As it always does, the year has ended as quickly as it started. Over the last 12 months, I hope you were able to check off one or more things from your bucket list. I hope you learned much, traveled far, formed new relationships, and rekindled old ones.
The longer I live the more I’m amazed by this oyster called “Earth.” In truth, I’m even more amazed by the people I can share it with. If you believe the same, I hope you’ll join me next year in overturning every rock we encounter to discover the best this planet has to offer. If not (or if you’ve forgotten that truth), I hope you’ll open your heart anew next year with a little help from your friends. The glass really is half full.
Enough pontificating. It’s time to revisit some of the greatest trips of 2016. For the record, this column has taken me to five continents, a dozen countries, numerous cities, and countless points of interest over the last 20 months. While these were the greatest trips I took last year, here are the most memorable trips I took this year:
Finding Hope In Unremarkable Views
Earlier this year I stayed in an industrial-view room in a small westside hotel. While the gritty surroundings were nothing to write home about, the experience impressed more than the nicest Ritz-Carlton ever could. I learned that day that blue skies, chance, and sunshine often hide in plain sight. To find silver linings, we must remind ourselves over and over that life is a gift, ordinary can be awesome, and this is living.
Hiking The Alps With a Dear Friend
Over the summer I hiked 10 days in three countries around one epic mountain. Not only did the experience convert me into a group tour believer, it inspired me to overnight at refuges whenever possible on multi-day hikes. Backpacking Europe may be cliche, but it’s entirely worth it.
Cataloging Humanity’s Greatest Sensations
If you don’t know what feelings to seek out, chances are you’ll probably miss out. That was the thinking when researching and writing the five sensations everyone should experience. In writing that story, I even identified an iconic experience that incorporates four of the five sensations, which shortly after resulted in my first time skydiving.
Going Down Under by Way of New Zealand
After visiting each first-hand, I’m happy to report that both Australia and New Zealand live up to their reputations as excellent places to adventure. Read my profiles of each if you don’t believe me. Who knew so much fun could be found in this remote corner of the world?
Living La Vida Pura
If you’re searching for a destination to impress your well-traveled friends or value rock-bottom prices over remarkable experiences, don’t go to Costa Rica. But if you like getting wet and want to experience one of the world’s most proven and beautiful playgrounds for green adventure, exotic wildlife, and extremely good vibes, here’s why you should immediately upgrade Costa Rica to your bucket list.
On a personal note, thank you for reading this column. If you like what I’ve written so far and want to follow where I go next year, bookmark this page. Upcoming columns include five places to go next year, Patagonia, more national parks, Alaska by sea, Oh Canada, red rock resorts, Kenya, Key West, my first time in Asia, and whatever else my editor (Hi, Alex!) lets me get away with. Until then.
Off the Grid columnist Blake Snow writes epic stories for fancy publications and Fortune 500 companies. Follow him on Twitter.