Lucky’s Lucky 7th: Favorite Travel Memories

I’m celebrating seven years of blogging this week, and it has been a really fun first few days. Hearing about your best mileage redemptions and seeing your travel photos (check out the gallery — you guys are amazing photographers) has been really fun.

I was originally planning on highlighting a “favorite” travel story today, and asking you to do the same. But I’ve given it some thought, and I think emphasizing “favorite” does a disservice to so much of what we love about travel.

Taking tuk tuks around Bangkok when the Grand Palace is, ahem “closed.”

Fresh waffles shared with friends on a Belgian street corner.

The looks of horror when I stumbled into an international lounge still wearing my airline pajamas.

Taking a total stranger to Helsinki, and having it end well.

The delicious Indian vegetarian set bought from a hawker center in Singapore that I couldn’t find my way back to if my life depended on it.

Taking mileage runs with my dad back when I was still in high school, and flying 48 hours nonstop.

Sitting between two friends while they sang along to “My Sharona” in the back of an Argentine taxi.

Lau-Pa-Sat

And so on.

Sometimes the most memorable travel experiences aren’t those you can snap a picture of, or write a trip report on.

So, I’d love to hear a funny/memorable story from your travels. It doesn’t have to be an epic adventure, or a life-changing experience. Anything that comes to mind that you feel like sharing. One lucky reader will receive an Emirates amenity kit and set of pajamas, along with a $100 American Airlines gift card and some other goodies.

You have until 11:59PM Pacific today! The winners of each of the daily contests will be announced on Sunday, February 8th.

Comments

  1. Honeymoon in 1970 was 45 days guided by Frommer’s Europe on $5 a Day – really! One of my friends/groomsmen was traveling with a friend and even though we had totally separate itineraries, we kept running in to them. Last time we were lwalking away from the Piazza de la Signora in Florence. All of a sudden, a car coming towards us honks its horn and stops. My two friends jump out and start hugging us. At least 20 of the Italians who were sitting at outdoor tables at the restaurants that lined the street stood up, grabbed wine glasses and their bottles, and started pouring wine for the four of us! They saw a party, they saw happy people, and they wanted in! What a country!

  2. I was in Europe and our group got seperated in Versailles…most awkward car ride to Switzerland later that night and we all ended up swimming in the Aare, which is the craziest swimming experience one can have. The river moves in the opposite direction of you swimming…

  3. Seeing the morning fog dissipate atop Macchu Pichu and watching the ancient ruins slowly appear in front of my eyes.

  4. One story comes to mind that, while not super exciting, is still very memorable.

    My wife and I were in BsAs and had signed up for a biking tour of the city. My wife got sick at the last minute, so I went by myself.

    The tour consisted of me (20s), a Canadian guy from YVR (early 30s) and the guide (also 20s). It was an overcast, windy day with immanent rain. Part of the tour goes through the ecological reserve, but it was closed due to the expected rain. Instead of going through the reserve, we pulled our bikes over to the side and had an intimate maté session. Our guide whipped out his thermos of hot water, bag of maté leaves, and the traditional cup (alpaca) and straw (bombilla) and taught the two of us how maté sharing works. He made us maté, and we just stood there, three strangers, sharing maté.

    This experience was very special and one that’s hard to forget.

  5. Turkish airlines flight from Istanbul to Mumbai with my family.
    We are travelling business class on Turkish airlines and we got one of the Jet Airways Plane ( My parents are huge fans of Jet airways so they were overjoyed and seeing the excitement and enjoyment on their faces made my day )
    We got first class seats due to first class being sold as Business and it was one of the most awesome experience of my life.

  6. Getting to spend 2 weeks in Europe with the three people I love most, my parents and my now wife. My parents brought us along as a college graduation present.

  7. Hiking around the wall in Orvieto, Italy and not running in to anyone else as the sun set over the Tuscan hillsides.

  8. I have Swedish ancestry and speak Swedish, my Parents decided they wanted to go to Sweden to see family sites/churches/farms/graveyards and I was brought along to ‘translate’ (even though most everyone under age 70 does pretty well in English). We had found a local who was willing to take us to all of these tiny farm locations, I ended up driving the man’s car on rough dirt roads with my Dad trying to use me to communicate with Björn (he was around 80 years old so spoke very little English), while Björn was scolding me for not driving fast enough (I really didn’t want to destroy his car). It got more fun each time we’d stop at a farmhouse and my Dad would try to talk to the locals as if they’d know our ancestors. And less amusing was that my Mom and wife were in their own car behind us, having a nice country tour in Sweden in October.

  9. I was in Dongguan, China, visiting my dad last year. It was during the World Cup. The second or third day had four matches, all played thru the night – the last game started at 6am. As it was a saturday night, me and some friends decided to spend the whole time at pubs/clubs, drinking beer and watching everything.

    this idea didn’t last half an hour.

    one of the guys hang up with a girl right as we got to the first pub, so we all tried to do the same. I had terrible luck: started talking to a nice girl, from Italy, but she soon left. Then, two british girls came along and we started chatting and went to a club. There, I got my phone stolen.

    I obviously flipped out and the girls took off. So I spent the rest of the night without watching any football and without my phone. I gave up and went home – just to find one of my friends with the damn phone looking for me as I reached my building. I had killing desires, but then we all chilled.

    (my travels are almost always pretty vanilla, so this was outstanding, methinks)

  10. Enjoying the beautiful weather, food, and wine in Croatia with my girlfriend is something I won’t ever forget and want to soon repeat.

  11. During my first trip to Paris, sharing a baguette, salami, cheese and a bottle of wine with friends while we sat on bleachers outside to watch Notre Dame’s 850th anniversary celebrations on Easter evening.

  12. Took Mom to Paris and while visiting the Palace of Versailles heard my name called out…. It was my friend’s former officemate from when I was a student in Cambridge, MA!

  13. Had booked a NRT-AKL-PER routing on NZ before they took away award space from Star alliance. There was a 6 hour layover in AKL which I intended to make my way to go bungee jumping at Auckland Harbour Bridge.

    Due to delayed departure out of NRT, I arrived in AKL with 5 hours to spare and a decision to make. Since I had no luggage I decided to go for it despite the limited time. Took half an hour to get out of immigration, then took a taxi to the bridge. Got the driver’s phone number who promised to bring me back to the airport when I was done.

    Got to the bungee site, found out they were full for the next session, but they squeezed me on after I explained that I had a flight to catch. After a long walk to the middle of the bridge, there was a lot of waiting while the group all completed their jumps. Went back to base camp, and got the staff to cal lthe taxi driver. It took him 15 minutes to return, and then hightail it to the airport – where I made it with just under 2 hours until my flight. Relaxing in the lounge was the biggest relief of all – was very amped up with the rush and the the jump itself.

  14. Watching my kid hide sea shells on the beach in New Zealand. “Daddy, if I don’t hide the shells captain hook will get them.”

  15. Randomly running into a friend from college and his wife at a super tiny sushi spot in Tokyo then joining them for karaoke in Shinjuku. A couple hours into it a group of 16 year olds barge into our room and we all do a group singalong of “Call Me Maybe”

  16. i was 18 and wandering around england over spring break, alone. one morning i took a bus very early from london to canterbury to see the cathedral.

    groggy and sort of out of it — and lonesome, to boot — i walked down the high street through the morning fog. it was empty and all the shops were closed, completely desolate landscape.

    suddenly, through the fog, a car approached slowly. as it got closer, i realized it was an american station wagon (a rare sight on this side of the pond) with classic 80’s faux wood paneling. on the roof rack was a pile of luggage strapped to the top.

    as the car passed, i noticed its occupants were a family of tourists, eagerly glancing around, one of them holding a camera. they drove by and off into the fog. before they disappeared completely, i noticed the car had an indiana license plate.

    it was straight out of the movie “european vacation”. to this day i’m not 100 percent sure i wasn’t hallucinating. i’ve seen some really out of place things in my lifetime of travel but that was probably the weirdest.

  17. The best memories I have when traveling are never in a travel guide, planned, or orchrestrated.

    Such as being in Italy, having the owner of the restaurant, asking us if we want moo, Nemo, cluck-cluck or Bugs Bunny.

    A girls trip to Paris, when my girlfriend does a split in a bar and encourages an older business man to do the same. He does, splits his pants, camera phones are snapping everywhere and all we understand is the word “facebook.”

    Being in NYC in an elevator at the St. Regis and my husband insisting he grew up with actor Jay Mohr because “he knew he knew him.”

  18. Way, way back I was stationed in Heidelberg. On weekends when I didn’t have duty and wasn’t flying someplace for the weekend courtesy of Uncle Sam’s Space Available program, I liked renting a car and poking around in the untouristed corners of Germany and eastern France. One early summer Saturday in 1985 I stopped in a tiny town in Moselle for lunch to discover nearly everything was closed. Talking to the gas station clerk I learned there was a large wedding; two prominent local families were being connected for the first time in well over a century. This was too good to pass up, so I drove to the next town, got a large spray of flowers after explaining it was for a wedding I’d just learned of, and drove back to leave them with the reception. Just as I was turning from the car with my arms full the church opened and the wedding party came out. There was no way to possibly time it better, and I calmly met them with a smile and presented them with the spray. The expressions were priceless, not just the happy couple but everyone else.

    I became a de facto member of the wedding party from that point, and didn’t escape that town until the next day!

  19. Nothing too exotic, but stepping off the plane after my first international flight ever was pretty amazing.

  20. Visiting Rome for the first time a few years ago and finding out that the Pope would be giving a public speech. It was amazing to see the way the city reacted to his presence and how special it was to hear him speak (even though I had no idea what he was saying).

  21. Going as a family to the Four Seasons Kuda Huraa. The place was amazing and the service even more. We cannot forget the place.

  22. one of my favs was during my travels back and forth to Hawaii. The plane was all ready to head back to LA from HNL on a red-eye and we sat there for like 15 minutes, no one else was boarding, and I’m wondering what’s going on.

    Then on walks Terry O’Quinn, (John Locke on ABC’s LOST) and he sits a few rows in front of me in first class.

    So I tweeted out to my friends that he was on my plane and likely the reason if we go missing.

  23. One of my most memorable adventures was meeting up with friends in Cambodia (lots of American friends who study Khmer). Trying to fit too many people into a tuk-tuk and driving around the streets at night is a blast.

  24. Exploring Vienna for the first time, alone, getting lost in the Innere Stadt and finding a hole in the wall with the best schnitzel I’ve ever tasted.

  25. One of my favourite stories isn’t really exciting or something, but it reflects cultural differences pretty good.

    We were on a charter flight to Tunesia once (nothing really special to talk about). On approach to Monastir, the airport closed due to adverse weather and we needed to divert to the capital, Tunis. There we were sitting on the apron for quite some time (it should have been something around 2-3 hours), until Monastir did reopen again. As this finally happened, our aircraft was refueled with passengers on board. All the security measures were taken, you weren’t allowed to fasten your seatbelt and your mobile should stay off. The firebrigade also supervised the refueling. But what one firefighter did, is still puzzling me today. He just got out of his vehicle, leaned against the truck and started to smoke a cigarrete. Right next to the tanker who was refueling the plane – and he didn’t even care, as he smoked 2 or 3 cigarettes. Finally, we reached Monastir alive ( 😀 ) and with a delay of around 5 hours. The mostly german passengers surely started to complain about the firefighter (as germans complain on nearly everything), but the crew was sure everything was safe.

  26. Two summers ago while working an internship in Singapore, I took a weekend trip to Bangkok, Thailand. Once there being a first time tourist traveling on his own, I did what most people my age would do….got ripped off riding taxis, failed at bartering at the electronics market, and drank way too much in Khao San (backpacker’s district).

    In the midst of all the excitement of touring a temple, I noticed a group of other young students that were touring as well. I went up and immediately asked where they were from, and their response was “Iran.” I was so afraid something bad was going to happen since I am from the United States that when they asked me where I was from, I lied and said I was from Singapore. They laughed for a few moments and then replied “Singapore, are you sure?” At that point I just went with it. It kept me out of trouble I suppose, but looking back I don’t think it was worth it to say that and I was better off just saying I was from America.

  27. Group of friends had flown down to the US from Canada to do a roadtrip. Part of it was Miami – Orlando. Stopped at a rest station and when we left my friend went back towards Miami. Took us an hour to realize.

