Reset
Screenshot 2014-12-11 13.46.15
77 Comments

2014 Annual Review: Travel Roundup

8152918547_636da3125b_z

And… the Annual Review continues! Today’s post is a travel roundup: everywhere I went in 2014, along with a few lessons and comments.

You’re welcome to share your itineraries or lessons. Next week, our cats and biased judges will award a $100 gift card from Powell’s for the best overall comment throughout the series.

Previous Posts

Now that I’m retired from visiting every country in the world, my travel is a bit different. I’m still hopping around the globe, but to more typical destinations most of the time. In rough chronological order, here’s the list of countries I made it to to this year:

United States, South Africa, Qatar (x3), France, United Kingdom (x2), Hong Kong (x2), Indonesia, Japan (x2), Germany (x2), Spain, United Arab Emirates, Netherlands, Canada, and Mexico

First thought: wow, that’s a pretty short and boring list! Check out the travel roundups from 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013—in previous years I went to as many as 42 total countries. We’ll return to this line of thought in a bit.

9997944383_0dc8dfce58_z

But first, I also did a lot of domestic (including both U.S. & Canada) travel. Thanks in part to a long (and awesome) book tour from September-November, I visited the following cities for events, meetups, or meetings:

U.S.

New York City (x4), Dallas (x4), Denver (x3), Long Beach, San Diego (x2), Washington (x2), Philadelphia, Portland (Maine), Boston, Nashville, Huntsville (Alabama, x2), Miami, Tampa, Houston, Austin, Chicago, Milwaukee, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Los Angeles (x4), Chattanooga (Tennessee), Phoenix, Kansas City (Missouri), Seattle, and Reno

Canada

Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver

***

Personal and Subjective Airport Awards of 2014

Favorite Airports

U.S: DFW
Canada: YOW
Elsewhere: HKG

Controversial side note: Everyone always says that they love YVR. I love Vancouver the city, but I don’t actually think its airport is the greatest. Canada can do better!

7497500748_5f37df32aa_z

Least Favorite Airports of 2014

U.S.: DEN

Overrated! Again, as with YVR and Vancouver, this is no criticism of Denver or Colorado in general. I just usually prefer not to travel through DEN, which is located far from the city and doesn’t have much to offer for connecting passengers either.

Canada: YYZ

This one shouldn’t be controversial; everyone hates Pierson airport—especially the terminal for U.S. departures.

International: DOH

To clarify, DOH used to be awesome if you were in the exclusive terminal for Qatar Airways. The lounge even had a jacuzzi and sauna! But I was there for the opening of the new airport this year, and everything was a mess. Presumably it will be better soon, with a new First Class lounge opening up at some point in 2015. There’s no word on a sauna, though, so we’ll have to withhold judgment.

***

Lessons and Observations (From Merely 14 Countries…)

Even though the list of countries is fewer and far less exotic than in the past, I still enjoyed being out in the world for much of the year. I flew more than 200,000 miles and had a lot of great experiences. Here are a few observations from the process.

Do drink the water (usually). Surveying the list of “normal places” on the international list produces an interesting thought: you can drink the water in every one of those stops. And it’s not just there: most places that most of the people reading this blog will visit, at least most of the time, will be totally safe in lots of ways.

I mention this because I recently gave a talk at Frequent Traveler University, and one of the questions that came up more than once was, “But can you drink the water? How do you take precautions?”

12582591584_67f647def5_z

I think this is a common concern of the beginning traveler, and a perfectly reasonable one for some destinations. If you’re heading out to West Africa, or parts of Afghanistan, or some parts of Latin America, for example, it’s true that you need to be safe and avoid consuming any local drinking water, including when brushing your teeth.

In plenty of other places, however—including the vast majority of countries that new travelers visit—you’ll be just fine. Travel is at least as fundamentally safe as staying home.

These days, my travel supports my life and work, not the other way around. For a whole decade, and in particular five hectic years from 2007-2011, I constructed much of my life and work around the imperative to visit at least twenty new countries a year. This took a lot of time and planning, especially after I’d been to the first 100 or so countries. I didn’t take trips just for the sake of taking trips; there was always a new country (or two, or three, or five…) to get to. Some aspects of this lifestyle were thrilling, and all were rewarding, but some were certainly exhausting as well.

Now that the quest is complete, I’ve started to take steps to make travel something that supports my other goals. In my old age of 36, I tend to make choices more suited to health and productivity. For example, whenever possible I don’t take short red-eyes anymore. A long-haul night flight of eight hours or more is fine, because I can usually eat a late dinner and still get at least six hours of sleep. But a typical transcontinental red-eye of four or five hours is terrible. I arrive worn out, with no hotel to check into early in the morning, and usually with something to do right away on the other side.

So these days I’ll skip that whole process, even if it means traveling to my destination a day ahead of schedule. I can work on flights, especially those with WiFi, and having an extra night somewhere isn’t as much of an issue as when I was on a super-tight schedule due to so many international connections.

If you’re just starting out or you don’t travel very often, you may not have to make choices like that. But for me, they’ve been a lot like the $10 rule—how you should always spend small amounts of money to improve your life when on the road. As I continue to travel for approximately half the year, I try to do whatever I can to ensure I appreciate the process and not be exhausted every day.

4384114859_18e5fce06b_z

Somehow I missed Australia! How did that happen? My favorite city in the world is Sydney, Australia. Among Australians there’s a big competition between Sydney and Melbourne, but I like “Melbs” a lot too. I also like Brisbane and the sunshine coast further north—in short, I just love Australia in general.

But for some reason, I didn’t make it there this year at all. It’s funny, because I even said in my “Looking Back at 2014” post that I took a trip there, which I must have imagined or dreamed (a good dream, for sure, but just a dream). This is a big regret. Being in Australia contributes highly to my units of momentary happiness. I need to get back there as soon as I can.

The state of the travel hacking union remains strong. As has been the case for the past several years, in 2014 I earned more than one million miles and points. I re-qualified for the highest level of status with American Airlines (requires a minimum of 100,000 flown miles), Hyatt (requires at least 25 stays or 50 nights), and Starwood (requires at least 25 stays or 50 nights). For Starwood, I actually went above and beyond—I had more than 100 nights (!) thanks in large part to the fall book tour, which qualified me for my own Starwood ambassador who takes care of various requests or issues (thanks, Janet).

I could explain a lot more about why this matters and how it helps, but I know that not everyone cares about the details. The point is: travel hacking still works. It can help you a great deal if you’re willing to put in a small amount of effort.

If you’re new, these three resources (either free or low-cost) are a great introduction to the world of miles and points:

As always, focus on experiences. The point of travel is to make discoveries, to experience new things, to lose yourself in a world far from home—or something like that. I guess the point of travel is whatever you make it, and people travel for different reasons.

No matter your motivation, I think it’s helpful to focus on experiences. The desire to see new places and focus on accumulating life experiences instead of material things is a somewhat universal value of travelers.

Some of the best travel experiences I had this year included:

Bali Birthday trip — paid for almost entirely with miles and points, including a Singapore Airlines First Class redemption on the way home

2756935992_f5471cd19e_z

Abu Dhabi Sky Summit — as we were completing the launch plan for Upgrade Unlocked, my friend and travel hacking companion Stephanie and I held a “Sky Summit” by flying Etihad First Class from Los Angeles to Abu Dhabi

ipadchampagne

Round-the-World on Qatar Airways (and more) – as part of my 100,000 qualifying OneWorld miles, I started a Round-the-World ticket in South Africa last year, and used it to fly several long-haul routes on Qatar Airways, one of my favorite carriers

14004184755_df8bb755ec_z

Normally I have a half-dozen or more of these kinds of stories each year. This year, much of my time in the fall was taken up by the U.S. and Canadian book tour, which was a great experience overall but not really a travel-worthy one. On book tour, travel pretty much consists of moving from one hotel to another, night after night, and a series of one-way domestic flights or sometimes short train rides.

