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5 Most Memorable Travel Moments

I love living in Charleston. It's warm nearly year 'round, the people are friendly, and there are more historic events and buildings than you could ever hope to learn about in a lifetime.

But I also like getting away to see what going on in places other than my little corner of the world. Blame my parents, who were very serious about the annual family road trip. As a child, I went to every state on the eastern U.S. seaboard (mostly in the back of our navy blue '89 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight. Sweet car!), Canada, the Bahamas, and Mexico. As I got older, I began to take trips both with and without my parents, and my constant wanderlust really began to take root.

Along the way, I've learned that every trip is different, even if you've been to the destination a hundred times before. I've realized that the world is much smaller than we'd all like to think, and that people are more or less the same everywhere. Some are nice, some are butts, and some just want you to keep to yourself.

Of all the places I've gone, and of all the experiences I've had, here are five that have made the biggest impressions on me--and the five that always keep me planning for my next trip.

5) That time I got to play on a completely pristine beach in the Bahamas.
remote beach

As a senior in college, I had some wiggle room in my schedule for a fun class. Rather than taking yoga or meditation or something, I chose to take a Geology/ Marine Biology course that led up to a 10-day trip to Andros Island, Bahamas.

We learned so much during our classwork, which made our field work in Andros that much more fulfilling. Andros is the largest of the Bahamian islands, but the least populated. So, during our frolics to study local culture in Red Bank, the limestone in the naturally occurring blue holes, and the treasure cave of the real Captain Morgan (there was no rum to be found), we rarely ran into anyone--locals or tourists.

But the best part of the entire trip was when my class hiked two miles to see a beach on Andros' northwestern coast. Once on the beach, there wasn't another person or house as far as the eye could see in either direction.

It was amazing to see one of the world's unspoiled beaches, even if for an hour or so.

4) That time my dad got robbed on the Metro in Paris.
robbers paris france
Clearly, I didn't get a shot of the exact moment we were robbed, so we're going to use our imaginations on this next story. 

Well, you didn't think this was going to be one of those lists that makes travel always seem perfect and wonderful and the key to world peace, did you?

Travel isn't always pretty, but that's what makes it memorable.

Which is why my dad getting robbed had to make the list.

Paris known for its con artists (during our five days there, I got asked for money more times than I did in an entire summer living in London), so it's little wonder that they targeted us, the super pale, non-French-speaking, backpack-toting, tour-guide-reading Americans.

We had just gotten on the Metro, and were waiting for the doors to close when a team of men pushed their way into our cabin. One pretended to get stuck in the door, while the other pushed my dad up against me and simultaneously began patting my dad down. After about two seconds, the guy just walked away from my dad all nonchalant, and the other mysteriously became unstuck at the same time.

It wasn't until we got off the Metro that we realized that the thief had taken something. (Womp woooomp) However, the joke was on him--we were smart travelers and had the money/ credit cards divided amongst my parents, my sister, and I, and we had the good stuff in money belts hidden away from Sticky Fingers McGee.

In the end, dude only got my dad's museum pass card. So, there's some culture for you, Mr. McGee.

3) That time I went ziplining in the rainforest.
st maarten rainforest ziplining

On our honeymoon, my husband, Landon, and I visited St. Martin/ St. Maarten. We wanted to do something other than bake on a beach somewhere (we do live 10 minutes from the beach, after all), so we decided to go on a zipline tour through the St. Maarten rainforest.

Best. Decision. Ever.

I was worried about my ponytail catching in the line (weird worry, I know) and whether I would go crashing into a tree at the other end of the super long zipline (clearly, I lived, as I'm telling you this tale, and I was pretty happy about it, judging by the photo above).

It was definitely a workout, but we had the best time. We also saw a ton of local wildlife up close and personal, and it was such an unusual way to experience a tropical island.

2) That time that I found Monty Python and the Holy Grail in Scotland.
monty python and the holy grail film location

In 2011, my husband, Landon, and I went to Stirling, Edinburgh, and the Trossachs, all of which were indescribably wonderfully. But one of the best moments of the entire trip was when we visited Doune Castle (just outside of Stirling), which is known for being a royal hunting lodge and the home of King Robert II's son.

However, it was also the filming location for a little movie called Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Who could resist an opportunity like that? For your viewing pleasure:

1) That time that London was bombed. 

I know, this seems like an odd choice to end this post on. But the moments and days after London was bombed on July 7, 2005 made me believe in humanity when, by all logic, my love for my fellow humans should have been at an all time low.

I was studying abroad in London that summer, and I was on a bus at the exact moment that the bombings took place (which was terrifying in itself).

While there was an initial confusion and worry, Londoners seemed to bond together within hours. One of my teachers gave his bike away to a complete stranger who was trying to get home to her child, but couldn't because all transportation was halted. I stood in a massive crowd three days after the bombings as I attended a memorial service for those lost in the bombings; I, a young, white American, stood side by side with people of all nationalities, religions, ages, and creeds as a way to show the world that London could not be scared into submission.

I've never been through something so terrifying, but I've also never been through something so re-affirming of the good still left in the world.

I travel knowing that there are bad people in the world, but with an open heart to meet the good ones.

What's your favorite travel moment? What made it so memorable?