  28. Over Christmas (right before the underwear bomber in Detroit) my family and I were flying on US Airways CLT-HNL on a 767-200ER. Just off the coast of CA, I heard ATC over my headphones and it was our aircraft. Being a 8 year old I was ecstatic. I stayed on that channel (11 for anyone wondering) and was able to learn how US Airways got the Cactus callsign. Here’s how: A Gulfstream pilot called up our pilot and asked how we got Cactus to be our callsign and our pilot then went on for about 5 minutes over the frequency explaining how US Airways got the Cactus callsign. Sadly, on the way back (after the underwear bomber) there was no such ATC feed over the IFE.

  29. Making it home in one piece on my first International business trip (NY to Chennai, India). Not exciting for most folks here, but I was flying right after the announcement the Malaysia flight MH370 was lost… It was very stressful on my family since that was all over the news…

  30. My (now) wife screaming “holy s***” at Babbo in NYC when I explained to her that I was surprising her with a 10 day trip to Thailand starting the next day. I think she was more surprised by that than the fact that I had proposed only 2 hours before.

    As for me, knowing that I was going to experience CX F the next day was probably all that kept my nerves together.

  31. Was on a SQ flight in 1980s bound for London. The guy next to me seemed really stressed and sweaty. He pulled out a cigarette and lit it, only to be reminded politely by the crew that this wasn’t allowed on SQ(most carriers still allowed smoking). He kept getting up and down, going to the toilet etc…
    Just as I was about to tuck into my meal, I heard the most almighty BANG. Thought a bomb had gone off, but it was this guy smashing a champagne bottle on the trolley. He proceeded to stab himself repeatedly with it in the chest. Scary as hell! I HiD under the seat, whilst the cabin crew tried to detain him.
    Captain diverted to a Russian airport in the end, by which point he had a punctured lung.
    Event was terrifying, but still makes an ACE party story 😉

  32. Float fishing the Rio Manso for trout in Argentine Patagonia with two of my fishing buddies. As fisherman it was, perhaps, the most gorgeous site we’d ever seen. It was so pristine, untouched, and devoid of other humans. We kept saying ‘this is some Jurassic Park shit’.

  33. I did the Conrad Koh Samui back in November 2013. Since there’s not really a beach there, they have a boat that can take you to a different island (you’ve mentioned this in your review of the hotel). Well, the island they were supposed to take us to had high surf, so the staff decided to instead take us to a mangrove forest and swamp that had boardwalk like bridges going through it over a swamp. I was with a buddy of mine when we went to do it. Being 6’2 and over 200 pounds, let’s just say that those poorly built bridges were not designed for me..much less for 2 of us, and I crashed through the bridge into the swamp below. I wasn’t injured, but half of the group was on one side of the bridge and the other half was on the other side of the bridge. The two Thai works had to get in the swamp and create a bridge built out of large pieces of logs on their shoulders. It wasn’t fun, but was very memorable!

  34. One thing that always comes to mind is a time we did some volunteer work for rural African villages in Kenya. Mind you, this is way far out of the way from any sort of “civilization.” The journey was only 100 miles out from the larger town, but took well over 5 hours to get there.

    Anyways, because of the work we did (and we were hallowed guests), the villagers served us a goat soup (literally chopped up pieces of goat boiled in water). We had seen a goat earlier when we arrived at the village, but now nowhere to be found.

    Eating the soup (you can’t not eat it, because it’s rude since the villagers make use of everything), I noticed in one of my last bites that I was chewing a rather large piece of meat/muscle, and without too much detail, it was a very strong, circular piece of meat what seemed to be a whole in the middle.

    Not wanting to be rude, I chewed it for a good 5 minutes and then swallowed it.

    Later I described my bite to a priest, and he said I had eaten the “prized” bowl, or the bowl which contained the goat’s anus. Prized because every goat only has one.

    I will never forget that moment.

    Cheers, and thanks Ben!

  35. I’d have to go with waking up to see the sunrise from our villa in Bali on the first morning of our round-the-world honeymoon

  36. Wandering eastern Europe for 5 weeks with my then-girlfriend (now ex-wife) in Feb/Mar 2007. Arrived in Bucharest about 3/4 through the trip. Left my girlfriend in the room while I went to stand outside a pizza hut that had free WiFi – I used that signal on my Windows PDA to make some Skype calls. When I finished my calls I walked down the street and was accosted by 5 Romani children I estimate between 7 and 10 years old. They just wanted “stuff” and not to hurt me. I couldn’t fend off 10 hands at once and they grabbed my PDA out of my jacket pocket and yanked on the headset cable still connected to my hearing aid – so that went flying away.

    I had a crummy backup hearing aid with me that got me through the remainder of the trip. The lost hearing aid was covered by a loss/damage policy but I didn’t know if I’d require a police report. The experience of going into the local precinct in Bucharest was like walking into a 1970’s police station, it felt eerily similar to the BBC show Life on Mars. No one spoke enough English there so my girlfriend translated to French for a police civilian who then translated to Romanian for the officer who took the report. Then in reverse for questions directly to me. The report was handwritten then typed up twice on a single page with a typewriter, then torn in half. I got the bottom copy and went to the US embassy for an official translation.

    That effort turned out to be unnecessary – my hearing aid was replaced without any need for a polie report! But the experience is one story I still get asked about. I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt but that personal experience tainted my view of Romani people forever.

  37. My memorable experience was feeding and letting the stray dogs drink from a water bottle at Pompei when my husband and I were on our honeymoon.

  38. Cycle touring through Corsica and feeling pretty strong on my fully loaded bike. I was kept the pace up to stay ahead of a cyclist below me on the ~2 hour climb, only to find out when he passed me near the top that he had only one leg. Sure did make me smile!

  39. On a hot air balloon over Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. There was an absolutely gorgeous sunset and breathtaking views of animals crossing the plain. The only issue- when descending, our balloon was blown off course into Tanzania and semi-crash landed on the wrong side of the river. It was a little scary, but we were rescued after waiting nervously near the balloon in case a lion approached. Afterwards, we had a great laugh and a fun story to tell.

  40. A few years ago my family and I were going on a cruse in the Caribbean. We’re from Ireland so flew into Heathrow for our 3:00 flight to Miami. We were then planing to drive up to Fort Lauderdale for our cruse the next day.

    Anyway when we arrived at the gate for our flight to Miami, we were told there would be a delay because of an engine problem. An hour or so later, they said the problem was fixed and they were ready to board. So we all boarded the plane and waited on it for over an hour. Until the captain came on and told us to disembark the aircraft because of another problem, this time with the toilets.

    At this point we began to worry that we mightn’t make our cruise. So we went back to the lounge when we were advised that our flight would be canceled for the day and we would be rebooked on a 10:00 am flight the following morning. We knew we wouldn’t make our 4:00pm cruise. We tried to be rebooked on other flights to New York, Boston pretty much anywhere but they were all fully booked as it was the middle of summer.

    At 10:00am the next day, we boarded our flight to Miami and after another 30 minute delay we FINALLY took off. It was a very tense 9 hours as we hoped and prayed that there was some way we would make the cruise. The cabin crew were so kind to us and just before landing swopped us with a family seated in the front row of so we would be first to disembark. They even allowed us to leave before the First class passengers.

    We landed in Miami at around 3:00 and we ran down the jetway into the terminal where we met a fantastic BA rep who ask us where we were going, we told her that we needed to be in Fort Lauderdale in 20 minutes for our cruise. She agreed to help us and brought us through a whole load of doors into immigration and the baggage hall, she told us to leave our bags and she would send them to us at one of our cruise ports. She even shouted at a cab driver in Spanish to get us there as quickly as possible. All in all we were in and out of Miami International airport in 15 minutes ( an airport which usually takes us over an hour!)

    We told the cabin driver if she drove us to Port Everglades in 20 minutes we would give her a $100 tip, we were constantly shouting at her to go faster and faster (the poor girl). When we arrived at the port they were just beginning to close the gates, we eventually ran up the jetway onto the ship were we informed that we were the last ones to board the ship.

    Thats something I’ll never forget.

  41. In 2000, I upgraded to business class using my miles for a flight from Singapore to the United States using Northwest Airlines. I got the update at the last minute and the staff had to scramble getting several signatures while I tried to sit in my first business seat class in my life. As we were airborne, the flight attendants started taking orders from passengers for their lunches. Being so innocent in the area of premium travel, I ordered chicken since I don’t like fish. The lunch was served and the first thing that showed up on my table was a cold jellyfish salad. I told the flight attendant that I ordered chicken. She smiled at me and whispered, “Mr. H…, this is just the appetizer”. I was so embarrassed, remembering how one sits in economy class and the whole meal comes all at once. This is the most memorable and most embarrassing memory of my first time traveling premium class. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  42. LAX-BKK, back when TG still had the 18 hour direct flight and during the red shirt rebellion. My group of friends and I were meeting at the airport and flying in from SFO, PEK, and RGN. Since everyone else had connections, they could stay at their connecting airport if the red shirts took over the airport (again)…all except me.

    Luckily after the 18 hour flight I deplaned and saw all my friends there…and the next two weeks were a complete blur of culture and debauchery.

  43. My most memorable experience was trying to get back to LIM from the Plaza des Armas after a long layover. The President of Brazil had paid a visit on the same day, and traffic was unusually horrible even for Lima. Riding in the back of a Taxi Green with the best driver ever as he battled his way through the packed streets. At one point he got out of the car (after putting on his “official” sweater vest) and had words with another driver. We thought we might end up getting killed, but the driver got us back to the airport in time and we made our flight.

  44. I have a bunch… but what sticks out is the christmas market in munich a few years back. Not the best christmas market according to many, but it was my first time in Europe and to experience a great city during christmas as my first time was amazing. Will never forget!!

  45. It was actually my first miles redemption with AA. I chose to fly to Rome on my first trip to Italy. It was one of those eye opening “life is short – live life NOW” trips that I began to take after my best friend passed away at 33 years old (he just fell asleep one night -no cause of death found, just didn’t wake up again leaving behind his 5 month pregnant bride of a year and a half). I had not been to Italy before, it was just a dream, but I called AA a week after my friend Steven passed away and booked the trip because life is short. Well, I arrived in Rome 4 months later just after Pope John Paul II died and after checking into the hotel, I wandered into St Peter’s Square to see all of these news crews set up as conclave was going on. Just then there was a stir and people began rushing into the square and in this magnificent site where just weeks before I had watched the historic scenes of the funeral of the Pope I found myself gazing up and seeing white smoke coming from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. There was a new Pope! I was not a Catholic, but it was just such an incredible introduction and welcome to this incredible incredible country on a magnificent trip that I will never ever forget.

  46. One travel memory is seeing you at the AUH EY lounge! Wow!!!! So awesome to hangout with you for a few hours!!! 🙂

  47. Visiting an island off of Ushuaia that was filled with thousands of penguins. Getting so close to them and seeing the week old babies was amazing

  48. Seeing the sun set in the Maldives in a room over the water. Helped that you could just get out of bed and roll right into the ocean!

  49. Renting a scooter in Indonesia for the first time (and first time riding a scooter), only to end up in a medical clinic an hour later to get 5 stitches on the chin. Oops.

    Way to go Marc… Opening up your chin 6 days before a week of planned scuba diving in the Gili Islands…

    At least the fees for the stitches and some medication were only 15 $ ! Not even a case for an insurance claim! And I only missed one day of diving!

  50. Taking the Yangon Circular Train, a 15-mile journey that takes 3 hours, and realizing that people may be poor, but they are truly happy.

  51. First long-haul trip via business class to Asia from U.S. where I realized that I was wishing that the flight was just a bit longer since it was so enjoyable. What a strange feeling after dreading long economy flights.

  52. We are your parents’ age and for all of our adult lives we have wanted to visit Japan. We have had shoji screens as window coverings and a Japanese garden for 30 years! We could never afford to go until I found the miles and points hobby 2 years ago. So, last year we made it to Japan for 2 weeks, flying business with UR points. It was a lifelong dream come true, thanks to your blog.

  53. We have been fortunate to travel in the last five years since retirement to some wonderful places. It is very hard to pick just one memorable experience, so I will pick two. Memorable for the amazing beauty of the place and sharing with wonderful long time friends was our week long stay at a small cave villa on Santorini. Kind of a quirky memory was our travels in France via trains and to leave our hotel, find the trains on strike, and back to hotel and “no room at the inn.’ So, we jumped on a bus and headed wherever it was going, knowing that we were together, we would visit a place we had never been, and you could purchase Champagne no matter where we went!

  54. One of my favorite memories was visiting my grandmother’s hometown in Eastern Europe with my mom and sisters. This was 60+ years after she emigrated to the US.

