2013 Travel Sneak Peek

by Gray Cargill on January 2, 2013

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2012 set the bar pretty high when it came to travel. I mean, how can I possibly top a year during which I traveled 28,000 miles and visited 12 destinations, including Hawaii and Pompeii–all while holding down a full-time job? Well, the simple truth is, I can’t. So I’m not even going to try. But 2013 is going to be a big year for travel nonetheless, I can feel it in my bones. Where am I going this year?

Mission San Jose

San Antonio, Texas

For the longest time, I could not figure out where I wanted to go first. I knew I wanted to go somewhere warm as an escape from Vermont’s long, cold winter. As much as I loved Hawaii last year, I decided it was too soon to go back again. (And too soon to face that 20+hours-each-way flight.) I’d already been to New Orleans, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. I must have researched every single island in the Caribbean, but none of them excited me.

I combed through my travel bucket list carefully when inspiration finally struck: Hey, San Antonio’s right up there near the top. I wonder how cold it is there in the winter? Not as cold as Vermont, that’s for sure! The more I thought about it, the more I loved the idea!

Texas is the second biggest state in the US (I said this would be a “big” travel year, didn’t I?), and I’ve never been there before. Of all the cities in Texas, San Antonio appeals to me the most: It has a walkable downtown, a decent public transportation system, lovely outdoor spaces, art and architecture, history and multicultural influences. San Antonio’s background includes a smorgasbord of cultures—Spanish, Mexican, Native American, German. It has a huge footprint when it comes to US history, as the site of the Battle of the Alamo. I’m getting excited about this one—especially since it’s coming up fast!

Toronto, Canada and Niagara Falls

By the time I head to Toronto, Canada in June, it will have been three years since my last travel blogging conference (TBEX10 in New York City). I didn’t go in 2011 or 2012, because the timing of TBEX (The Travel Blog Exchange) in North America unfortunately clashes with the ideal time for me to go to Europe. Choosing between the two was really no contest.

But if you’re going to do anything well, you need to stay abreast of advances in your field. Just as I went to a professional conference this past summer for my day career, I felt it was time for me to attend TBEX again to be the best travel blogger I can be. The networking opportunities are invaluable, and it’s always good to step back from the day-to-day grind of blogging to see best practices and learn from my peers—to see the “forest for the trees,” if you will.

I’m looking forward to visiting Toronto. I’ve been to Canada many times, but only the Province of Quebec, which is to the north of Vermont. Quebec is very different from the rest of Canada because of its French influence. So it’ll be a treat to see what the Province of Ontario and Canada’s biggest city is like.

While there, I’m making it a priority to take a day trip to Niagara Falls, the massive trio of falls on the border of Canada and the US. North America has so many natural wonders I still have yet to see, and it’s high time I start. I can’t wait to see this one. I haven’t quite figured out what else I want to see and do during this trip, but you can bet I’ll be tackling that as soon as I get home from Texas.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nevada

Since I have a Las Vegas blog I naturally have to go to Las Vegas every year (not that it’s a hardship by any means). My traditional week for visiting has been Labor Day week. I like it because it’s cheaper, and there are fewer children in the resorts since school has just started. But this year, I finally had to admit that Labor Day week is still too hot for me to really enjoy being outside in Nevada. And so much of the appeal of the Southwest is being outside.

So I’ve decided to head to Las Vegas in mid- to late-October this year. It should still be pool season and yet much more comfortable for walking around outside than early September is. Plus, I’ll finally get to see how the city celebrates Halloween. As if things aren’t crazy enough in Las Vegas during normal travel periods, you just know the crazy gets ratcheted up before a holiday like Halloween!


The Great Unknown

I’m certain of the above three trips. But. . .I’m leaving open the possibility of other trips as well. I hated to deny myself a trip to Europe this year just because I am going to TBEX. Most of the destinations on my travel bucket list are in Europe, and it’s going to take me a long time to see them all if I skip a year. For a brief moment after it was announced that TBEX Europe 2013 would be hosted in Dublin, I thought my problem was solved: I’d just go to TBEX Dublin instead of TBEX Toronto!

That dream lasted all of two seconds. To make a long story short, there was no guarantee the dates for TBEX Dublin (which haven’t been announced) would work for me, so I booked my ticket for Toronto instead. But that doesn’t mean I’ve given up on Europe completely!

I may use my frequent flyer miles on United to wing my way to a new European destination from my travel bucket list (Ireland? Scotland? Venice?). Or if Europe is beyond my reach for the year, I may take some long weekend trips closer to home (Quebec City? Washington, DC?). It would pain me to give up Europe for a year, but hopefully it—and I—will still be here in 2014.

