After a super busy 2016, it felt like I stayed put a lot more this year. It was a year to explore places I already knew and to enjoy home for longer periods of time. But 2017 wasn’t without its memorable trips to new places. Here are some of the highs and lows of a slowed down travel year.
Putting pause on travel
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Travel is exhausting. No one ever recharges and rests on vacation. Flying is stressful, exploring is tiring, and after all is said and done, you need a vacation from your vacation. After the insane number of trips I took in 2016, I slowed down considerably this year to enjoy life at home. And most of the places I went were places I had been to before.
Instead of being the stranger in a foreign land, I welcomed a revolving door of people to Prague. And this is travel in its own way, because it allows you to see your home in a different way. To enjoy it with loved ones who are usually only present in a different context.
The great thing about revisiting a place (and staycationing at home) is that there’s a familiarity to it that’s comforting but it’s always different enough to be exciting. So on my third trip to Paris and my second to Oktoberfest in Munich, I was more relaxed. I didn’t have to work hard to figure out what to do or how to get around. And I had done many of the major tourist stops on previous trips, so I could just relax and enjoy the company of my friends. I’ve been to New Orleans and Key West more times than I count, but I went back in 2017 just to eat. Those are the best kind of vacations. Because you have no itinerary, no rush, and you get to enjoy something you love that you haven’t had in awhile.
I took a couple of extended trips to my hometown of Miami, which are always the most stressful vacations. Everything takes a backseat to social commitments, and there’s no time to relax. I’ve now been in Miami since December 15, and there hasn’t been a single day where I haven’t had a dinner, a get-together, or a party, and sometimes more than one or two on the same day. I’m just barely making it to 2018, 5 lbs heavier and with only enough energy to lay on a couch with some bubbly until the ball drops.
The new in 2017
Though far less than last year, I did get to explore a handful of new countries and places this year. I got to see the stunning castles of Romania in the heaviest snow I saw all year. I climbed every structure and mountain you can in Machu Picchu, before becoming acquainted with the microscopic bacteria of Cusco’s water. Even though I had been to France, I visited Bordeaux for the first time. I took a few day trips around the Czech Republic and even tried skiing for the first time in Rokytnice nad Jizerou. And long before my girlfriend moved there and I made a return trip in November, I fell in love with the Portuguese city of Porto. It’s a testament to how quickly life can change that both of those trips happened in the same year.
Of all the new places I visited, nothing left a more lasting impression on me more than Peles Castle in Romania. And hiking up Huayna Picchu in Machu Picchu. And the stunning romantic views of Porto. And the adorable fairy tale streets of Cesky Krumlov.
The lows, in their own way, were also hilariously memorable. I flew the longest flight itinerary of my life from Prague to Cusco. The Incas also wreaked havoc on my digestive system right before my 30th birthday, effectively ruining any plans I had in Miami. And my legs basically stopped bending after climbing one too many mountains in Machu Picchu. Everything about Peru was the worst of 2017 basically. I can barely even enjoy avocado anymore without having PTSD flashbacks. But it was still worth it for the story.
Looking ahead to 2018
I’m starting the new year with zero trips planned, which is almost out of character for me. But it’s been kind of nice to enjoy life between takeoffs and landings. I’m not terribly big on New Years resolutions, but I do have some ideas on where I want my travels to take me in 2018. For now, I rather enjoy these outrageously hectic holidays than worry too much about where I might go next month.
So here’s to life, happiness, and travel in the new year.