2017: A Year in Review

2017: A Year in Review

Well, if I’m being honest, I’m very glad that 2017 is over. Every day it seemed like some new tragedy threatened to turn the world upside down and personally, it was one of the most challenging yet. I had some incredible highs, including the birth of my niece Ronen, who is the light of my life already. And lived out some of my biggest travel dreams, which filled me up in ways that I could not have imagined. And yet the last 6 months have been some of the darkest and most stressful, forcing me to face some harsh realities.

But, like always, travel continues to be my constant in a sea of confusion. It never ceases to root me in who I am and what is important. I already have some incredible plans for 2018 and so I step confidently into this new year with the knowledge that things can get better and that I am still #blessed beyond what even makes sense to me. With that being said, here is a look back on my travel adventures during the past 365 days.

1. Glacier, Washington (January)

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My first trip of 2017 took place in early January where I journeyed to Mt. Baker with a group of wonderful people to celebrate my friend Mindy’s birthday. We rented two cabins, cooked wonderful meals, played games, went snow shoeing, built fires, and made some great memories.

2. San Diego, California (February)

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Just as the winter weather was really starting to get to me, I made my annual trip to San Diego to visit Jennie. We did all my favourite things like eating fish tacos, walking on the beach, and dining al fresco. I even took myself on a solo day trip to Coronado Island, which always makes me feel like I’ve gone back in time to a 50s movie. Cali you are bliss!

3. New Zealand (March)

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I attempted to summarize my epic, bucket-list trip to NZ but I still don’t think I’ve truly found the words. I got to visit my favourite locations from the Lord of the Rings, fly in a helicopter to the top of a glacier, swing over 100m through a canyon, sail through Milford Sound, roll down a hill in a ball filled with water (i.e. zorb) – New Zealand you were too much!

4. Seattle, Washington (April)

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Less than two weeks after returning from New Zealand, I was back to traveling. I love Seattle and make several trips each year. This time it was with first-timer, Erica. We wandered around Pike Place Market, restaurant hopped in Capitol Hill (including an Alec Baldwin sighting!) and checked out the skyline from Kerry Park. Always a good time, and I know I’ll be back.

5. Squamish, BC (May)

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Our fourth annual girls getaway was another huge success. We had perfect spring weather, yet again! I’m not even surprised at this point… We rented a house in Squamish on a quiet acreage in the mountains, perfect for quiet evenings sipping wine and catching up on our busy lives. This year we had a male party crasher, four-month baby Atticus. He put up with us like a champ and joined us on our venture up the Sea to Sky gondola for stunning views of Howe Sound. I’m so grateful to have such wonderful women in my life who keep investing in our friendship. I’m a lucky girl!

6. Victoria, BC (May)

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For Mother’s Day this year, my family made a weekend getaway to Victoria. We had a massive two-bedroom suite overlooking the inner harbour, which totally gave me a Kevin McCallister in Home Alone 2 kind of moment. We spent our days eating good food, strolling through downtown and visiting Butchart Gardens, which I described as Disneyland for flower enthusiasts.

7. Portland, Oregon (July)

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My fourth trip to Portland and this city just keeps getting better. I hadn’t visited in summer before and was thrilled at how beautiful the city looks when it’s green and filled with fresh roses. This trip included wine tasting in nearby Carlton, which boasts the most tastings rooms per capita in the US, a backyard barbecue, ice cream from Salt & Straw, aerial tramway views, and a Bob Saget comedy show. I can’t wait to come back!

8. Winnipeg, Manitoba (July)

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It had been a couple years since my last trip to Winnipeg and this time it was to celebrate the nuptials of my beautiful cousin, Erin. I made it just in time for the bachelorette party and was able to squeeze in a full day at the fantastic Folk Music Festival, a trip to the Thermea spa, as well as heaps of quality time with family.

9. Austin, Texas (August)

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My only work trip of the year took me to Austin, Texas for a conference, which I extended through the weekend to enjoy the sights. I was really taken by this city, although I definitely wouldn’t recommend it during the summer – the heat down south is no joke. That aside, the food, music, and weird vibes make it a fascinating place to visit.

10. Summerland, BC (September)

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I had a milestone birthday this year… the big 3-0… and decided to use it as an excuse to take a trip. My cousin Teri-Lynn flew in for the weekend to join me and friends Erica and Sara for wine tasting in the Okanagan. I couldn’t think of a better way to turn the page to a new decade in my life story than relaxing with good friends in a beautiful place.

11. Arizona (October)

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The surprise travel highlight of the year was my four-day road trip in Arizona with go-to travel buddy Megan. We managed to visit some of the most jaw dropping sights I’ve ever seen in our short getaway – namely Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, and the Grand Canyon. However, it was the adorable town of Sedona that really captured my attention. I can’t wait to return for a whole week in the red rock desert oasis.