I don’t regret that at all, because it’s important to spend time with readers and I enjoy the aspect of going from city to city with a specific mission. As mentioned earlier, though, I do regret not going to Australia. One ticket to Sydney, coming right up!

***

Your Turn

Next year I think I’ll be traveling a bit less than this year, but presumably not much less. To kick things off well, I have another Round-the-World trip beginning in South Africa right after the holidays.

I’ll drink the water everywhere I go on that trip, I’ll find a way to get back to Australia, and I’m still excited to be able to travel on a regular basis.

How about you? Where did you go in 2014? What’s next?

Comments here.

###

Image: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Subscribe now and you’ll get the best posts of all time.

77 Comments

  • Shaozhi says:

    Great post as usual!

    In 2014, I went to 3 new countries:

    Jan-Feb – Thailand and Cambodia
    Mar-Apr – Taiwan
    Apr – Back home to Toronto (I hate YYZ too!)
    May-Jun – Back in Taiwan (love this country!)
    Jul – Vietnam
    Jul-Sep – Taiwan again (it’s become my home away from home)
    Sep-Nov – Los Angeles
    Nov-Dec – Taiwan again

    My next trip will be to Thailand in January 2015!

  • David says:

    USA (NYC and Charlottesville, VA), Spain (Santiago de Compostela), Turkey (Istanbul), Israel, Spain (Barcelona), China (Beijing), UK (York, London, Winchester), Sweden (Lund), Germany (Kassel).

    Turkey was the only new country – only had been at the airport before. I was also at the airport in Dubai, Qatar, Denmark…

    In Australia I visited Port Macquarie, NSW and Sydney.

    Next trip is to Rotorua, NZ in February.

  • Maya Gable says:

    I took a month off of work and spent it by myself staying in Nice and Paris. I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t speak french. I’ve never done anything like that before. It was amazing (that I could find the money, the time, the courage) and completely liberating (to go by myself) and I was surprised by the confidence it gave me and now I’ve set my bar higher and want more out of life!

  • Dave says:

    This year my wife and I used our Delta points to go to Indonesia and Singapore in May and then Budapest, Vienna, and Amsterdam over Thanksgiving. We used our Hilton points and managed to get several free nights in the Bali and Singapore Conrads and then every night of our Budapest-Amsterdam trip was covered by Hilton points as well.

    What always strikes me is the diversity that you see when traveling over short distances. For instance, we only saw 3 of 19,000 islands in Indonesia but the culture on each was drastically different. Also, it’s a great way to appreciate what you have back home when you see people living on whole lot less.

    Next year we will be laying low travel-wise as we are expecting our first baby. But come 2016, I can’t wait to strap baby in a chest carrier and take him on his first international trip.

  • Ariana says:

    In 2011 I did a 90 day trip around the world. When I returned to my “real” life, I vowed to leave the country at least once per year, every year. In 2012 I went to Montreal solo. 2013 I met up with a couchsurfer I hosted the year before for a road trip from London to Madrid. This year I went to Thailand and Cambodia, and in 6 short days, I leave for South America!! I’ll be going to Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil and finally visiting my family in Costa Rica. I’m so crazy excited.

  • Lewis Nelson says:

    I had a wonderful year of travel. I left Jalalabad, Afghanistan almost exactly 12 calendar months ago so this recap will start from the very end of 2013 through today… After a very life changing experience leaving Afghanistan–that being the end of a marriage and a lot of reflection on my career and what I’m passionate about (after much reading from Scott Dinsmore and this blog), I decided I would explore my passion of travel!

    I started with Dubai, UAE, and Sienna, Italy.. traveling alone. My parents and sister joined me in Rome and together we explored the capital, the Vatican, Florence, Venice, and Milan. I put them on a plane and flew alone to Berlin, Germany, for a few days. Then I finally explored Bavaria (Munich, Ulm, and Augsburg), a trip I had wanted to take since 2001!

    When I returned home, I followed up with a Super Bowl weekend trip to New York City courtesy of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and the Fox TV series Enlisted. I checked another major US city off my to-do list, New Orleans, for a wedding in June.

    I ended June with 9 days in Tokyo, Japan, and then ended my summer with 10 days in Seoul, South Korea, with a weekend trip to Jeju Island, South Korea. Two weeks later I found myself in Chicago, Illinois for a week, and I capped my 2014 travel the same way I started it–New York City to see the Christmas lights, enjoy the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, and laugh through the Book of Mormon.

    Without a doubt, the past 12 months has been the most I’ve travelled in a year and after much reflection, self-exploration, and excitement, I’m happy to say I’m in a much better place now than I was a year ago!

  • please look in to our web site. Our news letter just came.we are all together we can do good things in many countries in many different ways. Please stand by me and help me out so we can beat the world biggest enemy which is illiteracy . Thanks for your help. Please do see our news letter that just came out it is posted on our web site. http://www.greenvillageschools.org

    Mohammad.

  • Paul Sohn says:

    Great Chris! I actually visited to Korea and Canada. I went back to Vancouver, BC where I lived for 10 years. It was fantastic to see my homestay sister and attend her wedding!

  • J. Clifton says:

    In 2014, I did more traveling than I ever have in the past, for both work and for fun. Taking a new job at just the right time helped me make great use of my “unemployed time” and vacation days, and the new job has a lot more domestic travel than my previous one.

    *New Countries for Fun*
    Trip Between Jobs: Poland, Germany, France, Monaco, & Morocco
    Short Vacation: Norway, Sweden, Finland
    Big Trip with Friends: New Zealand, Australia, & South Korea

    *New Cities for Work*
    Memphis, LA, Vancouver

    One joy I’ve learned this year is a better appreciation of solo traveling. My two trips to Europe (/Morocco) this year were my first trips entirely by myself, and I had a great experience making new friends almost every day (as well as seeing some old friends on the way as well). Then I also experienced the reverse, because my trip to Oceania was with a bigger group than I’ve ever traveled with before: 7 people.

    It was a great year for travel.

  • I welcomed 2014 in Sarajevo: it was a great beginning!
    In May I’ve been to New York for the very first time, and it has been amazing!
    For my 30th birthday I went back to Belgrade and then to the Balkan Brass Band Festival in Guca (among the craziest festivals in the world!) and at the end of the summer I went in Albania, road-tripping. In October I went back to Ljubljana to meet with my Slovenian friends and now I’m planning one week in Athens for NYE.
    I’ve also travelled a lot within my country (Italy): in 2014 I’ve been to Naples, the Amalfi Coast, Trasimeno Lake, Bergamo, Brescia, Gaeta, Tuscany, Abruzzo and Milan. Maybe this has been the “lesson” I’ve learnt in 2014: if I don’t have enough time and/or money to go for a long trip at the other side of the world it can be interesting as well to explore my own country, or even my own town (which, by the way, is nothing less than Rome). Travelling is not just a matter of kilometers, but more of a mind-set. and so, between all these amazing trips I had in 2014, I’ve also enjoyed my own town discovering neighborhoods, visiting museums and enjoying long walks around.

  • ARKlady says:

    This year I traveled domestically as I’ve been recovering from toxic mold exposure. But I did take your recommendations and have two RT via INK. Traveled by train, to Los Angeles, Carme and Monterey multiple times and then South Carolina but only paid for one trip. My favorite airport is PSP and enjoyed by wasting with you during those hours of time you were stuck at LAX. 2015 plans are underway and I look forward to the adventures.

  • L. A. Silberman says:

    I’m not much of a traveler but this year set some extra money aside for ‘experiences.’ The best thing I did was visit Louisville, KY for Kerrie Blazek’s Whisky & Whimsey event. It’s combination of whiskey tastings on the Bourbon Trail, self-expression/self-discovery activities and just plain fun! My only regret was it was too short.

  • As always, thank you for sharing your reflections, Chris. My parents had us do this kind of thing each year and it’s been a wonderful way to re-visit the year and think about what’s to come.

