08/18/2010 08:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Trips of A Lifetime

As a longtime travel writer, I am frequently asked: "What one trip should I make before I die?"

In all my years as a travel journalist, including as the editor of Town & Country Travel magazine and now as the founder of, I have avoided doing top ten lists or best lists, because I believe strongly that what's right for one person on one trip may not be right for another.

The most worthwhile kind of travel is deeply personal; it's something that penetrates you and adjusts your view on the world. That cannot be offered with a blanket prescription. However, there are some kinds of trips that require planning, preparation and expense; and the pay-off is a high probability that they will bring about a profound alteration, not just a short-lived thrill.

The first time I awoke in a tent on the plains of East Africa, I felt as if a sixth sense had been awakened. The electric feeling that lions and leopard roamed nearby, and that I had entered their wilderness reminded me that man has not always lived so removed from nature. On safari or in deep wilderness, man's primal compass gets switched back on; it's a sensation that should be felt by all.

I have found visits to the monuments of ancient civilizations such as those in China, Cambodia, Egypt, Italy and Greece, equally astounding, in part because I was able to tour them with historians who helped to put their significance in context. Standing in the shadow of the pyramids at Giza, my Egyptologist reminded me that the ancient Egyptians had built the monuments because they believed in their eternal life. "And whatever your beliefs may be," she pointed out, "they did gain a form of eternal recognition because even centuries later, people come from around the world to pay homage to their work and beliefs."

The Forbidden City in Beijing, Angkor Wat in Siem Riep and the Roman Colosseum are all massive reminders of how fleeting our time on earth is and how individuals can leave an impact, a lesson that lasts a lifetime and is worth making a trip to understand. Here are some indelible journeys:

Angkor Wat, Cambodia