Newly married and established in her career as an award-winning newspaper journalist, Maggie Downs quits her job, sells her belongings, and embarks on the solo trip of a lifetime: Her mother's.
As a child, Maggie Downs often doubted that she would ever possess the courage to visit the destinations her mother dreamed of one day seeing. You are braver than you think, her mother always insisted. That statement would guide her as, over the course of one year, Downs backpacked through ...
Author Maggie Downs shares a memory of traveling to Egypt—and the aroma still associated with it, a decade later.
Scent is inexorably linked to memory. Author Maggie Downs explores what makes aromas so enduring—and how we can sniff out more powerful travel experiences.
The soft, gold-threaded scarf in my hands contains a secret. Whenever I bury my nose in the fabric and breathe deeply, the Red Sea greets me. In an instant, I’m transported to a serene ...
I worried that being a mother would derail travel — but I found a fellow adventurer in my sweet seven-year-old son
Over the course of our two-week trip, the texture of travel changes. It’s deeper, more robust.
Years ago, I watched someone fling a message in a bottle into the Strait of Gibraltar. It bobbled there on the surface, this container of mystery and love, before it was pulled away with the current.
I think of it again this spring, eyeing my travel companion in Caye Caulker, Belize. The water is teal, warm, and silky with salt. Beneath us, the second largest barrier reef in the world teems with col...
Gordon Hempton believes there’s a reason why “peace and quiet” is a common phrase. It’s because quiet cultivates peace.
Hempton, an acoustic ecologist who’s been recording the sounds of nature for more than 40 years, has witnessed the adverse effects of noise pollution on public health and the environment. Now, as the co-founder of the nonprofit Quiet Parks International, he’s on a quest to preserve quiet spaces around the world, before peace and quiet become extinct.
“There’s this relationsh...
Rail riders past and present leave messages for each other, but not the ones you’ve probably heard about.
Connecticut Shorty caught her first ride in the porch of a grainer—the slender, metal cutout on a grain-filled train car—traveling about 200 miles across Northern California, from Dunsmuir to Roseville. It was 1993, and Shorty, then 51, was learning how to hop freight trains from a man known as Road Hog USA. He was a hobo, part of an American tradition that emerged after the Civil War: tr...
The first time I thought about the scent of Palm Springs, I was in another desert, one nearly 7,700 miles away. I was staying in a military ambulance that had been converted into a camper, parked for the night among the rugged rock and dramatic canyons of Wadi Rum, Jordan.
It rained during the night. By the time I awoke, th...
Ten mothers define motherhood
When lockdown began, I was still a boozy social butterfly.
My first big trip after giving up alcohol was island-hopping around Greece in 2021. This was my dream come true – the travel I’d put off for far too long – and it gave me everything I hoped for: classical art, platters of stuffed dolmas (vine leaves) and that ridiculously blue sea.
But being in Greece also meant an abundance of gold-standard Greek hospitality. There were generous hosts who presented me with bottles of locally made wine, kind hoteliers who pressed mastiha cocktails and ouzo in...
Wake up, open your eyes, and gaze around the rainforest. There are vines hanging from the ceiling, stone carvings along the walls, bursts of colorful flowers, and a towering treehouse.
It’s another beautiful day in … Idaho.
Confused? Don’t be. This is the magic of a themed hotel room. It’s another level of travel wrapped inside the experience you’re already having. The best themed rooms can whisk families around the world, to different moments of time, even off into space. Here are some of th...
I Went to the Hospital to Give Birth…And Tested Pos...
I do not want much this Christmas time
There is but one thing I need.
It is not a gift that can be placed beneath the holiday tree,
The house is fill’d with merriment, I breathe the fragrance of the festivities,
I invite my soul to celebrate.
I do not require to hang my stocking
Thereupon the fireplace
My hair, my tongue, every atom in my body form’d from this air
feeds the Yuletide fire
and the very spread of my thighs proclaims noel.
I would only like for my own—more than you could ever kno...
THE VOLCANOES IN FILM and literature are powerful, muscular, often in the process of erupting.
It makes sense. That’s where the drama is.
I like the other kind. The empty ones. The craters. A volcano open as a throat.
That’s why I traveled 100 miles from where I live to hike into an extinct volcano. I needed to go somewhere, and I chose a place that felt both resilient and vulnerable. I needed to go somewhere, and nowhere was the loneliest place I could find.
California was under strict loc...