You don’t need a passport to travel around the world. Enjoying all of the things that travel offers–new cultures, foods, and experiences–can happen close to home.

During this COVID era when we haven’t been able to take flight to a land far away we’ve found creative ways to appease our wanderlust. We’ve embarked on virtual tours, and relived past travel journeys as we’ve scrolled through our photo streams and even traveled vicariously through the lens and stories of other travelers.

Photos and good storytelling inspire and engage our senses so we have curated this compelling photo essay from 16 fellow travelers who have memorable travel stories to share. In the short photo stories below these travelers relive this travel memory and they invite us to experience the moment with them.

Let your imagination roam as you traverse the world through photos and stories from India to Ukraine, the United States and beyond.

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  • Pink Lake. Photo: Alona Tiunina
  • Mirror of Pink Lake. Photo: Alona Tiunina

“The pink lake in Ukraine is inconvenient to reach and its kind of ugly from the shore. However if you walk a few hundred meters into the lake you will be met with barbie-pink colored water and that will just takes your breath away. This pink lake s my favorite discovery in 2020.”

Alona Tiunina, Jet Set Together

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Sunrise photo courtesy of Subhadeep Mondal
Sunrise photo courtesy of Subhadeep Mondal

“In 2018, I had a 10 day trip in the state of Rajasthan, India with my family. Usually I travel with my family twice a year but that year we could only manage to take one trip. It was a road trip starting from Delhi and ending at Jaipur with stops in Agra, Jaipur, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur in between. We covered some of the best travel destinations in India during our trip and the memories associated with each and every place are still alive in our memories. For me, the best memory of all was an hour that we spent in the middle of Thar Desert near Sam, Jaisalmer where we witnessed one of the best sunrises Ive ever experienced. I sat with my family on a charpai over a sand dune as we watched the golden sun rise over the horizon. This is an experience that I will never forget in my life.”

Subhadeep Mondal, My Travel Frames

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Mongolian-Sheep-by-Vivian-Wang
Photo: Vivian Wang

“Two years ago, I visited Ömnögovi, Mongolia because my brother was completing his time there with the Peace Corp. It was the first time I felt so connected to nature. We drove endlessly through pasture, deserts and rocky terrain. Occasionally we stopped for the sheep to pass through.”

Vivian Wang, Viv The Wanderer

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  • Rapid No 18, known as ‘Oblivion. Photo courtesy of Jackie Lamert
  • Rapid called ‘Stairwayto Heaven’ photo courtesy of Jackie Lambert
  • Rapid a few days down the Zambezi from Victoria Falls, unseen by most, known as ‘Upper Moemba Falls’. Photo: Jackie Lambert

“A solo holiday rafting the Zambezi River in Africa; unexpectedly facing 60km of the biggest white water in the world, crocodiles and hippos was terrifying, exhilarating, intimidating and intoxicating.

We cooked on wood fires and slept under the stars.

I learned there’s more to life than work-eat-sleep-repeat.

Now, I travel full time.”

Jacqueline Lambert, World Wide Walkies

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Christine and Sam in Capri. Photo courtesy of Christine Andraus
Christine and Sam in Capri. Photo courtesy of Christine Andraus

“In 2012, I met my husband on a train in Venice, Italy when I was traveling solo. For three weeks after we met, we were inseparable as we meandered through Florence, Rome, Positano and Capri. We married shortly after that trip and are still going strong 8 years later.”

Christine Andraus, Partenza Travel

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Mouth of Spearfish Community Caves. Photo: David N. Brace
Mouth of Spearfish Community Caves. Photo: David N. Brace

“Travel has a way of opening us up to finding those special places that stop us in our tracks. Those places that are so touching, so historical, so awesome that they demand reverence. Like when we found ochre hand prints while exploring the Spearfish Community Caves in the Black Hills of South Dakota.”

David N. Brace, DavidNBrace.com

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Half Dome in Yosemite National Park
Half Dome. Photo courtesy of Steve Silberberg

“One of my happiest travel moments was summiting Half Dome in California’s Yosemite National Park. I could try to explain why, but I think the photo does that for me.”

-Steve Silberberg, Fitpacking

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Antarctica by kayak photo courtesy of Rax from NomadsUnveiled.
Antarctica by kayak photo courtesy of Rax from NomadsUnveiled.

