Travel Musings

12 Favorite Travel Photos and the Stories Behind Them

One of the reasons I started blogging is for the opportunity it gives me to share my travel photos. Whenever I travel, taking that “perfect shot” has always been a focus for me. But few people ever saw those pictures- they would just linger in the digital universe for me to stumble upon from time to time. Blogging though is the perfect medium for me to share my favorite travel photos from each adventure, while also sharing the stories that go with them.

Right now, I find myself in between trips. This summer travel season has been a crazy one, so we’ve stayed home. I just finished tripping the next one though – Greece next month! – and I can’t wait to share those adventures with you. In the meantime, how about I simply share 12 of my favorite travel photos from over the years?

A Quick Word About Cameras

Thirty years or so ago, when I was carrying around a camera with me during my travels, I wished for the day when I could have a device in my pocket that was a phone, a camera, and some sort of electronic organizer. I may have even said it aloud at one point while passing through Silicon Valley. Just saying….

Anyway, with the advent of smartphones, I put away my camera. I’m not a professional photographer, and I really prefer the convenience of just having my camera in my pocket. With only a couple exceptions in this post, all my photos are taken with an iPhone. And I’m not one to rush out and grab the next model the minute it comes out either. But I do currently use the iPhone 13 Pro (all Spain and Malta shots below).

The Thorough Tripper taking photos with his iPhone
My daughter snapped this one of me while we were on an early morning hike in SLC. Yes, I take my photos with pinky up…

Kowloon Hong Kong

Let’s start first with a photo from way back in 1985 when I was living in Hong Kong. Obviously, I didn’t have an iPhone then. And not only was this photo taken by a camera – it was originally a slide. I had these old Hong Kong slides converted to a digital format a few years ago. This is one of my favorite travel photos from Hong Kong…

A Hong Kong street scene from 1985

The streets of Kowloon and many other parts of Hong Kong were (and I’m guessing still are) lined with shop after shop – each selling very specific wares. In the case, it’s the dried fish shop. I’ve always loved that extra bit of symmetry the customer gives this snapshot of daily Hong Kong life.

San Jose Costa Rica

I’ve been to Costa Rica 6 times over the years. It’s one of my favorite places for a tropical vacation. The first time was in 1994, and this photo remains one of my Costa Rican favorites. (And it’s actually a photograph of the printed photograph.)

One of The Thorough Tripper's Favorite Travel Photos from San Jose Costa Rica

As I’ve mentioned several times in this blog, I have always loved just wandering the back streets of each place I visit. I want to get away from the touristy areas and see what real life looks like too. This favorite travel photo was taken while wandering the back streets of San Jose Costa Rica.

I’ve written a blog post all about what it was like traveling in Costa Rica in the early 90s, without all the travel tools that we have now. Back when I was actually carrying a camera – and had to get film developed.

Luquillo Puerto Rico

This is probably my all time favorite beach photo. I took it one beautiful January morning while out for a walk along a quiet road near our beachside vacation rental. It was my phone screensaver for years. Wait…I just checked…it still is!

One of the Thorough Tripper's favorite travel photos - from a beach in Luquillo Puerto Rico

Miyajima Japan

Miyajima îs an island just off the coast of Hiroshima Japan. Its nickname is Island of the Gods. In ancient times, it was considered too beautiful and holy for mere mortals to even set foot upon. Nowadays, it’s one of Japan’s most popular tourist destinations – plenty of mere mortals set foot upon it every day. Miyajima is probably most famous for the large torii gate that sits out in the ocean marking entrance to a 12-century Shinto shrine (seen along the shores in the photo below)

A travel photo from Miyajima Japan

When we visited in late 2019, the gate was covered with scaffolding – a restoration project in preparation for all the tourists that would be coming for the 2000 Summer Olympics. COVID had barely registered its presence then. Little did anyone know then that the tourists would never come.

Rather than even taking one picture of the scaffold-covered gate, I turned the opposite direction and took this photo instead. Glad I did. It’s one of my favorite travel photos from our trip to Japan.

And you want to see more photos from Miyajima Island, click here to check out my blog post dedicated entirely to this beautiful Island of the Gods.

Grand Lake Colorado

Grand Lake Colorado sits at the western gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s a historic 19th century mining-supply-turned-resort-town that sits along the shores of Grand Lake – the deepest and largest natural lake in Colorado.  My brother owns a vacation home in Grand Lake, and one evening after driving through the Park spotting wildlife, we stopped just outside the entrance of the Park. I captured this view at sunset.

