cape Town and now are busy exploring our home countries: South Africa and Russia.
– Alya of Stingy Nomads
As a lot of you readers already know, I met Hali in an outreach event in Jomalig Island. This was back in the day when Jomalig wasn’t popular yet. We didn’t know each other, and I was only told that he’s a photographer.
I was walking along the shores with the other women, and Hali came up to me and asked if he could take a picture.
And that kids, is how I met my significant other. : )
– Katherine (of this blog)
… getting hitched!
Travel has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, so it makes sense that travel was a key part of my marriage story! I was traveling in Italy in 2014, specifically in the town of Rimini, where I was speaking at a travel conference. It was there that I met Jessica, who would become my future wife.
At the time, I was based in France and she was in California, so I traveled to California, and it was during one of our trips in California that I proposed. Finally, of course, our marriage was travel themed — we eloped and got married on board the Queen Mary 2, halfway between Jessica’s home country (USA) and mine (UK).
– Laurence of Finding the Universe
… and learning to enjoy going alone
Four years ago, three friends from university and I were planning a one-week holiday in Morocco. We booked flights and planned to go on this trip right after handing in our Bachelor Thesis at university. However, due to bad time management, things didn’t work out as planned for them and long story short, all three of them cancelled our trip just a week before departure. I was very angry and just didn’t want to give up my travel plans because of other people. However, I haven’t had much travel experience at this time. It was only a day before the flight when I decided spontaneously to go on my own — a thing I never dared to do before.
It was the best decision of my life — I had an awesome time, met great people in the hostel and booked a flight to Asia for my next big solo backpacking trip just a few days after. And that’s how it started — years of solo traveling, adventure and ultimately even my own travel blog!
– Patrick of German Backpacker
Volunteering in animal shelters…
It’s hard not to fall in love when you are volunteering at Lanta Animal Welfare (LAW). Dogs and cats of all shapes and sizes seeking their forever home.
Like Mooky, a curious and playful boy who enjoys pulling down the shorts of those who enter his run. Mooky had an unhappy start in life when someone pouring hot oil on his head. Luckily he was clever enough to ask for help at one of LAW’s mobile clinics. Due to his clothes shredding habit he was often overlooked for adoption. Until just recently when a British couple fell for his quirky ways and fluffy ears. He will become one of the 113 dogs and cats re-homed in 2017.
Stories like Mooky’s warm the heart, reminding us that everyone deserves a new start.
– Julie and Steve of 2checkingout
While strolling through the streets of Mexico, you are almost guaranteed to meet up with street dogs. They are typically shy, hardly ever aggressive and almost always bandits capable of stealing your heart. While living in the Lake Chapala area we met many people and organizations working on behalf of these beautiful dogs. It is a joint effort of locals and people from the US and Canada (mostly retirees). These organizations provide veterinary care, “freedom flights” to homes north of the border, and spay and neuter clinics.
If you’d like to help or just want to see amazing adoptions stories you can follow one of our favorite rescue groups, It Takes a Village Lakeside.
– Robin of LETgo:Grab Opportunity
In 2010 I participated in a volunteer spay and neuter program called VIDA. Their mission is to positively impact the quality of life in underserved communities while offering volunteers a life changing experience. They offer volunteer opportunities in South American countries with dental, medical and veterinary programs.
In Costa Rica, people were very open to spaying and neutering their animals but in Nicaragua we had to convince people to participate in this program. People in Nicaragua were very suspicious of this, thinking it wasn’t good for their animal. We explained to them that it keeps the stray dog populations and diseases down for a healthier community.
I highly recommend this program to those interested in the medical field because it is a wonderful opportunity to give back, see another way of life, and to learn more about another culture.
– Nicole of Wandering with a Dromomaniac
… and programs to bring smiles to kids
We were four weeks into our Spanish classes at Sol Latino in Guatemala’s second city, Quetzaltenango. It was the run-up to Christmas and the school had organized a trip out to Las Rosas on the outskirts of the city. Most families live on or below the poverty line. The non-profit Cara Alegres has been providing support to at-risk kids here since 2004. Cara Alegres is Spanish for “Happy Faces” and that’s what we experienced.
Kids here only go to school for half a day. Most are from single-parent families and their mothers work all day. Cara Alegres provides a haven away from the street gangs for kids of 70-80 such families. They get to interact in a safe place — play educational and fun games and eat. Clean clothes are provided if the kids need them. These are all the things that we took for granted as children.
We just spent the afternoon here — but they’ve stayed in my heart since then.
– Sarah of A Social Nomad
As a travel blogger, I thought of some ways to maximize the art of writing and traveling. As time passed by, I made some realizations in life that having the luxury to travel alone and experiencing beautiful sceneries we see during our trips are nothing if they’re not shared to others. Together with my friends, we formed a project as we call it “Color Your Life”, which aims to promote arts to the children from indigenous or remote places in the Philippines since the said subject is very limited to them. It’s also our way of giving back to the communities that we visit. We provide art activities and give them start-up art kits in order for them to continue their interest towards the arts.
The project is still ongoing and hopefully we can reach more communities in the Philippines in 2018. As of now we’ve had 5 projects; 4 of which are straight from our pockets while the other one is sponsored by an international organization.
– Kevin of The Outcast Journey
Being helped by strangers…
Sometimes desperation and happiness lie side by side. So it was, when I lost my wallet in Switzerland.
I had spent a few weeks in Switzerland and wanted to stay another few days when I lost my wallet including ID, license and all my money. I traveled to Switzerland solo (and with my little dog) and I did not know what to do — so I contacted a new Instagram friend I had just met a few days ago. I hardly knew her and was hesitant to ask but since I had no choice and asked… she was more than generous and helped me out. If she had not been there I would have had some serious problems. Though she was not a random person, I was still overwhelmed by her generosity. Of course I paid her back, but I will never forget that great gesture from someone who was kind of a stranger.
– Arzo of Arzo Travels
Our dream climb to Mt. Guiting-guiting in Sibuyan Island seemed to be in shambles from the start. But when we reached Roxas City where we were supposed to ride a vessel to Sibuyan Island, the boat was dry-docked! We didn’t have a plan, let alone a budget, to stay in Roxas City.
Kind-hearted strangers Ville, Ruel and Rucel, took us with open arms. They fed us with free food in their restaurant, allowed us to stay in their guest room, and took us for a tour around their beautiful city.
– Gian and Sheila of Adrenaline Romance
… and helping someone else
On a winter road trip between the Algarve and Berlin, I helped a fellow traveler out. I’m so glad I did because I almost didn’t.
I’d stopped off at a service station in Southern Germany when a deaf guy approached. He’d fallen asleep in his car with the heater on, and it had drained the battery. Now he desperately needed a jump start if he was going to make his ferry in Northern Germany. Could we help? Everyone else that he’d asked had said no.
My reaction was: what’s the scam? Everybody gets asked for help when they’re traveling but it’s (sadly) almost always a scam. Unable to work it out, I decided to help him out. I’m so glad I said yes because it would have been so easy to say no.
– James of Worldwide Shopping Guide
Wherever we go, we always come across people or experiences that warm the hearts. What’s a feel-good travel story you want to share? 🙂