“Soaking in the tranquillity of Antarctica from a Kayak. The majestic ice scape certainly made it an unforgettable experience, but the lifelong gain is a new friend who would become my travel buddy for another 6 months (and many more to come).”

Rax, NomadsUnveiled

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  • Cnoc na Mara photo by Iain Miller.
  • Cnoc na Mara. Photo: Iain Miller.
  • Photo courtesy of Iain Miller

“On a family holiday to County Donegal in the north-west of Ireland in the mid-1990s, I discovered through the eyes of a rockclimber an unclimbed sea stack called Cnoc na Mara. This sea stack became the inspiration behind making many life-changing decisions to become what I am today.”

Iain Miller, Unique Ascent

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The trekker and yak right before the attack. Photo: Shreeram Thapaliya
The trekker and yak right before the attack. Photo: Shreeram Thapaliya

“In 2013 I had a group of trekkers from Poland that I took to the Manaslu circuit in Nepal. As we were trekking near the village of Samagaun, one of my clients saw a white yak and went to touch it. The yak turned and attacked the trekker and chased him away. Luckily neither the trekker or the yak were seriously harmed. While this is not my best travel experience it is my most memorable one.” (Editors note: Wild animals are not domestic pets. Respect wildlife.)

Shreeram Thapaliya, Nepal Trek Hub

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Rattlesnake Canyon in Page, Arizona. Photo: Delaney Van
Rattlesnake Canyon in Page, Arizona. Photo: Delaney Van

“It wasn’t supposed to be a private tour, but the snow must have scared everyone else off. Unhindered by other tourists, I photographed the rare of sight of Rattlesnake Canyon in Page, Arizona free of tourists and covered in a fresh blanket of snow. It was a photographer’s paradise.”

Delaney Van, Aperture Adventure

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“This past summer we visited Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. As we pulled into the parking lot, a woman frantically waved us to get off and head to the stream. Boy, we were in for a treat!

A mommy moose and her two kids were were arriving at the stream. They played, ate, wrestled, raced and in front of our eyes rolled a National Geographic show for 30 minutes. After 100 countries and dozens of African wildlife safaris, this was a memory for the memory lane.

As if this was not enough, at the end we looked up, only to see my cousin and his family heading towards up. Our jaws dropped! We had no clue that we were heading to the same place from two different parts of the country, even though we chat all the time.

Sadly, they had missed the entire Moose show because their camera needed a battery change.”

Jyoti Baid, Story At Every Corner

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Sunrise over the Himalayas. Photo: Carol Ketelson
Sunrise over the Himalayas. Photo: Carol Ketelson

“Sometimes the most memorable moments are the unexpected ones, especially during travels. In November of 2019, I was in Darjeeling, India and staying at a heavenly tea estate, which lies above the banks of the Rungeet River, high in the Himalayas – the magnificent Kanchenjunga mountain range. One can never predict the weather, and we hoped during our 4-night stay for a clear morning to see the sunrise and blessed we were.”

Carol Ketelson, Delectable Destinations

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“I ventured out of my hotel on a gray rainy day during a work trip to Paris. I wandered through the streets aimlessly until I came to a cobblestone walkway. I looked up, and walking towards me was my best friend from kindergarten who I hadn’t seen in years.”

Lauren Levy, Aden’s Mom

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Rome Italy

“Last year I took my mom to Rome. It’s been something she had been talking about as long as I could remember. It was a magical experience and I could really tell I gave my mom back some of the magic she had given me while raising me.”

Sam Fletcher, Open Road Reviews

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Family photo courtesy of Portia O'Laughlin
Family photo courtesy of Portia O’Laughlin

“The best travel moments are the unplanned ones. We arrived in Paris, but our luggage was lost. We went ahead with this pre-planned photo shoot in the clothes we had on. Our photographer was fun and so amazing that the problem of our missing luggage disappeared for a moment. Now, we have this great memory.”

Portia O’Laughlin, When I Wander

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I hope that these stories have inspired your imagination and satisfied your wanderlust for a moment.

If you would like to share one of your favorite travel memories please comment below. Until we’re able to safely travel again we will continue to live vicariously through travel stories like these.