  55. there are so many brilliant things I’d love to share here but to keep it short, my most favourite part about travelling is consistently observing new/different behaviours of the same type of people I’m always going to encounter on international travels. The expressions, body language, interest taken in my trips, etc. by the checkin agents, immigration officers, security staff, cabin attendants, etc. is always a learning experience in addition to being fun and exciting as to how people differ across the globe even though they do the same jobs in different countries or airlines.

    Once again congrats on the blog’s anniversary. Keep going. Good luck 🙂

  56. A few years back, we were staying at a campground near Bryce Canyon NP. The campground had a strange, miniature swimming pool, but my daughter thought it was awesome. She was 4 years old at the time and struck up a conversation with a British couple who had rented and RV in Vegas and were driving around the country. It was very entertaining to hear their adventures with this gigantic vehicle when they were used to tiny cars on the opposite side of the road! Sometimes the people you meet are as enjoyable as the destination.

  57. Riding a scooter on a self exploration tour through the countryside of Bali, finishing off the day with cold Bintangs at a random hole in the wall market/bar!

  58. Bungee jumping in Queenstown, New Zealand. It was 2005, and I was on “spring break” from my semester abroad in Australia. A bunch of friends were going to try it out, and convinced me to join. The free fall was 128m (~420 ft). We were in a pod suspended by wires in the middle of a canyon. After I jumped and stopped screaming, I hadn’t felt the rope lock up in the pod, and thought that was it. Of course, right after that, it locked, and I bounced there for a bit. It was one of the most exciting experiences I’ve had.

    The entire trip to Australia and NZ was one of the best of my life. Snorkeling on Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef is also up there for memorable travel story.

    Thanks so much for all you do Ben.

  59. Feeding the sparrows with our baguette crumbs after a picnic breakfast in view of the Eiffel Tower.

  60. I was in Hawaii with my girlfriend and her parents. Before we got to the Big Island, her parents were actually very skeptical about the idea of staying in a rental instead of a hotel, because they thought a rental house would be something creepy.

    Luckily, when we got to the Volcono area and got to the rental house, it was extremely nice and they were very excited. The best part is that we went to the Volcono Park in the first night and we were able to see the flowing lava! The smiles on their faces are simply priceless!

  61. Roadtrips in the USA, east-coast west-coast all loved it! What I particularly enjoyed was flying the 747. She is a beauty!

  62. When I was in Jordan, I met a bedouin at a bus station near Wadi Rum. He invited me to have dinner with him and his family. He took me to a remote part of desert that was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. His family’s hospitality was incredible and they cooked a delicious feast as the sunset caused the stone landscape to glow brilliantly golden, and we ate the meal under the starts and I felt lucky to be alive.

  63. One travel that was epic for me was when I biked around Taiwan during summer 2011. It was a 13 day trip and I rode on a bicycle alone around most cities and towns around my home country, which is something wild as an Asian teenager back then since travelling alone to somewhat unknown areas (I live in the Southwest of Taiwan, and haven’t been to the east for 7 years) on a pair of wheels and pedals were extremely crazy, but I succeeded it beautifully. But definitely, it was tiring to bike around 1200 km in 13 days with mountains and headwinds, but the great food and scenery in different towns amazed me heavily, and I even wrote a book about it for my college application, which I believed it somewhat helped me to get in my desired University.

    There are just so many stories that I could talk about in Taiwan, Lucky I think next time you could spend a few more days outside Taipei and visit the different cities and counties in Taiwan. You could fly to Kaohsiung on Cathay Pacific and tour the south of Taiwan. It’s amazing and different compared to Taipei.

  64. Our great 5-night award stay at the St. Regis Bangkok for 48K SPG points! Along with wife and two kids, we were upgraded to an ultra luxurious Astor Suite overlooking the Royal Polo Club in Central Bangkok with amazing amenities of butler service, daily breakfast buffet the best we ever had, happy hour with a sommelier, etc.etc. etc.

    We had the greatest leisurely time and it was truly an R&R stay with great memories to boot. My wife still mentions the bubble baths prepared for her daily by the butlers.

  65. Being in Copenhagen and not knowing ahead of time Norway was playing Denmark in Copenhagen for a World Cup spot. It was a great night!

  66. Safari in Kenya. Hands down one of the most magical experiences ever to see Cheetah’s running across the sunrise, lions and their cubs walking down to the stream to have a drink, a baby leopard playing with its mum.

    Just. Magical.

  67. Receiving a complimentary upgrade to CX J on a YVR-JFK flight as a most sincere apology for having misplaced my keyboard on the inbound flight. They kept referring to a concert that they thought I was playing while in YVR. one of those times when DYKWIA would have put me in a slightly lesser light

  68. Surprising my friend by booking the two of us tickets in business class. He had no idea until we got on the plane and I sat down that we were flying in Business class. Watching his excitement was the most fun I’ve had on a flight.

  69. Watching my 1 year old eat fried scorpions in Beijing, and realizing that she’d been to 14 countries in her first year…I didn’t leave the US until I was 19.

  70. In July 2011, I was living in the UK. A bunch of my fellow American ex-pats (like 30 of us) where taking the train up to the Scottish highlands for a few days at an old manor house. Being the old fogey in the group (I was a postdoc, the rest were graduate students.), I figured I’d grab a table seat and work. A friend was planning to do the same. A stranger (to the two of us, but not to the trip organizer) who’d been invited to join our group at the last minute was seated opposite us. The other two quickly struck up a conversation about the musical Wicked and how many times each of them had seen it. Soon we decided to play a game of hearts and grabbed another friend on his way past to the dining car for a sandwich. At this point, we’re less than an hour out of London, and we played that one game of hearts until past Edinburgh. (There were a lot of pauses to chat and laugh, but the game did just keep going and going.) Fast forward to December 2014, and you’ll see the “stranger” in the group and the guy who never got his sandwich getting married. I also think that it’s neat that the three of us in the group who knew each other previously hail from North Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming originally.

  71. Some years ago my parents booked a trip to the U.S. only to discover within days of the departure that we hadn’t our passport ready to go. Luckily we managed to get them ready and we had an amazing trip!

  72. While on a small boat/ferry in the Lofoten Islands of Northern Norway my overtired friend and I noticed somebody go out to smoke. We didn’t know we could go outside on the tiny decks, it was very cold as it was winter. So we slipped out the door (unable to read the Norwegian warning signs) and climbed up the latters to the the very tiny top deck — absolutely thrilling! Until we saw the captain gesturing angrily below. He was unable to talk he was so angry. We scrambled down the decks and were literally grabbed by the captain and shoved in the cabin. It was a tense ride– he tried to tell us in English that he was scared we were going to fall and could die. Poor guy. :-/

  73. My boyfriend Jesse and I awake at an unusually early hour; my under-eye bags heavy and dark, about as dark as the night that still blankets the city below. From our third floor hotel room we have a panoramic view of Cusco’s main square. Lights from the houses that freckle the mountainside sparkle like stars and faint morning chatter enters our room from our open window. I sip on coca tea as I wait for our ride. The tea allays my altitude sickness, but does little to assuage my excitement. Today, we hike the legendary Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

    Hector, our chaperon, meets us in the lobby. Friendly and welcoming, he is the epitome of tour guides. Once aboard the empty van, I prop up my feet in the seats beside me. We depart. Now, the sky is watercolored in a rainbow of hues; rosy pinks and light blues share the sky canvas. The sun is barely visible, peeking through from behind the hillside. The humming of the van’s engine lulls me to sleep and an hour passes before I awake. We have arrived at Ollantaytambo’s PeruRail train station. Hector guides us through the chaos, he, our mother hen, Jesse and I, his confused chicks. Tickets and receipts are exchanged and suddenly I am boarding the iconic blue and yellow-striped train.

    Soon after, we disembark. A sign marked, “Km 104,” welcomes us to the trail. We pose for an obligatory picture. An hour of hiking and my body is already crying out in pain; sweat tears trickle from my every pore, staining my pits and stinging my eyes. I am drained, but I push on. We hike for hours, up and down stone steps, across rope bridges, and along waterfalls. There are moments where I hug the mountain fearing the wind will knock me over and send me falling hundreds of feet. Periodically, we rest to admire the beautiful view. Puffy, white clouds float just above our heads, luscious greenery coat the mountains, and the sound of rushing water fills our ears.

    Eventually, strength replaces my pain. I think of the Incans who hiked this very same trail – the couriers who ran ideas from one village to another. The pain no longer hurts my Incan feet. We turn the corner and encounter a wall, a wall of steps as steep and tall as ever. I get on all fours and crawl. Hector, already at the peak, excitedly yells, “puri,” Quechuan for hike. I reach the top. As I stand, Hector masks my eyes and ushers me to the perfect viewing spot. He counts down for the big unveiling, “3, 2, 1,” and he uncovers… Machu Picchu!

  74. Waking up to sounds of a Hippo making it’s way to the river in Kenya. Spent 5 days in Masai Mara and can’t wait to get back. My wife and I look at the photos all the time and it always brings a smile to our faces.

  75. Arriving in Santiago, Chile (first time in south america, don’t speak Spanish) to meet up with someone for a film shoot that I’d never met before, without any contact information for said person, only a vague “he’ll find you”. Navigating around the scammers who wanted to “take their taxi to his house” even though I didn’t know where he lived. Finally found him/he found me, and we end up driving two more hours to Valparaiso and lug all our gear up the hill (which is the entire city) to stay in a “hotel” that literally had ants in the beds.
    Chile is fun – I honestly can’t wait to go back!

  76. I spent a summer in Europe during college. I was lived in Paris, taking a photography course. The year was 2006, and I was lucky enough to be in France during all of the excitement surrounding the World Cup. On July 5, 2006, when France beat Portugal in the World Cup semi-final, Paris erupted in jovial madness. My friends and I watched the match at a local bar, and when the final minutes ticked to end the game, make-shift parades began forming on the streets outside. Chants of “allez les bleus” were heard as we quickly tossed some Euros onto the counter and rushed out to join in the celebrations. We were given flags by random people too caught up in the excitement to care that we were American. We made our way to the Champs-Élysées, which had been shut down for vehicle traffic. Thousands of people the iconic boulevard, waving flags, chanting, hugging, dancing, yelling. It was the single most exhilerating experience of my life to that point. Since we were only a week and a half away from Bastille Day, a large French flag hung from the the Arc de Triomphe, reminding you that it wasn’t simply a game, it was about national pride! ALLEZ LES BLEUS! We chanted that until our voices were hoarse. The Champs was crowded, so one of our native-Parisian friends warned us the Metro would be closing soon, and we were informed by an officer that the stations along the Champs were closed, so we tried to make our way to a station nearby. All of the stations nearby were impossibly crowded, so we continued to walk. We had so much fun simply walking through the streets of Paris, we ended up losing track of time, and suddenly, we realized that the Metro stopped running. We found ourselves stranded in the middle of Paris, miles away from our apartment and cabs were scarce. We pulled out our maps (this was before GPS on phones), and began walking. We walked the streets of Paris for three hours that night and it was amazing. Paris is one of the liveliest, most exciting cities in the world, but at 4am, she was sleeping. She was (mostly) quiet. The parties had died down. The crowds had dispersed. We had the opportunity to admire the beauty of the city without the intrusiveness of noise and crowds. After that huge celebration and all of the fun I had with the locals, it was amazing to observe the quiet beauty of one of the world’s most amazing cities.

  77. Not being able to communicate at the Moscow airport with the train ticket salesman. Buying a ticket and having to guess which of the two trains is going into the city. Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo….

  78. When I was dating my wife, we took a day trip to SIN from CGK. Flew in early in the AM and flew back late in the PM. We went around the city, did some shopping, ate the infamous Singaporean Chili Crab, it was a blast. No it wasn’t a same day turn mileage run trip, but it was definitely one of our memorable trips.

  79. Back in the 80s. First trip to Europe with backpack, “Let’s Go Europe”, and $10/day budget that included lodging. Makes me smile just to think about it.

  80. Definitely late 90’s… a mercifully short conversation with a Slovenian Madonna-wannabe after I ended up in a ‘house of ill repute’ on my very first trip to Rome… although ignorance and perseverance got me out of that one, hopefully I have gotten a little savvier since then!

  81. My father had been wanting to travel to Istanbul for the longest time, so a couple of years back I booked him and I on a trip there. It was so cool seeing how excited he was as we visited the various mosque’s and historical sites. For as awesome as flying LH F or OZ F has been, I would gladly give them up to see his excitement again.

