machu picchu

Best of Tripfilms Twelve Travel Questions: Life-Changing Places

Over the last two years, we’ve interviewed 50 of our talented filmmakers and filmmaker teams. Here is a collection of some of the best travel tips, crazy travel stories, and filmmaking philosophies from these expert travelers.

We asked 50 filmmakers: What is one place that changed your outlook on life? 

As odd as it may sound, that would have to be our old house outside of Amarillo, Texas. We both vividly remember the day we looked around that big house – and all the material stuff that we had packed into it – and realized that it was all essentially meaningless. So we sold it all, decided to live a life of travel, and have never looked back. Since then we’ve seen and experienced more of this world than most people can dream, and it’s given new meaning and direction to our lives. So yeah. Don’t worry about buying lots of stuff. It really is mostly just a bunch of crap you don’t need. – Two for the Road

The thing that changed my outlook on life was a job that I had for a wealthy fashion designer. The job was basically following him around the world filming appearances and things he did with his personal life. The job was extremely demanding, however I got to travel to some amazing places. The only problem was that we always visited the “touristy” places and stayed in North American hotels, with private cars, basically the works. What I learned was that was not the way I wanted to explore the world. I want to meet real local people and discover the way they lived their life. I want to arrive at a destination having had to put in some work, maybe get a little lost, and have to work through some language barriers. – James Alexander Adams

Morgan: My life changed a few times in different ways during my four months in India. To see the masses of people who were sleeping on the streets of New Delhi every night made me appreciate all that I have. Vân: Even though I was born in Vietnam (I left at the age of 6), I was a bit in shock when I first went back as an adult in 1999. The weather was so hot and humid, the crowds were overwhelming and seeing the remnants of the war such as people missing limbs was really intense. It made me really realize that I have so many opportunities available to me that my cousins in Vietnam don’t have. – Nomadic Frames

Traveling in India changes the lives of anyone that has visited there. It’s something about the people, the culture, the religion and the unfamiliarity of it all—in a good way—that makes it hard for anyone not to be affected positively. – The Expeditioner

Delhi India. It was the first destination on our first voyage around the world and oh my god, we got hit hard with culture shock. We were too afraid to leave the hotel for a whole day so when we got hungry we ate chewing gums that we had brought from England. :-D It was a steep learning/adjustment curve but the travel bug soon kicked in after that and since then one country is never enough for too long. – Eight Miles from Home

Visiting Robben Island in South Africa where I saw the cells that people like Nelson Mandela has been held in for 25 and up years. I realised how inhumane man can be to man. It made me want to be a better person, even in my small way. – Gary Bembridge

Nepal! – Etherium Sky Films

Cambodia. When we learned about the Khmer Rouge genocide it not only changed our life, but it changed our perspective and the direction we took in our education. – Rural Movement

Cody: The first trip I ever took outside of North America was to Cuba and it changed everything for me. I saw how little everyone there had and how extremely happy they were. They had next to nothing but were always willing to offer the little bit that they did have. I returned home after that trip and saw everything that I had and realized that I didn’t need any of it to make me happy. A lot of people put so much of themselves into what they own where I am trying to escape that and have very little when it comes to possessions. Giselle: I have to say Thailand drastically changed my outlook on life. It is where I started to see all animals as equal, and questioned Why would I love and want to protect some, and eat, and ignore the suffering of others? It has opened my eyes to a lot of injustice in this world, human and non-human, and made me want to expose it. – Mindful Wanderlust

Visiting Old town Dhaka, Bangladesh during Ramadan, when the poorest of the poor come into the city. First impression was terrible, second impression was life changing. They were the most welcoming and happy people I have ever met, even with nothing. It makes you question whether you need possessions at all to be happy. – Mike Corey

I can’t think of a trip that hasn’t in some way made me smarter, stronger, or more compassionate to the world. However, my experience at Burning Man opened my eyes in all those ways and more. – Alex in Wanderland

Central America, because it was my first solo trip where I went with my backpack for a few weeks. It was a big cultural change and that’s where I caught the travel bug. – Rubén Alonso

India. – Kristen Sarah

The place that changed everything for me was Italy. In 2003 I visited my family in Italy for the first time. I spoke no Italian and was literally trying to communicate as much as I could using my hands. The food, language and culture got me hooked on traveling! It must have been the overdose of cheese and wine that made me a travel addict. – David Hoffmann

Italy—because it was the first place I had ever been, and being from a small Pacific Northwest town of 9,000, it was a completely transformative experience. Italy gave me a glimpse what the rest of the world was like and it literally changed everything about me, my personality and what I felt was possible for my life. – Joshua Johnson

I was an exchange student in Sweden when I was 18 and this trip is what sparked my interest in the world. Until that point, I had barely traveled, not even in the U.S. From that point on, I have been hooked on traveling, and not just traveling but spending lots of time in countries so I can learn the language and really get to know a place. – Ryan Van Duzer