12. Hawai’i (December)

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What can I even say about Hawaii that hasn’t been said? It’s perfection and I will absolutely never get sick of visiting. This was my fourth trip to the state but my first time on the Big Island. I spent a luxurious week playing and adventuring with Mindy who joined me on this pre-Christmas vacation. We hiked across an active volcano, boogie boarded at one of the top beaches in the country, snorkelled, toured a coffee farm, hiked through the jungle, and hung out in a bay full of sea turtles. Mahalo!

13. Nashville, Tennessee (December)

To cap off the year, I am continuing with my goal of celebrating New Year’s in a new city each year: 2014 in New Orleans2015 in Barcelona, 2016 in Seattle, 2017 in Vancouver and now I am about to ring in the start of 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. My friend Joy and I have been immersing ourselves in local living and trying our best to keep warm in the freezing temperatures. We have tickets to a Y2K themed party that we’re hoping brings all the nostalgia and good times to carry us into the new year with positivity and purpose!

2017: By the Numbers

Countries Visited: 2 (1 new one) –  USA / New Zealand

States Visited: 7 (1 new one) – Washington / California / Oregon / Texas / Arizona / Hawaii / Tennessee

Provinces Visited: 2 – British Columbia / Manitoba

Plane Rides Taken: 15 one way flights (I count a flight as a flight regardless of how many segments or layovers it has).

Airports Visited: 16 (YVR, BLI, SEA, SAN, AKL, SYD, CHC, WLG, YXX, YWG, LAX, SFO, AUS, PHX, KOA, BNA)

Kilometres Flown in 2017: 61, 485

Beds Slept In: 23. Of those, 8 were hostels, 7 were hotels, 4 were crashing with family or friends, 2 were Airbnb rentals, one was a cabin, one was a condo rental, and one was my own bed!

What are your favourite travel memories of 2017?

What are you looking forward to most in the new year?

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2016: A Year in Review

2016: A Year in Review

Let’s all breathe a collect sigh of relief that 2016 is over. Although, this year wasn’t so terrible for me personally, I know that it was pretty rough for many others. Health scares, miscarriages, terrorist attacks, school stabbings, the fentanyl epidemic, record breaking rain, devastating natural disasters, skyrocketing real estate, the ongoing crisis in Syria, a relentless string of celebrity deaths, and an election season that sucked the life out of everyone. I think I speak for us all when I say, 2016 – good riddance.

But, all that being said, there is still so much of the past 12 months to be grateful for. I made so many new friends and was able to both visit and host friends from far away. It was a transition year for me professionally as I started a fantastic new job in February. As my priorities shifted to spending more time focused on work, this in turn caused a slight dip in my world travels. However, I still managed to maximize weekend getaways and finally hit my milestone 30th country.

As I look back on 2016, I want to remember the good and carry forward a message of hope. There’s still a lot of love and light in the world and nothing teaches that better than travel. So with that being said, here is a look back on my travel adventures during the past 365 days.

1. Seattle, Washington (January)

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I successfully continued my streak of celebrating the new year in a different city for the 3rd year in a row. After a night of feting and fireworks at the Experience Music Project, we began 2016 by exploring Seattle’s Underground City and the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. We lucked out with bright blue skies and although I’ve been to Seattle more times than I can remember, this visit was probably my favourite.

2. San Diego, California (February)

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There are few things that I cherish more than my annual trip to San Diego. It is one of my top 10 favourite cities and home to my dear friend Jennie. This trip was extra special as I got to meet her daughter Maggie for the first time. Baby in tow we visited old favourites like La Jolla and Pacific Beach and finally got around to visiting Balboa Park.

3. Victoria, BC (February)

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As I mentioned, I started a new job in February (woo!) and gave myself a week break in between (something I highly recommend). This was the perfect opportunity to tag along with my travel buddy Mindy on a couple of hotel site-visits in our provincial capital. We split our two nights between the Fairmont Empress and the Delta Grand. I got a horrible cold on the way over and it poured rain almost the entire time. But fortunately, I had a great friend and a lovely city to cheer me up.

4. Nanaimo, BC (March)

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I took off for my first business trip with my new job after merely 10 days. With just a 20 minute Harbour Air flight I was in Nanaimo, a commute that would become familiar as I made three additional trips in 2016. I haven’t got the chance to fully explore the area as a tourist but I do love any time I can get on the island. And, I’m a sucker for a seaplane ride, especially when I get to sit up front with the pilot!