  82. Meeting another couple on the train from Venice to Florence, hitting it off well, and sharing tips with where to go and what to eat. Then running into them at dinner at one of their recommended restaurants and having a great time drinking wine and sharing travel stories, all while talking a bit too loudly for the other patrons and staff.

    Then, having the same thing happen in Madrid with a different couple and sharing another lovely evening drinking and sharing stories.

    Seeing the world is great, serendipitous meetings and enjoyable evenings with strangers that become friends is even better.

  83. Taking a solo trip to Singapore and just walking around all day. By afternoon, my feet were killing me, but a quick foot massage did the trick.

  84. Bringing a 747 back to the gate for a personal pick up!

    On way to Cebu with family and had change of flights in Manila. Plane was late arriving in Manila so we ran through the whole airport to catch flight out of Manila to Cebu, hoping there was a delay in the flight. When we arrived at the gate the Boing 747 had already left the gate and we saw it being pushed off. For some miraculous reason I was able to convince the individual at the gate to bring the plane back even though it was more than 20 yards from the gate. We could not believe it when we saw the 747 being brought back to the gate. This was pre 9/11 though. There were not many passengers on the plance. Oh and the the looks we got from the other passenger as we boarded….well I think you can imagine. And we deserved those looks for sure. Maybe the other passengers were expecting some dignitary boarding given the plane went back to the gate. I regret making this request now given how inconsiderate it to the other passengers.

    To top it off this was the most run down plane I had ever been in and the roughest landing I have ever had when we arrived at Cebu. Most of the emergency masks fell out of the overhead bins on landing it was that rough (the weather was perfect). Very memorable.

  85. Just last month, went on safari in South Africa with my wife.
    Used AA miles to fly ORD-AUH-JNB on EY one way and UA miles to fly MQP-JNB-ORD on SA/UA on the return.
    Trip of a lifetime!

  86. I once decided to do a road trip from Phoenix to LA. I left my dog with one of my sisters friends which he had never met. He is a little skiddish, so when she arrived at my sisters house he bolted out the door and ran away. She called right after we had checked into our hotel in LA, she could not find him and he would not come to her. I had to buy a last minute flight back to PHX from LAX to go find him. I spent all of an hour in LA and have not been back. Luckily we were able to find him after a stressful 24 hours or so.

  87. I went to Thailand with a friend in December 2013. I had gotten a very short haircut before leaving, my entire head was buzzed to about 3/8 of an inch, and I unfortunately forgot to bring along a hat. After a few days, the top of my head was getting sunburn and I decided I needed to get a hat. We walked around in Bangkok for a full day, and I swear we did not find a hat that was not a visor or anything that actually covered the top of my head. Finally, we went inside one of the huge malls and the only store we found selling hats was a women’s clothing shop. So, here I am, a 24 year old grown man, trying on women’s hats in a mall in Bangkok with my friend dying of laughter watching me. All of them had bows and quite a few were in flamboyant colors so I decided on a beige hat with a purple bow on it. I bought the hat, took off the bow, and proceeded to walk around Bangkok in my new hat that clearly was meant for a woman. The following day we took a food tour and the female Thai guide was laughing hysterically at me as I explained the hat. That day, we probably saw over a dozen hat stalls selling every type of hat imaginable and every time we passed one, she would point it out and say to me “Hey Mike would you like a hat?” I still have the hat and now a funny story to share about my adventure in Bangkok trying out hats.

  88. My most memorable travel experience was a sunrise boat ride to see the lava enter the ocean on the Big Island of Hawaii. The boat was able to get so close to the shore and you could really feel the heat. It was the most awesome thing I’ve ever seen and brought tears to my eyes it was so beautiful (and not just from the fumes!).

  89. Long weekend in Houston mid January. Left the snow in Pittsburgh with a few college friends on a USAir e-saver. Stayed on the one guys Marriott employee rate downtown at the Renaissance. Way better than dorm life!

  90. After spending an amazingly educational and cultural exchange program in France for 6 weeks–returning home through New York and seeing the Statue of Liberty brought an enormous sense of patriotism and excitement to be back in the US, but that trip is also when I realized I had been bitten by the travel bug for Life!

  91. 2 of us young ladies flying on Alitalia JFK/FCO on an almost-empty 747 – the crew very sweetly asked us to move back 1 cabin (both were Y cabins) for reasons of weight and balance – after taking off we looked around and realized that we were the only pax they had asked to move (at the time we weighed at most 220 pounds/100 kilos including carryons)! the extremely handsome flight attendant saw us notice this and gave us a big wink plus a ‘pizza’ created in the galley by toasting ketchup and grated parmesan on a slice of (American) bread

  92. Taking out a private loan my senior year of college and quitting my job to visit Australia and New Zealand for 2 weeks.

  93. One of our most interesting travel experiences was my wife and I as the only asian couple on a tour bus to visit guatape colombia. Got alot of interesting looks but everyone was super friendly.

  94. Your “My Sharona” story totally reminds me of having two friends rocking out to their own version Kelly Clarkson on a Danish bus on the way back from a very generous tasting at the Carlsberg brewery. 🙂

  95. Having 28 family members from all over the world meet up in Bordeaux for a five day wine tasting tour.

  96. Discovering the usefulness of Tinder abroad while on an epic solo journey. Technology is amazing (and fun)!

  97. Leaving the plane that brought us to Ushuaia in Argentina. Waiting for our dog to come out as the first bag on the luggage belt. We did not expect her to come out this way so she took some rounds with lots of people looking at the dog in the container. So funny 🙂

  98. In December of 2013 I went on an Antarctic cruise with my wife and one of our best friends. It is hard to pick just one experience from the trip but I think the 3 that stand out the most are: 1) the morning our boat pulled into the narrow channel for our first landing and the awe of the size of the glaciers and seeing the penguins; 2) camping out for the night in just a sleeping bag in a shallow “grave” dug into the snow so the wind would pass by; 3) the last landing site, on Christmas Day, where we saw multiple species of seals and penguins and having that final feeling of being so far away from anyone other than the 100+ people on the boat for one last time.

  99. I’ve wanted to go to England since I was about 12 and it just never happened. Finally told my husband we were going for our 25th wedding anniversary, but he got very ill. So the following year, I said we were going and he declined. I decided I’d take our 9 year old and go without him. Long story short, he agreed to go and the trip turned into England, France and Germany, with many memorable points (ask my son about me bursting into tears at the American Cemetery in Normandy).

    The flight home was from LHR to IAD on BA. I checked in online 24 hours ahead and saw that we had seats assigned in economy that were fine. By the next morning, our seat numbers had changed, but I didn’t have time to really look at them since we were headed out to the airport, and the seats were together so whatever.

    We arrived at LHR and went to get boarding passes and check luggage. The agent said “oh, it’s your lucky day – you’ve been upgraded to Club World!!”. We had no idea what Club World even was. So apparently we had been upgraded from economy to premium economy overnight, then to business class before we made it to the airport. My son said he wanted to travel lots more if he could travel this way. Hubby said “you can fly this way when you can pay for it!”.

    Thanks to BA, the end of that wonderful but tiring trip was extremely memorable.

  100. Traveled to Prague last summer for my birthday and happened to be there at the same time as Pride! Was definitely really cool to experience that in another country. To top it off, I got to fly home in Lufthansa first class using pre-devaluation United miles, so all in all, definitely a trip to remember.

  101. Going to Amman, Jordan with my mom and sister 20+ years ago to watch my late grandfather building the Kings palace.

  102. Our current favorite travel memory is our stay at the (soon to be former; sniff, sniff) InterContinental in Berchtesgaden. The view, the amenities, the food, the people … all so stupendous.

  103. We flew from New York to Las Vegas, Nevada, after three days stay we rented a car to continue our vacation to San Fransisco & Los Angeles then back to Vegas to NYC. We visited the Dead Valley National Park in Nevada before heading San Fransisco. After seeing all the attractions in the Park we were heading San Fransisco through the desert. Not sure how many miles had driven the gas tank red light was on! It was pretty scary because we don’t see any cars/ human insight, of course cell phone not working because we were in the desert, it was 127 degrees F. To conserve energy we turned off the ac, radio & drove 55 mph. Luckily after drove about 20 miles we saw a plam tree far away( the excitement was just like what you see in movies)! We drove for another x miles and reached a small town with a population of 39 and a gas station. We used every drop of the gas & we had to push our car to the pump (about 5 feet) ! What a scary experience!

  104. These are great! I have 2 that I still really laugh about.

    One of my favorite travel moments was on a flight from LAG to CHA, is having girl talk with a friend in the boarding line and for some reason I didn’t notice she had gone through the scanner and was boarding the plane. Apparently I’d been dishing on a mutual friend’s new relationship with the guy behind me who was desperately trying not to be associated with me. What’s worse, was when my friend and I were having dinner in Miami the next night, the same guy noticed me and did a U-turn to avoid any other conversational snafus!!

    Another time I’d been traveling for business and the co-worker I was rooming with forgot her uniform shirt. We called the other co-worker to borrow hers a few floors down, who thankfully had an extra. Since my room mate was still getting dressed, I got to go down and retrieve the shirt. With no shower, matted hair, no makeup, and a pair of pants with a hole in them (found that out afterward), I made my way down the elevator and to her room only to forget what room I was in!! I made the walk of shame to the front desk and got the information, but not without completely embarrassing myself in front of colleagues, first.

  105. Traveling through South Africa with my dad after my graduation. Kruger Park was a beautiful experience 🙂 as was the Cathay Pacific B747 First Class flight… 😉

  106. I have so many random travel stories. Christmas time 2013, a Canadian sister and brother had mistaken me as a Japanese and me to take of photo of them. After telling them that I am American and taking their photo, I hung out with them for the rest of the day. They invited me to a Shinto laughing ceremony taking place on Christmas morning in a suburb of Osaka and to Christmas lunch with some of their friends. That ceremony was really, really unique! We had a fusion lunch at her apartment on the rooftop in Juso with a good view across the river to central Osaka. To end the evening, all of us went to the German Christmas Market. I quickly chugged down a mug of glühwein/mulled wine as I had bid adieu to catch my first of a long string of flights on my long way home (KIX-IST-FRA-IAD-IAH). I didn’t really get to do any sightseeing in Osaka itself, but this experience made up for it!

  107. Pre-9/11, I took a quick mileage run on CO TPA-IAH-NRT-IAH-TPA for a sub-$400 fare. When checking in, I saw a friendly agent who recognized me since I was a Continental Platinum and was at the airport several times a month. We were talking and he took a VERY long time checking me in. Finally, he smiled and said “have a nice trip” while handing me BusinessFirst boarding passes for the outbound AND the inbound! Flew both legs with the same crew, by the time we were returning from NRT we were like family. They couldn’t do enough for me and gave me an unopened bottle of Dom to take home. A memorable trip for under $400!

  108. While visiting Managua (aka mileage run) my friend Deb and I booked a night tour of the underground tunnels formed by lava streams at Masaya Volcano National Park. Equipped with our flashlight and helmet we were ready to explore with our guide. The guide mentioned that being the first group in the tunnels would push the bats our way so be prepared. He noticed the look of dismay on my face while my friend attended to her camera. He told me it wasn’t the bats I needed to worry about, it was the snakes that hang from the ceiling that try to eat the bats that I should be concerned with. Sometimes the snakes can’t hang on and fall. He wasn’t joking. Never one to leave a man down or alone I kept my fears to myself and pushed through the tour. However my friend Deb didn’t pick up on my concerns and was taking what seemed like forever to snap her photos. We stayed so long that other tour groups were back up behind us. All I kept thinking was hurry up, if a snake falls on me I’m going to go ballistic. Finally I pushed her through but not before she explained my “Chicago accent” really came out. Well ya, did you miss the part about snakes hanging from the ceiling. She told me you’re from Chicago the murder capitol of the us and you’re concerned about snakes. Well when you put it that way…yes I still am. We still laugh about it.

  109. We find random infrequent flights interesting. So we planned an entire trip around taking the once a week LAN flight from Easter Island to Tahiti. It turned out to be an awesome trip with time in both locations to really explore.

  110. Taking our 2 young adult sons to Tanzania a few years ago. Our jeep broke down on the way to Ngorongoro crater. After a few hours sitting by the side of the dusty road waiting for roadside service of some sort, our driver managed to flag down a passing bus who agreed to take us in to the crater. The driver spent the whole drive trying to convince my husband to buy his daughter for our 18 year old! She just sat there, blinking and smiling. Something about a cow and some chickens, I think. Anyway, not happy that we missed our day in the crater we went into the hotel area to wash up and get a cold drink. All of a sudden we hear a voice call out our older son’s name! It was a friend of his from high school in Dallas! Small world!