I would have to say it was my first travel video shoot in Kos, Greece for Mark Warner Holidays. It wasn’t so much the place, but more the fact that I was getting paid to travel and film, something I would have gladly done for free at the time. This got the ball rolling. I left the world of corporate video behind, started working with and got engaged to my amazing partner Carole, started up Travizeo and never looked back. – Travizeo

Morocco. Being launched into a setting that is so far removed from anything I’ve ever experienced is always a great a experience. It’s really interesting to enter the Medina (the old city) and essentially step back hundreds of years. On top of that, the culture and landscape are beautiful and the food is interesting and delicious. Morocco should be on everyone’s travel list. – John Piazza IV

Bhutan, the last Buddhist Kingdom. This trip reinforced most of my values and gave me a deeper understanding of who we are as humans. – Eduardo Gato

I spent a month in NYC studying acting. Being in a city with so many cultures and people pursuing various passions made me realize that there are so many options out there and no excuse for not pursuing your dreams. – Gloria Powell

Not very exotic again, but growing up in Vermont has definitely changed my outlook on life, and continues to do so every day. I bring the lessons I’ve learned from VT with me on the road anywhere I go, and it definitely helps to have such a strong support network. I’m planning on some longer distance adventures in the near future, so we’ll see about some new life changing locations. – Patrick J. McDaniel

South Africa. – Cailin O’Neil

I was living in Budapest for one year and my life changed from that moment. Eastern Europe was quite unknown for me before going and I discovered a really nice point of view. I met warm people with a lot of energy and passion for the culture and for a healthy lifestyle. – Josep Gutierrez

The hospitals of Rwanda. – Justin Weiler

My solo cruise to the Bahamas reaffirmed what I believe. People are the same everywhere. There is no “us” vs “them”. The same things makes us all smile, laugh, and bleed. – Sarah Zareen

Traveling in any rural third world country can instantly soften your heart and intensify your gratitude for simple things. After a few months I arrived in Hong Kong, I literally shed a tear when I saw a drinking water fountain. I was so touched I took a picture. Seriously. Since then I’ll be in the US and people will ask me if I want bottled water or tap, I’m always reminded of that adventure and I’m happy enough to just take tap. – Wesley Adventures

It might not have been one place but one time, driving from Chicago to Florida to board the first ship I worked on. It was January and I quite literally shed my jacket as I drove south to the port in Miami. Got on the ship, and two days later was in San Juan, Puerto Rico. First restaurant I saw was called “Chicago Burger.” Then I knew that Chicago was a state of mind, and here I was dripping in sweat and loving every minute of it. – Andrew Kamphey

Thailand. This is where I learned how to fly by the seat of my pants, how to find comfort in the unknown, how to survive in a totally exotic place, how to trust others and how to trust in myself. I pushed myself to get out of my comfort zone and try new things, and I was brilliantly rewarded. I made the spontaneous decision to book the trip after finding fun traveler friends while teaching English in Korea. We went on an amazing journey around the country—we rode elephants in the jungles of Chiang Mai, we learned how to cook curry and Pad Kai Graprow, we escaped death driving motorbikes along tuk tuks, we visited temples with Buddahs big and small, we bargained for clothes in Bangkok, we found peace in beachfront bungalows in Koh Phang Yen, and we volunteered to aid post-tsunami wreckage in Koh Phi Phi. What an adventure. – Juliana Broste

Jesse reflects often on experiences he had while living and serving among the people of Costa Rica for two years. He was reminded how happiness can truly be found in any set of circumstances. For Kim, it’s usually anywhere outdoors where the cell service is limited! Getting out into nature is the best way to really stop the noise of life and refocus on health and mental clarity. – Jesse and Kimberly Moore

Morocco. Going to my first third world country was awesome on so many ways. I feel like learning how difficult life can be for some and seeing the differences between the rich first world and the poor third world gets overused. I mean, yeah that was a big part, but not the only lesson. People don’t often talk about what it’s like to be somewhere and actually feel super rich (at least not in a positive way). I mean that was super cool. – Bobby Christian

A hospital. Specifically an unintended visit to a Balinese hospital. Life is not only brief but extremely fragile. Staying focused on these harsh truths helps us lead more fulfilling lives. – SPESUS

Portofino, Italy. It’s so incredibly beautiful. Even the clothes hanging on the balconies are works of art. The feeling of a love for life and just the peacefulness that I felt while I was there is an experience I can call upon at anytime and it brings joy to my heart. I really do embrace the European/Latin way of life. I love to start my day slowly and work for a few hours then take a nice lunch break and possibly a siesta. I feel refreshed to get up on the afternoon and work. My creativity often flows best late in the day and early evening. – Gina DeGirolamo

