What We Love About Traveling (and Always Will)

Travel may be paused, but all the reasons we love to explore still exist. We asked our staff, mentors, affiliate partners, and filmmakers to share the travel experiences that resonated with them the most.

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Avatars in red headdresses, Theyyam ceremony, Kerala, India. Photo © Brian Rapsey

Why do we travel? Is it to make connections, create indelible memories, or just to try great new food? While we wait to hit the road again, get inspired by these standout travel moments.

What’s the best friendship or connection you’ve made through traveling?

“On assignment, as a travel writer in Bangladesh almost a decade ago, Najm and I had long and hilarious conversations about photography. We’ve since collaborated on various projects and agree we’ll be friends forever.” – Jo Tovia, Content Producer, World Nomads

“Is this a trick question?! I have friends in Europe I met 30 years ago that I still talk to about once a month. But if I had to pick one, I’d have to say this freelance travel writer named Aaron I met in La Paz, Bolivia, in 1999. After meeting him, I thought, ‘wow, that’s the career I want’, and now that’s the career I have. The best part? We reconnected at a bar in Montana last year. It was the first time I’d seen him in 20 years. I gave him a hug and thanked him. I think he was a little taken aback by that, because our South American encounter was rather brief. What impact could he have possibly had? But that’s what makes it so special to me – a tiny moment that contributed to a major pivot point in my life.” Tim Neville, travel writer and World Nomads Travel Writing Scholarship mentor

“While traveling in Turkey with friends from Australia, I was injured (long story, but I had stitches so I was limping everywhere). Three of the most awesome women I’ve ever met, from South Africa, took me under their wing and helped me limp around from place to place. We were roommates for the rest of our trip, and they invited me to stay with them in their flat in London. They even helped me to get casual work to pay off my travel debts. They were super-empowered chicks with amazingly kind and generous hearts.” – Emily Willis, Head of Content, World Nomads

“Bibek – a Nepali man. I met him through work, because he wrote for us a few years back, but we stayed in touch. When I reached out to ask for tips, he offered to look after us. He took me and two friends in to his home, then guided us along the Annapurna Base Camp Trek. We road tripped from Kathmandu to Pokhara, drove down to Chitwan National Park – his family became my own family.” - Milly Brady, Content Producer, World Nomads

“My deepest connection has been to the whaling crew that I am a part of in Utqiagvik, Alaska. The friends that I have made there are relationships that will endure for the rest of my life, and I will probably never stop going up north during the traditional whaling season while I can.

The best friendship is with my friend Robin in Finland. We originally bonded over building traditional kayaks, and then went on to have lots of adventures in the Finnish Arctic and Iceland, from fly fishing to visiting Sami herders. We’re still really close.” Kiliii Yüyan, photographer

“I usually create deep bonds with my fixer/guides on assignments, as I’m so dependent on them for my work and sometimes my life. We keep in touch, and I’ve been very concerned about them and getting updates during this pandemic. It breaks my heart how tourism is affecting these countries that are so reliant on the income of tourism.” Alison Wright, travel photographer

I first met Luis (Lucho) in the Peruvian Amazon, and at that time I barely spoke any Spanish. We just communicated through sign language and spending a long hour of silence together while he painted. He is a visionary artist who has polio. Earlier this year, three years after our initial meeting, I met him again, and now he has a family and a baby. This time I could speak Spanish, and we could communicate much more. I built a strong relationship with him through making a film about him. A beautiful, lifelong connection is what I found in the depths of the jungle.” – Jigar Ganatra, filmmaker and World Nomads Film Scholarship winner

Visionary artist Luis. Image credit: Jigar Ganatra

What’s the best food experience you’ve had while traveling?

