Revealed! Your 100 Best Moments of 2014 and Our Two Lucky Competition Winners!

Revealed! Your 100 Best Moments of 2014 and Our Two Lucky Competition Winners!

Topics: Competitions

On Christmas Eve, we asked you to share with us your Best Travel Moments of 2014. The response was incredible. From special moments shared with locals, friends and family amidst spectacular landscapes to homecomings, close encounters with nature, solo spiritual moments… and many more!

We discovered that these moments are not just your most memorable travel moments this year, but perhaps some of the most memorable moments of your entire life! Travel is a precious gift that is only available to a lucky few people… one that we must always appreciate and remember. 

Read these special travel moments and be inspired to hitch on that backpack! A world of wonder awaits…

1. LAOS: Riding solo in the back of a pickup truck from Vang Vieng to Kasi Village. (Lynn Keenan)

2. PERU: My best travel moment was the moment when the sun appeared and warmed our cold and aching bodies at Machu Picchu in Peru after completing the five-day trek over the high altitude Salkantay Pass. Rising at 3.15am that morning we were so tired after five days trekking through hail, rain and snow one day, then burning sun the next, through humid jungle and over snowy mountain passes… this moment when the morning sun lit the spectacular scenery all around made it all worth while! (Nikki Scott)

machuThe morning sun creeps over Machu Picchu in Peru

3. USA: Best Travel Moment was when I got to sled like a kid, not in the winter on the snow but in the midst of autumn on the sands at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, USA. It was amazing, because no one could stop us from having fun like kids at the world’s largest gypsum sand dunes, or what I called an ‘adult playground’. (Hadhinah Fawwazah Nasaruddin)

10534059_673824206070028_7465386100760276769_nWhite Sands National Monument in New Mexico, USA.

4. LAOS: I travelled with another backpacker I barely knew through southern Laos… from Vientiane, Pakse then Si Phan Don, to the Four Thousand Islands. The waterfalls there take your breath away – a phrase that is often said by backpackers these days… It’s true, it happens a lot, but rarely does it truly and genuinely give you a kind of peace. It’s what most travellers hope for when we head off with our backpacks. It was at this moment watching the cascading waterfall that I completely fell in love with travel. South East Asia has a lot hidden gems and Laos is one of them. (Madon Padilla)

WaterfallCascading waterfalls of Four Thousand Islands, Laos

5. SRI LANKA: Best travel moment must be the one where my friends and I leaped into the infinity pool that was 1,000 meters above sea level at Madulkelle Eco Lodge at Kandy, Sri Lanka. The weather was a cool 16 degrees Celsius with wind. We almost lost our teeth through the chattering and froze to death! Never will we jump in like that again! But the view was breathtaking… Facing the Knuckles Range Mountains where the sun was peeping through the clouds and lighting up the tea plantation a vivid green. It was amazing. (Yixiu Ng)

6. PORTUGAL: Five years ago I stood on the edge of Cape Spear, the Eastern most point of the North American landscape, and stared out over the Atlantic towards Europe. My girlfriend and I had driven our van across all of Canada to reach that point, living on peanut butter sandwiches the whole way. I promised myself that one day I would stand in Europe, looking back at where I then stood. This year I arrived at Cabo da Roca – the Western most point of the European mainland. I walked out to the furthest edge of the rocks, and looked back across the Atlantic. A lot has happened in those five years, and I am a very different person to who I was at Cape Spear. I sat and meditated, reflecting on everything that has led me to this very point in my life. Standing at Cabo da Roca brought on a fusion of emotions, dreams and aspirations. (Jazza Nomadica)

10868025_10152619577524296_7682349977989707228_nCabo da Roca, Portugal (Western most point of European mainland)

7.  CAMBODIA: My best travel moment in 2014 was at Ta Prohm, part of the Angkor Temple Complex. The temples and sunrise at Angkor Wat were second best, but first best was asking the father of a young monk for a picture with his son. Barely half an hour later the father found me wanting a picture of me with his son for himself. (Shay Perryman)

10882202_833696800009226_4330476133202317474_nTa Prohm Temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia

8. INDONESIA: Seeing Borobodur Temple at sunrise! (Alex Lee)

Borobodur IndonesiaBorobodur Temple, Yogyakarta Indonesia

9. AFGHANISTAN: My best travel moment in 2014 would be crossing Torkham, the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan while having terrible food poisoning. Three hours journey from Peshawar with bad road conditions was really a challenge. Arriving at the border, I met an Afghan family who were kind enough to offer me to stay in their house. I started the trip alone and ended up travelling with people from China, Pakistan and UK. We realized that Afghanistan was such a beautiful country to backpack with very warm and welcoming people. (Wah Harun)

10. INDONESIA: My best travel moment was in February 2014 in Yogjakarta, Indonesia, when one morning I woke up in my hostel to a strange orange sky and everything looked like it was covered in snow. It turned out that Mt. Kelud Volcano erupted and during the night everything was covered in volcanic ash. The next day I spent walking around in the ash (with a protective mask of course – the locals were handing them out to tourists as if it was an everyday occurrence). Airports closed and many people got trapped for a few days. It was rather unreal! (Nori Sleepysun)

IndonesiaAfter the volcano eruption in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

11. INDIA: My best travel moment was climbing the clouds to breathtaking Sikkim, North India where I had my first serving of momos, my first contact with Tibetology in Rumtek Monastery, and my first experience getting lost in the foggy Temi Tea Gardens. I could have spent hours admiring the mountains and watching the colorful prayer flags fluttering in the breeze. It was a purely spiritual experience. (Ossama Zoubaïri)

india

12. AUSTRALIA: Driving with three young kids up from Perth to Exmouth. (Thomas Gosewinkel)

*** WINNER! ***

13. MALAYSIA: Borneo. I was staying at the Sepilok Jungle Resort which is next door to the orangutan rehabilitation centre. I’d spent the afternoon in the pool because I’d heard that one of the released orangutans had been seen there the day before. It came time for the pool to close and no sign of the orangutan. Disappointed, I returned to my room to change before heading to the cafe for dinner. I was on my computer backing up photos when I saw movement in my peripheral vision next to me. An orangutan lent over me and stole my juice! You can see him taking a sip in the photo (another cafe patron captured the moment for me). He took me by surprise, scaring the hell out of me! I spent the next 15 minutes in hysterical giggles until the shock wore off. (Allyce Smith)