    Also, I agree with you on the water. Caveats: trains, planes, and public spaces where water is stored in tanks – source and storage are questionable.

    For me, this year was a big domestic travel year: Portland (3x), Tucson (~8x), Midland MI, Somewhere in the Berkshires CT, and 2 motorcycle trips to Southern UT

    I was also lucky to take a 40th birthday trip with stops in Paris, Tunis, Dubai, and 2 weeks in Sri Lanka – all new to me. High points: Being in Tunisia and Sri Lanka during presidential elections; climbing Sri Pada under a full moon; being reminded of the power of a smile; eating croissants, kotthu, and black pine nut pudding.

    Cheers!

  • Mikella says:

    In 2014 I traveled to Turkey and Montreal for leisure and Nicaragua for a service trip in my field (Art Therapy). This year on the whole was full of many unexpected events. I accomplished some major goals early in the year, including leaving my full-time job and making two longer international trips by the end of June, but then the curve ball came and I was hit by a car in July (in my home city of Brooklyn).
    Although my injuries definitely took me out of the travel scene for a while, my well-structured annual review helped me keep moving forward in spite of being home-bound. I still managed to complete a Fulbright Scholarship application, and after passing the peer review process I am excited that my application was sent with recommendations to India, where I will hopefully be residing and teaching in late 2015 to mid 2016! I have also been able to take the necessary steps to return to Nicaragua to continue that service work this March.
    It’s been an amazing year with so many successes; I have always been a big planner, but the annual review made a huge impact in achieving goals in the face of setbacks (I had so many travel plans for this year!) and taking the smaller steps to make some huge changes I had been afraid to make for a long time.
    Thanks for all your great posts about annual review, and the updates on your year!

  • Michelle says:

    As I write this I’m sitting in a hacienda in San Juan Del Sol, Nicaragua…alone. I’ve been traveling through Nicaragua and Costa Rica this month on a self discovery trip. No spouse, no family, no friends just me. It’s been liberating and sometimes challenging to be alone but it’s rejuvenated me. Being in the rain forests with just the howler monkeys, crocs and me… Something my husband normally would have arranged and taken charge of. I’m moving into the next stage of my life and this trip has reminded me of my ability to be I dependent and thrive. I’m relishing the freedom of leading an independent life and conquering the fear of this same dream!
    That said I travelled a lot less internationally in 2014 than in previous years. Canada (Banff and glacier national park, Calgary and Vancouver), United States (Dallas, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, Portland, Lake Tahoe, Arizona, ) and other stateside locations for work.
    Next year Australia, Qatar and Paris again just for fun!

  • I went to Wales. Which doesn’t sound like much, but it was the world to me. I had never set foot off the continent of North America before last year. My only “foreign” travel had been to Canada. I decided I was going to Ireland and Scotland, where my ancestors were from, and I would stand in the transit stations and sing for tips (and buy the Travel Hacking Guide) till I had enough money. That was in 2013. Little did I realize that I’d end up in Wales, at an experiential Druid camp, and have to somehow make it back there the following year to finish the work we started there.

    So back to the transit stations I went… And I made it back this September. Solely on frequent flyer miles and my busking bowl.

    Here is the story of this year’s trip:
    http://black-rose.net/possibility.htm

    And here is the song I wrote on my return:
    https://soundcloud.com/bartstationbard/find-me-a-place

    Look for me in the Bay Area BART stations, because now I have an album to make!

  • Marcos says:

    This year I went to South Beach, Miami. It’s not exotic, but it’s an amazing place, different from everywhere else in the US. You can easily avoid the clubby crowds and stick to the fine restaurants, warm waves perfect for surfing (long board and short board), and mingle with the locals who can tell you where to eat good Brazilian, Cuban, Israeli, etc. food. Eat churros with iced coffee for breakfast, wake up early to feel the ocean breeze blow in with the sunrise, gallery hop to see some of Latin America’s most promising artists. My fiancée had never been there, and she was quite impressed, she had all the reservations most seasoned travelers have when they hear the words “South Beach”, but she was pleasantly surprised. If it’s cold where you live, saunter down to South Beach to get some much needed sunlight, but make sure you avoid Spring Break, you’ll be glad you did.

  • Green Girl says:

    I’ve traveled to many places around the world, but this past summer, I decided to something I have never done… I went backpacking in Australia by myself. I booked a plan ticket to start in Cairns and end in Melbourne and the first two nights in a hostel, and that was it. The rest was to be determined once I got there. I know it may not seem real adventurous to some people, but for me, I felt a lot of nervousness up to the trip thinking, wow, I’m going half way around the world by myself, with no itinerary and I have to figure out how to get to Melbourne in 3 weeks. Anyway, the trip was a blast. I felt so free to travel with very little stuff. My pack was a book-bag type, not a large camping type. I walked 3-4 hours every day and enjoyed the fact that I didn’t have any itinerary. I just made decisions as I moved along.

    Like you, Chris, Australia was quite impressionable to me. It’s been a few months and I still long to go back there and continue to backpack in other countries and even here in the U.S. I will probably never travel to a resort again where I take a suitcase and stay in one spot for a week… boring! 🙂

  • Kevin says:

    Awesome stuff!

    I went to Mexico, Peru, Colombia, and in the US I visited Austin and Miami. All this and I STILL haven’t learned Spanish! Haha.

    Curious what you like about DFW. It’s better than Houston but I haven’t seen the greatness of it yet. My least favorite is SFO because my flights there are 80% delayed because of weather, and Miami because it seems like such a chaotic mess to me.

    Favorite airport by far worldwide is Singapore!

  • Michelle says:

    2014 is the first year in a long time that I did the least amount of travel…on purpose!

    2014 was a time for regrouping and quiet time with my new husband. After a whirlwind 2013 of wedding planning and unemployment and Hawaii travels, I needed a self-imposed break from adventures. This is a first for me because I love to travel, and the thought of not exploring was a shaky and scary prospect!

    Instead, I stayed local and re-explored my state and environs.

    Where did I go:
    Carmel, CA and Big Sur, CA (1st Anniversary Trip), San Francisco a few times to visit family, Drove up and down Highway 1 in California, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. Spur of the moment side-trip to Bull Head City, AZ for July 4th with 2 close friends.

    Lessons learned:
    Sometimes the best itinerary is to ditch the itinerary! We went to Carmel and Big Sur with our eyes open. It’s the first time I didn’t buy a guide book or look up things to do. Instead, we relied solely on friend’s suggestions on things to do, see, where to eat. I got a whole different perspective on a part of California I’ve only been to a handful of times. My trips to SF- a city I only think I know well- were better spent with family walking the streets and stumbling into to bars and restaurants we’ve always wanted to try, but never do. Best moment was sitting down to drinks at the Top of the Mark restaurant at the Mark Hopkins hotel and watching the sunset over the city with my parents and husband side-by-side. I didn’t have to go far to be blown away by the beauty, wonder, and people around me.

    2015 will be our next big trip- either Ireland or Malta, with side trips to different US states my husband has never been to yet.

  • Carole says:

    Visited: Feb..Cuba, Apr…Lancaster, Pa, May…Myrtle Beach, Jun…Chautauqua, ny, July…New Jersey & Brooklyn, Aug…Chautauqua, NY, Aug…18 days on bus 10 national parks, Oct…Elbe River Prague to Potsdam (& Berlin), Nov…Chicago, Dec…Boston. 2015 should be just as interesting!

  • Alison says:

    This was my year for taking care of other people. In July I took a friend with husband troubles up to Door County, Wisconsin for some time away. Door County is known for its fish boils, Moravian churches, wineries. state parks and lighthouses. It is a peninsula that reaches up from Green Bay into lake Michigan. On the left side of the peninsula you have Green Bay with cute little towns and shops. On the right side, the Lake Michigan side exist fishing villages and wilder waters. It was glorious. in October I took my 93-year-old mom to a state park in Van Buren, Missouri. She and her family were some of the first visitors to Big Spring State Park when it opened in 1925. Their dad would drive them down from St. Louis and leave them there for a few weeks in the summer while he went back to work. Mom hadn’t been back in 75 years, but she remembered every detail perfectly. She was even giving me driving directions. I love traveling with my mother. She picks the spot. Unfortunately I haven’t been out of the country this year, but I am planning something big for next summer!

