As we all celebrate the start of a new year January 1 also marks the anniversary of when I first hit publish here at the Casual Travelist. I started writing three years ago as part of the healing process after my Mom passed away from early-onset Alzheimer’s and every day I’m amazed and grateful for all of you that have chosen to stop by my little corner of the internet. The past three years have been filled with opportunities and adventures that I couldn’t have imagined when I started writing but what I cherish the most is all of the new friends, both in person and online, that I’ve made along the way. You guys really are the best.
If you’re like me right about now you’re wondering just how the past year flew by so fast. I managed to make my goal of traveling at least once a month over the past year,all while working full time. Three countries, seven states and a whole lot of exploring Virginia provided a year’s worth of adventure. Without further ado, here are my best travel moments of 2016.
I can’t believe how fast 2016 has flown by, as I write this thoughts of turkey and pumpkin pie dance in my head and visions of Christmas sales flash across my TV screen. Tensions still run high from one of the most contentious election seasons in history, but despite the doom that pops up in my news feed there is a lot that’s good and right in the world. I choose to focus on the positive and this year has generally been a good one for me. Here are a few things I’m thankful for this year.
When I was planning my recent trip to Mexico I was excited. It was my first trip to the country, and rather than head to a luxury resort I wanted this trip to be about the culture. Don’t get me wrong, I love a luxury resort as much as the next person (as you can see here and here), but the Mexico I wanted this time didn’t involve palapas or infinity pools. A few days at an immersive cooking school in the small mountain town of Tepoztlan, with mornings spent walking through town to the market to gather the ingredients for dinner that night all within view of dramatic limestone cliffs capped with the ruins of an Aztec pyramid; followed by the frenetic mix of modern and historic in Mexico City would be my introduction to Mexico. When I announced my travel plans to friends and family I was a bit taken aback, more than any other place I have visited I was deluged with warnings and questions about my safety.
It seems like every week I’m asked by friends, coworkers or readers when I’m going to quit my 9-to-5 job and do this traveling thing full time. Ditching the corporate rat race while living on a tropical island while making thousands working four hours a week, isn’t that the ultimate goal of every travel blogger? While I’m inspired by those full time travelers out there I’m well aware that most of us (particularly Americans with our meager vacation time which we don’t use all of) don’t travel that way. Truth is, I rather like the dichotomy of my life-suburban physical therapist during the week and international jetsetter on the weekends. Here’s why I’m perfectly content not quitting my job to travel the world.
It’s a great big world and there is so much I have yet to explore. Truth is, I kind of hate the concept of the bucket list; ticking off a list that you have to do before you die just seems kind of morbid to me. That doesn’t mean I don’t have a list of places I want to see and things I want to experience, I most definitely do. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to some of the world’s most beautiful destinations and have had some amazing experiences along the way; from waking up to the sounds of the rain forest in Costa Rica to glacier hiking in Iceland each new place only stokes the fires or wanderlust that much more. My travel desires are fluid, new experiences will certainly take the place of old; travel is my addiction and there is no cure. Without further ado, here is my travel wish list.
To look at today’s travel media you’d think the the only people hitting the road are fresh-faced Millennials and Baby Boomers with newly emptied nests; what about Generation X? Instagram is filled with images of ingenues frolicking on the beach or looking wistfully at the horizon while magazines and tour companies target well-heeled Boomers making the most of retirement. In a recent issue extolling the virtues of solo travel Afar (one of my favorite travel magazines) mentioned Millennials, Boomers and even Matures by name with no word of Gen X at all.
There’s little doubt you haven’t heard about the doughnut ice cream cone, in recent weeks this latest food trend has been breaking the internet. Images of this sweet pastry has been blowing up Instagram, filling up your Facebook feed and has been featured everywhere from Buzzfeed to USA today. Based on the traditional Czech pastry known as the trdelnik, baker Vladimir Novak started filling the tube-shaped pastries with ice cream at his Prague cafe Good Food Prague. Frankly, I think its a brilliant idea and it seems like the world agrees.