MalaysiaSepilok Jungle Resort, Borneo, Malaysia

14. THAILAND: My best travel moment was when my friend and I travelled into the highlands of Sun Din Dang Chomtong District in Chiangmai province in Thailand. We could not go by car as the road is very difficult and only motorcycles could pass this way… All the way along we had to ask people which way to go as there were many paths leading off in different directions. Eventually, we came across a small Karen people’s village in the middle of nowhere which felt like we had stepped back in time. (Somkid Saengchan)

motorbikeOff the beaten track in the Sun Din Dang Chomtong region, Chiang Mai

15. BALI, INDONESIA: My best travel moment was when I travelled in Bali from Lovina, Singaraja to the middle of the island (Lake Buyan) by motorbike with my boyfriend. The very small road was surrounded by tropical green plants, of which the only one I recognised was the banana plant. There was only one path to get there and no other people. It was very cold and you could hear the wind whispering into to your ears and rubbing your cheeks. There were foggy cliffs all around and it was almost too steep for one motorbike with two humans, three backpacks and a plastic bag of laundry clothes! I’m pretty sure no other traveller had been there recently, since the locals that we met (picking up fruits from the trees) looked so amazed to see us. At the end of the day, I learned just how getting lost could teach us to see things in a different perspective… and I’m not afraid to get lost again. (Lutfianna Fatma Dewi)

16. INDONESIA: Every traveller dreams about finding the perfect spot somewhere off the beaten track. To me there is no other place like Derawan, where turtles outnumber people. The tiny, immaculately clean village welcomes travellers with open arms. After getting up and watching sunrise from your stilt-house balcony, you jump into tranquil and crystal-clean turquoise water to hang out with as many turtles as you can imagine and then snorkel around breathtaking reefs. Then, you can stretch out on the empty beach; listen to the sound of palm trees rustling in the wind, and wait for an extraordinary sunset over the ocean. (Beata Ulman)

turtleDerawan, Indonesia

17. CAMBODIA: My best travel moment was definitely watching the performance at Phare, The Cambodian Circus in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The artists are insanely talented and are a living, breathing, somersaulting example of the revival of the arts and culture in the beautiful country following their tragic past. All the performers come from incredibly difficult social and economic backgrounds and have transformed their lives through art! Amazing show! (Emily Martin)

social2The Cambodian Circus in Siem Reap

18. INDONESIA: While traveling alone through Asia I met an Italian guy on a boat in Indonesia. We connected in a way that doesn’t happen often. We decided to take two motorbikes and explore Flores for a week. He had a plane to catch right after that. We slept in the jungle next to a waterfall and later that week next to a hotspring. We discovered traditional villages up in the mountains, climbed a volcano, celebrated Independence Day with the locals, and found our own private white beaches where no tourist had set foot on before. In the end it was all so amazing, even when I crashed the motorbike… and he changed his flight, so the 7 days turned into two weeks. He was the best travel mate I’d had and two of the most amazing weeks of my life. We will do it again next year, and for longer then two weeks. (Emi Lie)

19. MYANMAR: It all begins with one moment… I was lost on a motorbike in Bagan, Myanmar and started a conversation with some local people. All of a sudden I was invited for a wedding. At this wedding I met the nephew of the bride, Sheintu, who over the next few days, showed me amazing spots of Bagan and brought me to the ‘Sunset Temple’. It was here that I met two monks on a pilgrimage from Siem Reap, Cambodia. We shared many stories and watched the sunset. They asked me if I could deliver a letter to their friend in Siem Reap. A month later in Siem Reap I visited their friend, Sorn another monk at the monastery and handed him the letter. I spent the whole day with Sorn, monks are officially not allowed to take tourist/backpackers around however I was already considered as a friend. We went to an NGO where I ended up volunteering for a month. At this place I made many friends, made unforgettable memories and had one of the best experiences of my journey through Asia. If other backpackers ask me for recommendations, I always give the same response and say that you the most precious moments come from the unknown, from the moment of getting lost! (Wesley Verhoeven)

MyanmarBagan, Myanmar

20. BOTSWANA: In July 2014, I was on a boat in Chobe National Park in Botswana and I saw elephants crossing the river two metres in front of me. There were about 30 of them crossing the river linking tails in trucks – like a daisy chain of elephants. So amazingly beautiful! (Laura Kitschke)

BotswanaChobe National Park, Botswana

21. INDIA: My best travel moment was when I went for a mountaineering course for 26 days to Sonamarg (Jammu & Kashmir). I went to a totally unknown place, for a unknown adventure with unknown people. All of this, I did to know myself… what an awesome trip! (Ankur Pathak)

22. CARIBBEAN: Each year (and in fact, each moment) is adventurous and incredible in one way or another. This year took us from Mexico to Belize to Grenada to the southern Caribbean island chain of the Grenadines, and finally, back to Mexico! One of our top moments during this journey was island hopping around Union, Palm, Mayreau and the Tobago Cays! This is the part of the world where The Pirates Of The Caribbean was filmed. We sailed all day over the impossibly clear waters, stopping to snorkel with green turtles, sharks and rays. We lay on our backs floating in complete ecstasy in the calm waters, totally in awe of where in the world we were. It was one of our most memorable days in all of our years of travel. (Goats On The Road)

CaribbeanIsland hopping in the Caribbean – Union, Palm, Mayreau and Tobago

23. MALAYSIA: During my medical electives in Borneo, I had the opportunity to visit Sabah. The islands, the rainforest, the city and the mountains are located near each other – my friend and I went snorkeling and ziplining at Gaya Island in the morning, had lunch at Kota Kinabalu city then admired beautiful flowers at the Kinabalu Park in the afternoon. The most memorable thing about this trip was the 13-hour bus journey from Miri, Sarawak when we gained 10 passport stamps along the way! There was no direct (Malaysian) route so the bus had to pass through Brunei twice. (Anati Zulkifli)

24. THAILAND: One of my favourite experiences throughout Thailand was visiting the Elephant Nature Park outside of Chiang Mai. It is a true sanctuary, where rescued elephants can live their lives peacefully. The woman who created this park, Lek, yelled out some sort of call, and three elephants turned and instantly began coming towards us. Once they reached us they surrounded Lek and wrapped her up in their trunks, in a great big elephant hug. It was amazing to see that even after all their suffering they were able to forgive humans, knowing they could trust and love Lek. (Cerr Heron)

elephantsElephant Nature Park, Chiang Mai, Thailand

25. USA: After a 13-month round the world backpacking trip, I decided it was time to go home. With my flight back booked and my backpack in the boot of sone guys car, I embarked on my last adventure to Yosemite. I was truly stunned by the sheer beauty as we drove past breathtaking mountains – I cried! With only hours to spare before my flight departed I decided to change my flight home (much as it saddened my family) and set off on a road trip up the west coast to Vancouver… We stopped on our way up at Clear Lake for the night. We stumbled upon a playground at the foot of the lake and slid down slides and swung high on swings like little kids, me screaming and laughing like I couldn’t believe. As the sun set we retired to our lakeside cabin and gazed up at the moon and stars and the mountains in the distance while we marinated in a hot tub. I lay in the water so grateful to be there in that moment, so connected to the universe (albeit in a hot tub under the stars with a few beers in me!) and so unbelievably happy and blessed to experience one more spectacular travel adventure and natural beauty… I was so proud of myself for losing my flight to be there in that one magnificent moment when there was nothing but me, silence and nature… And friends to share the moment with. (Rosina Majid)

26.  MYANMAR: My best travel moment of 2014 was riding off-the-beaten track with my motorcycle driver on the rural road from Monywa to Amyint in a remote part of Myanmar. It was raining a little, and the road was quite bad. But the view of surrounding fields and hills was beautiful. Suddenly, the rain stopped and I saw this rainbow – remembering that it had been a very long time since the last time I saw a rainbow back home. Now, was seeing this one, in the middle of nowhere in Upper Myanmar – it was an incredible feeling! (Williandry Bahrun)

Myanmar 2Driving off the beaten track from Monywa to Amyint, Myanmar

27. ENGLAND: I’ve had a number of incredible travel moments in 2014, but the best has to be meeting my Mum at London Heathrow after 18 months of being on the road. I fall in love with new destinations all the time, but at the end of the day home is where you’re Mum is, right? (Samantha Starling)

homeAirport reunions can be very special moments indeed!

