Travel is often depicted as an activity for the young of body, but rarely for the young of spirit. It takes the courage of an old soul to leave the familiar and examine the cultural assumptions that are the foundations of our lives. It is the travelers who refuse to accept “because that’s the way it is” as an explanation of why we live as we do.

With that in mind, we approached members of MatadorU and asked them to illustrate a moment in their travels where they felt like old souls, or a moment when they realized travel had irrevocably aged their souls. See their answers below.


Maria Lopes

"In Shanghai I spent an afternoon photographing kids. I spotted this little fellow eating noodles outdoors happily ever after, laughing with his mom. I recalled laughs with my own mom, and how I missed her smile. I gazed the camera onto to the kid and said in English "Keep on smiling in the free world kid.” He didn't understand, but rewarded me with this contagious grin. His mom was dazzled with the picture, and thanked me by kissing me on my cheek. They continued enjoying the noodles and the afternoon with each other. I wished I could have gone back in a time machine and enjoyed some laughs and butter spaghetti with my mom. Amazing how unpredictably homesickness catches you sometimes."


Nat Kuleba

"Exploring ourselves and this planet earth as an adventurous playground, and to share this amongst each other, is the greatest joy. We are all made of the stars."


Alisa Kennedy

"On a road trip through County Donegal this summer, my friend and I enjoyed a blissful moment on Malin Head, the northernmost point in Ireland. Sitting on a cliff and gazing over the north Atlantic, we watched as the waves crashed and the sun disappeared below the horizon. We were at the edge of the world."


Barbara Litzlfellner

"It is already dark and I am walking the winding streets of Jerusalem for the first time. The air is vibrating with told and untold stories that every single stone in these walls yearns to share. I breathe them in until my lungs almost burst. I ignore the bulk of tourists and just keep walking. I smile to myself and shut out all that doesn’t fit. In the middle of one of the most visited parts of Jerusalem’s old town, I find serenity. "


Bianca Sartori Quadros

"Watching the locals through the window during a road trip to Merzouga, Morocco made me think about values and how traveling gives us the privilege to look at life through different perspectives."


Marjolein van Paridon

"I made a mad dash for the docks to find Mo, my boatman to the resort, missing. Jovan calmly asked if this was my first time in Belize. 'You see miss, here we have this thing called island time.' He convinced me to grab a drink at the bar and wait for Mo to return. As dark rum slowly unfurled the tightly coiled spring that was designed to keep my inner clock ticking, the frantic pace of business school, work, and life in London ebbed away. I re-calibrated my timepiece and embraced what I was here for—friends and family. The things we should be wasting time on."


Neroli Li

"A Tibetan pilgrim walking a few meters behind cried out; after seven-hours trekking, the sacred lake had finally come into sight. He ran to its edge with and excitement, bending at the knees in a pose of worship when he reached the blue water. A week earlier, I had survived a severe car crash and the situation had affected my perception of 'realness' in the things around me. The mysterious and pure blue of the lake inspired humbleness and awe. The Tibetan man’s response reminded me just how insignificant life can feel in the face of nature. "


Carla Martinez

"The thing is, I’m not genetically made for offices. They go against my nature. This sounds like a total paradox, given that I’m a lawyer. The thing is, just as it basically happens to everyone at some point, I went through a life crisis. You know, 'I don’t know who I am, where I’m going...' One fine day, and because life took me that way, I packed my bags and left to travel through Europe and Morocco. I found that I have a nomadic soul, that my spirit thrived every time I saw or experienced something new. So, I was with a newly made friend walking through Casablanca at sunset. I almost randomly took a photo that illustrated exactly what I felt; everywhere you go, becomes irrevocably a part of you to some degree. You become the colors, the shadows, the feelings…"


Alana Simpson

"Sam was such an inspiration. No matter what came her way, she chased her dreams with vigor and passion while still making time to be a mother and a friend. I had never been to the Golden Gate Bridge before, and I felt honored to share that special moment with her. It was an amazing day. We laughed and shared stories while playing by the sea. The most important skill we learned was how to hold a sting ray, and the most important lesson we learned that day was how touching it can open your heart to a stranger."


Samantha Jenkins

"I took this image in Bolivia when I was 21-years old. I had spent the previous week zip lining in the Sacred Valley and was about to have one of the most culturally fascinating and hedonistic weeks of my life in La Paz. However it was a seemingly insignificant glimpse that has resonated with me."