  111. Mont Saint-Michel and Chartres in one day way back in the days when AA flew out of Orly instead of CDG. Too much to pick from, but I’ll go with this.

    Years ago my wife and I zipped through Normandy on a Thanksgiving long weekend. Somehow, I’m not sure why, we ended up approaching Mont Saint-Michel along the secondary coastal road. With all the ambient morning humidity, we couldn’t see much of anything. Then, suddenly, rising above the clouds and mist, we saw first the spire and then gradually the rest of the town appear as if out of nowhere, an Emerald City floating in mid-air. That was real magic. And then seeing the stained glass windows of Chartres later that day, positively glowing in the late afternoon sun, was every bit as magical. The funny part is that we were really in Chartres mostly just because the local Novotel was both cheap and reasonably near Orly. I thought if we were lucky we might just have a daylight hour in the cathedral, and I was right.

  112. While leaving Hokkaido, Japan last year via CTS airport, I forgot my cell phone in a taxi. I was already checked in and in line for security when I realized that I’d left my phone. My first instinct was to run back and see if the taxi was still around but I knew that was very unlikely. As I left the security checkpoint to at least have a look, the taxi driver is SPRINTING through the terminal, frantically looking for me with my phone.

    It being Japan, of course this man wouldn’t accept a dime in compensation 🙂 I don’t think this scenario would have played out like this anywhere else in the world.

  113. Last summer I was in Guangzhou, China and one of the translations in the menu of the (outstanding) restaurant read:

    “Sauteed Environmental Protection Broccoli in Ham Sauce”.

    I took a picture of it and it became a symbol for how much I enjoyed exploring the Chinese cuisine. 🙂

  114. Not a great story, per se, but I think the most rewarding trip I ever had was my very first solo overseas trip. It was a great way to manage countries whose native language was not my own, see some great cities, meet some fun people, and not have the comfort of a companion to ease the stress load. That was quite a few years ago, been doing it solo almost exclusively ever since and I love ever minute of it.

  115. I flew to Bangkok for my 30th birthday to meet up with a former boyfriend, now best friend, who was stationed at the American air base not far from the city. This was at a time when TV psychics like Miss Cleo were really big. I despised such foolishness and would always go on an apoplectic tirade whenever one of those quacks popped onto my television screen. So, of course, Jonathan got me an appointment to see a psychic in Bangkok.

    She looked like a Thai version of Granny Clampett. And she didn’t speak any English so she had this queeny little guy doing the translating. Madam, enveloped in a cloud of noxious incense, went into a supposed trance. She mumbled some dull crap about fortune and love which queeny translator boy dutifully relayed to me.

    Then! Madam uttered something which caused translator boy to gasp!

    “She has seen your death!”

    “Tell me! Tell me! Tell me!”

    “Not good to know of your death.”

    “Tell me! Tell me! Tell me!”

    “You are going to be gored by a yak.”

    Ok. So I am going to be gored by the slowest mammal on earth? Am I like tied to a tree with the yak charging at me at the speed of 15 feet per hour, perhaps stopping along the way to chew on some grass? And doesn’t a yak have upturned horns? So am I somehow above the yak and for whatever reason fall upon the poor beast?

    Translator boy got irritated with my questions and lectured me about not taking these “visions” so literally.

    “You may be stabbed to death by a Westerner with the initials of Y A K.”

    I told Jonathan about what Madam had to say of my demise. His response?

    “I suppose now is not a good time to tell you that I’m changing my name to Yosef Abraham Kozlowski.”

  116. In Croacia i ended up in a wine event/wine tasting by chance and for something like 7 euros with my 2 best friends. Good times

  117. My husband and I just came back from Las Vegas to celebrate his 30th. We try to visit the USO lounge whenever we travel (and the airport has one). We weren’t planning on stopping by the USO lounge in Vegas before our flight but we had some time to kill. After going through security, we decided to take the shuttle back to Terminal 1 (where the USO lounge was) and then walked aimlessly for 15 mins and still not finding it. I finally called the USO lounge and it turns out, the lounge was BEFORE security. Since we made it this far already, we went to the lounge, grabbed a sandwich and went back through security. Then I realized I dropped my jacket some where between the USO lounge and security. My husband got out of line, found my jacket and went through security AGAIN. We decided that it was worth it though after everything because we got free food and exercise!

  118. When I was in Italy, we were told to take a train at 11:11 to Pompeii. We found the track we were supposed to be on, and got on the train at 11:09. We went the right way, and so after about 5 or 6 stops I stopped being paranoid that we were going the wrong way. The only problem is that the train we were on veered off course from where we were trying to go about two stops from our intended target. Long story short, we get told by the locals were were on the wrong train, and get off in the slums (ghetto area? not sure) of Naples. We got on the train where we were immediately greeted by a child with an accordion, who seemed pretty intent on getting our money. Then, the rest of the day went off with no other issues.

  119. In my 15 years of life I have had many funny, scary, and weird travel stories. The one I choose to tell is one of my favorites. It began with me booking an award for a short trip to California for my dad to pick up his car, and drive it back. We only decided to do this trip about a week before the trip, so the prices were pretty expensive, around 25,000 miles one-way for the two of us. At this point we decided to just PAY for the trip and, I then discovered a website called http://www.insanelycheapflights.com with an extremely cheap ticket, about 1/4 of everyone else’s. I booked our tickets for February 18th 2013 on United economy, or so I thought. We arrived at the airport days later, and went to the check-in counter to check our bags. I tried the kiosk, and it said “Please check in 24 hours before departure”. We spoke to the agent, and she said we had booked our ticket for Feb. 18 2014!!!

    We were very worried, but then the unusually love United agent (too uncommon) rebooked us on a redeye later that night at no extra charge. All and all the trip was lovely and we drove home in a BMW 530i, better than United.

  120. Well, I think my fav story has to be after having our flight cancelled 3 times in 2011 because of all the Continental changes…..and having many tears as we were flying to fiji to get married on 11/11/11…..one week before we are due to go everything was finally sorted out with the help of many people. I was so excited we flew from PHX-LAX where we were getting our flight on Air New Zealand and we decided to have a few drinks in the lounge and had a great time……boarded our flight got comfortable in our seats and as they were closing the door……I remembered my DRESS !! I had left it in the lounge …..we were pressing the help buttons etc and finally the lady called and got them to open the doors and had someone go get my dress……I apologized to all the passengers but everyone seemed ok with it and we all had a good laugh !!! So 11/11/11 at 11am we were married on a beautiful beach….perfect

  121. Anytime you’re traveling and find a restaurant that’s so good you have to revisit it multiple time uring your trip. On my first trip. Variety be damned.

  122. One of my happiest travel memories was my first trip to Singapore! I had heard about this gem of a place and always wanted to visit and when I arrive I was not disappointed! I had a wonderful week enjoying the diversity of this amazing country! All the cultures/foods was life changing! I still recommend it as a great spot in Asia!

  123. Arriving in on the last flight to Hong Kong in 1993 during a typhoon, flying the runway 13 approach at the old Kai Tak airport. That’s an experience that’s stayed with me for all this time.

    Also being at Frankfurt Stadium this year to watch Germany win the World Cup.

  124. Dancing on a bar in Mykonos to Usher’s Yeah in the summer of 2005 with two of my best friends from College. Oh to be young and dumb again.

  125. On my first trip to London, I was completely turned around after getting off the Tube. I saw a police officer and decided to ask him for directions. Well…this officer was movie star attractive AND had the accent. I’m pretty sure I looked like a complete idiot, just enjoying the moment of chatting with a true Brit….and didn’t pay attention to anything he said. It wasn’t until he walked away that I realized I still didn’t have a clue which way to go!

  126. Got scratched by 2 wild monkeys in Thailand while on a tour. Went to the hospital there on advice of my doctor, and they promptly gave me the wrong vaccine for rabies, so I had to rush to the hospital when I got back to the states. I then spent the next couple weeks visiting an infectious disease specialist. Good times.

  127. Went to Egypt in this past January by myself, figuring the State Department was overblowing the situation their for tourism. A guy friend was supposed to go with me, but chickened out. I lied to my parents the whole time up until the plane took off saying he was with me, but on the last day in Cairo right before I was returning stateside, I admitted to my parents the ruse. They took it better than I expected, admitting that it would have been much harder for them to feel calm had they known I’d taken off on my own. Then later that day, there was news about a series of bombings in Cairo. My phone was flooded with messages asking if I was ok – but not from my boyfriend. I called him when I returned stateside, and his response was that he figured if an American were killed it’d be announced on the US news, but nothing was said so he figured odds were good I was alive. (And for the record, the trip to Egypt was fabulous, I had no competition for the best spots to take photos, and I couldn’t have felt safer. The spots I spent the most time were in Upper Egypt anyway which was nowhere near the unrest.)

  128. Just a funny story, well maybe to me anyhow.
    We had landed in Rome and were taking a very quick self guided tour of the city before our Mediterranean cruise took off. We headed towards St. Peter’s Basilica and were standing in awe outside looking onwards and everyone was oohing and awing and whispering. Suddenly my sister yells out in English very loudly “so what is this place anyhow”. My Mother in pure disdain and horror looked at her and said “12 years of Catholic school and you don’t know where we are?” and everyone around us finally burst into laughter because it seems that no matter what the language barrier people understand a mothers scorn.

  129. Friends and I call these ‘postcard moments.’

    What a wonderful blog post! Congrats to you, Ben, for cultivating such a wonderful community!

    I *have* to list three:

    Spending a week in an amazing Italian villa with 14 other friends and family.

    Seeing a herse-boat in Vencie. It was all jet black except for a vividly colored spray of flowers.

    Being able to go into the Concorde cockpit during a flight from London to New York!

  130. We sat there, looking out at the Bridge of Avignon. The night was warm, and a golden light filtered through the stone parapets onto the terrace upon which we sat. To my left was an old college friend, to my right, his acquaintance from France. None of us spoke, but we didn’t have to. The moment was all that we needed.

  131. My favorite travel memory is arriving at the door of the home of my host family in Madrid for my college semester abroad in Spain. I knew it would be a great six months, but I didn’t have any idea just how life-changing an experience it would be!

  132. I’ve traveled the world quite a bit but the one thing that definitely stands out (and still very much engrained in my brain) were my travels in Bangladesh. I travelled to the capital city Dhaka and went down to the port city of Chittagong. What I witnessed was the hard work put towards achieving the ‘American Dream’. Students in their teens working as day laborers (at times as child laborers – obviously a horrible thing to witness) and studying on pavements under streets lamps at night. Why? Because based upon my conversations with them – their parents could either not afford electricity or too many family members and/or relatives were living in a tiny house, which thus could not provide the students the space they required. These students understood the importance of educating themselves, as that – according to them – was the passport to a better future – one that broke the cycle of poverty! When I am down-and-out, I re-energize myself by thinking about the plight these students are in, and the determination they have to get out of those unbelievable predicaments….If they can do it against all odds – why can’t I!! Something I learned and cherish until today…

  133. Getting ripped off at a ‘ping pong’ show in Bangkok. We knew we were going to but its just one of those experience you have to have once I guess!

  134. Showed up to return home via KTM-HKG-NRT-SFO in economy. Turns out DragonAir said American had not confirmed my ticket on the KTM-HKG flight and they had given away my seat! A few frustrated hours later I flew KTM-HKG in Business and HKG-SFO in economy, direct. What a way to end an 8 month journey

  135. Going to Italy with my 86 year old grandmother (who moved from Italy by herself when she was in her early 20’s), my wife, my sister, my parents and my aunt & uncle to meet all of her relatives that I have never met before. Even though there was a definite language barrier (that happens when the only translator is 86), we all felt like we have known each other forever.

    And another one would be a 3 1/2 week cross country road trip with my (now) wife. We camped a lot and stayed at very low budget hotels off of Hotwire because we had graduated college a couple years earlier. We decided that after spending 3 1/2 weeks camping across the country in an Audi A4, we could make it through anything.

  136. When I lived in France as a college student, a friend and I decided to take an unexpected, last minute trip to Berlin. We had the time, the train was easy enough to navigate trip to Berlin, we had never been, and we found a highly-rated hostel. What we forgot, was that we didn’t speak a lick of German and by the time we passed through Switzerland and realized the language had changed three times into something we finally couldn’t understand (and couldn’t read… playing a guessing game on when to get off is fun, too), we took a deep breath and tackled the city together.