28. CAMBODIA: My best travel moment of 2014 was one of the best moments of my life. I was visiting a solitary temple in Angkor Wat with no other tourists around. It was a sunny day but suddenly – as it always happens there – it started raining. A classic shower in the middle of the morning. No umbrellas for me and my friend, so we wore our raincoats and continued walking around the ruins. The rain covered our voices and the atmosphere was deeply magic. Then, we heard laughing behind the trees. There were three children, I think they were 8 or 9 years old; they came out from the forest and started to dance, to laugh in the rain. Me and my friend were amazed by such a grace. Was this a sort of dream? The rain created music and they were enjoying it listening the sound of Nature and dancing to her notes. I took my camera and I shot just two photos, just to be sure this moment was true and my mind wasn’t confused. This is a moment that is fixed in my brain and I can’t avoid a big, sincere smile everytime I think about it. Cambodia gave me one of the best moments of my entire life. (Marco Ferraro)

CambodiaRain showers at Angkor Wat temples, Siem Reap, Cambodia

29. SPAIN: My best travel moment of 2014 was the day I finished my Camino De Santiago. The walk taught me so much about myself and the world around me that I didn’t know. The moment of walking into the city of Santiago De Compestela and completing my walk was not just my best travel moment of the year it was one of the best moments of my life. (Henry Blinoff)

SpainIn Santiago de Compostela, Spain

30. INDIA: My best travel moment was seeing the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. I was stunned. I was moved. I’ve been reading about it since I was a kid, and seeing it in real life, was actually a dream come true. It was so beautiful that I just sat down on one of the benches and just beheld it for minutes. My jaw dropped – I couldn’t believe I was face to face with the world’s most beautiful building – I had goosebumps. The history of the place made it even more fulfilling. I will never forget that moment – witnessing a piece of history that tells so much just by looking at it. (Regin Reyno)

31. PHILIPPINES: On my way from the island Coron to El Nido. Most people recommend to take an airplane… I decide to experience the eight-hour boat trip. No sooner had I started the journey that I began to regret my decision: the waves reached a dangerous height, people started vomiting and I tried to concentrate on the hardly visible horizon. The crew looked worried – this was not a good sign. We start to approach land and a crew member points at an island: “That’s where we’re gonna sleep tonight”. Our castaway island turned out to be a paradise and gave me an incredible travel moment! That night, we ate rice with our hands from banana leaves, drink coconut water, sat at the fire and enjoyed this unique situation until we left early the next morning… (Laura von Gossler)

PhilippinesJust one of the 7,107 paradise islands in the Philippines

32. GHANA: I spent two months volunteering in Ghana this summer –  the country and people are amazing to say the least! I worked with a school and clinic delivering education and medical relief to the poorest rural communities. Extremely humbling to work with such inspiring people. (Kayleigh Richardson)

GhanaWorking at a school and clinic in Ghana

33. INDIA: After weeks of ‘couch (floor) surfing’ in India I was still over budget. Then, I met a Punjabi girl from a super wealthy caste. After a few days we hooked up… I told her I planned to travel to Rajasthan. She wanted to come, but as she was a girl in her mid-20’s her mother would only allow it if we had a private driver and stayed in 5 star hotels… all while her out-of-the-country father unknowingly paid for it all. You never know when your luck will turn around while traveling. Thanks Papa, you saved my trip! (Cam Hansell)

1510818_10152529700116200_4641545567183606822_nRajasthan, India

34. THAILAND: My best travel moment of 2014 was floating down a river in Chiang Mai on a raft made of bamboo, we were almost at the end when we turned a corner and, there were baby elephants playing in the water who upon seeing us decided to spray us with water from their trunks. (Dani Fromme)

ElephantsElephants in Chiang Mai, Thailand

35. THAILAND: My favourite travel moment of 2014 was travelling with some of the best people I know all the way to Chiang Mai, Thailand from Denali, Alaska. We were all sitting down by the river during Loi Krathong Festival in November watching all of the lanterns in the sky, the boats in the water, and the thousands of truly amazing people surrounding us. Our friends had just gotten engaged after sending a lantern up into the sky. In that moment I understood that no matter what you do in life the only thing that matters is the journey and who is by your side. (Megan Wag)

10858613_876574525695134_4599030943464963258_n

36. SRI LANKA: My favourite moment of travelling this year had to be climbing to the top of the ancient palace Sigiriya in Sri Lanka and enjoying the spectacular views whilst walking around the ancient palace. Sri Lanka was an amazing place to visit and I’ll definitely return one day! Amazing people, culture, sites and food well worth a visit! (Jenn Jones)

10857935_10153059406883394_3846683332194955225_nThe views from the top of Sigiriya in Sri Lanka

*** WINNER! ***

37. ON THE ROAD: I recently lost my Father to a long struggle with a devastating form of dementia. He was my best friend. We never had an opportunity to share in my passion for travel. This photo was taken about a week into me returning to doing what I love and living out of my backpack. It is said that light orbs (towards bottom left) are forms of energy presenting themselves and watching over you. I choose to believe that it was my Dad watching over me and sharing this beautiful moment from the universe. it was a special feeling getting to share that with him. (Rory Chappelle)

UniverseSharing a special moment with a loved one

38. THE SEA: My lovely four-month old son, touching the sea with his tiny feet for the first time. (Marry Hilt)

39. CAMBODIA: My best travel moment of 2014 was a boat trip from the remote and undeveloped Island of Koh Rong off the coast of Cambodia. I spent the day with people from different countries but who will be life long friends and we went snorkeling, fishing, watched an amazing sunset and swam with fluorescent plankton after dark. It was unbelievable! (Mark Cox)

10406857_10152575851963977_7975201097619471029_nViews from the island of Koh Rong, Cambodia

40. CAMBODIA: My best travel experience would have to be my one month solo backpacking trip in Cambodia and Vietnam, which I found extremely liberating, especially being from the Philippines, where people believe that it is too dangerous for a girl to travel alone! One of my best moments was my solo tour around the Angkor temples with just a bicycle, plus my hangover with “happy” pizza, I even got lost going back to my hostel as well! It was just a really insane experience which helped me to broaden my horizons and realize that this world is really big and needs to be explored more! (Krista Medina Umandap)