  • Jenn says:

    This has been a year of travel indeed. In February, I traveled to Ethiopia to visit my eldest daughter. After I recovered from the two-headed monster, we flew from Addis Abba to Gondar, rode with a tour guide and scout to hike in The Simian Mountains, flew on to Lalibela, one of her favorites, and back to Addis. I learned so much history and current traditional practices of these beautiful people.

    My eldest daughter then transferred to Milan so my younger daughter and I were off to Europe. We started in London staying in an Airbnb apartment. We attended tournaments at Wimbledon, visited Windsor castle, Nottinghill, Stonehenge, Oxford and of course the local Whole Foods market. We traveled by subway throughout much of the city. The rain and chill in the summertime were surprising parts of our adventure but did not deter us from exploring the bridges, waterways and museums.

    We flew from London to Milan on my birthday and caught up with my eldest daughter. After staying in a hostel experiencing Milan and Gelato and practicing our Italian on the locals for a couple of days, we were off by train to Venice and another hostel on Lido. We shopped, ate and rode a gondola while being serenaded in San Marco. We traveled by water taxi back to the train, to zip along the Tuscan countryside to Florence to stay in a hostel across from the palazzo pitti. We took a bicycle tour to cover the city quickly and thoroughly before finding an out of the way cafe for authentic Italian food. The Boboli Gardens were behind the palazzo and offered us lush hiking trails with a grand view of the city with the next morning.

    On to Rome for the Coliseum, Spanish Steps and the most crowded subway ever. It was worth it to see the Trevi Fountain and un-named crumbling ruins. It was easy to imagine the gladiators and Spartans that would have inhabited those parts so long ago. Our host spoke perfect English as he was from Boston. It was nice not to have to struggle with language for a short while. Back to Milan for the best pizza of my life before heading home.

    In September, I found myself in New Jersey for work training and boondoggled that trip to beautiful, hilly upstate New York to see my younger daughter. Back to New York in October to see a show of autumn leaves in upstate and then to see ‘Wicked’ in Manhattan. The annual trek to Kansas in November wound down my year of travel. Gotta rest up for 2015.

  • I was super lucky to get to go on two international trips. Through my work, I was led to Switzerland at the end of January. It was gorgeous and expensive. My day-trip to Germany (Konstanz) was amazing and I can’t wait to explore more of that country. At the beginning of April, I was blessed enough to go to Copenhagen with a night-trip to Sweden. Denmark had some of the best food I’ve had in my travels and I loved the environmentally friendly city of Copenhagen.

    Going forward, I’d really like to explore Eastern Europe and New Zealand next year!

    Meg of An Affair of Character
    http://www.anaffairofcharacter.com

  • Patty Gale says:

    I live in Colorado and am not a DIA fan, either. After all these years, the airport is still in the middle of nowhere and takes longer than should be to get up into the mountains. That being said, I love what you said about focusing on experiences. That’s been the goal of my husband and myself for our family starting a couple of years ago. We have a daughter in 8th grade, so we don’t do nearly as much traveling as we’d like right now, but that’s not stopping us from planning and preparing for when she graduates and heads off to college. We’ve scaled down our lifestyle considerably in the last 2 years and while I don’t want the next 5 years to go by too quickly, I am looking forward when we can travel most of the time. Thank you for posting these reviews! It’s great motivation for me.

  • Alice says:

    2014 has seen the most travel yet for me, 38 flights covering 30196 miles. It’s been mostly short breaks around Europe, so I’ve had very few weekends where I’ve been both free and in my home city – probably too few.

    Two rules to live by have been treating me well this year. Only do things if my immediate response is ‘heck yeah’, and get rid of anything that doesn’t make me happy.

    I’ve visited England, France, Scotland, Wales, Netherlands, Romania, Transnistria, Czech Republic, Poland, Singapore, Hong Kong, Gibraltar, Monaco, Vietnam, Malaysia, Sweden, Åland Islands, Moldova, Gagauzia. I’d happily go back to any of those places, but there’s also so many more to visit. I’m now fast running out of nearby countries I can cheaply and easily get to though, and yes – I realise that is very much a first world problem.

    So next year may involve a little less travel, especially in the first half while I have limited vacation days left. I do plan on trying for North Korea again though, hopefully this time my visa application won’t be denied.

  • Jason B says:

    Compared to most of you, my 2014 sucked. I only visited a couple cities this year. I didn’t even get the chance to leave the US. That will change next year. I plan on going to London and a couple of other places.

  • Elena says:

    This year I learned I could walk on water. I was in Hong Kong on my first overseas trip alone. I wound up in a town called Sai Kung. From there, I bought a ticket to Sharp Island. A small boat dropped me off and sped away.

    I noticed people walking from Sharp Island to a smaller island on foot. Not swimming—WALKING—across the ocean. They were using a tombolo, a sand bridge that emerges during low tide creating a path to walk in the middle of the ocean. The sun hit the water and created the illusion of a line of people walking across the water. It was amazing. I had to try.

    I didn’t know how to swim and the thought of being in the middle of the ocean without a boat was exhilarating. It was so exhilarating that I walked the entire length of the tombolo before I realized my mistake. When I reached the smaller island I noticed everyone else had been walking in the opposite direction. Now the tide was rising. I looked back, the tombolo had disappeared under two or three feet of dark ocean water. Gone was the strand of people in the ocean.

    I ran to the other end of the island hoping to find a person or boat. Panic started to set in. There was nobody there; the sun was starting to set. I sprinted back to the tombolo, hoping that by miracle the tide had receded. But the tide was now up to my waist. How could I get back across? What if a wave came and knocked me off the tombolo? What if the tide rose above my head while I was walking across? I would drown.

    The island was uninhabited. The sun was setting, I was wet, and the temperature was dropping. I had to take my chances in the ocean. I carefully walked into the water and tried not to think about the tide rising around me. What was underneath the water? I was always scared to death of sharks, whales, and pretty much any ocean creature. I tried to focus on the mission, Sharp Island. I saw tiny dots on the beach and moved towards them. I could feel the power of the ocean as I struggled to put one leg in front of the other. I felt my way across the sand with my toes. The little dots started to look like people. I moved as fast as I could towards them, but every step was a struggle and the tide continued to rise. Minutes felt like hours.

    When I finally reached the shore, I wanted to kiss the dirt. People had gathered to watch the show—there was a crazy girl who walked across the tombolo in the wrong direction, as the tide was rising. I passed a small boy who had walked out a few feet into the water to get a closer look at me. His mouth was open, his face in awe as I passed him. A few people smiled at me, relieved to see I was ok. I threw myself down on a log on the beach to catch my breath. After the small crown dispersed, I stayed and watched the last ray of sun swallowed underneath the water.

    Now, whenever I feel like I may be traveling in the wrong direction, opposite the way everyone else is going, whenever I feel alone or uncertain, I remind myself that life is an adventure. Today could be the day you do something that you never thought you could do. Today could be the day you learn to walk on water.

  • Meghan says:

    I went to Bali in August of this year. My mom and her friend and I rented a little house outside of Ubud, and my then-roommate and her twin sister rented a nearby place. I had a bit of a wake up call on the trip, learned that I need to moderate certain aspects of my life (like alcohol), and that I need to stick up for myself, trust in my family, and that I can choose not to surround myself with negative people. In Bali, and in coming back home, I learned just how much of a bully my old roommate was, and I have since moved out because the negativity was having a huge impact on my life. And now, even though I am staying with my parents (and I’m nearly 30), I know I made the right decision, and I appreciate the travel that my mom and I have done together, and the travel we will do in the future.

