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People Are Sharing The Vacations That Were Actually Low-Key Life-Changing

"I was dealing with anxiety and depression, and that trip was exactly what I needed to heal and appreciate the world."

Travel can be many things. It can be awe-inspiring, stressful, thrilling, and even nerve-racking. But travel can also be life-changing in the best way possible. Here are some trips that people say actually changed the way they see themselves and the world around them.

1. "During my senior year of high school, I was diagnosed with a serious illness and spent awhile fighting for my life in the hospital. Recovery was difficult and painful, and even after I went into remission, I knew I wasn't ready to dive into college. So I took a leap of faith and spent the next year working and traveling around New Zealand. Everything about the country was beautiful, and for the first time in a long time, I felt alive again. I was able to heal and reflect on what I had been through, and I even met my significant other there. I think taking that trip was the best decision I have ever made."

A winding road with mountains in the backdrop in New Zealand
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2. "I hiked 545 miles of the Camino de Santiago in Spain. I learned that each step actually does add up to something amazing. It made me realize I don't need to question my ability to achieve a goal. It also made moving across the country much easier. If I had a possession I couldn't carry on my back, I realized I didn't really need it."

People walking on a dirt road in Spain
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3. "I'm from Ireland, and I traveled around America for three months by myself. New York was one of the places where I had the most amazing experiences. My time there taught me that I was able to do everything alone, and I met some beautiful people along the way."

A man walking on the Old Dock under Brooklyn Bridge at sunset
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4. After I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, my doctor strongly suggested I drop out of college for a while. I was devastated, but my brother was studying abroad in Brazil, so I packed my bags and met him in Peru. We traveled to Machu Picchu. I stood at the top of the beautiful mountains and took a deep breath and let myself cry. It was that trip that helped me regain the strength and the will to recover."

Machu Picchu in Peru
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5. "When I was getting close to graduating from school, I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. I needed to know that I could do something big and unfamiliar, so I decided to travel to Europe alone for two months. I ended up successfully navigating through 18 cities in 12 different countries, and I traveled over 16,000 miles. Every minute of it was incredible and worth every challenge I faced."

A backpacker admiring an old building
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6. "Sleeping under the stars in a swag tent in the Australian outback. After the moon had set and the campfire had died down, there was zero light pollution. The Milky Way and all the stars were gorgeous. Then a meteor shower started."

A tent underneath the starry night sky
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7. "I grew up in a small town, and the summer I turned 18, I traveled to Berlin. Living in a city where everything was fast-paced, new, and exciting made me question the way I lived my own life in my hometown. After Berlin, I realized I wanted to live in a city and couldn't imagine my life anywhere else."

The streets of Berlin
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8. "The day after my 18th birthday, I got on a plane to Costa Rica all by myself to go meet my father. During my layover in El Salvador, it finally hit me that I was alone, thousands of miles from home, flying to a country where I don't speak the language to meet a man I hadn't seen in years, and hardly even knew. When I finally got through customs I realized I had been crying."

A lush jungle in Costa Rica
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"Ultimately, I saw a new part of the world, and I came home with a better understanding of where I came from. I'd taken four flights and traveled abroad by myself. After that trip, I felt like I was ready to take on the world."  —barlow3825

9. "The best travel experience I've had was living in Kyoto. I had lived in Manhattan and San Francisco and wanted to spend time in an older, more sacred place. One of my most vibrant memories was walking through a meditative, 600-year-old Japanese garden at midnight while holding a paper lantern and letting it go to float down a stream. Kyoto is a wonder, and I hope everyone gets the chance to experience it as I did."

A traditional Japanese garden
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10. "Stargazing and seeing the sunrise over the Sahara Desert in Morocco."

Camels under the stars in the Sahara Desert
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11. "After quitting my job, I flew to France and hiked over the Pyrenees into Spain. I had to stop every 10 minutes to catch my breath; I couldn't feel my hands or feet; I felt discouraged the whole time because I felt like I just couldn't do it. After eight hours, I made it over the mountain into Spain. I cried because I finally did it, and without anyone's help. It was the best feeling I've ever had."