41. SOUTH PACIFIC: When the ship pulled away from the dock on my first cruise – seven nights in the beautiful South Pacific Islands. (Evelyn Beckett)

42. BALI, INDONESIA: My husband, two kids and I took a year off to travel through South East Asia during 2013-2014. One of the most amazing experiences was walking on the beach in Ahmed, Bali as the sun set behind the volcano. As we walked in the waves the fishermen tended to their boats, we collected sea glass. A enthusiastic group of local kids joined us and became excited to join in the hunt. Eventually a pack of nearly twenty kids was excitedly searching for glass and bringing their gifts to us. I will treasure these precious gifts and the memories for life! One kid shared his guitar with only 5 strings with me and enthusiastically cheered my mediocre skills as my kids played soccer with a pack of shirtless local kids. Such a treasure indeed! (Katie Patterson Wolf)

43. NEPAL: Six months ago, I quit my eight-year job to travel with my boyfriend. While some travel to look for themselves or to feel alive inbetween the commute from one’s home to the office, we decided to find out who we are as a couple. True enough, we stumbled upon pieces of ourselves slushing in the muddy tracks of the Annapurna Circuit Trek, hiding inbetween the cracks of the rooms we slept in, tucked in the layers of cotton and wool that protected us from the cold, spanning the distances between each footstep as we slugged towards the pass, and in between the short breaths we took as we made our way back to the comfort of a hotel. This is my greatest travel moment; to find that the world is big, and while we are small… we are together. And together, we can make achieve great things… (Monette Fernandez)

10806220_10152923916979598_6063131958564230142_nThe high Thorong La Pass on the Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

44. ITALY: My best travel experience was a European Cruise in May 2014, traveling five countries, including the beautiful Greek island, Ephesus. Man, did I ever think that I would be stunned and surprised and get proposed to on the Spanish Steps in Rome!  Always the one to be skeptical of the ‘teary eye’ scene, until I was standing in those shoes! Now, I can ramble all day about the proposal and the whole trip… it was definitely my best travel moment of 2014! And that cruise was Epic! (Lyndsay Anne)

10868230_10205827021023123_4407461684880652267_nBeing proposed to on the Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy

45. CAMBODIA: I had the best travel moment while enjoying the sunset overlooking Tonle Sap River in Phnom Penh back in August 2014. I remember sitting on the bench overlooking the river with my travel buddy. A friendly Cambodian then approached trying to sell drinks. I bought a soda and before he went off, he told me that one day he would love to visit my country as a tourist himself. To hear that from a hardworking lower income guy, it made me realize how lucky I was to be able to come to another country and learn about life from a different perspective. That was a small precious moment that I had while travelling. (Nazrin Ariffin)

1477969_10202238365199367_1134565009545768298_nTonle Sap Riverside, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

46. VIETNAM: Our best moment happened just two days before Christmas. After riding our motorcycles for seven months in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, clocking up more than 14,000km, we finally pulled into the serene town of Phong Nha and parked our bikes for the last time. Our motorbikes, Gonzo and Disco, had taken us to some of the most captivating places SE Asia has to offer, and through the best and worst times travellers could ever experience. From isolated villages to bustling cities, over mountain passes and across rivers, modern highways to washed out dirt tracks, remote border crossings and security checkpoints… Not a single accident, not one ‘fine’ or bribe to pay, not even a breakdown. Incredible. Now the time has come to hang up our helmets for a few months, and reflect on our epic motorbike adventure. Who knows what unexpected journeys 2015 will take us on? (NOMADasaurus)

motorbikesTravelling South East Asia by motorbike – the best way to do it?

47. LAOS: Sitting in a remote village in northern Laos where only 30 families lived and which could only be accessed by fishing boat – we were all of a sudden surrounded by shy, but curious children watching our every move. Grabbing temporary canadian tattoos and putting them on the 35+ children and watching their faces shine was the moment of my trip that I cherish the most. After very slowly gaining each and everyones trust, we were invited to play ratan ball and boy, which the kids were amazing at! It didn’t hurt being invited by the parents for some Lao Lao, rice wine and a home cooked meal afterwards. (Elin Davies)

48. FINLAND: Our moment just happened two days ago on Christmas Eve. We witnessed the elusive and mesmerizing Aurora Borealis literally on the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi, Finland. There was a 90% chance that we would not to get to witness the lights due to cloud cover in December, but we packed our bags and headed to the Arctic Circle anyways. We were staying in an Igloo Hotel when the lights began to dance… Words cannot describe – the picture says it all! Best moment of 2014, perhaps of our lives. (Katie Collins Bray)

10520917_10103693476899532_5599680486246233562_nAurora Borealis on the Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi, Finland

49. THAILAND: Hands down my best travel moment of 2014 was camping out on Laem Sala Beach in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, Thailand. Spending a few nights away from buckets and ear-shattering house music was a great change of pace! The only down side was sleeping in a questionable tent with no pillows or padding! However, being able to make a campfire with friends, waiting for an incredible sunrise, made it well worth it. Oh, I almost forgot, camping out allowed us to see the Phraya Nakon Cave Temple (definitely look it up!) before the long-tail boats unloaded hoards of tourists. (Mike Scaturo)

10888436_10203316809105942_2384111081790377369_nKhao Sam Roi Yot National Park, Thailand

50. THAILAND: My best travel moment was actually in Thailand on New Year’s Eve in Pai! Lanterns literally filling the sky, fireworks, great vibe, great people, fire at the circus school, a moment in time that I hold dear to my heart! I love SEA! (Allison Durocher)

Pai Circus SchoolAt Pai Circus School for New Year 2014

51. THAILAND: I went to Thailand for the first time, solo, in November and was incredibly nervous for the Full Moon party. However, I LOVED it! I danced all night, met some amazing people and watched the sun rise on Had Rin Beach in the morning. I got back to my resort at 4pm the next day! There are no words to describe what this night was to me – so many emotions – all from the happy range! Such amazing vibes… I cannot wait for my next FMP! (Emma Sowerby)

Full moon party morningThe morning sun rise on Hat Rin Beach, after the Full Moon Party

52. HOME: My favourite travel moment in 2014 was returning home with a fresh perspective after backpacking solo for two months. While there were many breathtaking moments on the trip that I value, I think the personal benefits of travelling are so long lasting and valuable to see your home in a new light. At home, I usually had “grass is greener on the other side” mentality, but now I notice that there are wonderful opportunities to explore every day. The whole world is amazing, and can be enjoyed for more than just a few weeks of vacation a year. (Evan Creighton)

53. MYANMAR: My best travel moment was a trip to the Chin villages of Mrauk U in Myanmar as I was welcomed by hundreds of children running on the river side and waving to the handful of tourists passing by. An unspoiled gemstone which will hopefully remain in this state. (Probably not if people like me drum up business!). (Teddy Eigelb)

10891590_10152447950425826_241870663335001669_nThe Chin villages of Mrauk U in Myanmar

