Oh, the Places Nat Geo Goes

A passport stamp is just ink on paper.

How can something so simple be so complex, possessing the ability to transport us back so immediately to our pasts?

That frantic, crowd-dodging dash to catch a flight to Bhutan before the gate closed, the first time you tasted champagne in Champagne, the feeling of falling in love—with a person or a place.

We can all remember our first big trip abroad and what it meant to us at that point in our lives. And that meaning changes over time.

Lucky for us, our passports give us a chance to relive some of the best—and most memorable—moments of our lives.

When you work at National Geographic, one of the first questions people ask you is if you get to travel. The answer is often yes, but one of the best parts of the job is being surrounded by sharp, globe-trotting people, and getting to hear their stories.

That’s why we asked staffers in National Geographic’s digital media department to share their favorite passport stamps and the memories they provoke with our Intelligent Travel readers.

Some of those memories are being made right now. One stamp was just picked up on Nat Geo Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala‘s expedition to the Pitcairn Islands.

Click through the photo gallery to see where we’ve been and what it’s taught us along the way.

What’s your favorite passport stamp, and why? We all want to hear about it, so let us know in the comment box below.


  1. […] Oh, the Places Nat Geo Goes Nat Geo staffer Emily Shenk traveled to Egypt just as the Arab Spring was beginning. (Photograph by Sarah Polger) […]

  2. Allison
    April 10, 2012, 11:52 pm

    Mauritius, the tiny paradise of an island off the Eastern coast of Africa, is my favorite passport stamp. There’s a little Dodo bird on it! The now extinct birds were native to the island, so cute!

  3. marcydsign
    April 9, 2012, 3:49 am

    My favorite stamp is my passport’s next stamp, because is the key to experience a new culture

  4. Richard
    United States
    April 8, 2012, 2:35 pm

    My favorite on is Bahrain, two nice big green and black stamps with Arabic writing. Also you can get a 50 page passport if you ask for and and pay for it. You can also get additional accordion pull put pages, 12 pages – 6 on each side! While worth getting this extra stuff when you do a lot of traveling.

  5. Walter B.
    March 23, 2012, 9:05 am

    Solomon Islands – been there last year. Nice, large stamp.

  6. The Murphys
    All Over
    March 22, 2012, 10:45 am

    Thrre is nothing quite like a full passport, one that gets to the point wheby customs officers barely let you in the country, because its tattered, torrn snd there are barely any free pages. My passport used to tell such a story of where I’ve been and what I’ve done. My passport is the novel of my life, its battleworn, but is the only official record of of my life.
    I have so often sat on airplanes and fondly thumbed through it, recalling the last few years of life and travel.
    Moscow to visit that one guy….Beijijng, where I fell in with that crazy jounalist who led me to the Hutongs, New York, so msny times I cant count…..India where the monsioon almost killed me, Turkey, where iI detoxed for 8 days……its my whole life in s government issued book.
    Sadly, i recently had to replace my 6 year old passport, as it was falling apart and had NO free pages, My Indonesian stamp had to be slapped over one of my China visas, accompanied by a cash payment to Indonesian immigration officials.,,,,At that point, I gave in and went to the Embsssy for a new one.
    My shiny new version, seems devoid of character, but immediately I have started stamping it and its beginning to tell a whole new story. I like this new chapter, it involves my soon to be husband and could be so much more interesting….www,starboardhomeportout.com.

  7. Sue Frause
    Whidbey Island, WA
    March 22, 2012, 9:27 am

    My favorite stamp is Antarctica (Port Lockroy) in 2009. It was the seventh continent for my husband and me, and our adult son was able to join us for the Hurtigruten cruise from Ushuaia, Argentina (it was also his seventh continent). Runner-up would be the polar bear stamp from Churchill, Manitoba that I got last year.

  8. Maggie
    March 22, 2012, 9:14 am

    One of my favorite places to visit, especailly the town of Longueuil, outside of Quebec city…one of the only towns left in Canada that maintains their French culture.

  9. Mike
    Ann Arbor, MI
    March 22, 2012, 9:10 am

    Goat Haunt, Montana – you take the ferry across the lake from Waterton, Alberta and you’re back in the US – only accessible via this ferry or hiking in from the US. I think this post would be the best customs port to work in the US.

  10. Archibald
    Heart of Adventure
    March 22, 2012, 8:31 am

    I have a soft spot for the Czech visa stamp I got while entering the country via train because it’s a little cartoon train engine. Simple, yes, but appealing in its simplicity. Plus, it’s one of the only things I remember from that trip to Prague, the rest disappears into a swirling pool of alcohol and bloodshed. Great city.

  11. Ryan
    March 22, 2012, 8:20 am

    My most favourite stamps: Mongolia, Burma, Cambodia and the Philippines. :) Others are just gravy. Oh yeah, soon Bhutan.

  12. Eric
    Long Beach, NY
    March 20, 2012, 11:05 am

    Up until now, my stamp from May, 2009. I received at Heathrow was the most important. It was my first trip abroad. This next stamp, in the Bahamas will have special meaning as it is the first trip with my girlfiend. The first of hopefully many stamps we will share together.

  13. Taylor
    Utah, USA
    March 16, 2012, 4:02 pm

    Micronesia, not only because it summons memories from my time living there, but because it is so rare and remote. A plane flies through once a day, west to east from Guam to Hawaii on M,W,F and opposite on other days. You have to want to get to Micronesia to get there.

  14. Shantanu
    March 15, 2012, 7:25 am

    The Nepal stamp on my passport is the one that brings back the most memories. In June 2009, I travelled to Lake Mansarovar and Mount Kailash in Tibet (via Nepal), along with my father and uncle. While we couldn’t complete the final trek due to unforeseen health circumstances, I will treasure the memory of feeling completely insignificant in the vast expanse of the cold, barren desert land, forever.