    It was one of the best experiences of my life: drinking vending machine beers in our 10-bunk hostel room we shared with Canadian tourists; sharing a snowball fight after finding machine-made snow for a ski trick contest; buying single bottles of beer from a back alley “grocery store”; and rolling the dice when ordering food because we didn’t know what anything meant.

    We made it home in one piece. Well worth the trip and instilled a bit more faith in adaptability when traveling.

  137. I was in London with my family for my spring break and we were having a great time which meant we did not want to leave. On the morning of our departure we had to get on the tube (London subway) to get to Heathrow which should have taken less than an hour but of course there was construction going on so we had to get off a one tube station get on a bus that would take us to another tube station and then get back on the tube to get to Heathrow which ended up taking close to 2 hours. Once we were at Heathrow we were checking in when the agent said that we were not allowed to go through security because you cannot board an international flight more than like an hour before departure. We forgot that there was a time change and while we thought we were at the airport for our 10:00 am departure it was 9:00 even though we thought it was 8:00. We eventually got rebooked without a fee onto a flight the next morning so we got on a bus to go to a nice Marriott next to the airport. Because we still had a whole day to kill we went to Windsor castle which turned out to be great and then walked around the town next to the castle, my favourite part was seeing all of the planes flying above us! We woke up extra early the next morning so it would be guaranteed that we would make our flight which was great because it meant we got to spend 2 hours at the flagship lounge at Heathrow which is now my favourite AA lounge. It did seem inconvenient at the time when we missed our flight but it was actually a blessing in disguise because we got to sightsee some more and spend lots of time in the lounge! Happy 7th Lucky!

  138. During a minor freak out while studying for the bar exam I bought a ticket to the furthest possible place I could get for $1,000 or under. A few weeks later I’m stumbling through the Dubai airport en route to Bangkok thinking “oh what have I done”. Just 3 days later I found myself on an isolated island off the coast of Cambodia floating in the ocean completely and truly at peace with my surroundings. Travel is an amazing thing and I only hope to step my game up using miles in the coming couple years.

  139. I was in Paris and stuck because of the Icelandic volcano. I was in line at the Avis station in Gare du Nord. I was tired, upset and just cranky. And as I’m debating just how I’m going to afford a one way car rental to Spain I hear an Australian voice behind me say “I’m so glad we’re in Paris now. Driving all the way from Spain was rough. Let’s just return the car and be done with it.”. Boom. I made a new friend in an instant (per Avis rules, he is my father on paper) and took that car on the return leg. We both saved 850 Euros (it was 300 r/t but 1000 one-way). Suddenly I was happy and not at all upset that I was going to drive all night through the Pyrenees to Madrid. And we still chat years later.

  140. My most memorable travel moment was definitely visiting Devil’s Pool in Victoria Falls. You swim out to the very edge of the world’s largest waterfall, but the pool keeps you semi-safe from falling over the edge. The view, the rainbows and the thrill were just incredible. Of course, I was also terrified and I would never, ever, ever do it again 🙂

  141. Traveling to Marrakesh and staying in the middle of the Medina in a fabulous riad and truly experiencing the culture.

  142. We hopped into the Paris subways to learn that the transit workers were on “strike” that Sunday, as we were trying to catch our flight back to the states. Lots of military with machine guns standing by and transit employees who, unfortunately, didn’t speak much English, nor us much French. After a mad scramble, we missed our flight home on an Air France A380. We were thankfully rebooked by Delta and made it home at nearly our scheduled time, but definitely missed out on the flight experience.

  143. My very first mileage run – the United DYMTWTU (Denver you mean the world to us) promo from back in ’06. Doing blocks of 4 days flying Ted to/from MDW to get all those miles.

  144. Flying to NYC with my sister and best friend while in high school. Somehow (because of my sister) we almost missed our flight there and ended being upgraded to first class by the very nice airline employee. Then my friend borrowed headphones from my backpack on the flight and ended up knocking my wallet out with $300 in it without anyone knowing. I realized it after we left the flight but while we were still at the airport. Amazingly it was at the airline lost and found with all the money still in it!!

  145. The year was 1994. Me? An unexperienced 10 year old child, as childish as a kid can be. My world back then consisted of going to school, being lame at math and counting every minute to go back home and play my SuperNintendo.
    Everything changed when me and my family packed our bag, drove 7 hours to São Paulo to go on vacation. That’s all I knew while we were on the road. We were going away for vacation time and my concern and expectation at that time was pretty much zero. None. Niente.
    Dad parked our car and we went inside a huge building, with lots of people and trolleys and their bags.
    The next thing I know people were shouting and screaming, we were taken to a hotel where we stayed pretty much all day long, only leaving at night to same place ( by that time I was aware that the name of the place was airport, Guarulhos Airport).
    Once inside, people weren’t screaming. The next thing I remember is my parents grabbing my hands and taking us deep inside this so called airport. Yeah.. I was going to fly for the first time!

    Imagine a huge plane. Imagine a stair inside a plane! “Is this a spaceship of some kind?” I kept thinking. \
    I cannot find word to describe what I felt when I first entered the plane.Maybe “flabbergasted? More than that.

    I was flying upstair in a “JumboJet”!

    So back in 2015. I’m 31 yo now. I love reading your blog and all things aviation. Only after I grew-up a little bit more I ended up realizing how great my first flight was.

    It was in a Boeing 747-400 by Varig, destination Cancun.

    And I was actually supposed to flight a creepy and old World Airways charter flight.

    I think nowadays is like changing an old Boeing 757 for a Etihad A380! rss

  146. One of my most memorable flights was over the Christmas holidays in Singapore Airlines First Class from JFK-FRA on their legendary 747 in the nose. There was only one other passenger on-board and he promptly fell asleep, which meant I practically had the cabin and crew to myself. I can’t think of a better flight than that and it was all thanks to BIS United miles prior to the devaluation. Thanks for all the great trip reports so far, Lucky!

  147. After two days at sea, seeing Antarctica for the first time. At 9pm. With full sunlight because it was December. It’s so remote and quiet it felt like we were visiting Superman’s lair. After so much ocean ocean ocean, the icebergs and glaciers rise up out of the water, and when you get closer, there are a ton of penguins parked on icebergs waiting for you.

  148. Lived in BOG at the time but one late evening was taking a 20 min cab ride home. Driver curious about me and asked me a bunch of questions. Despite me initially denying being of Chinese descent (“no soy de China, nací en los estados unidos pero mi familia es de Filipinas”) but of other asian origin, he kept insisting to know more about China. Since I was nearly at my destination and he refused to really hear me, I went along with it and answered all of his questions to the best of my knowledge re: Chinese culture. As I arrived at my destination and paid the fare, he asked me if I could do him one favor before I stepped out – to write his whole name in Chinese characters for him. After all of that, tried to insist I wasn’t quite sure how to but then he asked me to please try and then gave me this look that made me feel like a complete ass for leading him on. So with my best attempt I channeled whatever Chinese-y thing I could recall and scribbled scratchy nonsense for him. From then on, I decided it best to try to avoid all talk with taxi drivers

  149. Having sundowner cocktails at the park hyatt maldives with a fellow points hobby friend. We didn’t plan our trip to be there at the same time. We just saw eachother on the island walking around. Go figure we met up on the other side of the world in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Oh. And seeing my wife’s face as we walked into SQ suites class on the way to the Maldives.

  150. Traveling to Kauai to hike the Kalalau Trail; a 22 mile round trip hike through lush forests, sheer cliffs hundreds of feet high and beautiful waterfalls and secluded beaches. Spent five days camping under a blanket of stars with the sounds of the Pacific Ocean lapping at our feet.

  151. I went on a short weekend trip to Wallops Island, Virginia, with my parents probably 15 years ago or so. We found this really small family run restaurant (as in the first floor of their house was the restaurant), for dinner one night. It was BYOB, so we stopped at a wine store nearby that claimed the place was good.

    Restaurant turned out to be horrible. Anyway, the Dad working at the restaurant wore a t-shirt with a train on it that said, “What Part of Choo-Choo Don’t You Understand.” While the food was bad, it definately made a memory…and that t-shirt is brought up anytime we have had a bad travel experience since.

  152. I just can’t resist adding another of my favorite travel moments.

    Thanksgiving, 1978. It was my freshman year of college. My Israeli roommate had nowhere to go for the holiday and I didn’t have any desire to go to my parents. So on a whim we booked two tickets from Boston to West Berlin on BA. Berlin was the birthplace of my roommate’s father and I had never traveled without my folks so we were both really thrilled and excited.

    So off we went on our little adventure with absolutely nothing arranged in advance. And of course we were dead broke after having paid for the plane tix. Finding a place to stay turned out to be troublesome so we ended up crashing in a cubicle at a bathhouse popular with Berlin’s gay leather community. It was so great…but not for the reason some of you may be thinking. The gay leather guys sort of adopted us; they took us sightseeing, bought us a few meals and otherwise just looked after us. It was so awesome! We ended up staying all four nights there. The highlight for me was standing on a platform by Brandenburg Gate on a cold, rainy morning and looking over the Wall into a lifeless East Berlin. It was both haunting and magical.

    I still get a big grin just thinking about that trip.

    I have had so much fun today reading everyone’s recollections. What a wonderful idea this was!

  153. We had just boarded LH F, and the purser greeted us and asked us if we needed anything. My partner’s laptop battery was running low and asked if the outlets were working. the purser told us they usually didn’t start working until after we were in the air because of regulations, but given “special requests” since we were in F class, they could make an exception. Love it!

  154. I’ve had so many memorable/favorite experience. But surely nothing beats that first mile high shower 😉

  155. First trip outside the US … checking in to a small hotel in Amsterdam and a stranger buys a stamp from the front desk clerk. He then asks the front desk clerk why Anita Bryant is on the stamps? (It’s not Anita Bryant … it’s Queen Beatrix!)

  156. Watching my daughter chasing pigeons on the St. Marc’s square in Venice, or she crying like crazy onboard the train from Milan to Florence

    Funny, those are the 2 memorable moments of my Wideroe Italy trip 🙂

  157. Lucky,
    Here is my story:

    The Mercedes was going close to 100 miles an hour in the misty rain. I was sitting behind the driver grasping his seat, white knuckled, as if doing so it was going to prevent which appeared to be, my eminent death. This driver was nuts. The car was moving like a bullet on a two lane country road in Brazil’s deep south. Cows, dogs and kids chasing soccer balls along the side of the road looked like blurs and the fear the car would hit one of them sending us all to oblivion frightened me to my core.

    

I could tell you about my Kilimanjaro trek, of when I fell off the Inca trail, of my solo flight on a single engine airplane or of riding a train at night through a dangerous part of Cape Town . But Instead, you will be stuck with me in this Mercedes on the day I went from Hell to Heaven.

    

The driver assured me that he knew these roads like the palm of his hands. But his argument made no sense because I did not doubt his knowledge of the place, but his reasoning instead. In my humble opinion when you are clocking 90 miles an hour on a country road in misty weather, you are a crazy mother fucker who deserves to be in a straightjacket and not behind the wheels of a car. 



    I had fallen into this predicament because the flight I had been scheduled on was three hours late and threatening to cancel. If cancelled, I was sure to miss my international connection, (GRU-ATL) later on that evening. So, the producers of the festival I was performing at got the ones with tight connections into this car , last minute, so that we would go four hours away to a major airport with hourly flights to GRU instead of dailies. Tickets were still to be purchased as the driver was ripping the asphalt apart with his Mercedes . Thump! The car hit a bird and sent it into a thousand pieces. This is a terrine omen, to kill a bird before flying. I was certain this was my last day on earth. Especially because this was an unplanned, last minute idea, and I’m paranoid about last minute change of plans in which I have a stranger at the controls . The only time I am ok with going very fast with a stranger at the controls is at six miles above the ground in an airliner, away from cows, dogs and kids chasing soccer balls.

    Every time he attempted to pass a truck I thought it was going to be the end me. 
Interestingly so, the other two passengers in the car were perfectly ok with this. It was like I was in a nightmare where I am the crazy person. One of them even tried to calm me dow.



    After a couple of hours the macho driver finally stopped for a bathroom break. I went to the urinal for a long long time. My hands were shacking so bad, I could not even aim properly. After that pit stop, the rain ceased, the roads got very busy as we approached the airport and, since he had been notified via phone that the new tickets had been purchased with ample time, he slowed down.

 When I got out of the car at the airport, I was confused and so thankful to be alive that I actually thanked the driver as if he were a different person.
    