54. VIETNAM: Sweat poured down my face and my chest heaved as I dragged myself up the steep hill. Reaching the top we turned to see the most breathtaking view. Rice fields clung to the sides of mountains, water buffalo grazed in paddies on the valley floor and interspersed here and there were simple wooden houses. My eyes couldn’t absorb it all, we sat there gazing across the valley, nothing to measure time other than the bright sunshine turning to a hazy afternoon glow. Somewhere nearby children shouted joyously as they played. The journey to Sapa, Vietnam had not been easy but it was worth it. (Chloe Perkins)

55. VIETNAM: I actually got stitches from an Aircon Panel falling on my face in Vietnam (while I was in bed…) so I wore a bandaid in between my eyes for the whole trip. it sounds like a terrible travel experience but we made the best out of it. After doing the typical South East Asia route, people would come up to me and say “you’re bandaid girl, right?” I was like uhhh..? And people would say “Oh, we’ve heard all about you! You had the aircon panel fall on your face!” It was nice to feel like a legend! (Jenn Malka)

56. THAILAND: Teaching these lovely children in Thailand over the summer was definitely my best travel moment. To see how enthusiastic and thankful they are about learning new things is extremely heart warming. It is a time I will treasure in my heart forever! TAKE ME BACK! (Jemma Marl)

MonksSometimes the best moments are giving something back!

57. BALI, INDONESIA: Last year I was backpacking in Taipei and played ‘cards against humanity’ with some guy in my hostel. I had to leave the next day and never spoke with him again. After being home for a year I travelled to Ubud, Bali where I met the same guy again and we played it again. I realized at this moment that the world is incredibly small! (Robin van den Berg)

58. THAILAND: This year I went to Chiang Mai, Thailand to catch the Yee Peng Lantern festival. The moment when everyone let their lanterns go, the sky was definitely a sight to see! Beautiful golden lights slowly ascending up making the dark sky looking brighter than ever. It was amazing. On top of this, I met awesome people who told me incredible life stories and the food I tried there, is still something I crave today! I went home realising that I had left a piece of my heart with the place and people of Chiang Mai. (Teeba Baskaran)

59. THAILAND: My best travel moment was learning how to drive a motorbike in Pai, Thailand. I spent ten days driving through the villages and seeing beautiful mountains and the amazing view points. Still when I think of Thailand, immediately Pai comes to mind. Never felt more alive and free than I did getting lost and feeling the warm sun on my back and the wind through my hair. Not to mention the great people there. While I was there I was given a free hotel, free fruit, and a free meals. My heart strings pull every time for Pai. (Crystal Rush)

Pai countrysideThe beautiful countryside around Pai, Thailand

60. BALI, INDONESIA: I was hiking to the top of Mount Batur in Bali, Indonesia. We partied the night before (as you do) and we never actually made it to sleep that night. The hike began at 2am and seemed like the worst idea in the world. It was cold, dark and we had no idea what we were getting into. All I wanted to do was sleep my hangover off. After a long, few hours of hiking we finally made it to top just in time for sunrise, right as the skies opened up and the clouds cleared. I’ll never forget the sheer magnitude of that view and how accomplished I felt. (Julia)

61. NORTH KOREA: One of my best travel moments of 2014 would have to be during a group tour with Young Pioneer Tours in DPRK (North Korea). We were walking through a very beautiful park in Pyongyang during the Kim Il-Sung’s birthday celebrations. We joined a few large groups of koreans for some beer and music and were quickly dragged into the crowd where the older men and ladies were almost fighting to get the next dance. A lot of laughs and good times that day in the park in one of the strangest countries in the world. (Joel)

62. THAILAND: My best travel moment has to be my first dive with my boyfriend, Chase, once he got certified with Roctopus Dive in Koh Tao, Thailand. (Charla Allyn Hughes)

1508604_10100242410414465_2070387871423714354_nGetting your underwater license Koh Tao, Thailand

63. INDIA: My best travel moment of 2014 was when I visited the Golden Temple in Amritsar India. I almost give up getting the visa to India because it wa but I did not mind the hussles when I saw the place. It was really magnificent and you can really feel the spiritual emotions that surrounds the temple. India is really a truly beautiful place I visit.Planning to come back soon. (Claudette)

64. THAILAND: In February I went to Koh Si Chang with five of my friends from Bangkok. For a large part of the trip we were typical farangs drinking beer and playing on the beach, however we did clean up our act once. Koh Si Chang has the only copy of Buddha’s footprint that exists in the nation of Thailand, and it’s located towards the top of the tallest peak on the island; admittedly, we wanted to check out the beautiful views, but also thought it’d be cool to see the footprint. When we arrived we first enjoyed the view and were taking photos, but soon enough curiosity got the better of us and we ventured closer to the actual footprint to see it ourselves. It was at the point that a monk emerged from behind the back of the gazebo. Startled, we all jumped back away from the footprint and quickly started giving very deep and respectful wais. In broken English, the monk explained that he had hid when we approached because he was worried that we were stupid farangs who would disrespect Buddha’s footprint, and he didn’t want to witness it. However, since we were so respectful and understand and Buddhist (and Thai) culture, he wanted to do something special for us; additionally, there were six of us, and six is a lucky number in Buddhism. He brought us alongside the footprint and had all six of us sit down. He proceeded to bless us each individually, and splashed us with his water. He gave us each a prayer bracelet and an amulet which he said we should carry at all times for good luck. I still wear both the bracelet and the amulet even though we’ve been back in the US since July. I know many people say they have met monks in their travels, though I feel that it was an incredibly special moment to be among friends in the sunshine on the tallest peak of a mountain next to Buddha’s footprint and be blessed by a monk who was truly impressed by us. (Chase Berenson)

koh si changThe view from Buddha’s footprint, Koh Si Chang

65. USA: Kayaking down the Green River in Utah. It was the heat of the summer, surrounded by desert cliffs with no one around for miles. It got so hot that we decided to strip down and kayak down the next set of rapids in the nude. Such a liberating feeling! (Ryan)

66. CAMBODIA: My best travel moment of 2014 was when we got soaked in the rain while dragging our feet through every corner around the Angkor Wat on a random October afternoon. As the rain ended, we saw a rainbow cast over Angkor Wat with the sun about to set right before our eyes only a few minutes later. Truly it was a moment of time that made our entire backpacking experience worthwhile. (Ramon)

67. INDIA: Jogging at 8am in the morning at Palolem Beach in Goa, the same beach where Jason Bourne was jogging at the beginning of the second Bourne Movie! India is such an amazing country and worth every minute you spend in it! (Bert)

