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 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 folks on National Geographic’s Travel team to share their favorite passport stamps and the memories they evoke with our Intelligent Travel readers.

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.

Comments

  1. Stephanie
    Ohio
    March 13, 2013, 10:52 am

    My favorite stamp is from Germany. It’s not terribly exotic, but it was my first overseas trip, and I’ve gone back several times since. It was the stamp that started my obsession with travel!
    http://hellogiggles.com/originals/open-ticket

  2. Sophie Leech
    Manchester GB
    March 14, 2013, 8:37 pm

    USA and Canada. My EU passport doesn’t collect EU stamps :(

  3. Jonathan (@BuildingMyBento)
    http://buildingmybento.wordpress.com/
    March 14, 2013, 10:50 pm

    The wallpaper of my blog is composed of various passport stamps from around the world.

    Notable activities from my passport include: A “Void” stamp placed on top of one Narita Airport stamp, because I apparently exited the wrong way; trying to get as many different China entry/exit stamps (Shenzhen has kindly provided around six so far, but there’s more to come); Turkish Cyprus makes an appearance, even if “non-Turkish” Cyprus doesn’t; living in Indonesia for a spell ate up many pages with various Crayola-inspired, verbose stamps.
    http://buildingmybento.wordpress.com/

  4. Jacques Lafortune
    Montreal, Canada
    March 15, 2013, 8:50 am

    My favorite is also my most recent: Bhutan. I had been wanting to go there for quite some time. A lovely country with lovely people. More expensive to go there than most other countries (there is a minimum amount of money that one must spend there), it is still worth the effort. A trip of a lifetime.

  5. David William Kralik
    Morristown
    March 19, 2013, 6:13 pm

    I’ve got two favorite stamps:

    1. Port Lockroy, where you can get a stamp for visiting Antartica.

    2. Checkpoint Charlie

  6. Doryce
    Jones Creek, Texas
    April 5, 2013, 1:22 am

    Machu Picchu was for me the hardest to get!

  7. alison granado
    Trinidad
    May 4, 2013, 11:40 am

    London May 28 2011
    My visit started with the UEFA champions league final at Wembley stadium.
    Barcelona v Man. United. Nothing like watching your team win. I’ve lived in London but returning on a trip was like visiting an old flame…the passion is even deeper.
    I mentally catalogued every part of that trip…from the restaurants where I usually dined..to the streets where I used to live in Wimbledon.
    I have soon to plan a European city break tour..starting in Sweden! Travel is more than a stamp…it’s where your soul revives itself!

  8. Nadine
    New Port Richey, Florida
    June 21, 2013, 11:09 am

    I recently traveled to Vanuatu where i got to see Mt Yasur erupt on Tanna Island. Our group traveled to mystical Ambrym Island where we climbed Mt Marum to view the spectacular lava lake

  9. Jennifer
    Virginia
    July 1, 2013, 11:44 pm

    My very first passport stamp was to Ireland when I won an essay contest and travelled with other high school students. About three years later, it would also be my third passport stamp, only this time it was a special one for students spending a semester abroad. It took up a whole page and every time I look at it, I’m flooded with memories. Over the next few years, I would gain a bunch of new stamps. But when it came time to renew my passport, the first stamp was once again Ireland. This time for a 10 yr reunion trip with a friend I’d met while studying abroad.