Do you remember longingly flipping through the Sears & Robuck wish book? OK, for some of you, longingly clicking through Amazon.com? Well, we at Covington Travel do the same with travel brochures and travel blogs, adding fabulous resorts and cultural experiences to our collective bucket lists.
Last year I outlined 12 travel experiences that are on my personal bucket list in A Year’s Worth of Adventure. It wasn’t really intended to be a 2011 wish list, but more of a catalog that I can flip through, dream about and work toward making them reality over the years. As the year played out, my travels took me to entirely different places and I didn’t check off even one of my dream trips, but I did have the opportunity to visit several other incredible destinations that were new to me.
- In February, I finally got to visit Spirited Seattle where my life-long friend has lived for years. She showed me both the tourist sites and the local side of the Seattle area. Travel Maestro tip: Visit a friend in a new city to get the true local perspective.
Living only two hours from the Outer Banks of North Carolina, it is a summer beach getaway that is quite familiar to me, but I can’t get enough of the miles of beach, sand dunes, historic light houses and, of course, fabulous seafood. Travel Maestro tip: Owens Restaurant is a classic.
- In October, I was enthralled by my first visit to Budapest, Hungary. The historic towns of Buda and Pest, divided by the Danube River, deliver a stunning mix of old and new architecture, hearty paprika-spiced comfort food and a cultural milieu. Travel Maestro tip: Walk across the Chain Bridge at night for a romantic stroll with lovely views.
The Bohemian city of Prague, Czech Republic was a true treat. I wandered the warren of cobbled streets from the Castle to the Jewish Quarter to the Astronomical clock and everywhere I turned there was evidence of its 1,500 year history. Travel Maestro tip: Public transport is easy and inexpensive, but oddly quiet onboard. Locals consider it bad form to talk aloud or make noise in transit.
- Nicaragua in November was a highlight in my year of travel. I visited three fabulous ecolodges, went horseback riding and looked into the steaming crater of a volcano. Travel Maestro tip: Nicaragua is an emerging tourist destination, reminiscent of Costa Rica 20 years ago. Just do it!
- A quick trip to Grand Bahama for some hotel inspections gave me a chance to swim with dolphins and enjoy the warm sun and white sands as weather turned cold at home. The Bahamian people are incredibly vibrant and welcoming. Travel Maestro tip: Only a two hour flight from Virginia, Grand Bahama makes a great weekend getaway.
- One of my personal accomplishments was a first-time snowboarding experience in the Cascades. I was terrified that I would break something, but I swallowed my fears, had a blast and came out unscathed. Travel Maestro tip: Lessons are invaluable for beginners.
I do have plans to pick off two of last year’s bucket list trips in 2012: In February I’m going to Kirkeness, Norway to chase the Northern Lights and in May I will be hiking the Inca Trail to see Machu Picchu at sunrise. In addition, I’ve never been to Alaska and I plan to visit my brother who works at Glacier Bay Lodge. If time and budget allow, I want to spend my 50thbirthday in Queensland, Australia to see the solar eclipse and snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef in November.
My Covington colleagues also have big travel plans for 2012. Just a few of them include:
- An 11-night extended family cruise in Hawaii
- Taking a teenage daughter to France to practice her French
- Bermuda for some elegant R&R
- A family trip to Las Vegas to celebrate a 21st birthday
- Abu Dhabi, UAE
- A transatlantic crossing on the QM2
- London, Paris, & Milan
- Walt Disney World in Orlando
- Viking River Cruise in France
- Johannesburg, South Africa and a safari
- Machu Picchu and Peru
While wanderlust isn’t a required condition to work in the travel industry, you can see that it is rampant! I look forward to sharing our travel experiences with Travel Maestro readers, so please come back and find out more as the year unfolds. If you have a particular destination in mind for your 2012 travels, let one of Covington’s knowledgeable travel advisors give you the ins and outs based on our first-hand experiences.
Wishing you safe and happy travels in 2012!