68. INDONESIA: One of my best travel moments of 2014 was in Indonesia as a 19-year old female solo traveler. I traveled to Java, Bali, Lombok and Sumbawa, slept in local people houses, learnt about new cultures, met new people and friends on the road.  My favorite moments were when I was alone with nature. I saw the sunrise over hill, jumped off the cliff into the ocean, snorkeled on a virgin island. No Wifi, no stress, just happiness. (Resha)

cliff jumpingAt one with nature – cliff jumping in Indonesia

69. VIETNAM: My best travel moment of 2014 was in central Vietnam spending the afternoon with a demolitions team from Project RENEW. I got to see live cluster munitions and UXOs found in a field just a few meters away from a family’s home. After leaving the field and getting a safe distance away, the team cleared the area and safely detonated the UXOs. Even though they were covered by sandbags, the explosion was powerful enough to feel from across the road! The people who do this dangerous work every day are heroes! Seeing those cluster munitions in person and so close to someone’s home was horrifying… but meeting people who risk their own safety for the sake of others was so inspiring and gave me so much hope! (Emma)

70. THAILAND: My best travel moment of 2014 was in Nakhon Chaisi in Thailand at Wat Bang Phra temple. My friend and I were blessed by Master Luang Pi Nunn for three consecutive days. It was indeed a magical experience! Getting three Sak Yant Tattoos and knowing the meaning of each yant back home was such a rewarding feeling. I experienced vulnerability, trust and total surrender in the whole process. I will never forget my Wat Bang Phra experience and my magic tattoos are my constant reminders. I believe in magic! (Jo Ann Gamba)

Monk Tattoo Sak YantA Sak Yant – ‘magic tattoo’ given by a monk in Thailand

71. MYANMAR: My best travel moment occurred in a playground with Burmese children near Friendship Bridge, whilst I was waiting on my new visa. They were so excitable and even merrier when I pulled out a bag of crisps. Barely enough to go around but I managed to give them all one. My moment, made my day. (Charmaine)

72. VIETNAM: My $70 USD Vietnamese motorcycle died in the clouds between Nha Trang and DaLat. With a week of motorcycle experience, I was stranded on a mountain in rural Vietnam. From there I hitchhiked 25 miles to the next small town, hired a driver to bring me back to my bike, picked up the bike, and brought it back to town. Then I used my Passport as leverage to borrow money from a Vietnamese man for repairs. Not 15 minutes out of the repair shop my horn became jammed and blared the next 40 miles to Dalat. Life is wonderfully entertaining on the road. (Michael)

73. NORTH KOREA: My best travel moment was I went to North Korea in September 2014. As a student I made a big decision because it was so expensive and the process was quite challenging for me… I had to book through a tour company as this is the only way to travel to North Korea. My birthday is in September, and it was my the best birthday ever! (Relinda Puspita)

North KoreaPerhaps the strangest place for a best travel moment – North Korea

74: THAILAND: My best travel moment in 2014 was a week ago when I was hitchhiking through southern Thailand. I made over 550 km from Ranong to Hat Yai in one day, but unfortunately I was dropped from the last car after sunset and still on the highway, 10km from the town. It started raining heavily, I was soaking wet and completely hopeless. Suddenly, a motorbike with a side car full of baskets with fish stopped and the street vendor urged me in Thai to jump in. At first I declined but few moments later I was sitting on top of fish pile on my backpack – (it stinks to this very day) – speeding on a highway in a tremendous rain! (Jan Jakub)

75. SCOTLAND: Walking the West Highland Way with my bestie in Scotland over the summer without it raining once, the locals said we must have been touched. It was during the Commonwealth Games and in the run up to the devolution election, so the atmosphere of the villages and towns we stayed at were electric. With the stunning scenery and warm friendly locals, it was a last minute holiday that we’ll never forget! (Jonathon Newby)

76. VIETNAM: My best travel moment was when we were lost in the mountains in Vietnam. We went to see a cave by scooter and on the way back we were lost. It’s got dark and cold and petrol was ending, quite scary because there were no houses or people around, and we were in the middle of a National Park. But miracles happens and after long drive we found a little house and with sign language explained that we have no petrol left. The family helped with petrol, so that we could get back to a hotel… We made more than 150 miles and it was such a long day, but a great experience!(Raimonda Untulytė-Vaskiene)

77. NORWAY: My best travel moment was travelling to Norway from Australia to reach the top of the Preikestolen Rock Hike. I was couchsurfing at the military base there in Stavanger and partied all night with officers before still making it up on  one hour sleep! A stranger took this photo of me, found me online and sent it to me a month later. (Lauren Greer)

10868195_10153824945960190_7350171476119815040_nPreikestolen Rock, Norway

78. COLOMBIA: 1200 steps in all. Stone steps, carved into the very heart of the forest. Steps which, I knew, lead to a lost city. A city high in the mountains, almost constantly enveloped in clouds. A once legendary city which had faded into local mythology and finally become little more than an idea, a story to tell children around a campfire. A city which had remained hidden, even from the marauding Spanish hordes, for over five hundred years. The last bastion of a once magnificent civilisation. I began to climb. Forty minutes of hard hiking followed. I slipped often, flailing at tangled vines and spiky undergrowth to break my falls. Drenched with sweat, utterly alone except for the mosquitos, I burst out of the jungle with no warning, the claustrophobic, enveloping canopy simply ended. Huge stone plazas beckoned me forwards. The sun was coming up over a nearby mountain range, casting patterns off of a huge waterfall tumbling to the valley floor. The plazas came alive with a golden hue, the jungle sighed, it was time to begin a new day. All around me, stone structures, mysterious stairs and a huge boulder, used by the Shamans of old to explore the universe, called to me. There was something primal about this place, I half expected King Kong to burst from the undergrowth at any moment, perhaps ridden by a tribe of stone-age warriors. I bent, slowly, to my pack. Drinking deeply from my bottle, filled from a crystal clear stream nearby, I donned my Indiana Jones hat… it was time to go exploring, it was time to discover Ciudad Perdida. (Will Hatton)

ColombiaThe Lost City of Colombia

79. BALI, INDONESIA: My best travel moment from 2014 was my very first day in Bali, Indonesia, where, whilst exploring the maze of streets leading to Kuta Beach, I stumbled across the most amazing indoor-outdoor restaurant that offered ice-cold Bintang beers and literally the best beef satay I have had in my life. I sat there and started reading the first book of my trip for a couple of hours to hide from the heat, and just enjoyed perfect quiet solitude as I watched the hustle and bustle of the busy alleyways outside roll by me. (Millie Long)

Bali

80. BALI, INDONESIA: I like to see the life with kaleidoscope eyes and sometimes to travel to the moon… and beyond. One of these trips was in Kuta, with my soulmate. We ended up on the beach, howling to the moon with a dog who became our guardian – and friend – all night long. We decided to join a group of Indonesian who didn’t speak a word of English, but they shared food and drinks with us. Somehow we communicated with them. The sunrise came and we were still awake in our little room. Sweat, tears, laughs, rap, and a magical and psychedelic night left behind. (Melisa)

81. THAILAND: Five friends and I decided to go backpacking through South East Asia for a couple of weeks. One day, at Koh Phi Phi Don, we went to Monkey Beach, went snorkeling at Phi-Phi Ley Bay, visited Maya Bay… and at the end of the day, as we were headed back home, watched an incredible sunset from the boat. After such a spectacular day, we went swimming in the pitch black ocean with the glowing plankton. Minimal speckles of light that ignite as you move in the black water, illuminating everywhere around you. It was definitely our best moment of the year! (Tiago M.)