5. Calgary / Banff, Alberta (March)

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For Easter weekend, my extended family descended upon Calgary for my cousin Jordan’s wedding. Essentially everybody attending was from out of province, which made it a family reunion of sorts. The wedding itself was at an incredibly picturesque spot in the foothills and it was great to catch up with all my relatives. The trip highlight was definitely when a pack of my cousins and I hit up Mt. Norquay in Banff for a day of skiing. I was thrilled to be back on the slopes after a five year hiatus (how did that happen?) and relieved to know that I hadn’t forgotten how to ski.

6. Bowen Island, BC (April)

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Our third annual girls getaway was yet another huge success. This year we went to nearby Bowen Island, which is quite possibly the easiest and most relaxing city escape for Vancouverites. Just a short half hour ferry ride landed us on a beautiful little island in a quaint cottage with lakes and hiking at our door step. We once again lucked into perfect spring weather and spent most of our time drinking wine and catching up with Rachel, freshly back from 9 months in Quebec. Four years post-university and we’re still going strong.

7. Montreal, Quebec (May)

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This year I decided to see more of my home country. That may have had something to do with the exchange rate, but mostly because Canada is amazing. On the top of my list was Montreal, where I wouldn’t have to break out my grade school French but could still get a major dose of culture. I met up with my friend Katie, who recently moved to Ontario, and checked ourselves into an adorable apartment near Le Plateau. The summer temperatures and festival atmosphere made for a super fun weekend. We ate poutine and bagels and watched Cirque de Soleil and rode bikes through the Old Town at night. It was a great intro to Quebec and I look forward to exploring more of the province in the future.

8. North Cascades National Park, Washington (July)

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This year’s annual camping trip occurred over the Canada Day long weekend at a super secret camp ground in the states. Thanks to my expert camper friends we enjoyed a quiet weekend floating on a mostly deserted lake with warm but not hot weather. Basically just eating and playing board games and sitting around a camp fire. We also may or may not have decorated our tents with Canadian flags and paraded through the campground with face tattoos. Yup – we are those people.

9. Whistler, BC (July)

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It wouldn’t be summer in the Pacific Northwest if I didn’t take a trip to Whistler, and lucky for my bank account, this time it was for work. The sunny weather only lasted one evening but it was still fun to run around in the forest with our senior manager group – who knew accountants were so competitive? It also didn’t hurt that we were staying at the Westin. #workperks

10. Kelowna, BC (August)


One of my favourite summer traditions is heading to Kelowna with all my extended family. I have several Aunt’s and Uncle’s who have places on the Lake and between them we have two boats. So this past August I spent 2 days wakeboarding and wine tasting with my pack of 20 something cousins. It was fantastic! I’m continually thankful for a family that I actually really like to hang out with.

11. Chicago, Illinois (September)

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I cannot for the life of me figure out why Chicago doesn’t get more buzz. It’s such a fantastic city. Great food and entertainment in a gorgeous setting on Lake Michigan. My first trip to the windy city was with my perennial travel buddy Mindy. We took a red eye flight and made the most of the Labour Day long weekend. We crammed in everything from deep dish pizza to the famed architecture boat tour to comedy at Second City. If it wasn’t for the winters, I could totally see myself living in Chi-town one day.

12. New York City, New York (October)

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After nearly nine years, I finally made it back to New York City. This time in early autumn, which I think is probably the most perfect time to visit the Big Apple. Once again accompanied by Mindy, we conquered a giant portion of our NYC bucket list. My most memorable activities were visiting the 9/11 Museum and attending the off-broadway show Sleep No More. Seriously, you must experience this show! But what surprised me the most was how overwhelmed I felt by the crowds. I’m a total city girl and usually love the hustle and bustle, but NYC took it out of me. I found myself craving nature and some quiet time in the park. I guess that’s why Vancouver is the perfect city for me.

13. Taiwan (November)

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Taiwan was an unexpected surprise stopover on route to Thailand. We had a full day to explore, which was made even easier by the free half-day tours offered at the Taipei airport. We visited a temple, and made pastries, and attempted to chat with the locals. It was such a low stress way to kick start our vacation.

14. Thailand (November)

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My 30th country! I was so deliriously happy to be on vacation in a warm, tropical destination. It was made even better by the fact that my sister-in-law tagged along to help me enjoy all the affordable luxuries available in Southeast Asia. Cheap massages and tailors and beer, oh my! I was slightly concerned about visiting Thailand in the wake of their beloved king’s death, but even in mourning, the Thai people blew me away with their kindness and generosity. I know this won’t be my last trip to the Land of Smiles.

