Think back to that first trip that really changed you…

For me it was South Africa & Swaziland in 2013.

Imagine this

Imagine waking up at 5am to the sounds of wildlife and having no idea what it is. Once you realize it’s not a dream you jump out of bed and peek through the window, hoping to catch a glimpse of anything moving. You grab the camera and quietly open the door, trying to not scare anything that might be roaming nearby. And there you see antelope wandering around in herds and monkey running along the gravel path while giraffe and zebra roam freely, coming within feet of the rondavel. You stand there in awe, taking it all in and processing later the amazing things you just experienced.

That was my first morning in Africa.

Imagine driving through one of the poorest countries in Africa and your car overheats, forcing you to pull over. As you wait outside you notice a group of kids walking down a steep dirt path across from you. They continue on while a girl and young boy come over to you. They have no shoes on, are covered in dirt and their clothes is full of holes. You can’t communicate too well but are able to make out some words. Words like the girl telling you they haven’t eaten in days and she doesn’t want to go back because she’s being raped. You stand there, tears forming. All you can give them is some of your food and water. Immediately you see their eyes light up, a big smile forms ear to ear and they hug you. It’s a moment you will never forget.

That was my experience in Swaziland.

Imagine getting in a open vehicle before sunrise and heading out on a safari. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first or hundredth because no two will ever be the same. Every second your eyes are moving. It’s an eye workout, looking for what might be hiding in the bush or what might walk out in front of you. Searching for those moments that take your breath away. The sun is now shining and the breeze blows through the vehicle. After hours of searching, spotting and admiring the vast landscape and wildlife that are lucky to call it home you realize how lucky you are. That you just saw monkey + baboon + giraffe + elephant + rhino (black & white) + lion + buffalo + leopard + warthog + crocodile + hippo + zebra + a variety of birds & antelope.

That was me in photography + wildlife heaven in South Africa.

Imagine spending a couple days exploring beautiful Cape Town. You spend another day at Imizamo Yethu Township. It’s here that you see a totally different side of how people are living even though it’s only a short distance from the world famous Hout Bay beaches. When you arrive you are greeted by a local guide who lives in the township. You walk through the vibrant, cosmopolitan and friendly township trying to take it all in. You notice many people still don’t have running water, electricity or sewage.

As you walk by a brother and sister, they eagerly say hi and wave. They ask “will you take my picture and share it when you go home?” You say of course and they can’t stop smiling. You continue walking until a group of kids run up to you, fascinated by what you’re wearing. After lots of questions, they notice the camera and ask if you’ll take their picture and then they all start to pose. You realize how little everyone has yet how happy they are. Happy for every little thing and any interaction.

That was one of my humbling township visits.

I could go on and on, those are just four examples of moments that touched me and experiences I will never forget.

So, does travel really change you?


When I returned home I didn’t feel like myself. I began to crave something more, something new. It seemed like nothing at home had changed. When I came back friends and family said I changed. I wasn’t sure how to take it then but I realize I shouldn’t think of it like a bad thing, whether that’s how it was intended or not. It’s good I’m not the same as when I left. I saw, felt, experienced and learned so much in those few weeks, how could I not change?

You come face to face with things that in an instant change the way you think. Change what you value and your priorities. Change your ideas of living and what it can be. It changes you. And change is not easy but it is good, and necessary.

Africa gave me something so important. It opened my eyes. It gave me some crucial experiences. It made me feel alive. It made me question what I really want to do and where I want to be. It made me have to confront things about myself I had tucked away. Those challenging life lessons that change you deep down, to the core.

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” ― Terry Pratchett

Since that trip I have traveled to Australia + Belize + France + Honduras + Italy + Mexico + Morocco + Portugal (Madeira) + Spain & Canary Islands + Switzerland + United Kingdom (England) + United States.

What I have realized

Travel has made me realize what is really important and not to sweat the small stuff. I have always noticed the little things but now I am truly learning to live in the moment.  It changed my perspective on life. There’s so much to see, experience and be grateful for. Beauty is everywhere and in everything.

I am more brave, confident and independent now. I’m not as shy and will engage in conversations with strangers much easier. It’s made me step outside my comfort zone and be flexible.

One of the biggest things travel has made me realize is that there are a ton of different paths to take in life. Paths like Global Degree. You don’t have to choose the one society has laid out for you. As you go through different stages of life and have new experiences, your focus will change. That’s ok. You’re free to change course at any time and find what makes you happiest. Remember that.

What do you think?

South Africa had a huge impact on me, the kind of change you feel right away. But not every trip necessarily will be like that. Sometimes travel changes us in small ways that stay with us forever. Ways you notice after you’ve returned home.

There is no question in my mind that travel changes you, in some way. It has changed me in ways I never expected.

Did you find yourself nodding along as you read this post? What do you think? Do you agree? How has travel changed YOU? I’d love to hear from you, comment below.

Today’s tidbit
“It’s funny. When you leave your home and wander really far, you always think, ‘I want to go home.’ But then you come home, and of course it’s not the same. You can’t live with it, you can’t live away from it. And it seems like from then on there’s always this yearning for some place that doesn’t exist. I felt that. Still do. I’m never completely at home anywhere.” — Danzy Senna