Also posted on BecomingBrilliance.com
Once you’ve been bit by the travel bug, there’s no turning back. Traveling shapes and enriches you, allowing you to learn about yourself and the world around you. And while an international excursion is an experience of a lifetime, there's beauty within throughout America waiting to be explored so take advantage!
The following jet setters know firsthand the impact that traveling can have on someone. As the year winds down and you begin to plan 2017, allow their travel adventures to give you serious wanderlust and inspire your next trip.
Join us on social media and answer: #ITravelBecause ...
1. Nairobi, Kenya
"This photo was taken at The Giraffe Manor Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya last Thanksgiving morning. This is one of my favorite travel photos because it's a unique memory that I will never forget. Being that it was very early Thanksgiving morning and the giraffes only come to dine at breakfast, I remember feeling extremely blessed and grateful in this very moment.
#ITravelBecause traveling immerses me in cultures, environments and countries that I am not familiar with, which broadens my horizons to new ways of living. It's also a humble reminder of how small each of us are in the grand scheme of the world."
2. Macchu Picchu in Peru
“Macchu Picchu is the first of the seven world wonders I saw. I learned that my confidence in myself was not misplaced. If you’re interested in traveling here, you don't have to speak Spanish because I didn’t speak the language...
#ITravelBecause I want to expand my horizons.”
Echo Alpha, Event and Landscape Photographer | Echo Alpha Media
3. Sedona, Arizona
“This photo captures both how I felt in that moment and the beauty of Sedona. I learned that I am willing to travel far for peace of mind. I also learned that there are places I have never visited that feel like home once I've arrived. When traveling, I suggest you spend the most time meditating, absorbing and reflecting when you arrive and to take a piece of the energy with you when you leave.
#ITravelBecause I want to connect deeper to myself and life. I travel to feel whole and restored. I travel to see and feel beauty.”
Saba Tekle, Publisher and Best Selling Author | SabaTekle.com
4. Dead Sea in Jordan
“The photo is from my study abroad trip in Jordan, where I floated in the Dead Sea for the first time. It's one of my favorite travel photos due to the memory it's tied to. My study abroad classmates felt free for the first time as a group together, splashing around in the water and lathering ourselves in mud. My one piece of advice for someone who wants to travel to Jordan is to not be afraid of meeting strangers and putting themselves out there socially. Jordanians are incredibly friendly and loved having foreigners over for dinner etc.
#ITravelBecause no two places are alike.”
Georgia Walker, Marketing Specialist | Linkedin
5. Dubai Desert Safari
“Through traveling I learned how to be in the moment and be mindful. I was intentional on this vacation to capture moments here and there, but to really focus on the sites, sounds, people and experiences in front of me in that moment.
When traveling try new food, wear the garmets and learn the customs. This creates a rich experience beyond photos and souvenirs!
#ITravelBecause I love to embrace the culture and experiences.”
Melissa White, Founder of Writing Our Wrongs
6. Guyana, South America
"One of my most memorable trips in 2016 was when I spent three weeks in Guyana with local family members I hadn't seen in 14 years. This image was taken from a day tour where we travelled one hour by plane and walked about a mile on foot through the Amazon Rainforest to see the Kaieteur Falls; the largest single drop waterfall in the world.
Words simply cannot describe the experience I felt standing there to capture this image. It was breathtakingly amazing to capture the essence of nature in its most pristine and serene element. This is a part of the world where Amerindian natives learn the land for survival and pass the culture through verbal knowledge. As a professional photographer, to be able to document a hidden wonder of the world many have not seen before was invigorating. Even majority of the locals that live in the city haven't travelled here before, so this image has become a real gem to my collection of travel images.
[Through traveling], I learned the importance of being able to truly disconnect from technology and use all five senses to embrace the environment. From the constant warm tropical breeze, to the various bird calls and plethora of exotic plants just to name a few, not having access to everyday amenities was a very humbling experience and forced me to adapt to my environment. I also learned that despite my love for traveling, I have definitely become spoiled by the American life of wifi, running water, and electricity; things i wouldn't be able to give up right now at this point in my life for an extended period of time.
