Journeymakers Make Travel More Memorable

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Peruvian Family_6

For someone who travels as often as I do, having the best travel rewards card is very important. This is why I’ve been an American Express Cardmember for years. I’ve shared my love for Amex in a previous post due to the awesome benefits the company offers Cardmembers such all of the Cloud 10 airport benefits, assistance provided by the Amex Travel Team, plus more! I’ve also interviewed Dave and Deb of The Planet D about how the American Express Travel Insurance came to the rescue when Dave broke his back in the Amazon.

This year, American Express is celebrating 100 years of travel service. In this time, they’ve helped Cardmembers realize their travel dreams by providing end-to-end service that’s with them every step of the way – from booking  travels, to the airport, to wherever in the world they touchdown. To help Amex celebrate 100 years of Travel service, I teamed up with the company to share my appreciation for the Journeymakers who have made my global adventures incredibly magical.

What’s a JourneyMaker?

From tour guides, to surf instructors, to bartenders, Journeymakers are anyone who have made a long-lasting impact on your past travels. The Amex Travel service team definitely fall into this category with all of the travel benefits they provide.

There are so many Journeymakers who’ve made my travels more amazing than I could have imagined. But, there is one person in particular I’d like to tell you about. His name is Paul Rodrigues.

Paul Rodriguez, my Journeymaker

Paul Rodriguez, my Journeymaker

During our first year of college, my husband (boyfriend at the time) Siya and I decided that we wanted to shoot a documentary in Peru. We proposed the idea to the International Department at my college who connected us with a man who’d act as our tour guide during part of our stay. His name was Paul, and he was born and raised in Peru. Although we didn’t have much expectation as to what Paul would introduce us to, we could have never anticipated that he would introduce us to a family that would make us see the world in a whole new light.

Siya and I had an original angle for our documentary. We wanted to show the beauty of Peru from our point of view. You know, the landscapes, food and culture. This all changed when Paul introduced us to a side of Peru that most travellers don’t get to see. Paul took us to what has been labeled as the “slums of Arequipa.” There, Paul, Siya and I spent the day visiting a family of 8 living under scrap metal with little to no food and undrinkable water. Siya and I had never experienced anything like this before, and it really affected us.

Peruvian Family

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Peruvian Family Arequipa

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We were sad that anyone could be living this way, frustrated that we felt we couldn’t do anything to help and also inspired that this family never once had a frown on their face while we were there. In fact, the family was all smiles and giggles throughout our entire visit. They were so excited to have us there and even more importantly, to have each other. The mother said at one point, “With my 6 children, I am happy. With my six children.” For this family, as long as they had each other there was no reason to worry about all of the things they didn’t have. This is a lesson that has stuck with me since meeting them. This positivity continues to inspire me today. It’s an experience that I’ve never forgotten, and I often think about.

Peruvian Family_2

Peruvian Family_7

Peruvian Family

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Even though the family had each other, Siya and I knew that no one should go without access to drinkable water and food. These are necessities that we should all have access to. If not, then we need to help each other have these life necessities.

With Paul’s help, we took the mother of the family aside and handed her all of the money we had on us. It added up to be just over $50 USD. This may not seem like a large amount to some, but it would have taken this family years to save that amount. This was also the amount that the family needed in order to install a clean water pipeline in front of their house. The mother broke down into tears, as did we, as soon as we handed her the money. It was the least we could do, yet meant the world to her and her family.

Since this day, Siya and I have sent the family a photo album filled with pictures we took of the family (they had never had a photo of themselves before) along with a box filled with toys and school supplies.

Peruvian Family Arequipa_2

Peruvian Family_11

This experience completely changed the angle of our documentary and made it so much more than we could have imagined. Since then, we have showcased this documentary to high school and college students and anyone who lands upon it on YouTube with the hopes of inspiring others to see life and happiness a little differently.

Without Paul introducing us to this side of Peru, we never would have met this family and had one of the most moving travel experiences we’ve both ever had. So, thank you Paul for taking us outside of our comfort zones and introducing us to a family that changed our lives.

Who is your Journeymaker? Share your story below!

To learn more about the breadth of Amex’s travel offerings and the benefits offered by being an Amex Cardmember, visit

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Amex Canada. The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are purely my own.


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  1. December 8, 2015 / 1:42 pm

    Hi Kristen! I love that you partnered with American Express. I’ve always been a fan of them and I love this JourneyMaker story so much. My husband is from Peru and it means so much to us that you did this for this family. Sending you hugs! xxoo

    • December 8, 2015 / 1:45 pm

      What part of Peru is your husband from? This family did way more for us then we did for them. I am so grateful to Paul from helping to make this happen. Without him, we would have never met this family and our documentary wouldn’t have turned out the way it did. I am so thankful to him.

  2. December 8, 2015 / 1:41 pm

    This is such a wonderful story! These are the best travel memories you can make. I couldn’t agree more about the journey makers being the ones who make travel special.

    • December 8, 2015 / 1:43 pm

      The people involved in creating these unplanned, incredible travel experiences are the ones we always remember. They are the ones that make our memories the most special. Thanks so much for your comment Sean.