KohPhiPhiMonkey Beach, Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

82. EVERYWHERE! My best travel moment is simple. The best thing I did when travelling was meet some of the people who have inspired me and helped me along the way. Whether it was living and working with them abroad or dancing until the crack of dawn. Sometimes the best things are the people you meet along the way. (Katie)

83. WEST PAPUA, INDONESIA: Setting up a recording session for a local tribe in the middle of nowhere with very limited electric power. The session was for ‘IMAX Movie Journey To The South Pacific’ – a very challenging task! Hiking & trekking for four days in and out of the dense Raja Ampat Jungle, up and down mountains and coming across many strange and beautiful things along the way. It was an awesome experience! But perhaps the highlight, was fishing & snorkeling at the most amazing reef of Mayalibit Bay! (Mykee Hadala)

10882242_723380667770010_6913676167089138102_nRainbow at Lopin Lol Mayalibit Bay, Indonesia

84. THAILAND: My best moment was in Lopburi, Thailand. Night trains to Chiang Mai were sold out, so we stayed and went to the only bar open. We listened to owners life story for an hour. He has never left Thailand, but wants to go to Vietnam one day. He fears it’d be too hard as his English is ‘bad’ (I disagree). He was so caring towards every bar guest – I am hoping if he does go to Vietnam he would be treated the same. I left him my email address, if he needs anything. Catching the train later on, it made me think long and hard. Being grateful on the road for the small things is easy to forget. (Jub)

85. PHILIPPINES: At the turn of 2014, I received my first tattoo from Apo Whang-od in the highlands of Kalinga, Philippines. At 96 years old, she is the last keeper of the traditional back-hand tap technique and the only surviving tribal honored mambabatok. It was a grueling 16-hour trip of combined bus rides and trekking through the rice terraces of the North. This ink signified the beginning of redeeming the artist’s life, that I lost to the glitz of the corporate world. It also marked the start of my journey around the world to renew my commitment to living life without regrets. (Potpot Pinili)

86. INDONESIA: My best travel moment this year has got to be in Yogyakarta. I was there when Mount Kelud erupted and the whole city was covered in volcanic ash. Flights were grounded and I was pretty much stuck there. For the next few days, I ventured to the locals’ homes where everyone was trying to clean up. They were more than amused to see a tourist around and I loved how they welcomed me with their smiles even though I didn’t speak their language. Here’s a photo of some local boys taking a break from the cleaning. (Lee Ying Hao Shaun)

10891765_10152728144909055_8164289503267684991_nCleaning after the eruption of Volcano Kelud in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

87. LOMBOK, INDONESIA: My best travel moment of 2014 was when I went to Lombok, Indonesia. Lombok has many beautiful beaches, white sands, amazing underwater views, but the famous Gili Trawangan is a true paradise island! Lombok it’s located in Nusa Tenggara Barat, Indonesia. (Vini Agustina)

10394828_10152780649462745_7437037864524232147_nWelcome to the island of Gili Trawangan!

88. NEW ZEALAND: One of the best moments of my journey in 2014 was when I walked the famous Tongariro Crossing in New Zealand. I started it with an English fellow that I met on the Kiwi-bus (another great experience in New Zealand!). The longer I walked, the more people I had around me. By the end of the day, I walked the track with five other People from all over the world and it was an epic experience. Being on top of this Volcano was the best thing that I have done so far in my life! (Mjay)

89. INDIA: My greatest travel experience to date was when I volunteered in a school in Southern India. After arriving at the school we realised that the school had limited to no access to clean drinking water with children becoming either sick from drinking contaminated water or dehydrated from not drinking enough. The School Principle expressed her desire for the school to have a Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System which would provide the 1800 children of the school with 6.6L of drinking water per day. Our group decided we needed to do something about this so we made a video and a go fund me page and sent it viral to raise funds to purchase the water filtration system for the school. Within a week we raised $6200 AUD to purchase the system, have it installed and to also have it running and maintained for a year. When I presented the money and a certificate to the Principle at the school assembly she burst into tears and hugged me saying she does not know how to thank us enough. Volunteering overseas has been the most amazing experience of my life, I have learnt so much and connected with people in a way I have never done before. (Alana)

India SchoolVolunteering at a school in Southern India

90. MYANMAR: An outstretched hand, an easy smile. He passed me a glass of tea, piping hot, freshly boiled. His saffron robes shone brightly in the sun. He spoke no English, I sure as hell spoke no Burmese. We sat there, in companionable silence, watching the clouds roll over the mountains. The jungle around us teemed with life, it buzzed, clicked and sung. Below us, emerald paddy fields glistened wetly. I could just about make out the hundreds of Buddha statues I had passed on the long climb up to this forgotten monastery perched atop a crumbling cliff, hidden in the clouds. I’ve done many amazing things in my life but one of my most vivid memories is sitting on that wall, a novice monk by my side, drinking tea and soaking in the view. In the word’s of Rudyard Kipling “This is Burma, it is quite unlike any place you know”. (The Broke Backpacker)

BurmaA forgotten monastery high in the misty hills of Burma

91. SLOVAKIA: My best travel moment of 2014 seems quite mundane after having read a few of the previous entries, but I will tell it all the same. Having just finished college, me and a few friends decided to travel around Europe together and have some fun before we all went our separate ways to university, work etc…. We were at a festival in Northern Slovakia and the sun was just going down over some of the most picturesque scenery. So we walked to the edge of the festival site and just sat down and watched the sunset. I looked at my friends and just felt so happy to be with the people I love most in the world. (Torin)

92. ENGLAND: My best travel moment of 2014 was coming back to England after 4 years of being away. I seriously ate my way through the first 4 weeks! Root veggies, beans on toast and HP sauce, bacon sandwiches (and I’m vegetarian!) I really could have kissed the tarmac at Heathrow had it not been for the exit arm that I walked through into the arrivals lounge. Travel is amazing, and coming home can be even better. All the home comforts are much more appreciated now. (Melanie Swan)

HeathrowComing Home! Landing at London Heathrow Airport, England

93. MALAYSIA: My most memorable travel moment was when I went to the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia. We took a boat trip from the pier out to see the rest of the remote islands and had a boat driver who did not speak English. We pulled up in the middle of the ocean because this man knew when the tides were changing and that there was tiger sharks around us. We Jumped in and he pointed to us they were below the boat, they are the most beautiful creatures and to this day I still dream of that first dive in and seeing the colors below the surface. Turtles appeared and we swam along with them,keeping our distance but watching them come up for air! We pulled into a private shore and locals cooked us fish and we listened to the waves crash as we allowed out feet sink into the sand as the sun went down! No wifi, no electricity but just nature and the ocean. (Kathryn Scroope)