Machu Picchu. The hype is real. – Gareth Leonard

Italy. Sinking your teeth into the essence of Italy starts by taking the road that’s often more idealized than traveled. It is a journey to the crossroads where culture, cuisine, and community come together. Some have called it La Dolce Vita, but after traveling to Tuscany I realized it’s more than a motto. It’s finding meaning in the mundane, it’s elevating the everyday, it’s having harmony and happiness without needing a reason. It only takes one day of soaking up the sun-kissed scenery to discover La Dolce Vita is more than a Fellini film. In Italy the sweet life is the way of life. – Monique Soltani

Australia. It just happened to be one of the first times I traveled extensively out of the country by myself. It was my study abroad semester and was a complete departure both in routine and studies from what I was doing back in the States. It prompted me to think about whether the path I had held so steadfast all the prior years was actually the one that would make me happy. It was all about getting the top grades, getting into the top school, doing well there, and then getting the best job that would make me financial independent as soon as possible. That world made sense to me, but walking barefoot into a grocery store, camping illegally on a beach because I missed a ferry and then nearly getting killed by a cassowary because I chased it thinking it was just a pretty ostrich kind of made me reevaluate the purpose of life. – Kien Lam

That would also have to be Thailand. I say that because it was the first truly foreign place Dave and I travelled together for an extended period of time. It was 2000 and it was completely new and exciting. It was here that we caught the adventure bug and realized that there was life outside the film business. Before that trip, we only focused on money and careers. After that trip, we focused on living a full life. – The Planet D

The Holy Land will do that to you for certain. There’s nothing quite else like walking through and experiencing Biblical settings firsthand. – Jason Leppert

I think every place you visit has the opportunity to have an effect on each individual. This is why we love travelling so much, because with each new experience we learn something new about ourselves and others. This is the wonder of each new culture and every new scenery. None the less my home town of Totnes in Devon was always a place I was ready to escape growing up, but the older I got the more I appreciated it every time I returned. I guess home is where the family is. – Adam Baker

China. We traversed the entire country knowing only “Hello”, “How much” and “Thank you” in Mandarin (and not very well) but we were able to travel all the way from Hong Kong into the Chinese/Mongolia border of Erlian all through the help and kindness of strangers. We were told before going in that we’d hate China and it just reaffirmed to us that everyone has their own experience and one’s opinion doesn’t make it so. Get on the ground, have your own experience and don’t be afraid to put your trust in others. More than likely, they will never let you down—despite what a lot of us are being told each day. – Because We Camp

India. – Eszter Vajda

The Galapagos Islands because of the animal watching. This place is so unique because humans don’t intimidate animals. They aren’t fearful. It seemed like we were just part of the landscape and they weren’t afraid to go about their daily activities, even with us a few feet away. We saw baby birds fed by their mommas and seals roll around in the sand. I am so warmed to know that a place exists in the world where animals rule the land and we are just visitors. – Carri Wilbanks

Haiti. I realized I have no reason to complain about anything, ever. I visited tent villages in Haiti after the earthquake and saw devastation, poverty and the look of hope on the faces of hundreds of people. Their faces are a constant reminder to live life fully, share what you’ve been given, and to be a blessing wherever you go. – Travelista Teri

Kenya. I spent some years in Kenya, and both the country and the people I knew, helped to create my outlook on life. – Mark Wiens

Travelling in general has changed my way of thinking but a couple of instances stand out, the first being my visit to Colombia. I realised how inaccurate the mainstream media is. After being scared off for 2 years by media propaganda, when I eventually visited I had no security worries and had a fantastic time. The second would be the 2 weeks I spent excavating on some possible pyramids in Bosnia. It made me realise that archaeology is far from dead. – Mick Hobday

Definitely Camp Allen, Bedford – NH. – Gustavo Matias

Iceland. It really got us back in tune with nature and helped us realize our passions—we left with a new direction and outlook on what we want in life. – Wander The Map

Cambodia really put things in perspective. Seeing their strength, despite the tragedy suffered by an entire nation, was certainly a game changer. – Lost & Found Travel

Meteora, Greece, for the spiritual beauty; Sicily, Italy, for the dynamic culture; and Lithuania was an engaging travel surprise for us. – Armando Costantino

Tanzania! I had never been anywhere like it in my life, and it was one gigantic culture shock! Life there looked so different from anything I knew, and it burst my insulated, naive bubble, so to speak. Plus, staring eyeball to eyeball with a giraffe was definitely a HELLO moment. Being in Tanzania made me realize that even though life looks really different all over the world, at the very core, people want the same things out of life, no matter where they are or how they live. It actually made me feel like the world was smaller than we all think it is….does that make any sense or did I ramble? – Nathalie Basha

Ebony: It’s hasn’t been just one place. I have an attitude of gratitude and keep my mind open no matter where I go. By keeping this mentality every time I travel, no matter 25 or 2500 miles, I’ve grown and learned a tremendous amount. Onyx: France changed my outlook. It was so much more colorful and full of life than what I thought before going. It encouraged me to be more open to the unfamiliar. Jeta: The strong air of gratitude in Marrakesh, Morocco was very humbling. – Global Lipstick