If you are visiting, make sure you are well rested, hydrated, and have lots of mosquito repellant. Do not be afraid because it is truly a breathtaking life changing experience worth having.
#ITravelBecause the world is too vast to limit yourself to one place; traveling expands your mind, appreciation for culture and inspires you to share those experiences with your local community."
Michelle MnM Mason, Photographer and Designer at Mahogany Lenz | MichelleMnM.com
7. Florence and Rome, Italy
"Indulge in the history and culture of any place you travel abroad to -- it's so important to take advantage of the incredible opportunity you have to educate yourself on a new place and their way of living. Learning to speak Italian, cooking Italian dishes with my host family, and tutoring Italian families really opened my eyes to a new way of life.
While studying abroad in Italy, I took classes on the history of the Rome, photography to learn about the great photographers of Europe, and a class on the European Union to understand the politics and relations within Europe. I felt so blessed going back to the States with so much knowledge and experiences that not many have the chance to get. There's nothing like that rewarding feeling.
#ITravelBecause of the way it makes me feel - happy, inspired, on-top-of-the-world, and free spirited. I also love to learn new things!"
Rachel Solomon, Brand & Television Account Coordinator | IG: @ciaorachella
"This photo was taken at the Colosseum during Sunset in Rome, Italy. One of my favourite aspects of traveling is the ability to be up close and personal with history. Reading about history when you're in school and then seeing it with your own eyes when you're older, is remarkable.
#ITravelBecause the more you learn the less you know."
Nakimera Moore, Entertainment
8. Dominican Republic
“This is one of my favorite travel photos because life is better at the beach -- it's so peaceful there. This picture was taken at the Macao Beach, Dominican Republic after doing a ATV tour. My advice for anyone traveling to the Dominican Republic is do something you normally wouldn't do -- conquer a fear, be adventurous and don't mind getting dirty. Through traveling I learned that I have a greater tolerance for things not going as planned.
#ITravelBecause it releases me out of my normal and comforting surroundings.”
"This photo is from the Dominican Republic at the Royalton Resort and it’s one of my favorite photos because the beach and ocean is where I find the most peace. I love laying out and reading a good book. If I could do it everyday I would.
#ITravelBecause I know I wasn't put here to just work. Traveling allows me to step away for a while and just BE!!"
CaNesha Gordon, Blogger | IAmAlmost40NowWhat
9. Xunantunich Maya Ruin in Belize
"Climbing to the top of Xunantunich, an ancient Mayan site, was absolutely breathtaking. Not only did it require more steps than I would like to take, but it also had a beautiful view of Belize and its neighboring countries.
What truly makes this my favorite travel moment is knowing my sister was there to capture it. I don't know of a better travel partner!
#ITravelBecause I live for amazing experiences."
N'Yaisha Aziz, Social Media Manager at Laundry Service
10. Oaxaca, Mexico
"This is one of my favorite photos because I was able to see one of God’s creations in Oaxaca, Mexico during the summer of 2013. Being around the mountains was a momentous occasion. It allowed me the chance to reflect and think of the unimaginable. The things that I put into my goal list in 2013 have now been accomplished. Going abroad gives you the opportunity to see things that you would have never seen in your country. As American’s we are very privileged. When I venture out into the world, I am able to witness how strong people are and learn new survival tactics. When you visit the artsy and ancient Oaxaca, Mexico let your hair down and take in the architecture, visit the fantastic museums, pre-Columbian ruins, baroque churches encrusted with gold, and festivals -- it’ll definitely be the experience of your life.
#ITravelBecause it makes me appreciate my blessings."
Darius Thomas, Speech Pathologist | LinkedIn
11. Acropolis Athens, Greece
“[Through traveling] I've learned that I'm able to adapt and assimilate in foreign environments. Now that I consider myself an experienced traveler, I don't give off that 'tourist' vibe. It's truly satisfying to learn that about myself because it relates to life; you're going to be placed in uncomfortable situations from work to relationships. Overall being placed outside of your comfort zone helps you realize that nothing is permanent and you have the power to take back control in any situation.
If you decide to visit Athens I'll have to take a note from IHOP's slogan: Come hungry, leave happy.... [Affordable] Food Heaven for sure. Oh and ancient history is everywhere, so take the time to read the plaques of knowledge throughout the city.
