How Globetrotters Are Satisfying Their Quarantine Wanderlust
Some frequent travelers are writing notes to the people who made their travel experience memorable as a way of saying thanks and reliving their experiences.
Why travelers are writing letters during the quarantine
Travel may be on hold right now due to regulations and restrictions to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. While many would-be travelers are sticking close to home, they’re still reminiscing about their favorite vacation memories and writing letters to the people that impacted them along their bucket-list-worthy journeys. The heartwarming #BeTogether movement was launched by Intrepid Travel, which has collected over 100 letters to date. Here are some of the notes that globetrotters have written to that special person who made their travel experience memorable—from homestay hosts who made them feel right at home, to strangers who became roommates turned lifelong friends, to travel agents who made it all magically work. (Their letters have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
To an Inca Trail porter who made a trip possible for a blind man
Travel is one of my greatest joys in life and during this time of lockdowns and travel bans, I have been going back and reliving some of the best experiences of my life.
When I told people I was going to attempt the Inca Trail in a single day, they told me it’s crazy for anyone to try, let alone as a blind person. You ran the Inca Trail three times before I arrived to make sure I’d be OK. And then you ran with me every step of the way.
We live in such a visual world that it’s difficult for some people to understand how I see beauty. But for me, it’s the people I am with. And people like you.
I wish you well and look forward to our next visit to Peru when this pandemic passes.
To an Iranian guide
You’ve been one of the most inspirational people I’ve met on my travels. You educated us on many of the misconceptions about Iran, and you symbolize the strong will that challenges gender roles in your country. It was great getting to see Iran from such an open-minded perspective, while still respecting the local traditions and culture.
From buying bread on the street to visiting iconic heritage sites like Persepolis, and eating with locals at their home, you always made our trip feel like a fun adventure full of discovery. And it is thanks to you and your passion that I’m eager to go back to Iran to explore even more of your beautiful country. I’ll always remember celebrating our birthdays together and commemorating it with a photoshoot—Iranian style!
Stay strong and healthy! The best is yet to come!
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To a guide in Cuba
I can’t even begin to thank you enough for leading us on the gorgeous tour of your home country of Cuba—and for letting us discover what life is truly like for Cubans by showing us, not telling us, on the Hola Cuba trip.
It was just a few weeks before Obama’s famous visit to your country in 2016 and you allowed a group of Americans to come with our preconceived notions and not judge us for them. You listened to our questions and answered them with facts, allowing us to uncover the true beauty of Cuba and the Cuban people.
And boy did that scorpion on the dance floor in Trinidad make our outing to the cave bar in your hometown memorable!
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To an Everest Base Camp guide
Nine years later, it’s your face that I can still see most clearly when I think about our Everest Base Camp (EBC) trip.
EBC was the most physically and mentally demanding challenge. Any angst or nerves I had about embarking on the trek were put away by your calm demeanor, quiet wisdom, jolly chuckles, and one-line “Ram-isms” that had us all laughing all the way up and down the mountain (which still make me smile when I think of them now).
It wasn’t only your prowess as a leader that made that trek so memorable, but something about you reminded me of my father, who had passed away just months before our trip. Your mannerisms, quirks, and habits somehow made me feel like he was there with me, adding an extra layer of comfort, even though I was so far from home.
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To the man, she serendipitously met
We were hiking in the Nuratau Mountains [in Uzbekiztan] when I saw you standing in your backyard in your royal purple robe. “What’s your name?” you asked. I told you the shortened version I’ve been using since birth: Lola. “Are you African?” you asked. I responded that yes, I’m Nigerian.
“Then tell me your real name. Because I know it has meaning. African names always have deep meanings.” Hushbek… At that moment, in one of the most remote places I’d ever explored, you made me feel fully seen. You acknowledged me for who I am. “Onoaralolaoluwa,” I finally told you. “It means God moves in mysterious ways.” And you smiled back at me, knowingly. So, Hushbek… I don’t know if we’ll ever meet again, but God certainly carved space in my heart for you when I was least expecting it.
