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Three of my favorite travel experiences have also been three life changing moments.

From tomb raiding, sun chasing, partying til dawn, and humbling moments spent delving into other cultures – no textbook in the world could have prepared me for what I’ve learnt on the road. Travel has been the best first hand education. My experiences and those of others I’ve met on the road have molded my memories.

While the past four and a half years of travel have been unforgettable, more than anything they have been life altering. From designer threads to technical travel gear, travel changed me from the inside and out.

I can always find new and exciting places but nothing will ever replace the moments that will stay with me for the rest of my life. This is why for me; my favorite travel memories are the irreplaceable experiences that impacted me forever.

In this special post I am participating in the fun and friendly Blogger Relay hosted by the holiday experts: LowCostHolidays.com.

Go Team RED!!!!!

1. India 2008 – Floating in the Ganges

Aarti Ceremony in Haridwar India

Aarti Ceremony in Haridwar India

My first major international trip was to India in March of 2008. India blew my mind in every way, shape, and form. It’s as if someone lifted a shield from my eyes and shared a world of secrets with me. The people in India unmasked many realities of the world and showed me that there was a higher purpose in life than the one I knew.

One week before my extraordinary time in India was coming to an end, I participated in a rafting trip down the Ganges near Rishikesh. I will never forget the way the sun’s rays illuminated the vehicle as we made our way up to the top of the river. I felt a shining moment of enlightenment. It’s as if everything made perfect sense. I formulated an understanding of life and a new personal plan. Instead of continuing with a job the following month, I was going to give myself a chance to travel and explore the world. After all, how many opportunities of freedom does a person get in their lives? This was mine.

Travel changed my life forever

Travel changed my life forever

As the adventure began and we rode down the level 3 rapids, the adrenalin rush sent my body into a massive high. After a thrilling white water rafting experience, the rapids became gentler and we were given the chance to jump out and swim in the river. I leaped off the raft and into the refreshingly cool water. As I lay there, floating in the Ganges, surrounded by the majestic mountains, I was in an utter state of euphoria. I was a snow angel in the water – a water angel! Everything came together. At that moment I knew there was no going back to my old life. I was going to travel.

2. Vietnam 2010 – the 40 Hour Journey from Vietnam to Laos

Unhappy Travelers on 40 Hour Journey

Unhappy Travelers on 40 Hour Journey

After an incredible but frustrating 28 days in Vietnam, I was desperate to get out of the country as soon as I could. I could no longer wait the additional day to maximize my 30 day visa. I needed out.

I left Vietnam one day earlier than planned. I joined a group of travelers I met previously and arranged to travel with them through Laos. The beginning of our journey together consisted of an epic 40 hour journey crossing the border between Sapa in Vietnam to Luang Prabang in Laos.

Whatever could have happened on this trip – happened. The first van ride from Sapa to the border town in Vietnam alone lasted 17 hours! From flat tires, to only one bathroom break in someone’s backyard, sleeping on the street with 11 other travelers in front of a “bus station kiosk”, we experienced 3 hours of road closures and even shared the ride with a parrot. The most memorable part of this particular trip was an impromptu dinner we had in the middle of nowhere with a feast of food, a house full of locals, and too many rounds of rice wine to remember.

Harry and I Stuck in a Van for 17 hours

Harry and I Stuck in a Van for 17 hours

Without even getting into the details of the second day’s journey from the border town to Luang Prabang it’s sufficient to say that the trip was a circus act. The group of travelers in the van got very close. So close, that two years later I’m still sitting next to the boy from the epic border crossing journey from Vietnam to Laos.

Without one of the best and most chaotic travel memories I’ve experienced, I would never have met Harry Jarvis, a furniture designer from Leeds.

3. Guatemala 2012 – Living in the Remote Jungle in Guatemala for 6 Weeks

A Sad Goodbye

A Sad Goodbye

My 3rd favorite travel memory was this year working in a remote jungle lodge on the Rio Dulce in Guatemala. Harry and I ran and managed a small eco-lodge that was completely water locked on the Lampara River on the Rio Dulce. This work exchange not only gave us excellent experience working in hospitality, it also became one of my most memorable ventures of all time.

Our adventure consisted of starry nights attempting to find constellations, learning how to cook from Candelaria the local Q’ekchi’ woman that worked at the lodge, conversations with intriguing travelers, and riding a kayak for 40 minutes just to get food for the guests! Living in basic conditions with only solar power and no internet, I was cut off from the world and from reality. Due to this isolation in one of the most beautiful settings in the world, I remembered the root of why it was I began to travel in the first place.

Riverfront Lodge Dogs and I

With the dogs at the river front lodge

Traveling has influenced my personal growth in different stages. Having a house, dogs, and responsibility made me realize how much I yearn for stability at this point in my life. While I’m still not ready to go back to LA, I do hope to find a magical place somewhere in the world to call my own– like this perfect haven on the Rio Dulce. For now, my life plan feels complete living on a Thai island for the next four months.

Hope you enjoyed the road of my personal journey and my three most life impacting and favorite travel memories! I proudly pass the baton over for #TeamRED on the #BloggerRelay. I nominate the intelligent and witty (and sometimes charmingly vulgar), Brandy Lee Bell from http://livevicuriously.wordpress.com/ and the new, fabulous, and soon to be launched http://itsoneworldtravel.com/. Don’t forget to book your next holiday with LowCostHolidays.com.

Go #TeamRED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!