#ITravelBecause once you start it's hard to stop -- there's never a dull moment.”
Danielle Bullock, Digital Content Specialist / Traveler | IG: @daveranicole
12. Sahara Desert in Egypt
"This is one of my favorite travel photos because as I stood in the Sahara Desert, paying homage to a symbol that is very significant to me...I was full; spiritually and emotionally. I had just hiked up to the tomb inside of the Great Pyramid of Giza (largest one to my left) which is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the only one that remains largely intact. It literally feels like a dream that I was in this magnificent place and photos such as this remind me I was truly there.
I truly felt at home in Egypt. The people were excited to see little ‘ol me and would yell out “Welcome Home!” I’m just a girl from Stone Mountain, Georgia but I learned that home may be somewhere you’ve never been before. And you won’t find it unless, get out there and explore.
Egypt is for traveling, not vacation. It’s a beautiful place and there are options if you seek rest and relaxation however, the history is too rich not to spend the majority of your days exploring. I was there for 10 days, started exploring early in the mornings well into the evenings each day and I still feel like I need to go back and cover more ground. Dive into the culture, rest on the flight back home. :-)
#ITravelBecause as a natural wanderer, I’m happiest when I’m traveling whether domestic or abroad. I’m a lifelong learner and simply curious about what’s it like beyond my own front door."
Melissa Martin, Blogger and Photographer | IG: melissa_joslyn
13. Bali, Indonesia
“This is my favorite travel photo from Bali because it really shows endurance. Before this picture was taken, I fell off of the surfboard thirty trillion times. Although I wanted to just say forget it on multiple occasions, I was determined to get up before I gave up. This was the look on my face when I finally got up on the board and now is my screen saver as a constant reminder that if at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
I learned so many lessons in Bali, but if I had to choose the greatest ones it would be the power of forgiveness, gratefulness, and compassion. Being a part of the Balinese culture for more than one week literally made me reevaluate my life. The people in Bali are so welcoming and willing to give you any and everything even if it means it is their last. It was just life changing.
The one piece of advice that I would give a person who wanted to travel to Bali is that if you are in need of healing, pack your bags and go now! You are promised to come back rejuvenated, refreshed and renewed!
#ITravelBecause it has granted me so many opportunities to learn more about myself, different cultures and most of all to just break free out of my normal routine every once in awhile.”
Deandrea Taylor, Nonprofit and Community Outreach | IG: @deandreamarie
14. Uluru, Australia
“Studying and traveling abroad taught me how beautiful it is to explore the world, challenge yourself, make new friends, eat good food, ask questions, get lost, and dream BIG!
#ITravelBecause because it makes me happy!”
Vidiana Cervantes, Public Health
15. Havana, Cuba
"This is one of my favorite travel photos because I finally made it to a place I had always wanted to travel, and it exceeded all of my expectations. For decades-- and still to this day-- the United States has imposed severe restrictions on its citizen's travels to the island nation. The travel ban, now being slowly chipped away by the Obama administration, was something that always bugged me after meeting travelers from other countries who told me about their freedom to go to Cuba and explore what they described as a beautiful nation. This picture takes me back to the moment when I made a long-time dream happen.
When you travel, you learn a lot about yourself, and one thing that was rediscovered is how much I love to learn about other people. I enjoy learning other cultures, those customs and traditions. I enjoy trying their food and sometimes just people watching to see how similar you are to people whom you've never met.
If you are interested in going to Cuba, my one piece of advice is do it as soon as possible. Travel restrictions are being removed and more and more American tourists will travel to the close island nation. I think that will change the country in many ways. Go before that change really takes shape, to see what made Cuba special.
#ITravelBecause I love learning about the world around me."
Shaquille Brewster, Journalist and Producer | Twitter: @shaqbrewster
16. Hanoi, Vietnam
“One of the many things I learned when my husband and I took our recent sabbatical in Southeast Asia is to really let go of "being comfortable" and experience a country's culture. On this day, we were drinking $0.25 Bia Hoi sitting on stools that literally elevated us 12 inches off the ground (so our knees were in our chest!). Even though we were uncomfortable (and sitting on the street right beside oncoming traffic), we had a blast and it was because we weren't afraid to immerse ourselves in the Vietnamese culture.