  • Michelle C says:

    This was the first year of travel hacking for my husband and I- much thanks to you, Chris! After completing our Peace Corps service in Jamaica this Spring, we set the modest goal of earning two sets of international plane trips before the year was over. We flew to Europe this past summer and are currently in the airport on our way back from another visit to Jamaica (on first class!)- both on miles. We’re taking two trips to visit family in Hawaii with Alaska’s companion fares. We also did our first Help Exchange (allowing us to live in a French chateau for two weeks without spending a dime), drove to 10 States and 4 National Parks, and reconnected with 42 friends and family members that we hadn’t seen since leaving for Peace Corps. It’s been awesome and next year we’re stepping up our game!

  • Patti says:

    I traveled a lot for work in 2014, so 2015 is my year for play. As a freelancer, I tend to work very hard on one big project and save my money in order to take a few months off in-between projects. Because of WDS (and, ok, Burning Man helped too) I’ve become very good at honing in on what I really want out of a travel experience. When I get very clear and ask myself what I really love and recognize when I’ve ever had the thought “I’d REALLY like to do that”, – it’s been surprisingly easy to make it actually happen. Without that clarity and focus, I never would have ended up at the amazing Loi Krathong lantern ceremony outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand nor would I have giggled my way through trekking in Burma with 6 complete strangers from around the world. So 2015 will take me to a street photography workshop in Kolkata, and to see blue whales and snorkel to appreciate the dwindling coral reef and other sea life in Sri Lanka, and I do love backpacking and camping so of course I should go trekking in Nepal, and there’s this monk friend of mine in Bhutan that I’ve been meaning to visit for year….. All on United miles (my ticket cost me $5).

  • Last year was full of adventure. Actually, I’m in Mexico City as I write this.

    Countries visited (and more importantly the adventures in those countries)..

    MEXICO ( 3 months): Got married in Ixtapa, lived in Mexico City, scuba dived cenotes in Riviera Maya, Drove a Ferrari in Cancun, Explored the secret rivers and waterfalls of Huasteca.
    COLOMBIA: (2 Weeks): Hiked to the Lost City, explored Cartagena and floated in a mud volcano, paraglide over Medellin, drank coffee in the highlands.
    ECUADOR and GALAPAGOS (3 Weeks): Mountain biked around 4 volcanoes, watched a volcano violently erupt, scuba dived for one week off a luxury yacht in the Galapagos, swam with hammerhead sharks and marine iguanas, played with seals
    PERU: Explored the almost unseen northern area and ancient sites, hiked inca trail to Machu Picchu, Flew over the Nasca Lines, Sandboarded down massive sand dunes in Huacachina, Visited ancient inle lake and did a homestay with a local family
    BOLIVIA: Hiked through the Amazon for a week and spotted pink river dolphins, many monkeys and woke up to the sound of Howlers, Spent 4 days traversing the biggest salt flats on Earth, volunteered two weeks at an animal refuge and befriended many spider monkeys.
    USA: Burning Man for the second time! ALWAYS INCREDIBLE!

    It’s been incredible and the next trips are already booked: 21-day safari in Tanzania, 11-days in Uganda, one month in Ethiopia, 3 weeks in Japan – Home for 4 months – then off again!

  • Ashley F says:

    I hear you on the $10 rule for flights. In 2012 I saved $100 on my flight to Portland by stopping in Denver. I ended up having a six-hour layover both ways and had to sleep on the floor of the airport on my way home. 12 hours of lost productivity (I was only semi-productive while waiting) and a sore neck taught me that $100 – or probably even $300 – is not worth it. 🙂

  • Kate says:

    This was such a fun year for me, though I travelled less than I usually do. I was living in London for most of the year (I’m American) as I worked on finishing up my MA. My travel looked something like this:
    Jan – London
    Feb – spent some time south in Brighton
    Mar – headed north for an amazing time in North Yorkshire and the surrounding area
    Apr – France
    May – Sweden
    June – literally all my time spent in my school’s library
    July – Hong Kong and Philippines
    August – London and surrounding area
    Sept – wrote my dissertation, went exactly nowhere
    Oct – flew to Chicago, drove all over the midwest
    Nov – moved to San Francisco
    Dec – planning all sorts of mischief for next year!
    And for next year, I have all sorts of tentative plans and nothing decided. Possibly Hawaii, returning to London for my graduation and spending some time in Scotland, hopefully visiting Japan, would love to return to the Philippines, getting to know the West Coast.

  • Sia says:

    Like you said, travel is all about the experience, so don’t worry too much about the number of countries on the list but more so about the number of awesome days you had while traveling!

    This year hubby and I travelled to Singapore and then we did a bit of domestic travel around Australia including Hamilton Island, Gold Coast and Sydney. Next year we plan to go on a “babymoon” – we are super excited about that!

    Good luck for your travels in 2015!

  • I started 2014 focused but not authentic. I was told I was good at something (and in many ways I am) but it was not my dharma. You can only fight your purpose for so long. On one level, I’d been fighting since I was 4 (40 years this year) when I originally decided I had to play small to belong, be safe and loved, and on a professional level for the past 13 years. This year, I surrendered.

    I don’t remember specifically the statement made, but it came after 24 hours of discussing “A Course in Miracles”, business, life, and sacred contracts. We were sitting by a lake on a beautiful sandy beach, ravens flying overhead, when a hawk flew by. Moments later, I heard, “You can fight the yoga all you want, but until you surrender into it, you will suffer.” Well, okay then. How does one argue that. Within 3 weeks I was registered for my advanced teacher training, it was completely paid for, and things started shifting.

    The funny thing is, I no more want to teach more than a couple classes a week than I did before the training, but I do want to teach people how to live their yoga.

    Where I went this year was a trip through my life. All the places that I had made a choice to play small that were ready to be brought into love and acceptance. I remembered what I am passionate about teaching and so I stared teaching that. Flow began. It’s not always easy, yet there is always a deep sense of calm that gently guides me along.

    I don’t know how to get where I want to go. The beauty is, I don’t have to know. I just have to be willing. I have to stop playing in the excuses that I somehow take as factual and stop playing small. I have to stay focused and disciplined with my daily inspired action. I have to keep reminding myself that I am Divine and just as I have contracted inward, I can expand outward. As I do, I am greeted by others willing to help me, guide me where I need to go, or teach me what I need to know. It’s brilliant, miraculous, even.

    My pursuit this year is to shed excuses and be fully responsible for my life, reveal my gifts fully (which for the record scares the crap outta me), surround myself personally and professionally with people who inspire, motivate, and elevate me just by their beingness and how they show up with their gifts.

    I want to be optimally healthy, have a daily ritual of self-care and self love.

    I want to be a well paid speaker and presenter. I want to provide extraordinary experiences through the programs and services I offer. I want an incredible support team (I already have two invaluable assets on said team). I want to do workshops/speaking in Australia this spring and perform a wedding ceremony in Phoenix in March. I want to experience sunshine and oceans significantly more than I currently do.

    I want the miracle to unfold as it will. I want to live orgasmically. Hell, I want to orgasm more (and who doesn’t?!).

    I want to learn Spanish and Sanskrit finally, read way more than I do, spend less time on Facebook and more time face to face. I want to be paid accordingly for the energy expended.

    I want to have fun, touch and BE the joy, laugh more and regularly. Did I mention travel? I want to play with elephants and save some lives. I want to meet Tim Ferriss and Chris Guillebeau. I want to train with Alexia Vernon and Robert Ohotto.

    I want to give my sweetheart tenfold what he’s given me, make him smile like he makes me smile, and help him realize how amazing he is (beyond being the best damn brewmaster this side of the Mississippi).

    I want to be able to run up ComeToJesus hill.

    So many people I want to hug again. Luxury would be lovely, too, though I’d be content with more days in the kayak and with sunshine on my skin.

