Ker & Downey staff members share stories from their most life changing trip. 

For me, I would say two trips have changed my life. The first was my very first safari to Botswana when I was just nine years old. (My mother speaks about the same trip below.) It opened my eyes to a world I hardly knew existed and sparked my enduring love affair with Africa and her people.

The second life changing trip was the fall I spent in Italy in college. I was there to study architecture, but I learned so much more. In addition to the eye opening experiences you have with other cultures living abroad, I learned that I could do something on my own like spend three months away from family and everything familiar, and gained confidence as an international traveler, exploring much of Italy on the weekends, in addition to a few other countries on longer holidays.

But both experiences changed me. I am who I am today because I’ve had the opportunity to travel. So I thought I’d ask some of Ker & Downey’s other staff member about the most life changing trip they’ve been on too. It’s interesting to hear how travel has shaped so many of us.

A Family Safari in Botswana

The year we took our daughters to Africa. They were in third grade at the time. They are now 32. We realized that it was time to get them out of the comforts of their own home and see how others lived. Since then they have been avid international travelers. Other than opening their eyes to an education that books can’t give them, it also taught them compassion. They both now have a sense of what is really important in life, which is service to others and the importance of putting others before themselves, especially those who are less fortunate. – Gana Marek, Office Manager

Life Changing Trip - Luxury Travel - Adventure Travel - Ker Downey

A Cultural Eye Opener

I was over 30 before I took my first trip outside of North America and the Caribbean. I went to a training class in Nice, France and I was the only American. Everyone else was from other countries whose primary language was not English. Meeting people and learning about their cultures and beliefs, even their “jokes” were different, was such a huge eye opener for me. To me, it is all about the people and the culture – oh and did I mention the food? Everything tastes better in the country the dish was originally created in. I love Gyro’s from Santorini loaded with French fries. – Cherie Whately, Air Department Manager

Life Changing Trip - Luxury Travel - Adventure Travel - Ker Downey

A Journey to Refocus

Every trip has impacted me in some way, but traveling to Cuba hit me at a time in my life when I was looking to simplify and refocus. Immersing myself in a culture that embraces ingenuity and a “make it work” attitude was exactly what I needed to remind me that it doesn’t have to be perfect as long as it works. You can indeed add parts from five different cars to make one that will get you from point A to point B. The Cuban focus on family and community imprinted itself on me too. Reveling in the every day is important, and it can be as easy as sharing a meal or tending a garden. – Katy Heerssen, Content Manager

Life Changing Trip - Luxury Travel - Adventure Travel - Ker Downey

The Great American Roadtrip

A life changing trip for me was in the 7th grade. It was my second time on a plane and I hit the American West. It was my first time venturing into our National Parks and it was a full on adventure—I hit Salt Lake City, Jackson Hole (WY), Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Glacier National Park, and Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta.

This was my first foray into the adventure of a road trip. It was life changing because it gave me a new perspective of wilderness, the great expanse of the American West, the Rocky Mountains, white water rafting on the Snake River, and phenomena like the geysers of Yellowstone and the roaming buffalo outside the Tetons.

Travel took on new meaning because I realized ground that could be covered over the course of 8 days, the unpredictability of unplanned days filled with spontaneity, the joy of being with those you love and on the move, and the excitement of covering new ground in states I’d never ventured to.

This travel across the American West launched a love of road trips, a commitment to making travel a priority throughout my youth and now as a career in the luxury travel industry, and even brought about my continued habit of setting aside money monthly into a travel fund that grows throughout the year and leaves me with funds available to jump at terrific travel opportunities. – Barrett Caldwell, Regional Sales Manager

Life Changing Trip - Luxury Travel - Adventure Travel - Ker Downey

A Journey to Discover Heritage

My most life changing trip was to India. My parents raised my sisters and I with our culture, language, dress, and food, but I had not actually been to India till I was 33. We visited the simple village where my grandfather was born. It is a place stuck in time where the women and men still dress in colorful traditional garb and are predominantly farmers. It was an emotional experience to stand on the beach of the sparkling Arabian Sea where my grandfather boarded a boat as a teenager to set off to East Africa in search of better opportunities. Because of his bold decision, I am here today. My Dad seemed very happy to be able to share our family history with my sister and I and I will be forever grateful that I got to see our motherland through his eyes. – Rina Chandarana, Marketing and Content Assistant

Life Changing Trip - Luxury Travel - Adventure Travel - Ker Downey

A Summer Romance

In the summer of 1983, I was visiting my family, while they were vacationing on Cape Cod, MA.  They were staying in Truro (6 miles from Provincetown). A sister of mine decided to visit too and bring a few friends along. One had a boat and the other tagged along. My family and I were all still living in NY, but this one sister had recently relocated to Massachusetts. Well, I joined my sister and her friends on a boating expedition and the tag along named David and I hit it off pretty well. Hence we were engaged in 1984 and married in 1985. I am a transplanted New Yorker living and loving Massachusetts and “Old Cape Cod” ever since. – Joan Belanger, Air Specialist

The Best Education

My life was forever changed at the age of 14 when I was invited to Greece and Italy to study ancient civilization along the Mediterranean. I had traveled extensively with my family as a kid — mostly to nearby destinations like the National Parks, New York, or Mexico – so I understood the fun, relaxation, and even the newness associated with travel. But my trip to Greece and Italy was the first time I realized that travel can teach you and transform you and cement a cultural identity into your heart. It’s been almost 20 years since that experience, and I can still spout much of the mythology and history I learned while I was there. It just goes to show that travel is really so much better than any textbook! – Elizabeth Frels, Product Manager

Life Changing Trip - Luxury Travel - Adventure Travel - Ker Downey

A Journey of Self Discovery

When I first started at Ker & Downey I came across the idea of doing a surf and yoga retreat in Bali. It was far enough to be a challenge to travel to, I had always wanted to learn how to surf and loved the idea of doing yoga every day. Two years later, I saved up and had a special anniversary that I wanted to celebrate by doing my first solo trip. After 24 hours of flying, I landed in the sweltering hot and humid Canggu and was taken to a stunning retreat surrounded by nature and serenity. For a week I did sunrise yoga, surfed every day, biked through Ubud, ran along tea plantations, I even did a private Muay Thai lesson outside my villa. Along with that were daily massages, Balinese healing sessions, and a tarot card reading that is shockingly all coming true.

It’s hard to explain the peace and openness I felt there for that magical week. I could be exactly who I was at all times, whether it was being alone laying in an outdoor bed reading, or hanging out at the pool with the other women at the retreat having deep conversations as to what was happening within us. Delicious, healthy local meals were prepared for us every day. It was heaven. I have always wanted my life to be more active and more involved in nature, I felt like my truest self in Bali. No makeup, no fancy clothes, I lived in a bathing suit or a sarong and the only product on my body was sunscreen.

Ever since I took that leap of faith and landed in Indonesia a great spark for travel has ignited. I now have a greater understanding of myself and what is important to me. I also realized that there is a great, big world out there and that I needed to experience more. How could I stay in the same city for 8 years when I could live anywhere? I am now on Remote Year, where I am working remotely and living in a new city every month for a year spanning from Latin America to Asia. I don’t think I would have had the courage to go on such an adventure if I had not had that experience in Bali. It has been truly life changing. Bali is an incredibly freeing place, I encourage anyone to experience it for themselves. – Amy Willis, Graphic Designer

Life Changing Trip - Luxury Travel - Adventure Travel - Ker Downey

What’s the most life changing trip you’ve had? We’d love to hear about it. Hop on over to our Facebook page and share your story with us! To start planning a life changing trip of your own, contact your Luxury Travel Consultant.