2016 was my first full year of travel blogging. However, due to some health issues that popped up last January and persisted throughout the year, I didn’t have the energy to travel as much as I had during the previous year, and due to a demanding day job, I wasn’t able to devote as much time to blogging and freelancing as I would’ve liked. Looking back, though, I am proud that I kept moving, kept working, and kept growing personally and professionally. I also found new opportunities for adventure and discovery, both close to home and around the world. Here are some of those moments.
strolling through Upper Town in Quebec City
In the U.S.
- Thanks to my partnership with Select Registry, I spent 24 hours of a bitterly cold January weekend in historic Deerfield, Massachusetts, for a stay at the Deerfield Inn. During a much warmer weekend in May, a friend spent a night at the Hawthorn Inn in Camden, Maine, followed by a glorious day of hiking and sailing.
- Also in May, I participated in a FAM tour of the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts with blogger friends Bell and Alex of Wanderlust Marriage, as well as Yadira and Yaimani of The Two Riveras, which took us to sights from Springfield up to Deerfield.
- My dad and I continued our annual tradition of heading west to Greenfield, Massachusetts, in July to attend the Green River Festival. This was the 7th time for me, 6th for my dad, and the 1st time that it rained in all those years.
- In August, I took a road trip to Acadia National Park in Maine for the weekend with blogger friends Kristin of 5 Things to Eat, Fiona of Gourmet Pigs, as well as Bell and Alex. Thanks to a partnership with Buick, I got to cruise with my friends through the park in a 2016 Buick Cascada convertible, which was a fun treat since I drive a 2003 Honda Civic (See the banner photo!).
- Later in August, I spent nearly a week in Colorado, where I lived for a few years after college. I hadn’t been there in about two years, so it was a hectic few days of running up and down the Front Range to see all of my old friends, while trying to squeeze in some work along the way.
- I spent some time relaxing at my parents’ house in New Jersey before and after my international trips (they are my dog sitters for long trips), as well as over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. I also celebrated with family members during my brother’s wedding in West Chester, Pennsylvania, in May, and my cousin’s wedding in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in October.
- I finally made the trip to Buffalo, New York, to visit my college friend and his family, and was pleasantly surprised to discover craft beers, hearty Italian eats and several Frank Lloyd Wright buildings. I also braved a snow storm that Sunday to drive to Rochester to visit a few more friends there.
a view of the Glendalough monastic settlement in Wicklow, Ireland
Around the World
- With the goal of seeing the Hôtel de Glace before it disappeared for the season, Kristin, Fiona and I took a road trip in early March to Quebec City, where they enjoyed the poutine, and I enjoyed a lot of the fresh fish. We all enjoyed the cocktails.
- I went to Ireland in April to reunite with Guillermo and Siobhan. We all met during the Rickshaw Challenge in India two years ago. Guillermo and I took a whirlwind roadtrip in the rain from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher to Cork before heading up to Wicklow, where Siobhan lives to watch her play polo and attempt to drink as much as the Irish spectators.
- My top travel highlight of the year by far was the 15 days I spent in the Philippines in October. My first stop was the island of Palawan, where I swam with whale sharks and toured the Underground River in Puerto Princesa before heading to El Nido for island hopping and zip lining. I spent the remainder of my stay in Manila for TBEX Asia Pacific. I took part in two “pre-BEX” day tours – one was a day trip out to see the ruins on Corregidor Island and the other was a bike tour of Intramuros, the historic heart of Manila – as well as a “post-BEX” tour of a Gawad Kalinga community in Quezon City and the GK Enchanted Farm in Angat.
The quiet beach where we ate a fresh lunch during our El Nido island-hopping tour.
I also took time to invest in building my skills and networks throughout the year, attending a creative writing workshop in New Hampshire in January and a travel writing workshop one at a friend’s home in upstate New York in November, as well as several travel conferences including two in New York City: the New York Times Travel Show in January and my 2nd New York Travel Festival (TravFest) in April, where I spoke on two panels in the Meet, Plan, Go! track. Two standout professional development experiences, both in terms of learning and socializing, were the 3rd annual (my 2nd) Women in Travel Summit in sunny Irvine, California, in March and then TBEX in October (Read about my and others’ TBEX experiences here).
I sat on a Harley for the first time at the Women in Travel Summit. It was brought there by Visit Milwaukee, which will be hosting WITS 2017 in April.
What’s in store for 2017?
I want 2017 to be a BIG travel year, mainly because I’m turning 40 in May. While I still have a hard time admitting that to myself that that’s actually happening, I am planning to cram in as many memorable experiences as possible in the next 12 months order to celebrate the first 40 years of my life and kick off the next 40+. Looking forward to having you along for the ride!