“There are so many, but having a margherita pizza in Naples is one of the standout food memories for me. I was backpacking, and to save money I was cooking most of my meals in the hostel, so it was a treat, and definitely raised the bar by which all other pizzas are now judged.” – Isaac Entry, World Nomads Social & Content Marketing Manager

“Best food – definitely quok, or Inuit sushi, as it’s known. It’s raw fish that’s frozen solid. You eat it by peeling the skin off a steak and slicing thin translucent slivers and letting them melt in your mouth. It’s like nothing else!” – Kiliii Yüyan

“As a teenager, between school and uni, I interrailed around Europe. In La Rochelle, in northwest France, we ate barbecued sardines with a squeeze of lemon juice and chopped parsley. The sardines were straight off a fishing boat, cooked over coals, in a tiny café by the water. Sailing off the coast of Australia, we cooked our potatoes in sea water, served with black pepper and a knob of butter.” – Kate Duthie, Managing Editor, World Nomads

“Sitting down to just about any meal in Macedonia or Georgia is an unforgettable experience, but my all-time favorite food moment happened in Switzerland, maybe five years ago. I was traveling around the country on assignment to collect ingredients for the perfect fondue under the tutelage of a Swiss dairyman that local media dubbed ‘the Fondue King’. One frigid February night, he led me into the dark woods over Bern and handed me this funny homemade belt that had a basket attached to it that was overflowing with bread cubes. He gave me a very long skewer and marched me into a clearing where 20 of his friends had hung a cauldron of bubbling cheese over a campfire for a semi-spontaneous, moonlit fondue fête. I’m telling you, there ain’t no party like a hot cheese party.” – Tim Neville

“There was a little restaurant on the Greek Island of Ios that was hands down the best food I’ve ever had anywhere in the world… I ate myself silly. But also pretty much every market stall I ever visited in Thailand, the best steak of my life in Bali, the freshest of baguettes and egg in Vietnam, and my favorite café across from Musée de l’Armée in Paris which made the best Croque Madame I’ve ever had.” – Dana Paterson, Product Communications Manager, World Nomads

What’s the best cultural experience you’ve had while traveling?

“I made a film about a youth Mardi Gras Indian tribe in New Orleans back in 2015 – it was truly wonderful. There is nothing like being a filmmaker to put yourself into a cultural experience in a meaningful way. The kids become true artists and performers as tribe members, and the costumes they make are amazing: they look like First Nations Plains Indian head-dress and outfits, with added beading and colors from the African-American New Orleans tradition.” Brian Rapsey, filmmaker and World Nomads Travel Film Scholarship mentor

Mardi Gras Indian tribe, New Orleans. Image credit: Brian Rapsey

“On my World Nomads Travel Film Scholarship, we witnessed the Theyyam ceremony in Kerala where the people were painted in red and ‘transformed’ into avatars of God with their massive headdresses adorned with beautiful patterns. The temple was surrounded with the cacophony of chanting and bells. It was incredible.” – Jigar Ganatra

“The two best cultural experiences have been spending three days with the Tsaatan reindeer herders in northern Mongolia, and being invited into the workshop of famous Haida artist Wayne Alfred in Alert Bay while he carved a ceremonial headpiece.” – Alesha Bradford and Jarryd Salem, Directors, NOMADasaurus and Van Life Theory

“The Khumb Mela at Allahabad, India is right at the top of best cultural experiences. It’s the world’s largest gathering of humanity and has a palpable intensity and energy generated by millions of devout people converging on a place, with the shared goal of bathing at the confluence of three rivers (two actual, one mythical) in order to cleanse and purify the soul, washing away the sins of this and all other lifetimes. It is India to the max!” Richard I’Anson, photographer and World Nomads Travel Photography Scholarship mentor

“When you happen upon an authentic experience that’s unique, unplanned – it makes it very special. We were filming a documentary about climate change in Africa, and were visiting a Masai village that has adopted new stoves that replace an open fire in the huts.

“It just so happened some of the boys of the village were getting circumcised that very evening and there was an enormous celebration to mark the ritual. There was a preparation dance and song that riles the boys up. The elders were feasting on a goat, and the next day they killed a cow and had a big feast that afternoon. We were just observers in the whole affair. I felt completely in the deep end, and it was a really incredible experience.” – Miles Rowland, filmmaker

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