15 Most Memorable Travel Experiences Around The World

15 Most Memorable Travel Experiences Around The World

From a secret hot springs hike to an unforgettable sushi breakfast, these are some of my favorite travel memories.

Hey, I’m Hannah, and I’m obsessed with traveling. In fact, I’m constantly saving up and accumulating precious vacation days in the hopes of visiting somewhere new. I spend way too much of my time tracking the best flight deals, plotting itineraries, and daydreaming about my next adventure. I’ve visited over 35 countries (and there are soo many places I still have yet to see). That being said, I’ve been lucky to have experienced some pretty incredible travel memories. These are some of the travel highlights from around the world that I’ll never, ever forget.


Working up a sweat while hiking to hot springs outside of Reykjavik.

Hannah Loewentheil

I’ve been to Iceland twice and I would go back in a heartbeat, but there’s no getting around the fact that it’s become very popular. Unless you go really off the beaten bath, you’ll find tour buses at almost every attraction. But there were almost no other tourists at the entrance to Reykjadalur Valley, a trail surrounded by gorges and waterfalls that snakes past natural hot springs. 

After a fairly steep hour-long hike, I arrived at the only swimmable hot spring (there are other boiling pools along the way that are most definitely off limits!). There are no changing rooms or facilities, and almost everyone soaking in the river seemed like a local. They refueled with picnic sandwiches and relaxed with their kids and dogs in tow. I soaked in the warm water and took in the views before making my way back through the valley. It was one of those moments when you can’t help but gawk at how incredible nature is. 


Taking a taco tour through the historic center of Mexico City.

Hannah Loewentheil

Traveling to Mexico City is an exercise in stamina: You want to eat everything. With street food stalls on every corner of every block, you’re constantly breathing in the wafting smells of freshly grilled blue corn tortillas and juicy al pastor being shaved from the spit.

I took a taco tour of the historic district, eating my way through the bustling streets and busy covered markets with the help of a local guide who was able to show me places I would have never found on my own. He explained the culture and traditions behind every plate, which made everything so much more delicious. As someone who puts food at the forefront of every trip, this guided food tour through one of the best culinary cities I’ve ever visited was a dream come true.


Sleeping under the stars in the remote Sahara Desert.

Hannah Loewentheil

As we drove the eight or so hours from Fez to the town of Erfoud, a small town in East Morocco and the gateway to the Sahara, I was doubtful it would be worth the trek. But once we finally arrived in Erfoud and hopped on ATVs, racing toward Erg Chebbi in time for the sunset, I knew I was in for something special. The bright orange sand dunes stretched before me like an endless, undulating ocean. 

I indulged in a Moroccan meal of vegetable tagine on a fluffy bed of couscous and sat by a campfire, watching the sky go black. From my tent in the remote desert campsite, there was no light besides for the moon and the stars, and it was so quiet you could hear your own breathing. 

It was absolutely magical and primitive in a way to be surrounded by nothing but a stunning landscape.  


Hiking from the bustling city to a tropical beach in Hong Kong.

Hannah Loewentheil

I was blown away by Hong Kong, with its non-stop pulsing energy and larger-than-life skyscrapers. Even as a New Yorker who is well versed in big city life, Hong Kong felt like something different. So it was absolutely mind-boggling to me when I realized one can leave behind the hustle and bustle of Central Hong Kong and escape to a quiet, palm-tree lined beach (and on foot, no less). 

My husband and I hiked Dragon’s Back, a stunning hike with views of the massive city and coastline. About three hours later, we arrived in Big Wave Bay, a sandy beach filled with surfers and sunbathers, enveloped by green hills. We drank water straight from baby coconuts and cooled off in the bay before making our way back to the city for a dim sum lunch. 


Spending the night in a traditional Japanese ryokan.

