Every day is a gift and an opportunity to live, love cherish, explore and grow. Sad celebrity deaths and strange politics aside, I choose to celebrate 2016. As a consultant, tech, health and Canadian travel blogger, as a business person and a Mom, this past year exceeded my expectations. These are my personal travel reflections as the year ends.
Travel was my 2016 word of the year. And I challenged myself to travel once a month every month for 2016. So how did that go? It went amazingly. I earned a prestigious Shot @ Life fellowship and travel journalism flourished. Here are my 2016 personal travel reflections.
With the exception of three months, I travelled every month in 2016. We kickstarted that in January with an amazing family adventure to Vermont at Smugglers’ Notch. We learned how to ski back in 2015! Not so long ago and now we enjoy doing this wonderful winter sport together as a family. In fact we will ring in the new year on a ski hill and travel soon to Vermont again to do what we love together.
We barely returned from our family cruise in December last year when we flew to Vermont and enjoyed that wonderful experience together. February and March took us away on more ski adventures throughout Ontario. We were blessed to spend Family Day at Parkbridge Resorts and Blue Mountain again. Perhaps we will have time to return there in 2017.
In April we visited Viamede just outside Peterborough, in the Kawarthas, and spent Easter there doing some fun family activities as well. Highly recommend this place and frankly The Inn at Mount Julian featured the most amazing food I could have ever imagined.
In May I was scheduled to do a conference in California, but I opted not to go. The investment didn’t seem like a good one actually after I reflected on it closer to the event. May is always ridiculously busy here with Mother’s Day and Infertility Awareness Week and the content and business was overwhelming, so a conference wasn’t high priority.
September and November were other down months too. October was the biggest event this year with the Shot @ Life fellowship that took me to Zambia. Had something important cropped up in November then I would have done it, but October was a huge event. And in November I went back and forth to Toronto for business weekly, so time was limited.
This year many of my travel opportunities and decisions were guided by family. I write about family travel and that was where my heart was much of the year. When I was able, I took family with me for some amazing family travel opportunities together. Life is short and my family matters most, so I turned down a few hosted solo travel international opportunities, including a trip to Philippines and Germany. Those are still places I plan to visit, but being able to travel with family made more sense to me.
Seeing my husband and kids zip line through the treetops, conquering their fears, just as I conquered mine was the most magnificent and rewarding aspect of our trip to Quebec and Arbraska this year. Arbraska LaFleche is about 20 minutes from Gatineau. Very worth the visit.
June was me on my own traveling to Martin County in Florida and doing some more of the great things I had on my bucket list. I paddle boarded and learned how to surf. Surfing school was a hoot. But I might need more lessons if I plan to do that again in future. A turtle nesting walk was a highlight. This year I had a rolling bucket list of adventures I wanted to try: zip lining, paddle boarding, more skiing on bigger slopes and surfing. Currently trying to figure out what to do in 2017.
I got back from Stuart and Martin County, Florida and our family spent the weekend at Ontario Pioneer Camp in the stunning Muskoka area of northern Ontario. The camp impressed me so much we sent our youngest there for one week later that summer. She’s now asking for two weeks in 2017.
I plan to make that happen for her because this is a superb camp with really skilled counsellors and a great program for kids with any unique needs.
July was our entire family driving to Outaouais and Gatineau and Montebello. What a great trip! This was one of my favourites this year. Quebec is such a stunning province any time of year. But in the summer here it is magnificent.
In August we were all over Ontario to Collingwood and Barrie, the Muskokas too. In September back to school was madness here and travel took a bit of a backseat. But then, October came and the Shot @ Life fellowship meant that October began at home and then headed to New York, South Africa, Zambia and for an afternoon Zimbabwe. It was a once in a lifetime adventure.
There will always be time in my schedule for impactful travel experiences. The trip to SubSaharan Africa with Shot@Life was immense. That fellowship and the people I travelled with and met will remain with me forever. Africa was a giant leap for me. Exhausting, and magical all at once. Of course I came down with bronchitis right before we left which made the flight there harsh.
What did I learn from all of this in 2016? I am able to take risks and push myself further than I thought. Goals are always worthwhile. They help keep me motivated and inspired. Goals and risks will inform my travel decisions this year as opportunities arise. Every trip is different. Sometimes public relations teams and tourism bureaus invite me to come on a trip. Sometimes that is compensated as well in addition to flights and accommodations. Occasionally I pitch a destination and we plan an itinerary together in exchange for coverage and shares on social networks. There’s no single path to success. Do what works for you.
Personal Travel Reflections:
This year has been a gift. Many don’t have the luxury of a long life, or a supportive and loving family. Many people work at jobs they don’t enjoy just to be able to afford the experiences I get to write about as part of my job. I know I am fortunate and this year has been a great one. Looking forward to 2017 and where it will lead.