Travel is as much a part of the human experience as the air we breathe - it adds meaning to our existence, and gives us a unique glimpse of entirely new cultures and perspectives.
We asked our Creators to share a travel experience that affected their lives. So take a seat and get ready to scratch that adventure itch with these selected tales.
Have you ever been to a place that was so unfamiliar that all you wanted to do was hide in fear and pray to return home? That was my first 24 hours of life in The Gambia.
The Gambia lies off the west coast of Africa. It's one of Africa's smallest countries with a population of around 2 million on a tiny strip of land that borders the Atlantic Ocean. It's loud, it's friendly, and it's poor.
For me, the first day was all about food poisoning, and the distance The Gambia was from my home. I'm from Australia, and hadn't ventured outside of my own country until my late thirties. Even then, it was only a trip to the United Kingdom to meet my wife's family.
My journey to West Africa wasn't planned, but it was providential in my life. My family, consisting of four little children under the age of ten and my wife, decided to spend some extended time in Scotland. If that wasn't far enough away from home for this little Aussie, I met a man while I was there who invited me to spend a week in West Africa in the hopes of setting up a small school.
It was only one week, and I had never been to Africa - so I decided to go.
When I first got off the plane, I headed to the hotel room and found myself surrounded by fierce looking locals.
I would later realize that everything in Africa is done with some degree of aggression. They love aggressively; they fight aggressively and they weep aggressively. This was both intimidating and exhilarating at the same time.
On my first day in Gambia, I sat down to have breakfast with the school-building team I'd traveled there with. I don't know what it was that I'd eaten, but just one hour later I was totally incapacitated. My first day was a serious non-starter. Instead of the pro-active day I had imagined, I found myself trapped in a small mosquito-ridden hotel room waiting to die.
One of the local village women came out to see me and we prayed together. For obvious reasons, I kept a low profile for the rest of the day. My trip had just begun, but I was petrified, isolated and wishing I could somehow escape to the airport and get back home.
Adventure is my life. At least, I want it to be. But after spending 8 months teaching in the shadows of the Himalayas, I realized that too much adventure can kick your butt. Nevertheless, I had decided to conquer the trek to Everest Base Camp.
This crazy plan of mine hatched at my 21st birthday, as many crazy plans do. I was trying to decide whether or not to apply to teach English in Nepal, and my friend Jeff offered me three immortal words of advice: "Just do it."
To convince me, he showed me pictures from his recent trip to Antarctica.
"And if you go," he said, "I'll fly over and we can do the Everest Base Camp trek."
Fast forward exactly a year and a half, and Jeff and I were boarding a 14-seat plane to Lukla, the world's most extreme airport.
Before I dive in, I should give some background on the Everest Base Camp trek. It's an extreme hike for people who want to get as close to Mount Everest as they can without spending the equivalent of a car on an attempt on the summit. The trek is about 70 miles from Lukla to Base Camp and back, and takes 11-12 days.
Since there are many towns and villages along the way, most people stay and eat in teahouses overnight. Hikers reach an altitude of about 17,600 feet, which means that at least two of those days are acclimatization days, because the human body starts to do funny things after 10,000 feet. But we'll get to that later.
Day 1: Lukla To Phakding
We started the trek nice and easy, going downhill for 3 hours. We explored Phakding, built rock towers by the river, and enjoyed hearty dinners: momos (dumplings) for me, and fried rice for Jeff.
Before bed, I enjoyed the luxury of our last shower for the next week.
Day 2: Phakding To Namche Bazaar
You know, the funny thing about mountain hiking is that going downhill for 3 hours one day means that you're going to spend at least 7 hours going uphill the next. The slog of a hike to Namche Bazaar is considered by many to be the most physically demanding day of the trek, with its steep narrow paths and Indiana Jones-esque bridges.
Growing up, my family and I never had the chance to do any overseas travel. Yes, I can hear the groan of "first world problem", but hey, as a kid I always dreamed of seeing all the sites that could be seen! So, when I hit 18 years old and convinced my mum to take me to her homeland of 'Hong Kong', I immediately caught the travel bug. What followed was five years of travel including one half year exchange to Cardiff Wales, and one short term exchange to Seoul, Korea. At (almost) 23 years old, I reckon I've picked up a thing or two from my travel adventures and misadventures. Here are five 'travel truths', I've learned along the way, and I believe are the only tips you need before you head off on your own trip!
Ever since I told my previous place of employment to go kick rocks and jetted off with my husband into the unknown my life has pretty much been, well - a vacation. Just not quite in the way you'd imagine. It's not luxurious, it's not even always "fun" - it's just simple. And I realize now that is exactly what I needed all along. Simplicity.
After I graduated from college last spring, I decided to give myself a trip as a gift for all my years of hard work. My friend and I debated whether to go to Canada, Hawaii, or somewhere south of the border. We booked our flight instead to Costa Rica, as it was cheap and off-peak season. With very little research under our belts, we soon realized we were wrong to plan this trip with only a week of anticipation and nearly no prior planning.