Hannah Loewentheil

My husband and I spent part of our honeymoon at a ryokan — a traditional Japanese bed and breakfast — in the mountain town of Hakone. While some ryokans offer western-style rooms, we opted for the full experience and slept on mattresses on a tatami mat floor. We traded our shoes in for slippers and our clothes for yakuta (Japanese robes). Like many ryokans, the one we chose featured a private onsen (hot springs bath) on our balcony, and an elaborate, multi-course breakfast and dinner is served in the comfort of your suite. This whole experience was unlike any other hotel or Airbnb stay I’ve had. It was both minimalist and luxurious, and it felt like we had been transported back in time. Looking back, it was easily one of the most memorable parts of our honeymoon.


Floating weightlessly in the Dead Sea in Israel.

Hannah Loewentheil

The Dead Sea is not actually a sea. It’s a super salty lake that borders Jordan to the east and Israel to the west. And visiting it in person was just as cool as I ever imagined it would be. 

After driving through the desert, you suddenly come across this oasis of cobalt-blue water. It looks almost superimposed. I lathered myself with dark brown, mineral-packed mud and waded into the water (which really stings, tbh), and all of a sudden I felt weightless as the sea cradled me, making me buoyant. 


Pintxo-hopping in San Sebastian, Spain.

Hannah Loewentheil

I live in a pretty excellent food city and I’ve traveled to many more, but IMO, there’s no where quite like San Sebastian. This popular summer town in Spanish Basque Country is a food-lover’s paradise. It’s home to some of the most lauded Michelin-starred restaurants in the world (a ton of them), but my favorite part were the tapas, which are called Pintxos in Basque. 

The several streets in the old town are lined with tiny, hole-in-the-wall pintxo bars serving some of the most delectable bites I’ve ever eaten: sautéed mushrooms topped with raw egg yolk, paper-thin Jamón Ibérico, crispy slices of baguette topped with crab and uni, and so much more. I can honestly say I’ve never eaten so much (and such outrageously good food) in my life than I did during my 48 hours in San Sebastian, and I can’t wait to go back and do it again. 


Releasing sea turtles into the ocean on a remote Indonesian island.

Hannah Loewentheil

I was staying at a hotel on a small island in Indonesia called Sumba that was home to a turtle hatchery. Once these tiny sea turtles are born, their chances of survival are slim because of predators both on land and in the sea. In fact, we were told that only one in a thousand sea turtles actually survives in the wild. 

I was lucky enough to catch a turtle release, and when the sunset turned golden I helped send a dozen tiny turtles into the Indian Ocean. We carefully placed the squirming creatures onto the sand and watched them dart into the lapping waves and out to the shimmering sea. 


Wine tasting with a serious view in the Douro Valley.

Hannah Loewentheil

I’ve been fortunate to have visited a handful of amazing wine regions around the world from Tuscany to Bordeaux and Napa Valley, but there was something totally unique about visiting the Douro Valley in Northern Portugal. It probably has a lot to do with the scenery. 

The roads to each vineyard were windy, harrowing, and straight-up terrifying at times, thanks to steep hairpin turns. Each winery I visited was understated yet stunning, offering wild views of the valley below. The wine flowed, as did the food: We chowed down on grilled octopus with potatoes, seafood rice, and croquettes, and washed it all down with deep, juicy wines.


Picnicking on the banks of the Seine in Paris.

Hannah Loewentheil

If I could only travel to one destination for the rest of my life, I would probably choose Paris. Call me cliché, but I can’t resist this city. And while Paris boasts some of the most amazing restaurants on earth, there’s one meal that I work into my bucket list whenever I visit: a lavish picnic of cured meats, stinky cheese, and freshly baked baguette, and a bottle of red wine on the bank of the Seine River. While the contents of this meal can be replicated pretty much anywhere, the experience is totally unique to Paris, and it’s one of my all-time favorite travel memories.


Walking around the empty streets of Rome in the early morning.