    After a short plane ride from POA to GRU I waked in a daze towards the international terminal and sat, by the gate, still shaken by the whole experience. I had been to hell and back. I had cheated death. There was a kid near me, all excited on the phone. He was telling to a loved one that he had just spotted Pele’. I looked around looking for the great soccer legend hoping that by seeing him, he would make me forget. He was no where to be found.


    Then I heard my name being called by the gate agent . “Ohh gee, now what?!?!” So I approach the counter and the gate agent thanked me for being a loyal customer and handed me a different boarding pass. Ahhh, an upgrade. Sweet!!!


    As I laid flat on my comfortable airline seat with a down pillow under my head, a comforter over my body, going 500 miles per hour, with a stranger at the controls, I was completely fine with it. Why? because now, I was six miles above the ground away from cows, dogs and kids chasing soccer balls.

    All rights reserved 2015-
    Antonio Rocha

  158. Before going to Iceland with my sister this past June I found a blog post that talked about an abandoned swimming pool in the middle of nowhere that locals still use. The directions were very vague – park at the end of a dirt road, walk along an overgrown path, cross a small stream, keep on the overgrown path into the valley until you arrive. I surprised my sister with the stop & we followed the directions. But the overgrown path took us up the edge of a steep hill where we had to hold onto grass/roots to keep from falling off the side of the hill. We got 90% of the way there & could see the pool off in the distance when we looked 20 feet down the hill & saw some local girls walking with their towels right along the flat, easy riverbed. D’oh! Obviously we took the easy way back to the car when we were done at the pool (which was awesome).

  159. I took an 80 hours on the ground trip to Sydney, Australia in 2007 (cheap fare), lots of memorable stuff on that trip, however the most memorable was sitting on an empty Manly Beach, staring out at the ocean – my first time south of the equator. No picture will ever do justice to how beautifully blue the sky and water looked that day.

  160. We are US Airways Chairman so the One World alliance is new to us. When BA had a business class sale last fall we booked 3 international business class trips in 4 hours. We picked the flights based on type of plane and what city was on sale that we have not been to. That was a crazy afternoon! But here we are in February with around 43,000 PQM’s to start the year.

  161. We both work M-F jobs but love flying. We have been preferred with US Airways for many years. Well 3 years ago we decided to go for Chairman. This took 35 weekends of travel to accomplish but the first time we hit 100,000 BIS miles was on my birthday! This called for a special toast in the sky. We still love traveling and have kept our Chairman (soon to be Executive Platinum) status with leisure travel every year since then.

  162. On a trip in Taiwan and having a deep life conversation with the taxi guy…who possessed wisdom and having the most zen of anyone I have ever encountered.
    Makes me aspire to get into that state; still remembered that experience to this day.

    (The next taxi ride was not quite as inspiring…heh).

  163. I took my first trip to Europe in ’09 as part of a study abroad trip during community college. Three of my best friends came out to visit me over Spring Break, one of the few times we could ever plan something in advance without anyone disagreeing on some aspect of it. We got lost in Prague, had to leave our hostel in the middle of the night due to a fire, slept in hotel lobbies, trains, ferries and made memories we’ll never forget. A trip that will certainly not be replicated.

  164. Taking my mom to Paris with my first work bonus as a thank you for everything she had done for me in the previous 23 years.

  165. I was desperate to get cheap reflexology while in Malaysia, so I talked my friend into it by offering to pay for it (they had a “happy hour”), and we ended up in the sketchiest almost-pitch black reflexology parlor, where the woman told us to sit and woke one man up from the couch (in the same room) while he was napping, and left the place to go hunt the second guy down. They then proceeded to put on what I believe was a bootleg version of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, while we got reflexology treatment by two men who we could barely communicate with.

    Needless to say, it was absolutely one for the books.

  166. After spending 7 weeks on a work-related trip with my team of coworkers, we spent a week in Thailand/Cambodia on vacation. It was a fantastic time with great company in a part of the world where life felt a little slower. Also, +1 for the Teahouse Hotel in Phnom Penh.

  167. Meeting my Australian boyfriend (l’m American) in a tiny hostel in old Delhi 2 years ago. Then, a month later, using miles to fly him to Istanbul to meet up with me on a previously scheduled trip.

  168. Not my favorite travel memory, but definitely memorable…We were embarking on a Caribbean cruise from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Just as we were leaving port, I slipped on some steps and dislocated my patella. So for the entire trip I was on crutches. Won’t forget that trip.

  169. Climbing Mt. Fuji. During a typhoon. At night.

    I can’t say it was much fun at the time, but looking back it was certainly quite the experience that I was able to share with a good friend of mine.

  170. During the summer when I was 13, my parents and I went on an around the world trip to Japan via Europe and Africa. Seeing the Black Forest in Germany, Rome, Paris, London and then flying to Johannesburg to go on a safari. Our trip ended in Tokyo, making it was one of the best experiences in my life and I learned a lot about cultures, languages and the beauty of travel

  171. My most memorable vacation was St. John in the Virgin Islands. In particular, driving the windy, hilly roads to and from different beaches which ran along steep cliffs with my sister-in-law panicking! Also, seeing a wild sea turtle for the first time while snorkeling. It was a great vacation!

  172. The night before we left Madrid, a friend took us to several bars, including a Hawaiian-themed one which served the strongest, nastiest drink ever out of a large ceramic turtle with several meter-long straws. With not nearly enough time for recovery, we had to board a UA 757 for a horrendous economy class flight to EWR. But, that was the flight where I discovered Bejeweled… and my life would never be the same!

  173. I remember arriving at our hotel and immediately going over to Tokyo Disneyland to ride Splash Mountain before it went down for refurbishment the next time, and to make sure we stayed awake until Japanese bedtime to help with the jetlag. It was surreal – so familiar, yet so different – and the days that followed, spending time there and at the incredible and unique Tokyo DisneySea, were some of the most memorable I’ve ever had.

  174. A few years ago we did the Maccu Picchu marathon in Peru which is 95% on unrunnable stone clad, ankle twist waiting to happen, uneven pavement. The route lies through very memorable sites of abandoned towers, infamous Dead Women’s pass (at one point I thought I’d make the name real at 14,000 feet), forest clouds, fantastic vegetation… And while we started at dawn in order to arrive at the incomparable Sun Gate at dusk, local Sherpas do it for fun and friendly competition in less than 4. 🙂

  175. 3 day stopover in dubai with my brother and his family and the desert safari and partying all night on sheikh Zayed road with my friend who works for Emirates!!

  176. My most Memorable trip was traveling to Papua New Guinea with my Dad.
    We flew DFW-ICN-HKG-POM-UKA-POM-HKG-ICN-SEA-DFW flying on Korean Air (Prestige class), Air Niugini (Business class), and Alaska (Economy). Quite an experience, the best part was when our plane was downgraded at the gate in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. We changed from a 767-300 to a 737-800 for the 7 hour flight to Hong Kong. At first I was very disappointed, but when I saw lie-flat seats in Biz on a 737 I changed my opinion. Overall, it was the experience of a lifetime.

    Congratulations on seven years of blogging and I hope you have another successful seven years Ben.
    Thanks for all that you post, and your exciting stories!

  177. Key to this story is knowing my SO is a black belt in Brazilian jujitsu.

    A few years ago, my SO and I went to Europe together for the first time. We went from Paris to Madrid. I got food poisoning in Paris the last day (bad snail – yes, really), so Madrid took a day or so before I was having a good time.

    We went to dinner the 2nd night in a small cafe where nobody spoke English. We were the last ones there and they were closing up, so I head downstairs to use the bathroom before we leave. The door was a bit hard to close because it was warped and had been painted over. Well… I wasn’t able to get the door open again. The door opened inwards and it was a tiny bathroom with barely room for the toilet, so no room to maneuver.

    After a few minutes of trying on my own, I realize I am actually trapped in the basement bathroom, so I give up and started banging on the door, alternately shouting my SO’s name and “ayudame!” (“help me” in Spanish). 5 minutes go by, nothing, and I’m starting to wonder how long I’ll be trapped before someone notices. There was so much noise in the kitchen, the staff didn’t hear anything.

    My SO finally realizes it’s not his imagination that I’ve been gone a long time and comes down to see what’s up. The waitress followed him downstairs. I tell him I’m trapped, so he tries the door, but no luck. The waitress didn’t speak English and he doesn’t speak Spanish, but he managed to mime to her that he wanted permission to kick the door in.

    She agreed and he told me to get out of the way! (Remember, tiny space.) I had to wedge myself between the toilet and the wall. One hard kick and the door flies open and I’m free! My SO rescued me from the basement bathroom by kicking in the door like an action hero! This is definitely our favorite travel story.

  178. My honeymoon in Costa Rica was amazing. We were looking at going the Southeast Asia, but with the long travel time and only a 10 day window, we decided to take the short jump to Costa Rica from South Florida. We left in the morning and were settled by noon.

    What made it really special was that we went for the all-inclusive adventure package. We just picked one that had good reviews and included a couple nights at Pacuare Lodge which required whitewater rafting into and out of it. We were going to look at the other details more closely once we had “more time”. Well next thing we knew it was 9 months later and our wedding day. So the whole adventure was kind of a surprise. I’m the type to plan out everything and know the whole itinerary. Our honeymoon was very unique fit us since we would just check the next voucher and say “okay, this is what we’re doing next!”

    It was amazing and we’re so glad we did it while living so close, since a year later we unexpectedly moved from Florida. It would be a much more difficult trip now – especially with the kids…

  179. When traveling in Sri Lanka I had dinner at my driver’s cousin house. I think the invite was really for his daughters/nieces to meet the american traveling by herself, but what a treat. Turns out girls are the same everywhere: Twilight, Justin Bieber, and One Direction. Ha!

    Wasn’t until later I realized I should have been more wary, but sometimes you can trust the situation you’re in.

  180. My wife and I traveled around Japan for 2 weeks. The most adventurous was going to a Ryokan in Hakone. I had planned all the trains but somehow forgot to account for a 2 hour leg of the journey. This would have us arrive quite a bit after our expected time and late for our dinner.

    Imagine someone with a tourbook vocabulary of Japanese calling the ryokan from the train and apologizing over and over and saying “I’m sorry. So sorry. My fault. We will be there at 7PM. So sorry” When we arrived they met us at the station, carried our bags to the hotel. Had the one employee who spoke English stay late to serve us dinner and set up our room. AMAZING!!!

  181. One of the best travel memeories that I have was when my family and I were in safari in South Africa. People say you got to experience it once in your life if you got the chance, they are definitely correct about it. We had a great time throughout and one quite the close call experience; as a mother rhino was about to charge towards us becasue our vehicle was too close to her baby. Our guide slowly backed up the Jeep and things were okay, got some amamzing shots from the trip.

  182. My favorite memory happened at an airport. I was taking a friend on his first trip to NYC. He rarely flew anywhere, so this was a big deal for him. We get to the airport and go to the counter to checkin. The agent tells me that our upgrade cleared and so I said pull the stickers from my account. My friend had no idea what was going on and just waited patiently. She prints our boarding passes and my friend looks at his and says “that is not my seat!” I told him “it is now.”

    So began his first trip in domestic first, but it was not his last. He went from no status to Platinum to Exec Platinum in only a few years. He is hooked!

  183. Before our Alaska cruise from YVR. We took a horse carriage tour of Stanley Park. While in line to board the ship, I noticed my wallet was missing. Frantically call the banks to cancel my credit cards. Luckily we had $200 cash with us to tip the cabin staff, other than that, no ATM or credit cards. What a way to start a cruise. When arrived at home 8 days later, got a message on my answering machine (15 yrs ago) that they found my wallet and it was turned in to the Park Police. Thank you Canada!

  184. 2 things: in honor of the late great Doug Feiger of the Knack, the song is “My Sharona” not “My Sherona”.

    You need to take Virgin Australia and get a seat in row 5. You will end up in a private row, curtained off like a living room, the best flight you will ever take. I did it and sat in the seat that Britney Spears was in on the flight before…

  185. In Nepal riding an elephant down into a river to give him a bath. Nepal is a beautiful country that I hope to return to one day.

