2016 in Review: Top 15 Travel Moments

The year two-thousand sixteen has been a doozie. Let's look back and see what happened

The year two-thousand sixteen has been a doozie. Let’s look back and see what happened. See ya, 2016!

General recap:
Through 2016, I have had the same full-time position sales position with a non-profit hostel chain. I’ve stayed in the same apartment two suburbs out from Boston (Somerville, MA). I’ve stayed single; though I did go on a load of good/great/bad/boring dates throughout the year.

Travel’s Impact on my 2016:

Looking back… I did WAY more than I thought! Spent a lot of time tired and yearning for my own bed, but I put in quite a few miles this past year!

I got to know Boston a little better.
Throughout the year, I pushed myself to get  get a little more intimate with the city. Some highlights include: visiting the Harbor Islands, a private Fenway tour, and taking a few of my days off to explore neighborhoods I had never been before. I was also lucky enough to host some of my Korea-era friends in Boston for a long weekend in January. [Read a bit more about Boston here!]

I flew west to San Diego.
In February I made my first trip to SoCal. I had set a goal to spend no more than $200 total while there, and nailed that budget! [Read more about my time in San Diego here!]

Houston made me appreciate coffee culture.
Houston was a weird, random choice made based on a JetBlue sale. Though it won’t go down as a favorite location (partially because I could not find good coffee), it certainly had some really cool things going on (um, hello NASA!) [Read more about my Houston trip here!]

We exported our parents.
For their 30th wedding anniversary, my siblings and I went in on a trip to Ireland for my parents. We knew it was something that they wanted to do, but would never prioritize it over taking care of stuff for us. The best part about it was that we were able to book them into Ashford Castle in County Cork – a place where both my mother’s parents and father’s parents had stayed in the past!

I didn’t resist the urge to return to the island.
I made some pretty cool friends in Nicaragua back in 2015, and had friends who were travelling through in May, so I took some time off and combined two reunions into one!

Someone called me an “expert.
In June, I co-led a workshop on travelling to Korea with a Korean colleague. It was pretty darn cool to be considered well-versed enough to teach on the subject!

I blushed like an idiot at the US-Canada border.
I drove north from Boston through Vermont on my way to Brockville, ON – and though I would usually cross from NY directly into Ontario, I needed to make a stop in Lancaster, ON so it made more sense to cross into Quebec. Holy HOT French-Canadian border guard.

More reading:  How to See San Diego on $200

I sweat my bum off in New York City.
My sister moved to (just outside) NYC in January and I was finally able to visit- one very hot weekend in June. I followed a few fellow bloggers’ tips on cheap eats/activities and even got a special view of the Flatiron Building… from inside the Flatiorn Building!

I fell deeper in love with Ontario while celebrating… love.
I flew up to Toronto for a bachelorette party, but was fortunate enough to spend the first night outside the city in this cool place called Burlington. I had a great time with the bridal party and then I got to hang with some other Korea friends! [Read more about my time in Toronto here!]

I celebrated liberty on July 4 and then partied on the Liberte on July 6.
My uncle’s brother owns a schooner and does really cool tours from Falmouth (Cape Cod) around Martha’s Vineyard. My parents knew I wanted to find something special to ring in my 30th birthday and surprised me with an afternoon sail.

I was sufficiently creeped out in Salem, MA.
Salem is almost like a real-life Halloweentown. Though the home of the Salem Witch Trials is a year-round destination, the place really comes alive (well, undead maybe) in the fall. [Read more about my time in Salem here!]

I was stunned by the maturity in Scotland.
I mean… signs that read “To Let” would be obvious targets for American teens. NOT ONE of them had  cheeky little “i” scribbled in between. The rest of my time in Scotland was just as mystifying and magical.

Crumpets became my new obsession in England.
Why they haven’t become a national sensation in the US is an utter mystery to me. In Leeds… I ate crumpets. In London… I ate crumpets. In Essex… I ate these little chocolate cookie things that I am basically dying because I can’t get them here. My crumpet tally was no fewer than 10 in the 7 days in England. I did other cool things, too.

I didn’t have a typical tourist visit to Amsterdam.
I ate pie and walked around and took pictures. It rained pretty heavily on my first morning, but after a quick wardrobe change, I took on the sunny afternoon and did some hardcore exploring.

I made intentional choices to see some travel friends.
The Korea reunion in January, the multiple trips to Canada, the all-too-short island vacation, and a quick drink in Boston with a new friend I met on that tiny little island…. all little things that helped get me through the year. Boston can be a difficult place to find people who love, or even understand, the travel obsession…. so importing friends or exporting myself has become a huge coping mechanism for me.

More reading:  The Traveler Birthday: Breaching My 4th Decade

I cried at a concert. Ok, I cried at two.
Not travel-related, but a massively huge dream came true for me in June. I’ve been deeply in love with the band Thrice since 2003. Not only are they talented musicians, but very smart lyricists (I could go on, but I’ll stop). They “took a break” while I was in Korea and I was devestated that I would never get to see them live. Well, they had a reunion tour, and in June they passed through Boston. I bought myself one ticket and went and had a rad fncking time. They have a couple songs that I find particularly inspirational, and when one came on…. I got so excited…. that I cried a little. I cried….  by myself… at a post-hardcore punk show. I’m so hip and with it. Oh, and then my uncle had 2 extra tickets to the Billy Joel concert at Fenway, and my Mom and I were able to go. And I cried at that, too – again, because I was so excited and happy to be there.

