2013 was an incredible year for me. It was the first complete year of Somewhere Or Bust and my travel writing brought me to seven states, four countries, and one house crammed with travel bloggers. I wrote for a dozen distinguished publications, including the Boston Globe, Islands Magazine, Virgin’s in-flight magazine, and Snowboard Magazine, to name a few and I also launched my first ebook, which you can still get for free here. (I completed my second ebook, Traveling the Cambodian Genocide, just last week and will release it in a few days…Stay tuned.)
Lastly and most importantly, this year my wife and I had a baby girl. My daughter arrived the week before Thanksgiving, making the final month of 2013 my least adventurous in terms of distance traveled, but certainly my most enjoyable as I experienced a range of parental emotions, which journeyed me from ultimate elation to head-scratching bemusement.
While my new family gears up for a year of travel, which will certainly take us to New Hampshire, and most likely halfway across the States or over the pond to Europe–we’re allowing our daughter to set our itineraries–I thought I’d glance back at this year in travel with my Somewhere Or Bust family. Normally, I avoid top (fill-in-your-number) lists, as this meme seems to have taken over the Internet. But for the sake of brevity (and for the purpose of allowing these travel reflections to serve as a jumping off point for newer readers), a list was most logical.
Below, I’ve included my best ten posts and topics. Some of these I love for the prose; others are near and dear to my heart thanks to the tasty research. (Feel free to chime in with your favorite posts.)
Ten Travel Reflections
10. Whenever I work with destinations, the tourist boards tend to ask about my niche. While I have a few “niche” topics, what I hope to write about is always the unexpected (which you’ll notice to be a trend toward the bottom of this list). Two experiences that confounded me this year were the irony of snowboarding in a mall in Dubai’s desert and discovering the joyous world at the Corning Museum of Glass (and then learning how popular this post would become).
9. While my second trip to Poland and Prague took place in 2010, I wrote about that experience this year because Holocaust Survivor Leo Zisman, who I had traveled with to a number of concentration camps and ghettos three years earlier, recently passed away. His stories, which he told me beside tragic sites of genocide, had impacted me greatly.
8. I like to dabble in humor though it’s usually to my chagrin as either character or writer. Based strictly on feedback from unbiased sources (who am I kidding?), readers told me that they chuckled (slightly) when I received a facial treatment down in Sunny Isles Beach or when the ATM kept eating my bank card in Southeast Asia.
7. Festivals are my bailiwick, (among a few others if you’ll permit that). This year, my favorite festival assignments kept me in the great state of New York–in proximity to my then-pregnant wife. From the Seinfeld-themed Belgian beer festival in the baseball town of Cooperstown to the alliterative Beer Bourbon BBQ heart attack experience in Manhattan to the fall festivals of Brooklyn, 2013 was a good year for sampling an array of libations, meats, and literature.
6. The most fun I had writing about beer was in Toronto (visiting the green breweries), Dubai (discovering no breweries), and Indianapolis (meeting with brewers who could probably star in a reality show… the next worse trend in television).
5. Of course, beer goes best with food and this year had me conducting two taco tours through New York City (one and two) and seeking out the best steaks in the same metropolis, combing every street for the tastiest brunches in Charleston, and climbing the hills for the best bites in San Francisco.
4. My favorite part about travel, as I mentioned before, is encountering the unexpected… like wandering Dubai’s spice market for spices, but coming across multiple vendors who only seem interested in pushing Viagra.
3. Even more enjoyably unforeseen was my sit-down with a camel in Dubai. We didn’t necessarily see eye-to-eye as he was my meal and potentially my downfall.
2. While my trip to Southeast Asia took place in 2012, my favorite story from those ten weeks of travel wasn’t featured on the blog until this year. Set in a secret Buddha cave across from Luang Prabang, three children with a key to the entrance served as our tour guides.
1. Since I love to write about misadventures, my greatest mishap took place–also in 2012, but published in 2013–in the woods of upstate New York when my friend Greg and I went hiking with a murderer, but nearly lost our life to the elements.
I hope you enjoyed this time-travel through the previous year’s archives. Here’s wishing everyone an adventurous and joyful 2014.