The New Year is the time to dream and a time to plan. For those who love to wander, a fresh year brings a blank canvas and calendar, ready to be filled with cross-country roadtrips, European getaways, and tropical escapes.
But before you begin planning your travel year ahead, be sure to take a few minutes to reflect on what you loved most about your travels….what were your the favorite or most memorable moments and how did they make you feel? You can use those reflections as a guide when planning out your new year of adventures.
For me, 2023 was one of the busiest travel years I’ve ever had. And in all of my travels throughout the year, I collected an array of memorable moments and experiences that, without question, are better than any physical souvenir I could ever find.
8 Memorable Travel Moments in 2023
Catamaran Snorkel Trip in Maui – While I love the beach and being by the ocean, I’m nervous about going in the water. That’s why I consider it a mini-miracle that I not only made it into the ocean off Maui’s coast but I actually snorkeled in somewhat open water. Although I’m still not a huge fan of snorkeling or swimming in the ocean, the catamaran ride (with breakfast and lunch) was lovely, especially because it was shared with our extended family after many years of planning.
Visiting England’s Coastal Town of Brighton – Our trip to Brighton from London was somewhat of a last-minute add-on trip…and one that proved to be a great decision. The coastal town may be a bit touristy, but for the ~hour train ride, you really can’t beat the amazing views, quirky shopping, and crazy people watching.
Boating on the Narrow Fjords of Norway – As soon as our boat left Bergen harbor and entered the Hardangerfjord, I knew that the excursion would land in my top 5 experiences of all time. The scenery – from majestic mountains, to narrow passage ways, to rustic, colorful coastal houses, to waterfalls – was simply breathtaking and something everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime.
Running a 5K in London – Although I’ve run many road races in my lifetime (including some in Canada) I’ve never run a race anywhere in Europe. Running a simple 5K might not seem exciting, even in London, but what made it most memorable was running it with my family after an 8-hour overnight flight with no sleep. If you can run a 5k after that, you can do anything!
Embracing Sauna Culture in Norway – The Finnish may be well-known for loving their sauna time, but the Norwegians seem to have a pretty vibrant sauna culture of their own. We loved seeing the array of floating saunas in Oslo (they were very busy, even on an 80 degree day), but even more so, we loved experiencing the sauna culture first-hand in Bergen in a floating sauna on the harbor. The sauna’s floor to ceiling windows on one side allowed us to enjoy amazing views of the harbor, but enough privacy to make us feel like we were the only ones on the dock. While an hour of hot sauna time – combined with jumping in the cold harbor water every few minutes – was plenty of time to feel the benefits of this beloved health ritual, the whole experience left me wanting more of the Hygge-filled Nordic life.
Experiencing Barcelona During the Holidays – I have been to Europe many times but our January trip to Barcelona was the first time I traveled anywhere in Europe over the holiday season. While Christmas and New Year’s were technically over, Barcelona was still enthusiastically celebrating the season, especially Three Kings Day or the celebration of the Epiphany on January 6. The holiday decor and twinkling lights all around the city made the whole trip even more magical and the harborside parade, while very unusual, was something we will never forget.
Visiting Gilmore Girls’ Stars Hollow – As a true Gilmore Girls fan, visiting the Gilmore Girls set at the Warner Brothers Studio in Burbank, CA, was incredible. From standing on Lorelei’s porch, to walking through Suki’s house to standing in Luke’s Diner – this was a true GG bucket list experience.
Never-ending Daylight in Norway – I had always heard that Norway is the land of the midnight sun. While I was not in the far north of Norway (where it stays light for nearly 24 hours), Bergen and Oslo in late June still experience almost 19 hours of daylight. It was truly surreal walking around a still busy downtown area around 11:30 pm in complete light. Thank goodness for blackout curtains!
And so, as you toast to the new year, consider how you want your year of travel to look and, more importantly, consider what memories you want to take with you when you return home. Your favorite moments and memories are the types of experiences and feelings you’ll want to capture again and again, no matter where your travels take you.