  186. My favorite travel memory is quite recent. So, the backstory: I currently live and study in the Far Eastern Russian city of Vladivostok (though I am from Alabama). So, me and 5 Russian students won the right to represent our university at a conference in New York back in March 2014 (we were the only group from Russia represented). Our university agreed to fund the trip, but due to a quirk in Russian law, were required to purchase the cheapest airfare from Vladivostok to New York, as university funds are federal funds. So, the day of our departure, they purchased the tickets last moment in economy class on Transaero. The flight to Moscow was not so bad, as the plane was a newer a330, and had individual IFE. Not bad for a domestic flight in Russia, trust me on that one. But, we had a 16-hour layover and had to change airports (Domodedovo to Vnukovo), and the university had booked us overnight in quite possibly the worst hotel in Moscow, called Sputnik, that screamed Soviet Union at me. So, we took the train and metro with all of our luggage to find the place, which was a pain, as anyone who has ever been to Moscow knows. So we arrived at the hotel, and the receptionist insisted I was in Russia illegally, and wanted to call authorities. She was looking at a visa I had from 2012, and I kept telling her to flip a few pages. She found the next visa, which was also expired and insisted that I was still breaking the law. Finally, I made her to flip another page to find the current visa, but I was shocked and amazed. We found it hilarious in the days after, however, especially 2 of the Russian girls in my group 🙂 Anyway, it was cool spending a night in Moscow with those Russian students, 3 of whom had never even been to Moscow. Great bonding time, walking Red Square at night is an awesome experience when it is all lit up. So, next morning, we took a taxi to Vnukovo. The plane that was to take us to New York was a worn-out Transaero Boeing 767 that had no personal IFE, but rather a few ancient TV screens playing Soviet-era movies. But, we made the best of it, as we had the back of the plane to ourselves, so we played poker and other games. Wost plane I have ever been on, yet the best and most memorable flight because of the people I was with. So, we arrived in NY. 4 of the 5 Russians had never traveled abroad before. I of course went to the US citizen line, and was through immigration in 5 minutes (a record for JFK!!), grabbed all of our luggage, and waited for my Russian teammates. To make a long story short, we stayed at Sheraton Times Square. Our team was one of the winners, out of nearly 3000 people at the conference. The girls in our group were crying tears of joy, and we were all hugging and high-fiving in pure excitement. I adored getting to share American culture with the 5 Russian students, and to top it off, my parents came to visit us from Alabama, so I got to see them after a year apart. We even went to Washington DC to tour the World Bank by invitation, and were given a tour of all of DC by a WB exec. Our greyhound bus ride between the cities was memorable for many reasons, but I won’t say why here ;). Our return journey was much the same, except on the way back, we changed airports directly by taxi. As we are all poor students, we hired 1 taxi for 6 of us and our luggage. 4 in the back seat, 2 in the front, luggage crammed in our laps, in 8:30 AM Moscow rush hour traffic. THAT was an experience, wish you could have seen the taxi driver’s face 🙂 I would love to put more details, but it would be dang near a book. Suffice it to say, travelling to America from Russia with Russian students, who had their dream of travelling to America come true, representing a Russian university, was by far the most memorable travel experience. The sights and travel were wonderful, but the experience travelling to my home country with 5 Russians, and the adventures and bonding we had, tops any of the other numerous travel experiences I have ever had. I guess the only competition to that trip is travelling with Russian friends in 3rd class on a Russian train for a few days 😀

  187. Just this pass Summer, I travelled with my grandmother, my mother, my younger brother, and my aunt to Newzealand. We visited the Southern Island for the most of our stay. We went on our trip by driving our rental car around the Southern Island. We visited Hokitika, Christchurch, Dunedin, and of course Queenstown. It was somewhat a surreal experience of how we survived.. Because no one in my house speaks English besides me!!. We did not book any hotel ahead. We stop when we want to and adventurously seek for available hotels to stay in. It was truly a fun experience in the South Island. When we flew back to the North Island, I went for a jump on from the Sky Tower and it was a true once in a life time experience, I guess everything is lol!!. Anyways, I love this family trip 🙂

  188. Not only my favorite but also my most memorable travel, my birthday 2014! My fiancé surprised me with an unforgettable birthday trip around the world. We visited 10 cities in 8 countries in 14 days! What an awesome birthday travel!

  189. Standing on the streets of St. Petersburg, Russia, not speaking a word of Russian, not knowing how the cab system works, and needing to get to the airport ASAP. We just started flagging down random cars and one stopped for us. Our “driver” turned out to be a pretty cool guy and even offered to pick us up for our return flight!

  190. That hawker centre is called Telok Ayer Market but all the locals call it Lau Pa Sat. It was closed for renovations in late 2013 and has only recently been reopened for business. It would have been completely boarded up during that time — could that be why you couldn’t find it? Here it is on Google Maps for your next trip to Singapore 🙂 https://www.google.com/maps/place/Telok+Ayer+Market/@1.2805968,103.8506586,19z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x31da190de1a58ee5:0xfdead3880c0abd60

  191. Taking my beloved grandmother to Europe for her first and only time, aged 77. It turned out to be the last time she felt consistently well enough to really be able to walk around all day and actively enjoy full days of sightseeing.

  192. Being able to take my son back to Japan to visit his grandparents, but in First class on JAL. Truely the most amazing time of flying in my live. Amazing people, delicious food. Perfection at its best.

    And I would not be able to do this if it wasn’t for your help lucky with figuring out how to get more miles.

    Thanks

  193. I think one of the most memorable experiences I had in travelling would be when it all started – at the age of 3, when I was brought by my grandmother in her frequent MNL-MRQ-MNL flights. I remember that’s when I got the joy of flying at such a young age. Even if it was economy (there were no other booking classes) and it was a measly Fokker 50, that made me realize I wanna take to the skies.

  194. Got an op up on LHR-JFK on United back in the day and got my first taste of a front cabin. Was on a $350 coach ticket, running a bit late, got to the gate all sweaty and got handed a BP for C. I’ve been totally hooked ever since.

  195. My fiancé proposed to me with an Australian opal at the Park Hyatt Sydney overlooking the opera house. The moment was absolutely perfect, but what was just as memorable was having a coffee later that afternoon at a cafe in the Rocks. We were sitting outside in a quiet courtyard watching some lorikeets in a nearby tree when all of a sudden one landed on our table and stole a sugar packet right off of the saucer! We watched and laughed as it opened the packet and ate the sugar. Now we always say “Remember that time we got engaged…and the lorikeet stole the sugar packet!”

  196. Several years ago I was traveling solo in Germany for my first time, and was on an ICE train from Frankfurt to Wiemar. As the trip progressed, the train kept getting more and more full. I had previously reserved my seat, but there was another unreserved seat next to me, still unoccupied. As the train car filled up, a younger, college-aged girl stepped into the car and came up and asked me something in German, motioning to the seat next to me. As I spoke very, very little German, but not wanting to look like the dumb American that I was, I figured she asked if anyone was sitting there (like someone would ask here), and so I answered “nein”. She then walked away and stood at the end of the car where other passengers had gathered and were standing. I was a little perplexed, but then I started getting dirty looks from other passengers who had been on the train with me since Frankfurt, and it then dawned on me she must have said something else. It took 5 minutes for me to get her attention and have her come back. I figured I’d just explain, in English, that I don’t speak German, and that she would understand. (I was told by a friend who had lived in Germany for several years that lots of Germans speak English, and that I should be fine.) As it turns out, she did not speak English, but when she heard me speak, and gesture to the seat next to me, she understood and sat down.

    Later on my trip I talked to a friend I had made in Germany about the experience, and he said that she likely asked if she could sit there, and I had rudely answered, “no”. Thus, in all my efforts to not end up being the dumb American, I ended up being the dumb American. Doh!

  197. Certainly the most memorable moment but definitely not the funniest 🙂

    My wife, my one-year-old daughter and I were on CMH-JFK-ICN-SIN-CGK F award tickets booked using US Airways miles. The asiana agent at the JFK counter gave us horror look and told us that my daughter is booked on coach while both my wife and I are booked on first. Keep in mind we booked her as lap infant and that cost us 0 miles and 10% of the full fare adult ticket at the time of booking (around $900)

    I called US Airways while the agent was speaking in korean to her supervisor. The US Air agent on the phone told me that the issues was because I paid 10% of the full fare economy for the infant (which is total BS because 10% of total full fare economy would cost me around $200 max while i paid $900). She explained to me that the 10% of total full fare first class would be around $2500 (pending rate desk) so I would need to pay the $1600 difference.

    Unfortunately I don’t have time to argue and obviously couldn’t afford ‘hang up call again’ trick. It was literally 30 minutes before scheduled departure and we were still at the check-in counter. So I asked the us air agent to do whatever it takes to get me on board. She asked me to call them back again to resolve the payment issue because she was waiting from the rate desk to get back to her with the exact dollar amount. She also asked me to hand the phone to the asiana agent. Five minutes later, the asiana agent typed furiously on the keyboard while talking super fast on the walkie talkie in korean. Shortly after that the agent literally jumped from the counter desk and escorted us personally pass through the security all the way to the gate. At 10 minutes before scheduled departure, we were the last 3 passenger to board the plane.

    After we landed safely at ICN, I called US airways many times to get the fees waived. After numerous ‘hang up and call again’ with 10 different agents and supervisors, I realized that it’s an uphill battle and gave up. I decided to pay the fare difference and call it a day.

    Since then, I would triple check everything at few months before departure, few weeks, and 2 days before the departure date to be sure that everything is in order.

  198. My first time to Europe still remains one of my most memorable. One of those memories was when my sister and I were waiting 45 mins outside the hostel in Florence for the owners to come. When they finally came, we went up those tiny European shaft elevator that resemble those construction lifts with very little safety features to get up to the top floor. The two of us barely fit in the elevator with our luggage and then some insect decided to bite my finger. Luckily there wasn’t much harm done but that definitely ended up being the most memorable elevator ride of my life.

  199. The first time I was abroad in Germany (as a student on a school trip), I still remember how I was embracing the culture with open arms and fascinated about all the differences between Germany and the US. This was in complete contrast to some of my schoolmates, who were just griping endlessly about how everything was so different from the US (one decided to not speak a lick of German to the locals while there and just converse in English even though he could speak SOME German) and not having enough free time. The most memorable line from this person: “God, that was the first time where I EVER had to ration my soda to last the entire meal.” Needless to say he was the most unbearable person on the trip but his gripe still is memorable 10 years after the trip.

  200. Taking an early morning walk in London on a Saturday morning in early October. Enjoyed the sunrise as I went from St. Pauls to the Tower of London and didn’t encounter a single person. I literally had London all to myself during that time. It’s still one of my all-time favourite travel experience!

  201. The best moments are the ones that surprise us.

    Running into stray cats on a hotel roof.

    Perfect timing for a train, bus, show, or occasional double rainbow.

    Getting the last Christmas duck from FCT.

    Perfect break in clouds over hanalei bay.

  202. Best travel was bumbling around paris on our honeymoon with many a misstep, problem, and knowing nothing about travel. All that has been rectified & in subsequent
    journeys to paris, and elsewhere, we feel very wise, savvy, & in control of any snafus & obstacles. We retired early & love to travel in style & jet set just because.

  203. Cramming 6 people into a single tuk-tuk in Bangkok and taking a group selfie with the driver. Funny moment during my Thailand trip on May last year.

  204. Meeting some american dudes in Budapest in 2009, spending some time visiting Budapest. Then meeting up with them again in Prague a couple of weeks later. The start of some amazing friendships which eventualy brought us in Hawaii, Frisco, Paris, Vegas, LA, Belgium,..

  205. One of my favorites was showing up to the Masada National Park in Israel not knowing that it was closed due to bad(snowy) weather. We just walked in and were welcomed by the director and his crew, given a private tour and invited to have lunch with them. It was an amazing time.

  206. Being married to a reluctant traveler who is more interested in cars than flying on planes, I try to incorporate activities that will appeal to him. 2 standouts:
    1. Planning our first trip to Europe together (and his first time in Europe ever), he asked about making a visit to the Porsche factory in Zeuffenhasen. He leased a flat-nosed 911(fairly rare model) at the time. I asked if we needed any advance prep to do this, but he never followed up on this, so we just showed up. The older guard railed at us in German, and all we could figure out was that we would only be allowed to visit the museum since we had not gotten written permission. I had slipped a photo of my husband sitting in his Porsche in my passport case so I told him to show it to the museum guards. A couple of phone calls, and we were driven around the grounds, toured the factory and treated to a multi-course lunch. Husband thought I was a miracle worker!
    2. Back in 1997, touring the Malvern Hills west of London, we went to Morgan Motor works. Seems all the owners were out at a trade show, so one of the test drivers took us on separate rides in Morgan. All I can say is that he was flying and then made a 90 degree left turn into a 1 car wide tunnel/bridge. I had visions of my husband trying to explain to my parents why I had died while overseas. Later, when we were comparing our ride experiences, he said he had the same thoughts of his demise!
    We still laugh about both of these to this day – travel memories of the first order.

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