So that’s what my 2013 looks like so far. We’ll just have to wait and see what the year actually brings. I have a very good feeling about it.

Have you figured out your 2013 travel plans yet? Where are you going?

Photo credits: Mission San Jose by Katie Haugland.

lee laurino January 26, 2013 at 10:37 am

if you see any good links for short term apts in Torronto during the conference, please share.
Shall try to make this a stop on a long distance trip and a 3 to 5 day lay over would be great around this time…..

And there is a shipping company in Torronto that claims there are boats that sail to Northern Canada, Will have to search for that too.

Hope to see you in June. LL

Gray January 26, 2013 at 11:13 am

Will do. I’ve got to recover from my Texas trip before I can start thinking about planning the Toronto trip! 🙂

lee laurino January 26, 2013 at 11:21 am

Travel can become non stop and time between trips too short!
Leaving all that sunshine for the snow again……. difficult?

Gray January 26, 2013 at 11:36 am

Not difficult–I was ready to sleep in my own bed again. But the cold and snow were definitely a shock to the system!

Tiana Kai January 21, 2013 at 10:10 am

Sounds like a stellar plan! I am dying to make my way to Toronto. I have heard nothing but great things about it! How long do you typically spend at TBEX events? Are you able to take a few days before or after to explore a bit? Happy packing!

Gray Cargill January 26, 2013 at 10:03 am

Hi, Tiana, I do try to schedule some extra days around the conference to be a tourist. I really can’t afford not to, since I’m not a full-time traveler. I’ve got to make every trip I take count for blog material. 🙂 Besides, like you, I’ve wanted to see Toronto for awhile now (and Niagara Falls). The conference itself will last 2 days (Sat-Sun) and probably kick off with a party on Friday night.

Tiana Kai January 26, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Fantastic, Niagra Falls! Have a great time!

Lisa @chickybus January 9, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Looks like you’ve got a great year planned–it all sounds cool! San Antonio looks wonderful. I have heard a lot about it and all of it’s been good.

I have no clue what the heck I’m doing yet as far as travel goes.

I see that you and Erik are both going to be at TBEX? Hmmm. I wish I could go. Not sure if I can. Would be great to meet both of you!

Gray January 9, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Well, kind of, Lisa. As much as I can have it planned. LOL. You know what they say about best laid plans…I would love to see you at TBEX, too! I hope you can make it!

Erik January 6, 2013 at 10:22 pm

I can tell 2013 is going to be a big year for you!

I’ve already got my 2013 TBEX ticket purchased. I have no excuse for no going this year since Toronto is a 4-5 hour drive from my home in the Detroit area. I’m nervous since my blog is small potatoes, but I’m not really going for that- I’m more going to meet so many of the bloggers I enjoy and admire.

Gray January 7, 2013 at 6:13 am

Hi, Erik! I think you’ll love TBEX for that aspect, for sure. There’s nothing like making those face-to-face connections. Hope to see you there!

Jayme January 6, 2013 at 8:39 pm

I would like to visit the Alamo! I love history and Texas!

Gray January 6, 2013 at 8:49 pm

I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes, Jayme! I hope you get a chance to visit it yourself someday.

Christine | GrrrlTraveler January 5, 2013 at 11:06 pm

Wow, you really inspire me how you’re able to plan your travel so early but then I sometimes forget you’re traveling amidst holding a full-time job. Which inspires me more! Friends always give me the excuse that they have work so they can’t travel… Next time, I’ll just direct them to your blog!

Gray January 5, 2013 at 11:36 pm

Thanks, Christine! My feeling is that if you want to travel badly enough, you carve out the time any way you can–and for me, that means loads of pre-planning. If I didn’t plan it ahead of time, it wouldn’t happen, and I would be a very unhappy person.

lee January 4, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Brava! the first week of 2013 and you have a plan, so much better than letting life decide where you will go.
I hope to see you in Toronto for the 2013 event and am looking into the possibility of taking the train from NYC all the way.

dont give up on europe, last year i saw a flight from torronto to eurpope for a fraction of what i had to pay this year. I just could not make their deadline on the sale.

if i am in Italy for more than a few weeks this year and have an apt, i shall let you know.

Gray January 4, 2013 at 6:03 pm

I look forward to seeing you in Toronto, then, Lee!