I felt very lucky.
There were a few times over the course of the year where it really struck me how lucky I was to have such a wide network of friends from both regular travels and living in Korea. Nicaragua, for instance: not only was I returning to a place I loved, but I was also meeting up with two of my favorite people, while also reuniting with the fabulous friends I made that live on the island. Like, how surreal is that?! However, the “I’m really lucky” feeling was most pronounced when I was standing under some massive tree on a golf course in Prescott, ON rehearsing for my friend’s wedding. It was a real “wow” moment to stand in the bridesmaid line and realize that if not for travel, I would not have been there, and would not have those wonderful, life-changing friendships. Ugh, scary to think about!

So even though 2016 was, ermmmm, globally eventful, and I certainly had my own personal ups and downs…. looking back, there was still a lot to be grateful for!

The year two-thousand sixteen has been a doozie. Let's look back and see what happened

  • What great memories did 2016 give you?
  • Did you travel somewhere new? OR return to an old favorite?
  • Did you visit somewhere new? Or explore your own area a little more in-depth?
  • Were there any big “a-ha!” moments in 2016?
Posted in Inspiration and tagged , , .


  1. Sounds like you had a great year!! I am thinking of taking a family trip to Ireland in 2017 – something my parents have always wanted to do but, likewise, never did for themselves. So seeing that you did that for them is really inspiring! Happy New Year!

    • Thanks, Eva ~ Happy New Year to you, too! Yeah, my sibs and I thought about going with them… but ultimately decided that seeing as it was an anniversary gift, we should let the love birds go off on their own lo.

  2. What a great year! I am so impressed that you were able to stick to your $200 San Diego budget. – I’ve heard it is an amazing city so I will have to read more about it. I think it is great that you took the time to explore Boston as well – I recently realised that I never explore too much when I go home to Sydney so I’m really going to prioritize that next time. Happy 2017!

    • I was impressed that I was able to stay under $200 in SD, too lol I was nervous that I would go too far over OR not have an adequately fun/busy itinerary. And I was totally in the same boat of feeling like I didn’t explore my own area enough– kinda had to force myself into it a little (because its soo tempting to spend days off with Netflix lol). Happy New Year!

  3. Such an epic year full of so many incredible, life-long memories. The one I love the most – and there are many – was celebrating your parents’ wedding anniversary. This is something I would do and shows a special bond. Love it. Boston is one of the prettiest cities in the US too, in my opinion. Here’s hoping 2017 has just as many wonderful experiences and opportunities for you.

  4. Sounds like you had an awesome 2016! I love that you wrote about the big moments and the little things – like blushing at the border guard. (That’s something I totally would’ve done.) I’m totally jealous of your trip to Salem. I want to go there in October at some point! I’ll be moving further east next year when I get back from Asia, and I’m hoping that Oct. 2018 will be my witchy, creepy year 😉 Cheers!

    • Oh awesome! I’ll admit that my bar was set pretty low for Salem (because I’m not super into Halloweeny stuff), but it ended up being way more fun and engaging and interesting than I had expected. Enjoy the remainder of your time Asia!

  5. I love that you spent time to get to know your own city a little better, though my favorite part was exporting your parents to Ireland! How cool is that! You inspired me to return home to the U.S. sometime soon and explore some of the east coast! I hope your 2017 is just as amazing!

    • Aw thanks, Susanna! I’ve found that when I’m home for a really long stretch (boo to the US-style full-time jobs), trying to see the "same old areas" a little different really makes a difference. Having to see the same things with new eyes has really been a good lesson in being more observant. Happy New Year 🙂

  6. I’m new to your blog… had you lived in Korea? Hence the "expert" title? Or.. studied the country? Wondering what the class was on and what people are learning about the Land Of The Morning Calm. I’d love to get to know Boston and Houston a bit more when I’m back in the States. My mom has said great things about San Diego as well.

    • I did live in Korea! I was in Yeosu for 4 years, so I really got that hybrid city-countryside experience (and a pretty decent grip on the Korean language). The workshop was basically a background on what to expect when travelling to Korea (great public transit, learning key phrases, highlights of certain cities, etc…).

  7. I love House of Blues Boston and Boston is beautiful so glad you got to discover your city better. Houston does seem pretty random but cool you discovered its coffee culture. I live in Amsterdam! Wish I knew you were here. What a fulfilling year!

    • I really liked Amsterdam. Funny story – I basically built my breif itinerary off stuff from your and Karen @ WanderlistinK’s blog recommendations! Foodhallen gin bar… very cute bartender (even before the gin lol)

  8. What a nice round up! Did you see the Black Dog schooner or sail on it? I assumed you were on the Liberte from the title but then there was the photo. I think it’s really sweet of you all to send your parents to Ireland for their special trip. I have never been inside the Flatiron building and that is definitely on my bucket list. We saw it from the outside just last month and my kids and I were trying to figure out how the office spaces looked.

    • I’ve never made it onto the Black Dog – but we got super lucky and it sailed really close to our boat! The offices in the Flatiron are a little boring, honestly, but the meeting spaces at the point of the building are quite nice.

  9. I like that your list didn’t only include your travels. It’s great that you and your siblings gifted your parents with a trip to Ireland – I’m sure they were really touched by that. Next time come to Montreal to see more good-looking sites (or sights). 😉

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