I love this time of year. In addition to looking ahead to the new year, making plans and setting goals, I’ve also been reflecting on the year that has passed. Here’s what 2012 looked like, from a travel perspective, for me:
By the Numbers
- Number of Trips: 4 (keep in mind I have a full-time job that is NOT blogging)
- Number of Travel Days: 32
- Miles Traveled: More than 28,000 (By far the most miles I’ve traveled in any given year.)
- Destinations Visited: 12. (Oahu, Hawaii; Rome, Italy; Florence, Italy; Cannes, France; Marseilles, France; Avignon, France; Barcelona, Spain; Pompeii, Italy; Sorrento, Italy; Positano, Italy; Minneapolis, MN; Las Vegas, NV.)
- Number of (Day) Tours Taken: 3
- Number of Hotels Slept In: 6 (including Norwegian Epic cruise ship)
Most Valuable Lesson Learned
I wish I could say I learned something really deep and meaningful that will make me a better human being for the rest of my life. But honestly, the most valuable lesson I learned was that “membership has its privileges.” When I missed my connection in Chicago coming home from Minneapolis, I couldn’t get booked on another flight home until the next night. But because I have status with United (as a frequent flier and holder of their credit card, with a large number of accumulated miles), I was at the top of the standby list and was able to get home on an earlier flight than I had booked. Others I spoke with who had no status with the airline weren’t so lucky. I wish that had been the case a couple of years ago, when I was stuck in Las Vegas for four extra days because of a blizzard (I was flying Jetblue at the time).
It’s all about the people
I had the good fortune of meeting up with fun, warm and wonderful people during each trip I took. In Honolulu, I broke bread with Nathan Kam, Nancy Daniels of Outrigger Hotels and Resorts, and Christine Ka’aloa (who graciously gifted me with a handmade lei, which was very cool of her). I had such great conversations with each of them about blogging, the travel industry, and the mysteries of social media. All three were as nice as could be and made me feel very welcome on my first trip to Hawaii.
In Rome, I met up with Linda Martinez, owner of The Beehive. We hit it off so well, I think we spent three hours talking one morning and we’ve stayed in touch since. I met some fabulous fellow travelers on my cruise through Europe—Jody and Jeff, Corinne and Jim, Candice and Teri, Margie, Sue, Cubby, Joy, and so many more.
In Minneapolis, I was finally able to meet my favorite Las Vegas podcasters, Tim and Michele Dressen, over drinks and great food at a local hotspot. They are every bit as likeable and funny in person as you’d think from listening to their podcast. I just adore them.
For a solo traveler, my trip to Las Vegas this year was very social! There wasn’t a single day when I didn’t have plans with other people, mostly fellow solo travelers – my friends Abby and Joe, who live in Las Vegas, Jason, whose own trip to Vegas overlapped with mine, Janice and Julie, whom I’d met on previous trips, and all the new people who showed up for my Vegas Solo Meetup: Brian, Sharon, Troy, Jerry and Scott.
Not remembering to get pictures of all the great people I met and spent time with! It is the one thing I always forget to do when I travel, and I’ve been kicking myself about it all year.
- Climbing Diamond Head crater in Honolulu. It wasn’t easy, since I had to pass through a long, dark tunnel to get to the top (and I’m both nightblind and claustrophobic), but the views were so worth it.
- Getting soaking wet during my Circle Island Tour of Oahu, but having fun anyway.
- Discovering a new food addiction – edamame – while in Honolulu. (This is your fault, Christine!)
- Walking the length of Waikiki Beach.
- Savoring a cold shave ice after my hot hike up Diamond Head.
- The very, very long series of flights to get between Vermont and Hawaii.
- Watching surfers on the North Shore of Oahu. It’s such an iconic image of Hawaii!
- Visiting Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial, along with the “Mighty Mo”–the USS Missouri.
- Picking up little bits of cultural knowledge from Hawaii, like the uses of leis, what li hing mui is, and the concept of pau hana. It left me wanting more.
- My hair-raising taxi ride into Rome from the airport and coming thisclose to getting hit by a guy on a vespa just a few hours later.
- My first glimpse of the Roman Colosseum towering in front of me as I emerged from the metro station. Breathtaking.
- Chilling on the Spanish Steps.
- Sailing on my first real cruise aboard Norwegian Epic. . .and getting seasick.
- Sitting in a very enthusiastic audience for the phenomenal Spanish ballet aboard the Norwegian Epic. This totally made up for missing out on Flamenco in Madrid in 2011.
- Climbing the 414 steps of the Campanile in Florence, Italy and being rewarded with one of the most perfect travel moments of my life.
- Trying limoncello in Sorrento and realizing I am too much of a lightweight for alcohol that strong!
- The amazing views of Marseilles and the coast from Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica.
- Sneezing my way through Avignon, France on a day when the air was thick with pollen.
- Walking through the ancient city of Pompeii and imagining those final hours.
- Seeing Cannes get all gussied up for its annual Film Festival.
- Trying to remember which of 3 countries I was in when it came time to say hello, please or thank you in the native language! “Gracias. . .I mean Grazi. . .I mean Merci!”
- The gorgeous views along the Amalfi Coast, especially Sorrento and Positano.
- Nearly getting heat exhaustion in Minneapolis in the 90-plus degree heat.
- Finally visiting the Valley of Fire State Park and its stunning red sandstone rock formations.
- Seeing the Broadway musical Wicked (for the first time) at the Smith Center in Las Vegas.
2012 was an outstanding year of travel experiences for me! I met people and made memories I’ll treasure for a lifetime. It was a very expensive travel year—one I can’t repeat too often—but oh, so worth it. What will 2013 bring in terms of travel? I’m finalizing my plans right now, and will share them with you in early January.
What were your favorite travel adventures of 2012?