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I’m a firm believer that travel makes us more well-rounded individuals. It helps to build confidence, broaden our perspectives, teach us new things and thereby, contribute to our general happiness. The International Day of Happiness got me thinking about what makes me happy, particularly when I travel. Well, that led to this post! Haha! Here are some of the things and moments that always bring a smile to my face whenever I travel.

What makes me happy when I travel

Food!

Whether it’s a pasta in Italy, fresh sashimi in Vancouver or a hot bowl of noodles in Asia, food (and fun cooking courses) is my number one source of happy moments when I travel!

Cooking course in Bo Kaap, Cape Town.

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Wine

A close second, sipping on a glass of wine (provided it’s good!) has created many joyful moments.

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A full-bodied Pinotage and jaw-dropping scenery in Stellenbosch.

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A stunning panorama

A stunning panoramic view from an observation point always makes me stop and look in amazement. I often pinch myself to make sure it’s real, then have a good chuckle about it.

Me at the top of the Corcovado mountain in Rio de Janeiro.

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Beaches

Nothing is more relaxing to me than standing ankle-deep in the water and feeling/hearing the waves gently lapping around my feet while the sand shifts beneath me.

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The amazing beach at the St. Regis Resort Mauritius.

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Sharing a beautiful moment

A great travel experience is much better if it’s shared – there’s (almost) nothing that makes me happier than sharing a beautiful or funny moment with my partner, family or friends when we travel together.

Sharing a beautiful moment – watching our paper lantern float away into the sky – with my best friend Allan in Thailand.

Read: My favourite travel memories

Doing something I normally wouldn’t dream of doing

I love using travel to challenge myself. If I didn’t travel, I wouldn’t have gone on a skydive, zip-lined through a forest or abseiled down a waterfall! The immense excitement and adrenaline rush were unforgettable! Looking back, I can only be happy that I had these opportunities to do something different and challenging. And the experiences sure make for great travel stories!

My first and only skydive! At Empurias Bravas in Costa Brava.

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Sunsets!

Another favourite of mine, some of my happiest travel moments have included a sunset. The colours never fail to amaze me.

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Panoramic view of the Kuala Lumpur skyline at sunset.

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An ‘Aha!’ moment

That moment when I figure out what that person is saying (in a foreign language) or how the public transport system works, or I stumble upon a hidden gem, or discovering something about myself, is another source of joy and fulfillment for me when I travel.

These locals introduced me to poutine in Montréal! A big ‘Aha!’ moment for me!

Read: Travelations – the trip that opened my eyes

Nature

Strolling through the woods, walking in the mountains or snorkelling never fails to give me a sense of calm. I also love safaris – watching the animals in their natural habitat is always an incredible experience. Getting back in touch with nature, especially for us who live in cities, is so important for our general well-being and doing it while travelling has created many happy travel moments for me.

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Reconnecting with nature high up in the mountains in Austria.

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Unexpected encounters

It’s those unexpected moments that make travel so enriching, such as meeting someone inspiring, a wildlife encounter or an act of kindness. I’ll never forget the kindness and generous hospitality I experienced while passing through a village in eastern Turkey and falling ill. Or the time I met a lady on a flight from Australia to Malaysia – we talked non-stop during the flight, the start of a friendship that has lasted more than thirty years!

Renate and I met on a flight, when I was 14 years-old, from Australia to Malaysia. We hit it off and became instant friends. This is me and Renate when I visited her (as a 30-something) in her hometown Canberra.

Art and architecture

I’m a big fan of art (especially street art) and architecture. Whether it’s beautiful street art in Rio de Janeiro or the Cathedral Quarter in Belfast; historic masterpieces in the museums, churches or palaces of Europe; or modern architecture such as the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, art and architecture never fail to amaze and inspire me.

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Feeling very happy at the futuristic City of Arts & Sciences in Valencia.

What makes you happy when you travel?

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