Traveler Mike D. wowed us with his story about a fellow traveler he met on tour, who inspired him to continue traveling and explore as much of the world as possible. See his winning entry below, then read on for our chat with the lucky winner and to hear how traveling the world has helped shape his perspective.
Tell us about a favorite moment you’ve had while seeing the world with a fellow traveler.
Michael credits the man he met on tour in Kenya—along with the many other travelers he’s met along the years—as the reason he and his wife Karen travel as frequently as they can. They both spend most of their time away from home, working part-time as tour managers for a local company that brings students to historic U.S. destinations, and traveling with Go Ahead when they’re not working or spending time with family.
“We’re never home!” Mike says when asked about what he does in his free time. “We figured we spent an average of 110-130 days away from home last year. We lead a rich, full, busy life—we’re not home sitting in front of a TV.”
Mike was bitten by the travel bug when he made his first trip abroad in 1996 to Europe and discovered the magic of meeting new people and learning new cultures. “I have a phrase: It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey,” he says. “It’s the people you meet along the way, on the tour, that you interact with, and the things that you observe on the tour of other societies and other people that make it what it is.”
Mike says that he’s always surprised when people ask him why he and his wife like to go on tours where they don’t know anyone. “Why?” he explains, “It’s the best way to go! You’re forced to spend time with other people, you learn about them, and then you become friends.”
Now that Mike and his wife take two trips every year, he’s been able to rack up visits to a number of different countries and continents—and has a number of favorite destinations. “If you want adventure, something different, you have to go to Kenya and Tanzania,” Mike urges. “If you want culture, anywhere in Europe—Vienna in particular is amazing. And if you want beauty, the Alps are the most beautiful. It’s hard to describe.”
As for getting the winning phone call, it certainly took Mike and his wife by surprise. “I absolutely couldn’t believe it, I was stunned!” he said. “We started screaming.”
Which leads us to our most important question: Where will he go with his free tour? “We were already thinking about winter 2016 because we like to plan two tours ahead. We were going to do Brazil, but now we’re looking at South Africa. The combination of city and game preserves, and since it’s far away, it seems like a nice tour to do.”
Want the chance to win your own free tour? Check back every month to share your story for the chance to win!