    I want to be infinite.

    #AnnualReview and #2015forecast Thank you Chris Guillebeau for inspiring.

  • I have a personal goal of going to 5 cities every year that I’ve never been to before. This year I went to: Napa Valley, CA; Austin, TX; San Antonio, TX; Barcelona, Spain; and Madrid, Spain. Here are my observations:

    1. I want to move to Napa Valley. Driving up the coast of California is unbelievably beautiful. I live in Southern California and I had never done it.
    2. Spain made a big impression on me. I was there for 2 weeks and I didn’t even realize how burned out I was until I got there. Note to self: take at least 2 weeks off every year and go somewhere far, far away.
    3. In my opinion, the Spanish culture was more about investing in “experiences” and less about buying “things.” I think we Americans can learn a lesson from them. Most of us have way too much stuff, myself included.
    4. The people in Texas are unbelievably nice and inspired me to bring a little piece of that back to L.A. which is not very laid-back anymore.

    Will check back next year. But I can tell you that South America is on my wish list. And Nashville. Thanks for your inspiration Chris!

  • Linda says:

    I chose to stop working this year and my husband did the same beginning in April. We traveled much more in 2013 for his work, so 2014 was a time of letting him catch his breath from being gone so much. That’s very, very difficult for me because I could be gone all the time, but I’m learning to be respectful of his need to be stationery. I’ve been accumulating points and miles and credit card bonuses (thanks Chris for getting me started!) so we can travel on our now fixed income. I earned the Southwest Companion pass and we’re going to Texas and Utah in March. We’re flying into Las Vegas in January to go hiking at Red Rocks and Death Valley. (I guess there’s some casinos in Las Vegas, too.) In 2015 I’ll be planning at least one more trip to the Southwest, an area I’ve lately discovered holds my heart and soul captive. In 2014 we hiked the Sedona, AZ area, staying a week free on hotel points. We also volunteered at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in October — early mornings indeed! Wonderful people, magical moments. And a week’s free hotel using points! We drove cross country to Texas in July and rode our bikes at more than one rails-to-trails on the way, including Hattiesburg, Mississippi and along the sunlit San Antonio river. I volunteered at Shenandoah National Park so I could see different methods of camping travel and start getting myself into the volunteer system of the national parks. I also started driving for Uber, which has made my tiny local world just a little bigger.

  • Benny says:

    I’m thankful that this year I’ve been able to travel a lot with my wife and it was thanks a lot to travel hacking!

    February – London and Paris thanks to a mistake fare that got us roundtrip tickets from EWR to LHR for $400 per person! On the flight back to the US our United flight probably had less than 15 people on the whole flight. Stayed three nights in NYC before coming home.

    Went to Taipei for a month to visit my wife’s parents and also eat some of my favorite foods in the world.

    We traveled a lot domestically thanks to the Southwest Companion pass which I qualified early this year so that meant I’d have it until the end of 2015.

    Portland for WDS
    Las Vegas for my birthday
    Dallas for Podcast Movement
    Denver to watch a Denver Broncos game
    Chicago to be a tourist and eat deep dish pizza
    Jamaica for our three year anniversary
    Denver again to begin our first ever overnight Amtrak trip to San Francisco. Now we’re hooked on train travel and can’t wait to try other routes.
    San Francisco to play tourists
    Minneapolis to visit the Mall of America

    What’s next so far is flying to Taipei again in February right before Chinese New Year. Booked Cathay business class from JFK – HKG – TPE for 100,000 Alaskan Airline points RT for both of us (some transferred from SPG). Staying two nights in HKG at the Intercontinental Hong Kong booked with an IHG free night certificate and then points all from signing up for the credit card last year.

    Have never flown Cathay business class so I’m super excited!

  • Leah says:

    The year’s been pretty interesting for me. I got married in January and have been adjusting to the married life. I almost always travel with the hubby and this year we didn’t really travel much. We went to Boracay (Philippines) like we always do every year since ’09 and we also went to Hong Kong for a frisbee tournament – not our first time to play in Hong Kong but our first time to go with friends from our club team. That was pretty cool. Aaaand that’s it. Hopefully next year the hubby and I will get to go to an official honeymoon. 😉

    Thanks for the annual review template! Looking forward to more of your posts in 2015.

  • Nikita says:

    This year I’ve spent surprisingly grounded. Instead I have been enjoying road trips in Australia from Cairns to Geelong. There are some wonderful towns to explore.

    Australia would be very happy to have you again. Cairns is also blooming so do visit when you head over. The whole city breathes calm and relaxation which is perfect for a busy mind. All the best in the new year, Nikita

  • Kevin Gertz says:

    YYZ iS actually PEARSON..with an E and an A, named for a former PM, not Pierson
    Also good to know hardly anyone cares about global warming..i don’t feel guilty for not recycling nw 😉

  • Sara says:

    I drove from Tampa, FL to Portland, OR in April, where I house and pet sat (stayed for free) or lived in hostels. Then I drove from OR to MI and MI to Arkansas. The last leg of my trip was Arkansas back to Florida in September. It was the classic American road trip! Next up, I will head to Peru in one month 🙂

  • Sara says:

    And while I was in Portland I happened upon the World Domination Summit and volunteered!

  • Tonya says:

    I hiked a portion of the Camino de Santiago in Spain as a solo female traveler. Here’s what I learned: 1) Hiking and walking are not the same thing; 2) I can eat almost anything if I’m hungry enough; 3) Only carry absolute necessities in your backpack, and most things are not absolute necessities; 4) Pay attention to the journey and leave the destination to the universe.

  • Lindsay says:

    April 17, 2014 – the day I packed my life into a 40 L backpack and hopped on a one way plane to London. It would be my first time embracing the “travel life”. I’ve spent the last 8 months going with the flow and having a kick ass time…my path has taken me to England, Scotland, Netherlands, Spain (Madrid & Seville), Tenerife, Ireland, and Portugal (Faro). Here are 5 weird memories that come to mind:

    1. Accidentally squatting down on nettles and stinging my bare ass cheeks when I had to take a tinkle while hiking in Ireland.

    2. Having my old man neighbor in Tenerife pick me up on his tractor and take me into his field where he led me to his shack and fed me various meats and potatoes and wouldn’t stop filling up my wine glass. I couldn’t understand anything he was saying as I don’t speak Spanish well. There were bird cages hanging from the ceiling and scrawny kittens running around. He was super harmless and hadn’t I known who he was I would have 100% thought I was on set of a horror film.

    3. Kissing the Blarney Stone after I got sick in a McDonald’s bathroom from drinking too much Bulmers Cider the night before (that stuff tears your stomach up – even a few pints is just AHHHH too much).

    4. Having a fling with a young 22 year old Spanish man (I’m 31) where he whispered sweet nothings into my ear (literally sweet nothings – I head no idea what he was saying in Spanish – sounded nice though!). The stuff romance movies are made of for sure.

    5. Hiking 6 hours to a private beach where I decided I would skinny dip in the ocean. I felt so free and happy until I looked around and spotted two jelly fish within a few feet of me. I’ve never felt more exposed in my life.

    Cheers to a great 2014!! Wishing you all the best in 2015 🙂

  • Will Long says:

    (Well, this is embarrassing. While reading another of your captivating Annual Review blog entries, I accidentally posted the following comments there! Please allow me to put them here, where they’re a much better fit.)

    My wife and I are delighted that we chose to visit Vancouver, BC, when we traveled to Oregon and Washington to visit with family members in August. We took the Amtrak Cascades to the city. It was the first time in her 60+ years Sheila had set foot outside the U.S.

    Our experience of Vancouver was richly satisfying. We found refreshing the many beautiful green spaces between homes and high-rise buildings, the variety of ages and ethnicities represented, the great numbers of people enjoying the outdoors along the English Bay Beach and on bicycling and walking paths, and the dog lovers everywhere. When we stopped as we did on occasion to admire a dog, we found that we quickly made a connection with its human companion. As we freely exchanged stories, the rapport deepened.

