Travel Makes Me Smile

Hawaiian sunset as seen in Kona

May is National Smile month, and it made me think about the things that make me happy, that warm the cockles of my heart, that make me smile.  It was no surprise to discover that most of them are related in some way to travel.

Here are 50 things that make me smile:

  1. A fully packed (and organized) bag
  2. Watching an airplane take off  and and wondering where it’s going
  3. The Coliseum in Rome (the first time I saw it I had to wipe away the tears)
  4. A well-used passport
  5. Maps, the paper kind that you can pour over and plot out where you want to go
  6. UNESCO World Heritage Sites (although a few make me cry)
  7. Guidebooks, I have some favorites, but I like reading them all
  8. Fresh lemons picked off the tree in Sicily and used to make lemonade
  9. First class, although it rarely happens
  10. Business class and lie flat seats
  11. GPS
  12. Free wi-fi access
  13. Crisp and refreshing Prosecco
  14. Champagne, the real stuff
  15. The Golden Gate Bridge
  16. Travel apps
  17. A spa treatment
  18. Opening a bottle of Brunello sent home from a visit to Montepulciano
  19. Airline fare wars
  20. The New York skyline
  21. A boarding pass
  22. The Washington Monument
  23. Travel bloggers, especially the Travel Blog Mob
  24. Warm ocean breezes, sunsets and sunrises in Hawaii
  25. Museums
  26. Having espresso with Silvano and Marguerite in the small town of Contignano (population under 200)
  27. Gelato, the real stuff
  28. Burratta mozzarella, a recently discovered tasty delight
  29. Taking off from Seattle and flying close by Mt. Rainier
  30. Flying over the Grand Canyon
  31. The Arc d’ Triomphe, and the crazy drivers on the round-about
  32. Finding a stash of left over foreign currency
  33. Mastering the metro system, no matter the city
  34. A picnic with fresh goodies from a local market
  35. Owning an electricity converter
  36. Wine tasting
  37. Traveling to a new destination (this year it will be Portugal)
  38. Ruins
  39. Discovering small, family owned restaurant and cafes
  40. Clearing the standby list
  41. Lemoncello
  42. Seeing friends and making new ones
  43. Mountains
  44. Beaches
  45. Uploading travel photos to flickr
  46. Good coffee
  47. Travel blogging
  48. Connecting with old friends
  49. Making new friends
  50. Coming home, because it means that it’s time to start planning the next great adventure

Do you relate to any of these?  What makes you smile?  Put a smile on my face, or keep it there, by sharing it in the comments.


This blog post is part of the Travel Blog Mob’s tribute to National Smile month.  The Travel Blog Mob is a group of independent travel bloggers who share a love of travel and a respect for the craft of travel blogging.  Here’s what the other “mobsters” are smiling about:


Photo credit:  personal collection of Mary Jo Manzanares

Mary Jo Manzanares is a traveler, travel blogger, and podcaster. In addition to her blog, Traveling with MJ, she hosts the Where Else to Go podcast, and is the founder and the editor-in-chief of The Traveler’s Way, an online travel magazine. Her travel ethos is value luxury - luxury for real people - and her goal is to help travelers know when to splurge and when to save. Mary Jo has been a speaker at various industry events around the world. When she’s not traveling, Mary Jo likes lingering over a cup of coffee, wandering in a museum, sipping wine at a cafe, and sharing it all with friends and readers. Her most recent travels were to Stockholm, a Baltic cruise, and Universal Orlando Resort.

15 Responses to “Travel Makes Me Smile”

  1. May 23, 2011 at 8:09 am #

    WHAT a great list – reading it makes ME smile!

    • May 27, 2011 at 8:50 pm #

      @wandering educators,

      Thanks Jessie. There are just so many wonderful things about travel – and even the not-so-wonderful can often make us smile, too.

  2. May 23, 2011 at 8:29 am #

    Here’s a new one — rooming with a friend (you) during a travel convention (right now).

    • May 27, 2011 at 8:49 pm #


      It was a wonderful time, Jen. And thanks so much for letting me be your roomie!

  3. May 25, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

    Brilliant list! This travel memory makes me all happy – Sitting round an African boma at night drinking Amarula coffee and looking up at the stars in the clearest of clear African skies

  4. May 26, 2011 at 8:56 am #

    Riffing on 29 – mountains so tall they poke through thick clouds- brilliant from the plane (Mt Everest, Mt Fuji). Also, stepping into warm turquoise water with a gorgeous reef to snorkel…

    • May 27, 2011 at 8:44 pm #


      You make it sound so delectable!

  5. May 27, 2011 at 6:36 pm #

    Lovely list and as a Suitcase Entrepreneur it’s great to come across your site. So many things make me smile about traveling, people you meet you on your travels- in the airport, planes, on trains, buses, boats, in cafes, on adventures.

    The ability to travel to so many places and just hop borders is incredible. The languages and culture you get to be a part of.

    That’s why I live out of a suitcase – life is one big adventure


    • May 27, 2011 at 8:44 pm #

      @Natalie Sisson,

      Thanks for reminding us all that the simple things are often the best reasons to smile!

  6. May 28, 2011 at 10:51 pm #

    Great list! Here another I just experienced. Taking a hot shower and having a massage at the airline lounge in Hong Kong after a long hot day and before a 12hour flight. Accessible for all passengers.


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