Perhentian IslandMalaysia’s beautiful Perhentian Islands

93.THAILAND: My best moment of 2014 was back in August, when I was at Khao Sok National Park in Southern Thailand – sat in a rubber dingy on the lake, sipping on a whiskey and coke. All over a sudden rain started to pour. It was quiet and the clouds lowered – hugging the tops of the cliffs. The rain bounced on the top of the lake like crystals, and the sound was so peaceful. The floating bungalows were bobbing up and down as the sun fell down amongst them. I have never felt so refreshed, and the humidity gave me more warmth inside. It was the most perfect situation. I didn’t know being in the middle of nowhere would be so peaceful and beautiful. It was as if I was in a film, and I had to take every second of the scenery in. (Lucy Wilson)

Khao Sok National ParkThe impressive Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

94. INDIA: Rajasthan. It was a pleasant temperature in the month of March. I went on a backpacking trip, totally unplanned, to reach the city of Jodhpur. The train dropped me in northern Gujarat from where I started the road journey. It was truly amazing! Using local transport was the best part of the trip and the amazing communication I had with locals who gave me restaurant and other recommendations. All the way these lovely people assisted me in my trip and gave meaning to it. The best moment was when I was in the midst of the Aravali Ranges – truly breathtaking view at night as the moon lit the peaks, and gave the earth a beautiful colour. I wish I could travel that part of India again and again. (Kashish Soni)

95. TANZANIA: In Southern Tanzania – not only was this the time that I caught the ‘travel bug’, but the most amazing travel moments took place here. On safari, towards the end of a volunteer trip, we all sat on the roof and watched a family of elephants soaking up the sun. All of a sudden, our truck stalled and jumped forward, frightening the baby elephant. In defense, the large male became angered and began to flap his ears and sound his trunk. As we fought to get back into the truck through the small hatch, the elephant began to stampede towards us as our engine was still failing. Just in time we all got back in and pulled away along the dirt track still being followed. We were all unharmed and the whole surreal happening was caught clearly on video camera. We drove back to camp nervously chatting under a clear, starry and unpolluted night sky. (Sophie Kelly)

96.  ALL SOUTH EAST ASIA: It was the first time for us… backpacking for a long time through South East Asia. The whole 4.5 months were our best travel moments of 2014! From chilling in a hammock to sitting on a never ending bus trip, the beautiful beaches, diving, partying, get to know some great people. I appreciated every single moment and it was the best experience ever that we will never forget. And we did it all together, on the other side of the world. (Jeroen Prins)

hammock

97. GREECE: Travelling alone in Greece. Going to the Poseidon Acropolis and sitting down looking over the ocean to the island where Helen of Troy once stopped to rest and thinking to myself – “life is about this – moments of reflection that one has whilst traveling alone.” (Cris Romero)

98. CAMBODIA: After travelling around SE Asia for the best part of a year one of the experiences that remains so vivid is scooting around the Cambodian countryside, in and around Kampot Province. Riding around the fields, the farmers and the countryside was some of the most picturesque and interesting scenes i’ve been lucky to witness on my travels. Nothing in particular, just several glorious days of everyday Khmer life. (Ben Turland)

Kampot countrysideKampot countryside

98. THAILAND: A special travel moment of this year was eating food at the Buddhist temple in Ranong, Thailand, for the vegetarian festival. It was exciting to witness ritual massages with special massage oil by ‘sorcerers’ who were believed to be possessed, banging gongs and chanting. (Natalie Bocking)

99. PHILIPPINES: My best travel moment in 2014 was when I joined a volunteer work on an island in Cebu and had an overnight camping by the beach. Suddenly, I woke up at 4am with the best scenery I’ve ever seen: stars shining brightly, shooting stars, lightning, the boat and water reflection. I hurriedly grabbed my camera and took a photo. Literally, I was sleeping under a 5-billion star hotel! (Roxanne Tamayo)

philiStarry sky in the Philippines

100. NEPAL: Best travel moment was trekking in the Himalayas in Nepal. Absolutely breathtaking scenery and getting to hike through some remote villages that home some of the nicest and most genuine people in the world. Stopping at houses for tea and food, while chatting with locals. (Daniel Frey)

10836524_10102769617027329_892935183_nTrekking in Nepal

Some interesting insights about your moments!

Most popular countries:

  • Thailand – 18 moments
  • Indonesia – 14 moments
  • Cambodia – 8 moments
  • India – 8 moments
  • Vietnam – 6 moments
  • Myanmar – 5 moments

Most popular places:

  • Bali, Indonesia – 7 moments
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand – 5 moments
  • Siem Reap, Cambodia – 5 moments
  • Yogyakarta, Indonesia – 3 moments
  • Borneo, Malaysia – 3 moments
  • Pai, Thailand – 2 moments

Most popular type of experience:

  • Nature – 39 moments
  • With local people – 33 moments
  • With friends (old and new) – 22 moments
  • Spiritual – 10 moments
  • With a special someone – 8 moments
  • With animals – 6 moments
  • With family – 5 moments
  • Festival / parties – 5 moments
  • Alone – 5 moments
  • Homecomings – 5 moments
  • Getting lost – 3 moments

Other interesting facts:

  • 11 stories about mountain / jungle trekking
  • 1o stories about motorbike riding
  • 10 stories about paradise islands
  • 9 stories feature temples
  • 7 stories feature children
  • 4 stories feature elephants
  • 4 stories about volunteering
  • 3 stories feature monks
  • 3 stories about diving / snorkeling
  • 2 stories about tattoos
  • 2 stories about the same experience – the eruption of Mount Kelud in Indonesia
  • Most popular festival – Loi Krathong in Chaing Mai (2 stories)
  • Most memorable temple – Angkor Wat, Cambodia (5 stories)
  • Strangest country for a ‘moment’ – North Korea
  • 1 moment is at the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan
  • 1 moment is about psychedelic drugs (we think)

Summary:

What is interesting about many of these ‘best travel moments’ is that they were unplanned occurrences – many of them happened spontaneously whilst getting lost, waiting to get a visa, a temple to open, or whilst on a bus or boat journey that ended up lasting much longer than expected…

Many of the moments include a re-connection with nature, a feeling that is sometimes lost in our modern, hectic world. Witnessing a marvel of nature, a gushing waterfall, a herd of elephants crossing a river, an incredible sunset, a starry sky or a school of sharks swimming right in front of you… these moments overwhelm us and make us realise that being at one with earth and nature is something that we easily forget on a day-to-day basis, living in cities or towns.

Finally, and perhaps the most inspiring and heart-warming insight (okay, so we’re getting a little bit emotional – give us a break – it’s Christmas!), is that the majority of the moments were shared with others. Othere being good friends, old or new, foreign backpackers or connections with local people with very different cultures. Travel is often not about the seeing of sights or ticking items off a bucket list, it is about sharing a special moment with a fellow human being – and realizing  that no matter where we come from – we are all the same – in search of love and understanding on this great big beautiful planet.

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