    Sheila was especially touched at seeing the tear-filled eyes of a middle-aged man sitting alone on a park bench, his canine friend resting in his lap, as he listened and she shared how one of our dogs had been rescued from rising flood waters in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In that moment of mutual vulnerability, our sense of our common humanity was renewed and deepened.

    We look forward to our next venture beyond U.S. borders.

  • I usually focus on taking one big trip in January each year, And now I use my miles from travel hacking.

    January trip: Chile for 4 weeks. (amazing!)
    Portland and other parts of OR twice (once for Pioneer Nation)
    Philadelphia to visit my family once

    It was a light year because we bought a house and spent some time and money working on it. We also like to stay around our home state of WI for the summer because it’s so beautiful. I turn 40 next year so I’m hoping to spend my birthday somewhere fun.

  • Treavor says:

    I have been super conservative with my travel plans this year, but of course, my friends who lead the conventional lifestyle (aka relying on PTO or one vacation a year) would tell you differently! As usual, I went to and through California many times. I moved from Seattle back to Dallas in February but have visited many times. I ventured to Portland for my first WDS ever and to see friends. I went to New York and Brooklyn and felt the pangs of romanticism. I went to New Orleans for a jazz fest. I went to Miami twice to explore nudism. Largely stateside traveling but next year is my big year for international travel, so I will definitely try out travel hacking.

  • melissa Paulette says:

    In April I went to Peru. I visited Machu Pichu and saw the goings on of the peruvians. I even visited a Girl’s orphanage , where I spent time with the girls as well as saw how the home was training the girls to have a trade and craft when they eventually left the home . This was very emotional and left me both happy and sad !
    Also, If you have ever been to Peru You know how many Dogs I saw !!
    The visit to the Sunday market in Lima was just wonderful !
    In September I joined fellow female bicyclists at Yellowstone National Park for a 7 day excursion . I had hoped to see lots of animals, as I adore All animals . The third day I found myself separated from the rest of the group, as I was furious to take lots of beautiful photos. I was stopped on a bridge ,adjusting my camera to panoramic , when I kept hearing a irritating car horn repeatedly. I looked up to see what it was and coming straight toward me was a 300 pound Grizzly Bear !!A fellow tourist in his car was warning me ! I froze and prepared to hide behind my bike and use it as a shield . He came to within 5 feet and for whatever reason( I had put on deodorant that morning ) he just turned toward the other side of the bridge and walked on, turning just past the end of the bridge to turn down a dirt path that ran along the river we were over. Needless to say, I did not get any face shots of that grizzly but I did get some great Butt shots !! Ha !! I was later told; be careful what you wish for ! ( or be more specific ) .I did see buffalo, a bald eagle, elk deer. The altitude from Florida to Wyoming was very hard to adjust to and it did make my bicycling harder but I had a Grand time !!

  • Many hard lessons learned on our bike tour attempt number one, our family of four made it as far as the Oregon Coast where my wife fell and broke her wrist. Our tour goal was Canada to Mexico to help at orphanages.

    The biggest things we learned are to plan your route more, don’t just rely on information from others who’ve never traveled the route by bike, and really listen to those you’re touring with and be aware of each others limitations. If someone feels they need to stop short of your destination goal set for the day then stop. Unless you can afford a tour support vehicle or call upon local help then do so!

  • Anoop says:

    HI Chris,

    Thanks for sharing. Your blog is the constant source of encouragement. In 2014, I visited following countries:

    India
    South Africa (x2)
    Kenya
    Tanzania

    I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and also ran 10 K race in Botswana. This was my first race. I intent to run a full marathon in March/April 2015. I am training hard and enjoying training runs. I also intent to climb Mount Elbrus in Russia which is the highest peak in Europe.

    Anoop

  • Sandi says:

    This year during reading week, I went to Paris to visit an old high school friend and took a croissant baking class. Then onto Dubai to visit another friend, where I went dune bashing, swam in the Arabian Sea, and traveled to the exquisitely beautiful and never-ending Empty Quarter, within 60 km of the Saudi border. Later I co-led a small group to Iceland. Following this was five months leading travel tours in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, Canada, with a short break to Portland for WDS 2014 and then Seattle. After that, I spent two weeks on a cruise ship teaching tour directing, traveling from Boston to Puerto Rico, Curacao, Aruba, Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, finishing in New Orleans. Then a camping/photo trip to UT and CA, now back in Windsor, ON and heading to England for Christmas. ( … wow, I’m glad you asked. I felt like I didn’t see that many new places but now that I write it out, it wasn’t a bad year.)

    Lessons. Yes, there were lessons, but they weren’t of the travel-specific kind. The biggest lessons learned were in response to some personal challenges this year. After a bad breakup and then having my camper home stolen from a hotel parking lot, I learned a few things, the most important and universal being: 1) gratitude and a meditation practice can keep you sane; 2) recognizing and valuing the love you get from family and friends can get you through anything, and those who love you should be ruminated on more than those who would cheat and steal from you. Plenty of love out there for us all… see it, value it! When traveling, and at home too. <3

  • Love hearing where people have been, great topic!

    So for us as a family (with a toddler) this year:

    – living in Koh Samui, Thailand 3 months
    – visit to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (visa run)
    – moved to Sydney, Australia
    – Perth, Australia
    – Gold Coast, Australia
    – Sri Lanka for a good friend’s wedding. This is what I learned: http://www.carolinecain.com/stories-slums-lanka/

  • Dave Brett says:

    Enjoy reading your Annual review each year, After reading your first review I stumbled across I now make it a habit to do my own every year. I often forget what I’ve been able to achieve over the year and it’s a delight to go back through old photos and blog posts to reflect on all the great experiences I’ve been able to do. Also creates a moment to reflect for a while, take a step back from the computer, head to a cafe with a notebook and pen and plan on what I want to achieve in the new year. Just put together my 2014 Annual review, feel free to check it out, been a fun year and pumped for 2015 now, thank you Chris: http://traveldave.co.uk/annual-review-2014/

  • Erica says:

    I caught the travel bug in 2012, but then got comfortable int the working world. I quit my job and am back overseas again in the Philippines and it feels so good to renew that free spirit!

  • Though a longtime Chris/AONC/Travel Hacking fan, before this year I was only an armchair traveler, because there are few options for a single mom with an underwater mortgage and a highly demanding job sans benefits. Little did I know what forces would be set in motion when I insisted that I would be taking a vacation for the first time in four years. It began with finally spending the sky miles I had started saving with grocery receipts 20 years prior, and using my passport for the first time.
    In early May, I flew to Nassau to meet a 125’ steel schooner and be a guest on board for 11 days. The first five days we sailed the Exumas, visiting one gorgeous and wild island after another, swimming, snorkeling, feeding feral pigs, and encountering the native iguanas. After another day in Nassau, I spent the next five days sailing offshore during the transit to Charleston, and wrapped up the adventure with two days of CouchSurfing while enjoying that city.
    That taste of travel and freedom made me feel increasingly dissatisfied with the idea of staying in an unsuitable job in an even less suitable environment. I decided to quit the job and also leave the game table. I figured that, with my kids grown and out in their own lives, I no longer need the house, and without a house, I don’t need much stuff, so it was time to cut my losses and give away my belongings, fix up the house, sell it, and set myself free.
    My “to do” list in preparation for leaving the job included applying for the Chase Sapphire card that you recommend. I had been eyeing for years, but had held off on because I had seen little use for it in my desk chained situation. Within days of departure from the job, I received a surprise travel invitation. A dear friend was going to be in Puerto Vallarta the following month and asked if I would like to visit her then. Once I overcame my initial resistance to “irresponsibility,” I realized this would be an excellent opportunity on many levels. I had lost my income, so spending on travel was dangerous, but I decided to take the risk—because I ached to travel, felt that I desperately needed to get away, and so I made travel a priority.
    While I was finalizing plans for that adventure, a second travel invitation arrived! This was in the form of a gift certificate for a Performance Sailing course in Captiva Island, Florida. Again, I felt the initial “can’t do that” reaction, but overcame it more easily. I decided that this was an opportunity I simply had to take. I booked my flight and hotel room and decided I would figure out the rest after my visit to Mexico.
    So, there I was—just three weeks after quitting a horrible job—walking a foreign port with a dear friend, eating fresh seafood, enjoying ice cold $1 beers, and trying to bring back my high school Spanish, with solid plans to be sailing in the Gulf of Mexico just two months later.
    Soon, my material possessions will be winnowed down to two bags and a smile, and I will be free to put to use much of the wisdom I had gleaned from three readings of The Art of Non-Conformity, from Travel Hacking. I will be free to wander, sail, meet people, travel, and to discover how a liberated life can unfold.