Hannah Loewentheil

Rome is a lot of things: Romantic, historic, beautiful, and most certainly chaotic. Walking around the streets of Centro Storico or Ancient Rome during the day packed like a sardine between crowds of other tourists can be pretty exhausting. So the last time I was in Rome, I decided to do something a little different. I set my alarm for 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning and got up to explore the empty streets of Trastevere, my favorite neighborhood. I saw about three other people in the whole hour I spent wandering the serpentine streets, oohing and aahing over the historic buildings draped in ivy and wisteria. The city was so still and serene in a way I’ve never experienced any major city before. And watching the sun come up over the Tiber River was the icing on the cake.


Hiking Mount Batur in the pitch black to see the sun rise over Bali.

Hannah Loewentheil

When I told my husband we were going to be waking up at 2 a.m. on our honeymoon to hike up Mount Batur to catch the sunrise, he was less than thrilled. But like a very good husband, he went along with my idea. We booked the excursion on Airbnb and a complete stranger picked us up in complete darkness (sorry, mom). 

We drove about an hour to the foot of Mt. Batur, and at the base we saw dozens of other tourists taking the same hike (which, by the way, was much more intense than we had prepared for when we showed up in Allbirds walking sneakers). We reached the top of Mount Batur right before the sun started to rise. The sun came up like a ball of fire over a sea of clouds, and it turned the sky into streaks of violet, magenta and tangerine. It really was one of the most incredible sights I’ve witnessed, even though there were a few moments I thought we would die in the process. 


“Hunting” for truffles in Tuscany.

Hannah Loewentheil

I’m not quite sure why this activity is called truffle hunting because it involved almost no activity on my part other than walking through a blissful Tuscan forest, but it was nonetheless an incredible experience. Somewhere right outside of Montepulciano, our guide opened the door to his truck and out jumped two Lagotto Romagnolos, the dogs we would be relying on to find precious white and black truffles.

For about two hours we followed the dogs who ran ahead of us, noses in the dirt, following the scent of truffles. Our guide explained how different kinds of truffles grow at the roots of specific types of trees, and how the weather conditions have to be just right to find them. It was fascinating, and I was beyond excited every time one of the dogs seemed to locate one of these elusive funghi. Ultimately we left the hunt with growling stomachs and enough black truffles to enjoy in some seriously divine pastas.


Eating sushi for breakfast in Tokyo.

Hannah Loewentheil

Sushi is my favorite food in the world, so traveling to Japan and eating sushi in its birthplace was pretty life-changing for me. While in Tokyo, I ate my heart out, and I enjoyed more sushi in five days than I thought humanly possibly. But the one meal that I’ll never forget was breakfast omakase (no menu, just whatever fish the chef is serving) at a tiny restaurant outside Toyosu Fish Market. 

We were not the only tourists with this plan, and we waited in line at 8 am for a seat at the chef’s counter. When we finally seated, we couldn’t communicate with the sushi chef at all, so we just smiled and nodded and ate whatever was placed in front of us. It was certainly an unforgettable meal, and I can confirm for any sketptics: fatty tuna for breakfast is, in fact, delightful.  


Trekking in 100 degree weather to a totally empty waterfall in Sumba, Indonesia.

Hannah Loewentheil

Sumba, an island in Eastern Indonesia, gets extremely hot. It was challenging for me to spend ten minutes in the sun without dipping into a cool body of water. That being said, I’m really not sure what compelled me to sign up for a waterfall hike. 

Luckily, we were shaded by trees for most of the hour-long hike, but it was still a scorcher. The hike put out at a cerulean blue pool and cascading waterfall, and diving in felt a little bit like heaven. Perhaps due to the remote location or maybe because we were the only loony tunes willing to hike in the crippling heat, but the swimming hole was completely empty and we got to enjoy it on our own. It felt like a little slice of paradise that I never wanted to leave. 

What is your most memorable travel experience!? Tell us all about it in the comments. (And feel free to drop your favorite travel photos, too!)