#ITravelBecause the world is bigger than the U.S. And I'm privileged enough as a citizen of the U.S. to explore and experience other countries and cultures that will change my paradigm and worldview. So why not?"
Coredelle and Erica Smith, Bloggers at A Taste of Our City
17. Prague, Czech Republic
"This is one my favorite photos because of the creative background of the wall. In addition, The Lennon Wall represents not only a memorial to John Lennon and his ideas for peace, but also a monument to free speech and the non-violent rebellion of Czech youth against the regime. It was a small war of Czech people against the communist police who cleaned the wall.
I travel very often and I have learned that my love for humanity grows more and more as I met new people and experience new cultures while traveling. Traveling is so liberating! There is a sense of freedom one can experience when traveling.
#ITravelBecause I have this desire to keep meeting people and learning about their individuality. Traveling keeps me connected to humanity."
Jerry Bruno, Department of Homeless Services | Twitter: @JerryDBruno
“This is one of my favorite photos because I was traveling alone and Prague was the first leg of my solo trip. I learned to listen to my intuition and never be afraid to share and seek kindness.
One piece of advice for someone traveling to this destination is to bring a camera and perhaps a sketch book because the entire city looks like a fairy tale.
#ITravelBecause there are beautiful places, people and things all around us. I travel because I want to learn, grow and know about other cultures.”
Audra Mercado, Behavior Interventionist | LinkendIn
18. Paris, France
“This is my favorite travel photo because every time I look back at it I remember the experience of standing and thanking God for allowing me the opportunity to see Paris. Little did I know one of my classmates snapped a photo.
[Through traveling I learned that] I am horrible at reading maps and still must checking with my parents daily. Way too much is going on in the world to be thousands of miles away and not connected... If you’re traveling to Paris, know that Paris gets pretty cold -- this was March and it was freezing....
#ITravelBecause I like seeing the world vs. the continent so that I can truly have a worldwide view of an African American male…”
Roy Broderick, Jr., Marketing professional and CEO of The Intuition Consulting Firm | IntuitionAtl.com
19. Granada, Spain
"La Alhambra is one of Spain's most iconic destinations and attracts more than a million visitors each year. I had the pleasure of showing my family around Granada when they came to visit me while I was studying abroad. La Alhambra was the first place I took them, and they loved it. The experience was particularly special because my six-year-old sister was able to experience something I'd waited until my 20s to enjoy.
Traveling has helped me build a deep sense of assurance in myself and my ability to navigate unfamiliar places and experiences. Even if I don't know the native language, or where to go, or what the people are like, I do know how to prepare in advance, create contingency plans, be resourceful and, if all else fails, smile and ask questions!
As someone who's interested in the stories of people of color wherever I go, I was fascinated to learn the Moors played a significant role in the development and culture of southern Spain, especially Granada. That said, I'd encourage anyone who's interested in traveling to the city to recognize the influence people of color had in creating such a beautiful city.
#ITravelBecause my mother always told me the world is bigger than where I'm from. And I'm excited to see, taste and feel as much of the world as possible."
Jarrod Jackson, Audio and Community Relations Specialist | LinkedIn
"I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in London while I was in college at Howard University. While I was abroad I made sure to take advantage of the cities and countries around me. One of my favorite trips was to Morocco, Africa. I literally felt like I was in a whole new world. And you know why? Because I was.
Traveling gives you the opportunity to experience another life other than your own. You appreciate the life you have and those of others so much more. I don't even mean just internationally, but domestically. There are so many gems in America that we miss out on because we think we have to travel internationally...but some of the greatest moments and experiences are literally right around the corner.
Traveling is about getting out of your comfort zone and eliminating fear. If you want to travel to Morocco, Brazil, Australia, Mexico, Mississippi... just do it!!! Don't let finances, time, or distance be a factor to hold you back. If you have a goal to travel, then save up, make the time, and don't let the distance scare you away.
#ITravelBecause I am able to connect my spirit to others around the world."