    WHAT I LEARNED:
    One determined act can start a chain reaction that leads out of a mundane existence and into a non-conformist’s life.
    Say “YES!” to travel opportunities. Commit, and figure out the details as you go along.
    When encountering other languages, use a phrase book, gestures, good manners, and positive intentions.
    Wherever you travel, act like you belong there and you will feel like you belong there.
    Take some chances and see what happens.
    If your fellow sailing classmates want to appoint you skipper, accept the compliment and step up to the task.
    Walk every port and keep open to discovering unexpected pleasures.
    Take time to appreciate the travel opportunities you receive and the people who help you attain them.
    Use your travel experiences to help and inspire others.

  • Sasa says:

    I’m getting ready to visit next year Crimea, I hope you will stop conflicts in Ukraine.

  • Susan Hall says:

    This year I traveled to Jacmel, Haiti and the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop in Antigua, Guatemala. I’m flying to Port au Prince, Haiti on January 1, 2015. Goals this year inc.; Haiti, French Polynesia (Kamoka Pearl Farm on the Ahe Atoll), Monterrico, Guatemala (turtle hatchery), Beirut, Lebanon and Havana, Cuba. Much of my travel centers around running.

  • My travel roundup for the year:
    January-February: Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur, Klang), Hong Kong (Tsim Sha Tsui, Mong Kok, Cheng Chau), Macau – 30 days total
    June-August: Brazil (Brasilia, Goiania, Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro, Campos, Sao Paulo), Turkey (Istanbul) 52 days total.
    October-Ongoing: Thailand (Bangkok, Pattaya, Chiang Mai), Philippines (Manila, Cagayan de Oro), Taiwan (Taoyuan, Taipei) Will be 84 days at end of the year.

    So year totals out to 166 travel days and 8 countries visited. My goal was only to visit one new country aside Brazil, so I far exceeded my expectations. Considering I’m only earning about $20k a year, I did pretty well.

  • bryan danger says:

    2014 was supposed to be a year at home “nesting” for us…but somehow we ended up checking off almost 100 days of travel including the pacific northwest, 7 states and 5 countries (and are currently taking a good old fashioned american road trip!).

    http://www.thedangerz.com/2014-year-in-review/

  • Carl says:

    This year, I was lucky enough to visit:

    -Malaysia and Vietnam (for the whole of Feb – stunning views, people and food)
    -New York (a long standing favourite and I spent my birthday in my favourite restaurant in the world here). I love NYC!
    -Portugal (new for us and we visited a great little sleepy town with stunning beaches)
    -Prague for the Xmas markets (jaw-dropping views everywhere)

    Paris is already in the diary for the end of Jan 2015 and Chile, Cuba, California and safaris in Africa are all under discussion as places we’d like to visit/re-visit next year.

    Have passport will travel!! ;))

  • Chris – I love to follow the posts and travel blog and have been a ‘follower’ for the past few years. My travels of late centers around Burma, otherwise known as Myanmar. In February of 2014, I headed off to Burma, this time by myself to research a possible seed saving venture. With my bags packed, ‘tourist’ visa in hand, I headed off for what turned out to be more of an adventure than I bargained for. After arriving in Yangon, I met Jimmy, a local friend and I arranged some of my internal itinerary on the second day to other locations in central and southwestern parts of the country.

    Only problem was, on my third day I got very sick, likely the local food I ate with Jimmy the day before at lunch and then dinner. I was pretty sick for two days causing me to miss the first of three internal flights I had just set up. I was feeling so bad that I consider heading home, but in the end I felt better after two days and decided to take a less adventurous trip for the next two weeks. So for the next 11 days, I spent six days in Kalaw at an elevation of 5000 feet in Central Burma, visiting Jimmy’s brother, Tommy. From Kalaw I headed to another old British hill station called Maymyo outside of Mandalay, also in the central/Shan state. These were both good places to stay put while I recovered from the food poisoning and I got to know the towns more than I would have otherwise.

    Burma is a fascinating place with many cultures, languages and different people. They are a country on the verge of democracy. 2015 proves to be a big year politically and otherwise, a year that will determine whether the old military guard will let democracy take hold or squash it under the fear and weight of change.

    I hope to lead a trip in Nov/Dec next year, just as the elections take place so stay tuned and thanks for the opportunity to comment. If you travel enough, you will have a story of getting “sick” but sometimes there is a blessing, staying put and watching the city and its regular people come to life.

    Mingalaba – loosely translated as – “it is a blessing.”

    Charlie Costello

  • Carla says:

    I bought a one way ticket to China in January and started there. I then went on to Thailand for a month, India for a month, Philippines for 2 weeks, Vietnam for a month, Cambodia for a month, and back to India for another month and then back to the US. The rest of the year had me in the US (Texas, Kansas, Missouri, New York) and I am currently taking a month (or so?) working my way from LA up through San Fran, through Oregon and then?? Life is good….

    Happy New Years to all and thank you for sharing this information!

    Not all who wander are lost,
    Carla

  • Hows the surf in your Bali Photo! Pumping waves! Looks like you enjoyed Balangan Beach. Nice one Chris.

  • Barry says:

    Hi Chris
    My thought has been it doesnt matter how many countries or places you go to the thing that does matter is what you do when you get there. P would rather have 3 months in one country and get to know the culture than charge about at a great rate of knots and only get a glimpse of what is on offer.

    Great stuff Barry

  • seo says:

    If you want to keep in mind when choosing click here your label.
    The ribbon is threaded in between each number.
    To begin with, just so the backing that you don’t misconnect things.
    These 2 layers can be sure your needles go in that little bit
    problematic, nothing less.

  • Anne says:

    Scotland – does that count? It is the UK after all!
    Japan – Tokyo and skiing in Hakuba. Totally amazing!!
    Italy – gorgeous Tuscany. La Dolce Vita!
    India – Rishikesh and Delhi. Awesome yoga retreat!
    Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam in a 6 week marathon. It was so not enough!!!!

  • weblink says:

    Broken and ungrounded energy cords pose a
    severe hazard to users of the equipment together with risk of electrical shock or hearth.
    ehow, Lineman apprentice packages close to The President’s 2015 finances proposes investing $6 billion over four years in a Neighborhood College Job-Driven Training Fund., Population progress and heightened demand for extra workplace buildings, hospitals and infrastructure should elevate job prospects for these certified.

  • Cole Enabnit says:

    Hey Chris,

    I’m new to your blog, so I apologize if other content answers my questions.

    First, have you ever traveled to Kyrgyzstan? I lived there for a couple years and really loved it. Based on what I’ve read of your adventures, I think you’d really enjoy a trip there. If you do decide to go, let me know and I’ll give you some tips on places to stay.

    Second, what are your best tips for avoiding jet lag? Someone who has done as much travel as you have must know some secrets. Thanks!

Your comments are welcome! Please be nice and use your real name.

If you have a website, include it in the website field (not in the text of the comment).

Want to see your photo in the comments? Visit Gravatar.com to get one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *