Proof that travel inspiration is everywhere you look.

Here at AFAR we travel often, and our inspiration comes from our commitment to showing you the world. But sometimes, our interest is piqued by weirder things. We’re reflecting on some of our peculiar travel inspirations, from bank commercials to our very own content.

“The most specific thing I ever traveled for was a Broadway show. I was slightly obsessed with the American Idiot musical for a couple years (judge away), and it ended up influencing my life in several ways—confirmed my intention to go to grad school, inspired my first color tattoo, and since I lived in Los Angeles at the time, prompted two follow-up trips to New York over three months. Both trips had me on the ground for less time than I spent in the air, one trip included my first NYC snowfall, and the last trip concluded with a surprise Green Day concert with fans crowd surfing to the orchestra pit and moshing on the mezzanine. Imprudently expensive? Yes. Regrets? None.”—Nicole Antonio, editorial production coordinator

“I think that leisure travel is always in some way its own justification. I once hiked into the wilderness of northern Yosemite to climb Matterhorn Peak because Jack Kerouac wrote about it in Dharma Bums. I had my picture taken on The Corner in Winslow, Arizona to pay homage to The Eagles’ hit “Take It Easy.” I once made a detour through Boring, Oregon because, well, it’s Boring, Oregon.”—Thomas Alexander, guides intern  

“When I was eight, my fresh-off-Paris aunt gave me a poster of the Seine at dusk. It’s the most cheesy, clichéd image of Paris, but I was immediately star-struck. I’d never seen such a city! It hung on my wall until I was 17 when I finally, finally got to go to Paris and actually walk along the Seine at dusk. There have been many little things that have inspired me to travel since then but none have created as much travel-lust as that poster . . . which I still have in a box somewhere.”—Aislyn Greene, associate editor

“Oh boy, I have a lot of these. I’m going to Tanzania because of the Hemingway short story “The Snows of Kilimanjaro.” One of the only reasons why I want to go to Cuba is because of Hemingway, not because of the food or culture, but because all I know of it is from reading Hemingway stories and I liked his version of it. I went to Iguazu Falls in Argentina/Brazil because it was featured as a quest item/plot point in a Wong Kar-wai movie. There’s a road trip in the southwest United States that I want to take, hitting locations featured in the Fallout New Vegas video game (the locations in the story are alternate, post-apocalyptic settings but the real-life locations that inspired them mostly do exist). These are small, small towns with nothing really going for them other than they were featured in a video game.”—Sherry Jin, director of engineering

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“Our very own AFAR Instagram Adventure inspired me to go to Aruba! I am going there to celebrate the new year. Its natural beauty, the fact that it’s almost always sunny, and the idea of the island’s versatility is what got me excited to go there. I am a traveler who likes to relax, but also to experience. The Instagram Adventure reinforced for me that Aruba has beautiful beaches, but also a lot to do and see!”—Katie Galeotti, marketing & special projects coordinator

“Food is one of the main driving forces of why I travel and how I choose a destination. When I moved to California from New York, I was introduced to this abundance of Vietnamese food that I hadn’t experienced on the East Coast, so my first big international trip after I moved to San Francisco was to Vietnam. I traveled in search of delicious bowls of Hanoi-style pho (the original version) and ate it every chance I got—I didn’t even care that I was eating it in 90-degree heat. Yes, I literally traveled across the world to eat a bowl of soup and it was everything that I hoped it would be and more.”—Ashley Goldsmith, editorial intern

“I once traveled competitively. I don’t mean as a sport, I mean I was motivated to take a trip to a new place simply to one-up an acquaintance (not even a friend, an acquaintance). I was living in Florida at the time and had found a restaurant that did an amazing green curry. I mentioned it at a party and a friend’s roommate agreed with me saying, ‘Yeah! It’s the best I’ve had around here—it’s almost as good as the green curry I had in Thailand, but of course, that was the best green curry I’ve ever had.’ I’m not sure if I thought that the green curry I’d find in Thailand would be better than the green curry she’d found in Thailand, or if I simply didn’t want her to have the satisfaction of being the only one who’d had real Thai green curry, but whatever the reason I became fixated on traveling to Southeast Asia. Of course, the more I thought about it and researched it, the more my non-curry-related interest grew. I never saw that woman again, but a year later I spent six months in Southeast Asia. It turns out, I preferred Thai curry.”—Maggie Fuller, editorial assistant 

“It may sound pretty clichéd, but the film The Motorcycle Diaries is the first thing that I can remember that really inspired me to travel. In the movie, the South American landscape was visually represented so beautifully and the culture seemed so rich. A few years after watching it, I started learning Spanish and eventually went on to travel throughout South America myself (but not by motorcycle—I’m not that cool).”—Sarah Buder, editorial intern

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“In the fall of 2002, I was horizontal at my dentist’s office and staring up at the ceiling. There, on the ceiling, was a poster of the Matterhorn. I flew that Christmas to Europe to go to Amsterdam, Monaco, and a yet-to-be-determined ski resort in the Alps near Geneva. On the flight into Geneva, my ski buddy and I discussed which of the many ski resorts to go to. I remembered the dentist’s photo on the ceiling and insisted on the Matterhorn, which meant Zermatt. We arrived on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) and walked from hotel to hotel. All were ‘fully booked.’ Finally, one hotel clerk took pity on us and invited us to her family’s home, where she put us up for not only the night, but for the next three. They made us feel part of the family, and we ended up having the best time. Lots of great skiing too. This cemented in my head the idea that travel plans can be overrated, and that there are lots of great people out in the destinations willing to help us have great experiences.”—Greg Sullivan, CEO/cofounder

“When I was in college, a Citibank commercial got me so interested in Istanbul, I dreamed about going there for months. I read travel articles about its gorgeous mosques and maze-like bazaars. I imagined sipping tea and smoking hookah in back-alley cafés. One day, taking an elevator up to a class, I saw a flyer for a January study abroad trip to my dream city. I applied right after class wrapped up and headed to Istanbul for two weeks over my winter break. To this day, it’s still my favorite city in the world, and I still love that commercial.”—Danielle Walsh, associate editor

“My travel inspiration comes usually from one of three things: art, music, or my friends. I went to Berlin because of the street artist Blu and the various pieces he had around the city. Music is probably the biggest driving force in my travel, and I have seen a lot of the West and East coasts of the United States thanks to music, whether it be because I’m touring with a band or a certain artist or album influences my thoughts on a destination. Lastly, my friends play a huge role in where I plan to go next. I trust them (most of them) and their opinions on a place. I still want to go to Southeast Asia because of the pictures a friend of mine took while she was there.”—Andrew Raymond, photo intern

>>>Next: The 16 Films That Inspired Us to Travel