Kiah Clingman, Actress | KiahClingman.com
21. Krasnaya Polyana, (Southern) Russia
"I never dreamed that I would travel to Russia, let alone work at the Winter Olympics. This photo reminds me of the line from Dr. Seuss' "Oh the places you'll go." I had no idea what was in store for me when the opportunity presented itself, but I took a risk, worked extremely hard, and had one of the best international adventures imaginable.
I learned how much I could grow if I let myself be open to basically anything and made an effort to engage with people around me. English is barely spoken in Russia, unless you're in a major city like Moscow. I quickly learned a lot of Russian and garnered so much more respect from the people around me for clearly trying to understand their culture.
My biggest advice for anyone wanting to visit Russia is to not let the stereotypes about the country scare them away. Southern Russia, like the southern United States, has a friendlier vibe than famous northern cities like Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Not everything you read and see about Russia is true.
#ITravelBecause I want to know more about people of all walks of life and learn more about the world."
22. Cape Town, South Africa
"#ITravelBecause it broadens my perspective. We get so caught up in our daily rituals and routines that we begin to wrap our thinking around the things only concerning ourselves. We tend to forget that at the end of the day, we're just one very small piece of a bigger picture.
Traveling is a gateway that provides a glimpse into that bigger picture. By physically removing myself out my usual comfort zone, I'm able to take the time to escape my own sense of "reality" and better appreciate the beauty of new cultures, new places, and new people. It's humbling, life changing and soul fulfilling all at the same time.
The picture is me on the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. Table Mountain is one of the 7 Wonders of the World." Jasmine Chapman, Digital Media Specialist | Twitter: @_theCOACH
23. Los Angeles, California
"I hiked to the Hollywood sign with my friends/business partners. And just as we climbed this mountain, we are currently helping each other climb our mountain to success together. This picture is a reminder, that we too can reach the top. It's just around the corner.
I've learned that there is so much more I need to discover in the world and within myself. I'm just open to everything God has to show me.
There is so much to do in LA! Stay somewhere that is close to everything. We stayed in West Hollywood -- it was walking distance to shops on Melrose and amazing restaurants.
#ITravelBecause there is so much more I need to learn, discover and explore."
24. Honolulu, Hawaii
“Hawaii is so beautiful. I’ve never seen anything like it. This picture reminds me that I want to keep feeling that sense of awe over and over again as I travel to new places around the world.
This picture was taken on a hike through a rainforest. I am normally NOT one to hike at all. I’m far from being an outdoorsy gal but the view at the top of the trail was well worth it. I learned that sometimes the prettiest things can be furthest outside my comfort zone.
If you go to any of the Hawaiian islands remember to experience the culture of the people native to the area. The high-traffic tourist and shopping areas tend to be a representation of traditional western culture, which you can get anywhere on the mainland, so be sure to venture outside of that. Also, bring mosquito repellant if you go on any rainforest hikes!
#ITravelBecause I want to continue to expand my understanding of culture.”
Safia Hurst, Advertising Specialist | LinkedIn
25. Amsterdam, Netherlands
"This photo was taken a few days after my 21st birthday, which I celebrated with my study abroad roommates in our London suite. Amsterdam was the beginning of a month-long travel adventure -- where I also visited Morocco and Oxford. Amsterdam was one of the best trips from my time abroad because it was a completely different world. From the coffee shops to the narrow homes to the legal prostitution -- it was so different from America and people seemed happier and healthier. During this trip, I also visited the Anne Frank House and saw what the brave young woman experienced during the Holocaust.
If you travel to Amsterdam, head to the "I AMSTERDAM" sign EARLY in the morning to get your photos. Otherwise your pictures will be swarmed with tourists.
#ITravelBecause God created this world for us to explore… I need to see as much of it as possible."
Thank you jet setters for sharing your travel adventures!
Lifestyle blogger and published author Teyonna Ridgeway is dedicated to helping people recognize their beauty and unleash their brilliance. By day the Atlanta native works in social media marketing, and by night she drops gems about career, travel, faith and life as a Millennial on BecomingBrilliance.com. She also makes homemade natural body butters and sugar scrubs through her Etsy shop, Gail’s Goods. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram@TeyonnaLanez.