The Pyrenees Mountains
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12. "A few years back, a friend tried to convince me to take the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Beijing. After about a year of haggling me, I finally agreed to go. It was totally out of my comfort zone since I am naturally introverted, but I decided to go for it. After flying into Moscow, we went through Siberia and stopped in some Russian cities along the way. Then we went to Mongolia and ended in Beijing, where we hiked along the Great Wall for my 21st birthday."

A train going through the countryside
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"It opened my eyes to all of the things I've missed living in the comfortable little world I was used to. Now, I never want to look back on life and think I should've gone for something that I was afraid of." —waylonwolfb

13. "I studied abroad in Stockholm for a summer. I learned so much, met awesome people, and it inspired a sense of wanderlust in me that I'll have for the rest of my life."

A city square in Stockholm
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14. "Shortly after two people I cared about passed away, I studied abroad in Chile. I also dealing with anxiety and depression, and that trip was exactly what I needed to heal and appreciate the world."

A traveler in Torres del Paine, Chile
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"Chile is known for its diverse climates and natural beauty, and it was comforting to witness it all for myself.  I needed the incredible sunsets and delicious empanadas to bring me back to myself." —Andrea McCall

15. "A trip to Eastern Europe when I visited Auschwitz, Sarajevo, and Mostar. That trip was very eye-opening and opened my eyes to just how low humans can go."

A bridge over a river in Sarajevo
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16. "I traveled to Australia on my own at 18. I forced myself to be outgoing and talk to other travelers. I learned to cook, how to plan adventures, and I learned about traveling on a budget. This trip set me up with some real-life skills, great stories, and friends who I've reconnected with over the years. In Australia, I caught a travel bug that inspired me to visit 40-plus other countries."

The sun setting over the Twelve Apostles in Australia
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"It sounds cliché, but traveling on your own with just a backpack really helps you grow as a person and builds character." —u/Easy7777

17. "Visiting the Hall of the Two Sisters in the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. It was the most mind-blowing and beautiful piece of architecture I have ever seen. The whole Alhambra is amazing, but being in that room made me feel like I was standing in the center of the universe."

A room in the Alhambra in Granada
Christophe Boisvieux / Getty Images

18. "I was planning on traveling to the Caribbean with my ex-girlfriend, but she broke up with me unexpectedly. I called the airline and changed my destination to Iceland. I ended up road-tripping around the Ring Road, which was my first solo international trip. I stayed in hostels, met a bunch of people, and went on adventures I never knew I was capable of."

A quiet road in Iceland
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"That trip lit a fire in me, and I've since fallen in love with solo travel. Now I'm intent on seeing as much of the world as possible." —u/KaiserChavez

19. "When I was newly divorced in my 30s, I went to New Zealand alone, and it was totally transformative. It's such a beautiful, magical country. I did exactly what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it for the first time ever. I met people, did crazy things, and had the time of my life. I came home feeling more centered and happier. It helped me discover that I can follow my desires and achieve what I put my mind to."

An aerial view of a bridge in New Zealand
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20. "Finding a quiet temple in Old Bagan, Myanmar, where I could watch the sunrise completely alone and undisturbed. When the hot air balloons started flying, I almost felt like I was in a dream."

A sunset in Bagan
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21. "I went to Spain on my first solo trip, and so many things went wrong. I was bumped off my flight, and the next wasn’t available for 24 hours. I really struggled being alone because it was a very new experience for me. When I got home and reflected on that trip, it made me realize how much I am capable of by myself, and how much braver I actually am than I thought. Fast-forward a decade, and I jump on any opportunity to travel alone or with others."

A quiet street in Barcelona
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Have you had a travel adventure or an incredible trip that changed your life in some way? Tell us in the comments below.