Renee King January 2, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Good stuff, Gray! I plan to visit San Antonio at some point to meet my spirit sister, Monica Gonzalez…lol. I’m actually playing with the idea of hitting up Vermont, so I may need your help with that. Dublin is definitely a go and I have a couple of other spots on the horizon that hasn’t been formalized. I agree with you, I predict 2013 to be one of my biggest travel years!

Gray January 2, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Is Monica still blogging? Last time I visited her website, it was gone. I thought of her, too, when I knew I was going to San Antonio. Not sure she’d remember me, we never met, just interacted around blogging.

You might come to Vermont? Yay! Email me. We’ll discuss. It’s so cool to see everyone else’s travel plans for 2013, too. I think it’s going to be a big year for all of us!

Renee King January 3, 2013 at 3:10 pm

I think she’s given up travel blogging and is running an online bookstore called the Literary Heart. Yes, I am definitely thinking about coming sometime in the Fall to watch the beautiful leaves changing….will email you for deets!

Gray January 3, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Good choice! Fall is a pretty time of year in Vermont!

Keith B January 2, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Hello Gray, Sounds like you will be busy agian with your travel. Try to get to Dublin, and if you do let me know and I can pass on some tips from my many trips there, five times so far, with another timed for 2014.

For me internationally, I will be in Vegas in April for 5 days at a beer convention (finally they put one on in Vegas, Yeah!!) then again to the USA for my annual conference in August/September, this time in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Plus two extra weeks to drive across the north western states from Fort Wayne to Portland. Then October I am off to Slovakia for two weeks. I just added up those flying miles, wow, just under 55,000 without setiting foot on the ground. Yes it is a long way to anywhere from here!

Internally I have two interstate flights this month to Perth and Melbourne, plus four or five other weekend ones in the pipeworks for the first six months of the year.

Stay safe and keep well,

Keith B.

Gray January 2, 2013 at 7:17 pm

Hi, Keith! Good to hear from you! Sounds like you’ve got some great adventures planned for yourself this year too! It IS a long way to anywhere from Australia. I almost hate to complain about how long it takes me to get anywhere. It’s not nearly as far as it is for you. Send along those Dublin tips any time. Even if I don’t make it there this year, I’ll save the ideas for when I do get there. Cheers!

Jeff @ GoTravelzing January 2, 2013 at 5:40 pm

If you are going to San Antonio don’t forget about Austin. There is so much to see and do in and around those cities. You will need a car. Public transportation is pretty poor there. Don’t give up on Europe yet. You still have the whole year to plan it.

Gray January 2, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Austin is on my list, too, Jeff, but I won’t have time on this trip. Austin is worthy of its own trip. A whole year to plan….and save the money!

Tracy Antonioli January 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm

I can’t wait to hear about your San Antonio trip! It’s on my list for the end of this year–over Christmas break. Have a great time!

And if you decide to visit DC, let me know. I love it there–I actually worked there for two summers in college–and it’s a short drive and train ride from my home. I’d be happy to come show you around!

Gray January 2, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Oooh, travel blogger meetup in DC! Sounds like a great idea, Tracy. If I can just get a decent airfare from here….

Suzanne in VA January 2, 2013 at 7:32 pm

Im not a blogger but if you come to DC I’d like to join in if there is a meetup:-) Im just an hour train ride sounth~ Maybe the train would be an option for you Gray vs air?

Gray January 2, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Actually, Suzanne, the cost of a train to DC isn’t much less than airfare and it takes about 13 hours, so totally not worth it from my point of view.

Adam Pervez January 2, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Looks great. Looking forward to seeing your posts about these places. I’ve never been to San Antonio.

Gray January 2, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Hi Adam – Thanks, I’m looking forward to being able to write about them. (But more looking forward to experiencing them.)

Suzanne in VA January 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Awesome plans for 2013! U will love San Antonio so much to see and do – I went solo last April. I cant wait to hear about Niagara, its on my list to go to someday. I am heading to Vegas end of September for “training” hopefully and will be taking a couple days in AZ for the Grand Canyon. I also hope to make it up to VT this year so I can mark it off my list of 50 states by the time Im 50 ~ Colorado as well in March. So many places to go and see!

Gray January 2, 2013 at 6:45 pm

Oh, I’m so glad you’re going to see the Grand Canyon, Suzanne. It’s truly one of this country’s masterpieces. If you do make it to Vermont, be sure to let me know!

Jason January 2, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Despite Dublin, it looks like a pretty good year. Hopefully our paths cross again!

Gray January 2, 2013 at 6:43 pm

I still might make it to Dublin, just not for TBEX, Jason. You’re going to be in Toronto, right? If so, I’ll see you then!

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