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Travel stories change what matters to us

February 20, 2011

“Like water slowly cracking rock, stories begin to change what matters to us.”

I believe I have found the reason behind my burning desire to travel the world.

Drink tea and listen to stories

In a comment on the PanAmericans blog we recently talked about how it’s so easy nowadays to reach out to the world without traveling. But to really understand our fabulous world we need stories, real stories. Stories that give us examples on how to live, stories about cultures that we need to understand, stories about fun that we need to make, stories about the challenges that will face us and the lessons we can learn from history.

There are many reasons for people to travel, but for me, story gathering is the undisputable No. 1. I’m not talking stories like comparing the cheapest hotels, but real stories. Real stories that make you wonder, stories that make you want to dig deeper into a yet unknown part of our world.

My blog is a collection of travel stories and I sincerely hope it will evolve into a vivid travelogue with genuine descriptions of places and experiences. This blog will hopefully comfort your soul if you’re afraid to test your travel wings. A collection of passionate stories that will inspire you to visit places that maybe were not yet on your travel top ten list. I am sure all these destinations will provide you with new life-enriching stories.

This is also the reason why we take our children along. We believe travel stories are one of the most important life lessons they can get. These travels are our gift to them.

I want to inspire you to crush that travel fear you might have, and start collecting stories. I can honestly say that the stories of my travels have changed what matters to me, because they taught me what is really important in life. It is not having the biggest car or TV-set, no way. It is all about people, serendipity, fun and cultural differences. The world is an amazing place, a gift waiting to be unwrapped by you.

I challenge you to come with me, sit around the digital fire and tell stories. Are you with me? OK, start with telling me a travel story that changed your life. You can share it in the comment section below but I also want to provide the opportunity of guest posting. Come sit with us around the fire…


From → Observations

  1. This is a very inspiring post Emiel! I personally have not been to many places abroad. But I do have a list of places that I really would love to see. Morocco is now in that list thanks to you. I hope to have the chance to see more of the world and have more stories to tell like yours someday.

    • I am sure you will Tien. Glad to know that my Morocco stories inspired you to visit that country someday! Btw, the man in the picture is also from Morocco…some story-teller he was!

  2. When I was 13, I went on a class trip to Mexico City. It was the first time I saw people living in lean to’s, mother’s sending their children to beg, and absolute squalor. I also climbed the stairs to a pyramid, got stuck in an elevator to one of the tallest buildings in the world (at the time) and watched a donkey drink out of a bottle. It changed my life, my approach to living and my parenting. I learned that a picture IS worth a thousand words, travel is a great educator, and always give thanks for your blessings.

    • Ouiser-san, thanks for sharing one of your childhood memories. Being 13, for sure this trip must have made a big impact on you. I agree with you very much that travel stories make you change your approach to life. I am looking forward to your new post on life-changing Japanese experiences!

  3. So stories lie at the heart of your travels – and thank you for the fear-crushing travel message and link back, Emiel – and stories do warm the heart and do bring back the memories faster than any other way I can think of….
    Here’s one. In Nikko I believe, we were waiting for our train back late in the afternoon. We were happy, giddy, talking, taking photos and still there was no sign of our train. We were wondering why people were so late, and so lazy while we were there first and well ahead of schedule. At the time the train was supposed to arrive, the nice Japanese man that had been looking at us all this time pointed us to the other platform! I can’t tell you the rush with which we packed our stuff and made a dash to the RIGHT Place so we could catch the train. I don’t know why – it just sticks in my mind :)! Ah the memories of Japan….can’t wait to return.

    • Farnoosh,
      stories, big or small, stick in our mind. It’s hard to explain why some stories have more impact than others. It could be anything, even something very small. Maybe for you in Nikko it was the kindness of that Japanese man (I mean, I could mention a lot of places where you certainly would have missed your train because nobody would have helped you), or just being the end of an amazing day. Thanks!

  4. Thanks for calcifying our conversation in an elegant post!

    With Farnoosh I thought I’d add one to the “fireside archive” (whatever that will be):

    While at ASBAC a social club in Brasília, Brazil, I planned to swim at the lap pool, while ladies my wife and friends Andrea and Megan read and sipped cool “capirinhas” (sugar booze and lime juice) by the lake. Or so I thought.

    In Brazil swimming in public requires a medical exam. I went in for the test, showed him my hands, my feet, and pirouetted twice.

    Check. The following question floored me: “where is your sunga (Speedo)”? He said, “You need a sunga to swim here.”

    Was he kidding? In the US we have a name for a guy that haunts pools in Speedos: pedophile.

    I headed to the lakeside, hangdog. I hadn’t swum in months and I wasn’t going to swim today. Nessa saw me, and urged by her friends offered to “switch swimming bottoms.”

    My first thought: not a chance.

    Then I sat and tried to read Real Simple.

    Andrea (friend) saw my long face and said, with no irony, “switching bottoms is true love.”

    I grimaced, turned crimson, and then laughed. I had to swim; I had the pressure of three women. In a moment Nessa and I had switched bottoms. I was wearing a bikini and calling it a sunga.

    I wrapped the sarong around my waist headed back to the med. The orderly asked to see it. And as I slowly unwrapped myself he said, gripping his laughter, “go to the pool, but don’t take off your sarong until you’re there!”

    So I went, ripped off my sarong and jumped in the pool in one fluid motion, the attendants staring, erect, like mere-cats.

    One nautical kilometer later I went back down to the lake, where the ladies were waiting. Nessa refused to give me back my trunks because she didn’t want to wear wet bottoms.

    So there I was. In nothing but a sarong, which I folded around my loins like a diaper. I ordered a Fanta and sat in the shade.

  5. “…my travels have changed what matters to me, because they taught me what is really important in life. It is not having the biggest car or TV-set, no way. It is all about people, serendipity, fun and cultural differences.”

    Though I’ve never really been materialistic, traveling has made me even less so. And though I still have much to learn in life, traveling has taught me some of the most wonderful things. 🙂 My desire and the chance to finally go abroad has led me to where I am today – in Grad school abroad, living in Europe (where the best cheese in the world is made!!), and in love. 🙂

    Thanks always and again for your inspiring posts Emiel!!

    • Michi, I’m happy to learn my posts are such an inspiration for you. I am sure you are living a wonderful life in Spain. And the best of the best cheese is made in….the Netherlands lol

      • You know, funny you mention that. Because D-Man has been trying to convince me to move to Holland for the longest time. If he would have only told me about the cheese long ago!! 🙂
        (The real reason I’m not too convinced is because of the cold weather. But I would be very open to it should the opportunity arise!!!)

  6. Thanks for the link to our article at Rovemag. Like the site, if you are ever interested in a guest post, or featuring one, let me know. (im the editor)

    as for a travel story that changed my life:
    Bolivia, for seven dollars I purchased a bag of coca leaves, a liter of moonshine and two sticks of live dynamite. I will spare you the details of what I did with those items but it just made me realize all the amazing things that you can do in the world, and how over the top we are about safety in North America.


    • Thanks Rovemag Editor!
      You call what you did with two sticks of live dynamite a detail? 🙂
      Thanks for your comment. Please know that I am about to launch my self-hosted site I will move away from
      After that let’s discuss guest posting. It would be great to feature one. Talk to you soon.

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