11 Travel Destinations That Changed Me

11 Travel Destinations That Changed Me

I read an article recently about the power of experiences and how they yield greater long-term happiness than material possessions. It got me thinking about the travel experiences I’ve been blessed to have over the years.

I’ve come to adopt a motto my friend Mark Batterson articulated: Change of Pace + Change of Place = Change of Perspective.

Here are the top 11 places that come to mind when I think about major changes of perspective I have had while traveling (in no particular order).

  1. Milford Sound, New Zealand
    I backpacked NZ and Australia solo when I graduated from college. It built my confidence and taught me how to navigate new places on my own. To this day the most beautiful place I’ve ever been is Milford Sound. On that trip I met up and shared portions of the journey with folks from Sweden, India, Singapore, Germany, China and Mexico. I got hooked on traveling cheaply on this trip.

  2. Mt. Everest Basecamp, Tibet
    We slept in a rustic building that was part of a Buddhist monastery. It was freakin’ cold! The next morning we hiked up toward the Rombuk glacier that runs the north face of Qomolongma (as the locals call it). I can’t quite explain what a spiritual experience it was, but I always remember it – even though it was kind of miserable.


  1. Machu Picchu, Peru
    I’ve been to MP countless times and it never loses its wonder. Pictures don’t do it justice. You just need to go. Seriously. It’s breathtaking. Every time I’m there I feel a powerful connection with God and his world. 
    Joel, Wes and Matt Chandler
  2. Gorkhi Terelj National Park, Mongolia
    We slept in a yurt and rode horses on the Mongolian steppe. My sister was with me which made it extra cool. It was incredible. On this trip we also stayed in a hostel for 5 days with the most diverse group of people from all over the world I’ve ever met. It changed a lot of mindsets I had about people. We became a little family. We even made a movie.
  3. Angel Falls, Venezuela
    Since I was twelve and my dad brought back a postcard of the highest waterfall in the world I always wanted to visit Salto Angel. It’s not easy to get to. It requires flights in single engine planes landing on remote strips and long dugout canoe rides up jungle rivers, but it was one of the most memorable travel experiences I’ve ever had. Another one of those difficult journeys that completely changed my perspective and helped me process a really challenging time in my life.
  4. Glencoe, Scotland
    My friend Louie and I stood at the base of three misty mountains listening to a man in full Scottish regalia playing a bagpipe that echoed through the valley. It was haunting and inspiring. God spoke to me through something Louie said there and the experience around it.
  5. Petra, Jordan
    I dreamed of going to Petra since I was fourteen. When Emily and I finally got to go the ancient rock-hewn settlement didn’t disappoint. I think the best part though was doing the trip with my parents and friends Alan and Dorothy and our guide who was basically a Jordanian John Wayne in the flesh. He was freaking awesome. We drank coffee grounds (aka Jordanian coffee) and chatted it up with the Bedouins who live in the area (and have a pretty sweet deal going.)
  6. Rhine Falls, Switzerland
    We slept in a castle-turned-hostel just above the falls after driving around the Black Forest of southern Germany all day. I remember lying in my little bunk bed surrounded by strangers, hearing the roar of the falls out my window and feeling super alive.



  1. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
    It was Valentine’s Day three years after we were married that Emily and I sat on the dock of the Red Mangrove at sunset eating sushi and fighting off a sea lion who had an eye on our raw fish. Emily and I talk about that glimpse-of-heaven moment all the time. It was the end of one season and the start of a new one that I’ll never forget.


  1. Cinque Terre, Italy (Vernazza)
    Emily and I stumbled on this place while we were doing our backpacking honeymoon through Italy. We both fell in love with it. This was the first place I realized what an adventurous woman I had married and it got me super excited about traveling with my amazing new traveling companion.


  1. Gora El’brus, Russia
    It was on this trip climbing in the Caucasus Mountains that God gave me the dream to do what I’m doing today. It was a transcendent moment that I’ll never forget sitting on the side of that mountain in the blizzard looking out over the Cheget Valley.

Get out there and change up your perspective a little. It’s amazing what God can do in and through you when you are open to new experiences!