I recently wrote a red-faced post that openly disclosed the 9 travel moments I was least proud of.
Let’s just say that while it wasn’t the easiest to write, people seemed to enjoy it!
Yes my delightful readers, it seems you simply loved reading about my rather less glamourous travel tales!
Well, after all that embarrassment, I thought it was time to balance the books and try to re-establish my image as an upright and adult member of society!
So here, dear readers, are the 10 travel moments I’m most proud of.
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#1 Picking up Spanish
I have to say that picking up a pretty good level of Spanish, by myself, without any classes, whilst I was travelling through Latin America, is definitely one of the travel moments I’m most proud of.
With only the help of my trusty Lonely Planet phrasebook, I made a real and concerted effort to pick up this local language day in, day out, while I was travelling in this incredible part of the world.
And you know what?
All that study finally paid off.
That one day when I was sat on the bus in Ecuador and realised, after about 40 minutes, that I’d been chatting non-stop with a local, understanding everything they were saying and, more to the point, making myself understood too, I was pretty damn proud!
For us first language English-speakers, being able to converse in a different tongue, is often seen as some mythical power bestowed on a lucky, chosen few.
The reality is, it’s just hard work and perseverance mostly and I’m pretty happy I got to prove that to myself.
#2 Learning to Dive
Another proud travel moment that came during my 2 years in Latin America, was that time when I got to complete my PADI underwater certificate.
Not a natural water baby, I did however desperately want to learn to dive and am delighted to say I stuck in out and got there in the end.
From then on, I actually became a bit of diving fanatic, learning to love the underwater world and pass my Advanced PADI certificate a few months later.
Being able to dive has afforded me some of my most memorable travel moments – from swimming with manta rays in Australia, to sidling past hammerhead sharks in Nicaragua – and I’m so glad I dived (pardon the pun!) out of my comfort zone and into the scuba-skilled universe all those years ago!
#3 Travelling Solo
It may sound like a clichéd one, but travelling solo definitely has to be one of my proudest travel moments.
There’s nothing that can beat the burst of self-esteem, resilience and independence you get from knowing you’ve navigated the world alone and survived!
#4 Taking a Chance on Love
This might not sound like much of an achievement to many people, but if you’re a diehard, solo female traveller like I was, then you might understand that sometimes teaming up with others can be more of a challenge than going it alone!
Taking a chance on a travel love wasn’t easy for me, but I’m so happy to say it paid off and has definitely turned into one of the travel moments I’m most proud of.
#5 Setting up Life in Another Country
Kind of linked to finding love on the road, although not exclusively, setting up life in a foreign country and growing to call it home is certainly one of the travel moments I’m most proud of.
I’ve managed to find work, a house, friends and a life for myself in several countries around the world now and I don’t think I’ll ever grow bored with that sense of stopping for just a moment, taking stock of where I am in the world and knowing I created this little place for myself in a strange land without anyone else’s help.
Travelling and continually moving grows to be easy after a while, but choosing to stop and invest yourself in a foreign patch, even for a few months, is by far the greater achievement in my opinion.
#6 Hitchhiking to Morocco
I do love a bit of wild, off the beaten track travel, and the time my friend and I hitchhiked to Morocco from northern France, was a pretty good example of this!
There’s something about not having a plan, throwing caution to the wind and just having to surrender to the universe that is as exhilarating as it is kinda crazy!
But one thing is for sure, it takes a lot of trust, or a lot of guts, or both, to undertake this sort of adventure and I’m seriously proud I did.
#7 Prioritising Travel Over Career
You can read my whole post about why I’m glad I prioritised travel over career, but crucially the point is that I did and I’m super glad!
Always caught between using my university education to forge a successful 9-5 life for myself or listening to my gypsy heart and hitting the road permanently, the decision to go one way or the other was a big call I had to make at the age of 25.
But I did make it and, looking back 7 years later, making the choice I did, has to be one of my proudest travel moments.
#8 Surviving a Sailing Storm
I guess most travellers have that “lived to tell the tale” story and for me it happened when sailing on a catamaran in the Mozambique Channel.
Let’s just say the boat was woefully unprepared, so when it hit a storm as we crossed one of the busiest shipping channels in the world, we lost all power, all lights, all communication devices and a captain to exhaustion.
Pretty much it was just a case of buttoning down the hatches and praying for the best.
Luckily the best did happen and I’m still here to tell the story, but surviving that ordeal is definitely one of the travel moments I’m most proud of!
#9 Taking a Chance on Albania
I visited Albania during the summer holidays of my first year of uni, way back in 2004.
Two friends and I wanted to visit somewhere cheap in Europe for a month and our eyes gradually focused on Albania – a tucked away little corner of the continent no one seemed to anything about.
And I mean no one!
When we visited Albania, hardly anyone I spoke to even knew where the country was, let alone had experience of travelling there.
Even Lonely Planet, that benchmark of pioneer travel, hadn’t yet published a guidebook on the place.
Well, if ever there was a cue for us to visit somewhere this was it!
So off we went, the 3 Amigas, to Albania!
Without direct flights from London, we had to catch a plane to Italy and from there onwards to the capital Tirana.
Fellow passengers looked at us with a mix of disbelief and suspicion as we told them of our plans, but it didn’t dissuade us!
Instead, those fabulous weeks in the long hot Albanian summer showed me exactly what off the beaten track tourism was all about: idyllic, untouched locations, genuine and engaged interaction with inquisitive locals, makeshift and impromptu tourist infrastructure and not another foreigner in sight!
#10 Heading Off at the Age of 18
But perhaps the travel moment I’m most proud of, is that moment I first started to travel at all.
Yes at the tender age of 18, I headed out into the world with only a small backpack to discover the adventures that lay in store for me.
And I can’t help but feel so immensely glad that I did!
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So there you have it lovely readers, the 10 travel moments I’m most proud of.
I told you I wasn’t just a bundle of embarrassing stories and now you have the proof!
Furthermore, it’s your time to share now too!
So go on, tell me, what are the travel memories that make you most proud?