  15. wanda
    New Waterford Cape Breton Nova Scotia
    March 14, 2012, 10:14 pm

    Egypt …….i went to Egypt and loved it ..the people are very kind and happy people i saw many wonderful places and ate lots of different food i had a wonderful stay i shell never for get it my dream and it came true i love Egypt

  16. wanda
    New Waterford Cape Breton Nova Scotia
    March 14, 2012, 10:07 pm

    I am canadian i was born in Cape breton Nova Scotia its a great place it has the sea it has hills and wonderful mountians the sprice tree and the maple.tree….its a wonderful magic place…to grow up in people of many back rounds live here from far away lands …..its like a story book ….you never know what your going to discover in Cape ,,,i love my place of birth

  17. Stephen
    Winnipeg, Canada
    March 13, 2012, 10:40 pm

    My most memorable Passport stamp was probably on entering Turkey. A number of years ago I went to a conference in Istanbul. This was not my first trip there and previously I had had no problems. When I left Canada, all was in order and no Visa was required. When I arrived in Turkey the next day, I was refused entry because I needed a Visa. When had this changed? Midnight, while I was in flight. After waiting for a number of hours for a senior official and after much discussion I all too readily agreed that not only was I coming for a conference but that I would be sightseeing as well. This made me eligible to get a visa at the airport and after paying what seemed like quite a high fee (but I was not in a position to argue), I was on my way. The sight of that stamp in my passport was never more welcome.

  18. DT
    March 13, 2012, 9:00 am

    Seychelles stamps are slightly naughty, visual double-entendre style.

  19. Kristy
    El Camino Inka, Peru
    March 11, 2012, 10:06 pm

    This stamp marks the beginning of a difficult and awesome trek on the Inca Trail. For me, it’s ones of those stamps you are proud to see in your passport and a source of inspiration in my life.

  20. Bradley Wells
    March 11, 2012, 9:34 pm

    i spent a semester studying there a d the exlerjence changed my life in so many ways i still cant describe it a year later

  21. Lauren W
    March 11, 2012, 7:26 pm

    Bonaire! Because there is a Flamingo on it! :D Plus its my favorite place to go! :D I also Love Argentina’s because when I see it it reminds me how great my exchange is going!

  22. Shane
    Italy 2004
    March 11, 2012, 6:11 pm

    I met my wife while studying abroad.

  23. Paul A Crosby
    March 11, 2012, 5:49 pm

    I chaperoned a school trip to Russia and visited St Petersburg, petrovoska, pudach, kiza island where Church of the Resurrection is built. Off of lake Onegia. I got to visit Hermatige and many schools. My host family took me hunting Moose & wild bird. I got to go to a military banquet and meet dozens of military brass from every branch. Because I am a
    retired firefighter my host father took me to police and fire headquarters to meet with both chiefs and got the complete tour. We had our own body guard with special car. I also got
    to shoot many automatic rifles on the hunting trip as well as a
    uzie with 30 round clip. Many museums, one of which I saw a one time viewing of paintings stolen by the Germans that the Russians took when they invaded Berlin during WW II. Not sure of some of the spelling biut I think I’m close. Much more but for 3 weeks during November 1995 I sure had a great time.

  24. Alex Petrie
    Manchester UK
    March 11, 2012, 5:25 pm

    …and the best passport stamp is Cayman Islands – features a cartoon pirate turtle!

  25. Alex Petrie
    Manchester UK
    March 11, 2012, 5:24 pm

    Ifyou like passport stamps have you checked out http://www.visastamper.com? You can make an online version of your passport stamps. V.v.v.cool ;)

  26. Bex
    March 11, 2012, 5:13 pm

    Six students were selected from my university to be a part of a 8 month bioarchaeology field season on the north coast of Peru. I had spent the last three years working towards this trip, and it ended up being everything I wanted and more. After studying Andean prehistory and archaeology for so long, I had high expectations. Every site from Chavín, Nasca, Huaraz, Máncora, Tumbes, Sipán, to Machu Picchu, blew me away. My passport stamp not only represents the amazing experiences I had and people I met in Peru, but all of the work leading up to it, and the future I hope to pursue.

  27. Keith
    March 11, 2012, 5:01 pm

    My favourite passport stamp is that of Easter Island, with an image of the moai (statues). You can get it at the post office for one dollar. It’s a treasured stamp in my passport.

  28. poutsi
    March 10, 2012, 2:41 am

    Dear NGC,
    i am a myanmar ,welcome form my country
    can u visit to me i live in Shwebo township


  29. LeAnne Smith
    Rome, Italy
    March 9, 2012, 2:37 pm

    I grew up on the post-beat-poet streets of San Francisco in North Beach where thousands of Italians moved during the Italian diaspora. My grandparents, moved and became citizens of the United States in 1960. Through my studies at University, I insisted on taking a Roman History course against my plan to graduate in art history- it counted for nothing. Within one semester, I was hooked on Rome. I started the process to obtain my duel-citizenship with Italy and traveled to Rome many times making sure this was the city for me after graduation. The same week I walked out of my last final exam after completing two degrees in Roman History and Classical Archeology, I went to my final appointment at the Italian Consulate and received my Italian passport a 4 1/2 year process with much red tape. I entered Italy only 1 month later with my Italian Passport in hand- Feb 23rd, 2010. I greeted the customs director and he quickly checked my passport saying “Bentornata, Signora”. This was the most important passport moment of my life- when I, in a society that tends to forget where they came from was able to honor my grandparents for all they did for me and all I can now do from my adopted country.

  30. Amanda J
    March 9, 2012, 1:40 pm

    Best place on earth! Theres never been a place where I’ve felt the wild side in my heart allowed to be so free!