June 2013

Travelport loves Melbourne Michelle’s Excess Luggage  

Courtesy of Travelport Connections Newsletter
Susan Lin, Travelport PR Manager, Asia-Pacific

Like many others at Travelport, Michelle Riel, Melbourne-based Business Development Manager, loves to travel.  In  2010, her passion led her into packing up and leaving everything behind – a great job, family and friends – in exchange for 12 months to travel the world.

Over the 12 months, Michelle travelled to 27 countries and visited her dream destinations, including ALL of the new Seven Wonders of the World.  Her most memorable moments were all captured with her Nikon D5000 camera and when she returned home to Australia, Michelle came back with her excess luggage, filled with photos, memories and unforgettable adventures that will be ingrained with her for life.

Since then, Michelle has compiled her most special memories and had them published into a photo book, aptly-named Excess Luggage, to help the lives of underprivileged children across the world. The book, available in both electronic and hardcopy formats, can be purchased from  All proceeds from the book sales are donated to Peru’s Challenge, Children’s Hour, Poverty Aid 4 Cambodia and TLC for Kids.

Connections interviewed Michelle recently to tell us more about herself and her amazing initiative:

What inspires you to travel?

I once read a quote:  Quit Your Job, Get A Tan, Fall In Love, Never Return.’  Yes, I returned with a perfect tan but whatmatters the most was the lifetime experience that I can call my own, which is priceless and inspiring.  Excess Luggage tells you how travelling actually feeds the soul.

Of all the places you have visited, which country/city/landmark is the most inspiring?

So many to mention but Petra held the key to my long-standing lifetime dream and turned it into reality.   It was a quest within a quest and meant breaking my budget, but what have I to lose when placed in contrast which what I was to gain, to claim that I have seen ALL the Seven new Wonders of the World.  However, the volunteer work in Peru has truly opened my mind and heart, a transforming experience that will stay with me for a lifetime.

So what really made you decide to drop everything and take the year-long trip?

“Would love to travel the world one day” was something I often said.  Then circumstances said it was time to go, especially having dealt with two deaths within a two-week period, which was a reinforcement that ‘life is short’ and everything else is secondary.

Any reasoning for specifically choosing the charities Peru’s Challenge, Children’s Hour, Poverty Aid 4 Cambodia and TLC for Kids? 

Peru’s Challenge was where I did my four-week volunteer work;  Children’s Hour being based in my country of birth and close to my heart;  Poverty Aid 4 Cambodia where I travelled with a couple involved with the organisation whilst I was in the Mekong Delta and, finally, I wanted to support an organisation close to home, so I included TLC for Kids, which is based in Melbourne.

Next travel destination?

Japan is still in my bucket list, as it was part of my itinerary initially but I traded it for Petra.

In the photo book, which is your favorite shot and why?

I have several but the photo (page 122) of tiny me sitting on the most impressive door of ‘The Monestery’ was a memory of 850 steps walk up-hill, a total of seven hours of walking in the dusty roads and hills of Petra.  I still remember that day, which was the moment that I was able to utter:  ‘I am ready go home!’

Patrick Andres, VP and Regional Managing Director, Asia-Pacific, who is a supporter of Michelle’s book, says, “I think Michelle’s pictures are amazing. I admire her for having the courage to live her dream, for putting the book together, and for doing all of this to support such a great cause.”

You can support Michelle by purchasing your copy on!

April 2013

Over the sweltering Australian Christmas season, author, photographer and Children’s Hour champion Michelle Riel saw her best friend, Lisa Minuzzo, sorting out items and toys that her kids were no longer using.  more

Featured image courtesy of Children’s Hour


January 2013

Though migrated to Australia, Michelle Riel is still able to help Filipinos. Children’s Hour is blessed to be one of the beneficiaries of donations from the sale of her coffee table book entitled, Excess Luggage. more

Photo courtesy of Kiten Capili


October 2012

Following a whirlwind globe-trotting year-long trip around the world, one of the country’s best-liked travel industry insiders, Michelle Riel has authored a book celebrating the joys of travel. more

Photos courtesy of Brad Francis Photography


Lived Dreams & Captured Memories
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. - Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain
By purchasing a copy of this book, together we can make a difference to the lives of underpriviledged children from as low as $9.99. Click here to purchase.

Funds raised so far

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