15. Portland, Oregon (December)

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Another annual tradition is forming, where I  make the 5 hour drive down the I-5 to visit my cousins in Portland. My only goals for this particular trip were beer and brunch, both easily accomplished within hours of my arrival. Fortunately, the weather gods smiled upon us and we were able to spend the entire day on Sunday adventuring in the Columbia River Gorge, one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon. We stopped for a panorama view at Vista House and at the famous Multnomah Falls for a photo-op and then hiked to Wahclella Falls (pictured above) nearly in solitude. We even had time to drive over the Bridge of the Gods into Washington to stop at the Panther Creek Falls (yes, more waterfalls!) before we ran out of daylight (take that TLC). It’s no wonder that US Congress recognized this area as the largest National Scenic area in America.

16. Vernon, BC (December)

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My final getaway of 2016 was to the stunning Sparkling Hill Resort & Spa in Vernon, BC. My family Christmas celebrations got moved earlier in the month so I was free to grab my girl Erica for a spa getaway that has ruined me for all future spas. The sprawling hotel is perched on a hill overlooking Lake Okanagan and lavished with Swarovski crystal decor. It was luxurious and relaxing and definitely worth the slightly harrowing drive up the Coquihalla highway.

2016: By the Numbers

Countries Visited: 3 (2 new ones) –  USA / TaiwanThailand

States Visited: 5 (1 new one) – Washington / California / Illinois / New York / Oregon

Provinces Visited: 3 (1 new one) – British Columbia / Alberta / Quebec

Plane Rides Taken: 15 one way flights (I count a flight as a flight regardless of how many segments or layovers it has).

Other Modes of Transportation: 8 ferries, 2 buses, and more vehicles than I care to count.

Airports Visited: 12 (YVR, YXX, YYC, YOW, YUL, YYZ, BLI, SAN, ORD, EWR, BKK, TPE)

Kilometres Flown in 2016: 44, 542

Beds Slept In: 21. Of those, 11 were hotels, 5 were crashing with family or friends, 3 were Airbnb rentals, one was a tent, and one was my own bed!

Blog Posts: 14 (eek… I was really lazy on the blogging front this year)

Most Popular Posts:

An Ode to Brisbane

Hello Seattle, Hello 2016!

Montreal Memoire: 3 Days in Canada’s Cultural Capital

The Most Beautiful Beaches in Australia

What are your favourite travel memories of 2016?

What are you looking forward to most in the new year?

Leisure vs. Adventure Travel

A great debate has been stirring within me these past few months.

I have had opportunities to travel in almost every conceivable way:

Cruise √ Backpacking √ Group Tour √ Luxury Resort √ Camping √ Mission Trip √ Bus Tour √ Road Trip √

And… on a full spectrum of budgets, all the way from shoestring to first class. I’ve travelled with friends, family, big groups, small groups, strangers, classmates, and I’m even going on my first solo trip this month.

So after all of my travel experiences… what is my favourite way to travel? On a cold, rainy, winter night… where do I dream of going? And maybe more importantly… how do I want to travel once I get there?

Most of the people I’ve spoken with would probably say something about a tropical beach where they could lay back and sip margaritas with not a care in the world… and up until now, I would probably have said the same thing. However, when I put my money where my mouth is that theory doesn’t exactly line up. Even though I love a good beach vacation… if I’m honest… (please don’t shoot me)… it gets boring after a couple days. I mean of course I’d prefer lying on a beach as opposed to going to work, but if I could do anything, what would energize me the most?

Before I go any further, I need to lay out a couple of definitions that will come into play here. Keep in mind that these are my interpretations of the words.

Leisure travel is travel in which the primary motivation is to take a vacation from everyday life. Leisure travel is often characterized by staying in nice hotels or resorts, relaxing on beaches, or going on guided tours and experiencing local tourist attractions.

Adventure travel is a type of tourism, involving exploration or travel with perceived (and possibly actual) risk, and potentially requiring specialized skills and physical exertion. According to the Adventure Travel Trade Association, adventure travel may be any tourist activity, including two of the following three components: (1) a physical activity, (2) a cultural exchange or interaction, and (3) engagement with nature.

My main interest in the distinction between these two travel styles came up after my recent trip to Las Vegas. There really wasn’t anything to complain about. The trip was perfectly planned, executed and exactly what I expected. But, I came home feeling kind of… meh (if that’s even a real feeling). It was a good time but could it have been great?

No, actually. I don’t think it could have been great. Well, at least not for me. And the reason is that although I enjoy leisure travel, I am wired for adventure. I still like to have a game plan (that is never going to change) but I love going to exotic places. I love seeing natural wonders. I love going somewhere that’s only accessible on foot. I love seeing the way that locals live – first hand! I love activities that are challenging or intricate. I love that I need to tag on a couple days at home at the end of my trip… just to recuperate. The destinations that send a chill down my spine and truly speak to my soul are rich with culture and adventure. If I’ve done it right… I will NEED a vacation at the end of my trip.

What is your favourite way to travel?

"Camels & Pyramids"

Riding Camels around the Pyramids at Giza