Thank you for fully seeing me,
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To her roommate who became a friend
We met in Kathmandu on Valentine’s Day 2015 the day before our Intrepid adventure to Base Camp Everest began. We have been best friends ever since. I never would’ve thought my randomly chosen roommate would be born in the same year and be from the same city.
We both booked the trip only weeks prior and had no idea of the adventures and memories we were about to share. I still wouldn’t be able to point out Everest in a mountain line-up but it doesn’t matter because neither could you.
To an Inca Trail guide who helped a sick traveler
In March 2019, you were my tour leader on the Inca Trail Express. I was incredibly sick with food poisoning but determined to make it to Machu Picchu.
You may not know it, but you’re the reason I actually finished the Inca Trail. Between the fatigue and sickness, I contemplated turning back many times but your patience with my glacial pace, words of encouragement, and inspiring stories of travelers who completed the trail is what ultimately kept me going.
It’s been one year since I completed the trail but it’s a memory I’ll never forget and you played a huge part in that. Thank you for your support, patience, and encouragement. I’ll forever cherish The Inca Trail in my memories.
To her tripmates who became dear companions
Dear Thea and Bhakti,
I missed my husband, and you two, gave me shelter, a place to be, friends to share the experience with.
Bhakti, I’ll never forget your kindness in agreeing to swap bunks with me on the train. I remember you doing Tai Chi at the station and wearing the conductor’s hat on the train!
I remember us eating street food together in Chengdu and you, Thea, offering me a taste of your spiraled potato that took me right back to my childhood in Melbourne. And of course, being my companion for those two spectacular shows we went to together. And walking together down to the harbor to watch the Hong Kong light show.
I feel so lucky to have met you both, and I hope I get to see you again one day! In so many ways you made the trip more special for me.
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To her fellow cyclist
It’s no secret that two weeks of biking up mountains in Morocco for my first ever cycling trip was an intense physical challenge for me. At the beginning of the trip, it was incredibly tough to keep up with the group, and I honestly wasn’t sure I could finish it. But from the very first hard hill climb, I remember you both at the top, cheering, waiting to give high fives. Your support really did make a difference. When you go off on a tour as a solo traveler, you’re never sure how you will connect with others. You guys made me feel like part of a team.
Thanks for the riding advice, the kind words of encouragement, and great memories. Safe journeys and I hope our paths cross again.
To her Indian guide who made her feel young again
I was in my early 80s when I did the Rajasthan Experience trip with you as my leader. From the moment you met me in Delhi, took my baggage, and introduced me to the others, I knew I had met another friend. From there the magic of India took over and we smiled as we learned a little history and had a lot of fun.
Thanks to you, Raj, I was young again. In fact, when I broke a rule and was quietly reminded, I was 14 again in the headmaster’s office! We explored Jaipur, goggled at the Taj Mahal, and rode camels in the Thar Desert. Me! On a camel! And I loved it!
I never thought I would have such fun again. Thank you so much for every single day of it.
To her Colombian guide
We’re thousands of miles apart but we’re facing this pandemic together. As I sit cooped up in my small New York apartment, I dream of being back in Colombia with you and our group.
Just last summer, you guided us through your country, an experience I consider to be my most treasured yet. To say you made the trip would be an understatement. Seeing Colombia through your eyes and hearing about your personal experiences made the destination that much more special. I’ve never eaten better than at the restaurants you selected for us—if only I could have a Limonada de Coco right about now! And of course, I can never thank you enough for cheering me on through our very challenging hike through Cocora Valley. There’s no way I would have made it up that mountain without you.
I hope to have more adventures with you one day.
To her cherished travel mate
In early March, as the world started to fall apart, you opened up to me about your journey and how you dealt with cancer. As you so proudly narrated how you did not give up and took every day as a challenge, I started tearing up.
To me, you are a warrior. Not the warrior we see on screen, but a warrior in real life. You are the most fearless person I have ever met.
I always stress over family issues but that all seemed so worthless after listening to your story. Your perspective left such an impact on me. So, thank you for sharing your journey with me and Intrepid—I loved showing you my country and I am already missing our sundowner in the Thar Desert in India.
I hope to see you someday somewhere. Namaste in the Bar!
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