Majestic pines at sunset at Grand Lake Colorado - one of The Thorough Trippers favorite travel photos

Cucaron France

For my 50th birthday, we went on a trip to the Provence region of southern France. In the beautiful hilltop town of Cucaron, Mrs. TT treated me to a birthday lunch at the Michelin-starred La Petite Maison de Cucaron – still the best meal of my life so far.

While waiting for our reserved time, we sat outside in the town’s main square. As I looked around, I was struck by the simple beauty of the place and snapped this photo from where I sat. I’ve always loved the shapes of the road signs and doors, the white pop of the crosswalk, and the textures of the tree against the ancient walls in this favorite photo.

One of The Thorough Tripper's favorite travel photos from Cucaron Fracne

All of Provence is so picturesque. Click here to read more about our time in the famed Luberon area of Provence, and see even more photos from this beautiful part of France.

Motovun Croatia

Mrs. TT and I spent our honeymoon in the Istria region of Croatia, after our wedding in Lake Bled Slovenia. Yes, it was all as epic as it sounds!

Motovun is a hilltop town that presides over a long narrow valley. We stayed in a restored farmhouse vacation rental on the hillside across the valley, opposite from Motovun. The valley would frequently fill with clouds in the early morning hours. And at those times, Motovun appeared to be floating in the sky.

Motovun Croatia floats above the clouds in one of The Thorough Tripper's favorite travel photos

More pictures of Croatia you ask? Then check out my post about the two Istrian towns we visited – Rovinj and Motovun

Bryce Canyon Utah

Utah is my home state, and the pandemic forced us into traveling closer to home. I can’t complain too much though – Utah boasts five of the country’s most beautiful National Parks. Because I’ve always been so busy traveling outside of Utah, I had ashamedly never been to three of them.

We visited every one of Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks during the pandemic.

I feel that Bryce Canyon is the most picturesque of the Five. And it was hard to pick which of my many Bryce Canyon travel photos is my favorite. But I’m going with this one. I took it as we hiked up from the bottom of the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater along the Queen’s Garden Trail. Hoodoos are everywhere you look – trailside and all along the distant walls of the amphitheater.

The hoodoos of the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater

Canyonlands Utah

One more from Utah. I’ve always loved this picture of Mrs. TT looking out over the expanse of the White Rim below the Island Of The Sky section of Canyonlands National Park. The ledge sits about 1000 feet above the canyon floor below. Since I’m terribly scared of heights, I was more than happy to take the picture from my vantage point – away from the edge!

Looking out across Canyonlands National Park from Island in the Sky. The White Rim Trail is below

Seville Spain

We spent the month of March earlier this year in the Andalucia region of Spain. A month in southern Spain equates to a lot of great photo opportunities. And I do have lots of favorite travel photos from Spain. But I think I like this one best….

Just a side street in Seville – near the Cathedral – at sundown. Once again, I was just out wandering the streets, soaking up the beauty of Seville. I glanced down the street and noticed the sun was hitting it just about right. And I just happened to catch someone crossing in the distance with their shadow following along.

Sun setting on a Seville Spain street in one of The Thorough Tripper's favorite travel photos

Senglea Malta

Again, it was hard to choose from many different favorite travel photos of our most recent trip – our May trip to Malta. But I’m going with this one because it features three of my favorite things about Malta – Malta’s Grand Harbour, the ancient fortified city of Senglea in the background, and Malta’s beloved dghajsa water taxis.

Our first Airbnb was in Senglea – one of Malta’s historic Three Cities. While there, we would travel back and forth every day across the Grand Harbour between Senglea and Valletta in one of these dghajsa. I quickly snapped this photo while waiting to board one (not pictured).

I’ve written elsewhere on this blog about all the reasons we loved Senglea and The Three Cities of Malta.

Marsacala Malta

And I’ll finish my look at favorite travel photos with one more from Malta. I awoke one morning at our other Maltese Airbnb in the harbor side town of Marsascala to find the small narrow harbor covered in fog. I quickly ran outside and snapped this….

A foggy morning in Marsascala Malta in one of The Thorough Tripper's favorite travel photos

That’s probably enough favorites for now. You can always check my Instagram account to see more. And stay tuned for a bunch of Greece content in coming months!


  • Linda Kouwenhoven

    What a fantastic blog and such gorgeous photos! What fun to sit and go through pictures and appreciate the places and scenery we’ve had the privilege to see. I do still carry around my canon camera with me but am impressed with the amazing images that iPhones can create. I may have to consider a post like this in the future 😀

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