Now that 2017 is over, I thought I’d write a post on my travels over the last year and share with you some of my most memorable experiences and a few photos to maybe inspire your own travel plans for this year or beyond.
Here’s my year in a list:
- Waiheke Island
- Los Angeles
- Florida Keys
- Cayman Islands
- Washington DC
- Fort Worth, Texas
- Palm Springs, California
- New Zealand Flower Show
I started off the summer at our bach on Waiheke Island, a 40-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland or an hour on the car ferry from Half Moon Bay, just enjoying the scenery that we can all too easily take for granted here in New Zealand and taking stock of the year ahead and deciding what I wanted to focus on, and that was hosting my first tour. But before I did that, I stretched myself a few times on other trips!
February and I popped over to Sydney for a couple of nights, caught up with some travel writing friends for a soiree put on by West Hollywood Tourism. I popped over to Manly for $8 on the ferry for lunch with a colleague. The weather wasn’t being kind, but Elmo had a good time!
March saw us visit Blenheim and Picton where I tried mountain biking for the first time, suffice to say I was petrified and much preferred the winery bike tour the next day! There is a lovely dining scene in Marlborough and the chance to get out in the sounds is amazing. Here’s my post on the difference between mountain biking and winery biking!
In May and June and my husband and I embarked on a big four-week USA trip which loosely centered around the annual IPW Travel Conference in Washington DC, but that was only 5 days of our month!
To get there we started out in LA’s West Hollywood staying in Charlie Chaplain’s vacation villas where we did a three-hour cycle tour of the area and the next day got our theme park fix by visiting Universal Studios, then over to Miami where we did a four-day road trip of the Florida Keys down to gorgeous Key West.
Then we popped over to the Cayman Islands where my brother and his family live for some quality aunty time and playing mermaid restaurants in the sea with a cash register sand castle and shell credit cards. Nailing the aunty thing!
Then up to DC for the conference followed by a wee road trip to Delaware (Dela=where?!) to stay with my dear family that I first met as an exchange student in the 80s (!) before heading out to Fort Worth for a couple of nights on a ranch then a couple more in downtown for big Texas steaks, barbecue ribs and a look around.
More photos below from this epic trip! You can read my post on staying at Wildcatter Ranch here if you like >>
In July I was thrilled to get back to Vanuatu to film six more short videos to help promote the country (including the stunning island of Espirito Santo). These videos are something I am so proud of and love to create (with a professional cameraman/producer – I’m not that good!) because they are such a great way to show people quickly around a place, inspire them to travel, then provide a link so viewers can click and see the deals. The interesting thing about the genre of destination promotion is you have to realise most people are watching on a teeny device (read phone) and on mute. Have a look at this link where I have put the 6 together for your viewing pleasure 😉
In August I stretched myself and went volunteering in Nepal through Go Kiwi Go.
GKG is part of AFS (who I did my year as a high school exchange student in the USA with) so I needed no convincing of the merits of cross-cultural travel! But these guys are all about offering volunteer experiences alongside NGOs all over the world for ages 18-80. Projects cover teaching English in schools, caring for kids through kindergartens, helping women to read and write in English to run their businesses, work with healthcare teams, get into some construction, work with animals like rehabilitating elephants in Northern Thailand or joining safari rangers in Africa monitoring big cats.
Oh, and then I added on 3 nights in Kathmandu and took a flight seeing tour over Mt Everest! Watch my video here >>
Then in September I took my first tour group away for two weeks in Vietnam.
I hadn’t been there before so I was really just “camp mother”. Technically they called me “host”, and I consulted on the itinerary with House of Travel and Active Asia. We had 10 people in our group and started in Hanoi in the north, making our way south via Hue and Hoi An and ending up in Ho Chi Minh City. It was so much fun that 2018 will see me host two more tours, this time to South America this June (which I’ve been to twice before) and also to Italy in September.
You can read my post about why you want to add an overnight on Ha Long Bay here!
In October I was flown to Palm Springs California, another of my favourite places in America, to run my media training workshop for some of their travel and hospitality partners. I also met up again with my “sister” from Delaware and we scooted out to Joshua Tree National Park, up the mountain top on the 360˚ revolving tram and to the San Andreas Fault Line, as well as getting amongst the food scene and noseying through some incredible mid-century modern houses as part of the fall preview of Mid Century Modern Week.
February is the best time to go though if architecture is your thing when Mid Century Modern Week (fortnight) is in full swing and the summer temps have dropped! Here’s my post on 9 things to do in Palm Springs >>
Then back in New Zealand in November and I took my online Travel Store to the inaugural NZ Flower and Garden Show for five days.
It was great to meet so many people who love to travel, and for me to see what products are popular. I had some samples of the suitcases and cabin bags I sell, and also had brought in lots of cool travel accessories like water thermos bottles, travel wallets, adapter plugs and neck pillows as well as the stunningly beautiful cashmere scarves, ponchos and blankets I brought over from Nepal after meeting the people who run Helping Hands, a business that exists just to provide meaningful jobs for disabled young people.
All the cashmere is hand-loomed on site and I met a deaf young man (below) and a partially sighted young lady who work here and learned about how tough life is with a disability in rural Nepal. I love this cause and am really hoping that as winter rolls in these luxurious cashmere items will fly out the door and we can continue to support this great work.
Here are a few more photos of my year in travel for your thumb scrolling pleasure!