The Year in Travel: 2011 in Review

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I've already illustrated this past year with 12 travel photos from 12 months, but that doesn't really elaborate on any of the specifics of the amazing year I had. I was lucky to be able to travel a lot in 2011, and here are all the details:

By the Numbers

QueenstownMiles traveled: Roughly 41,000, which includes a trip to Hawaii, a jaunt to Vancouver, a visit to New Zealand, and a 6,500-mile U.S. road trip

Number of flights: About 20, including connections and short domestic flights in NZ

Number of trains: 2 (the Amtrak Cascades between Vancouver and Seattle, and the TranzAlpine between Christchurch and Greymouth)

Countries visited: 3 (the U.S., Canada, and New Zealand)

U.S. states visited: 18

Glaciers hiked on: 1 (Franz Josef in New Zealand)

Natural wonders seen: At least 4 (the Grand Canyon, Doubtful Sound, the Meramec Caverns, and the Rocky Mountains)

National parks visited: 9 (U.S.: Pearl Harbor, Pecos NHP, Grand Canyon NP, Arches NP, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial; NZ: Arthur's Pass NP, Westland NP, Mount Aspiring NP, Fiordland NP)

Visits to Chicago: 3 (Once each in the spring, summer, and fall)

Rare animals seen in the wild: 2 (Hector's dolphins and takahe birds in NZ)

Number of times woken up by an earthquake: 1 (a 5.3 in Christchurch, NZ)

Types of accommodation used: 5 (hotel, motel, hostel, staying with friends, and CouchSurfing)

Travel bloggers met: Many! Including Jeremy and Matt in Queenstown, Katie and Val in Chicago, Ryan in Findlay, Jeremy in Pittsburgh, and countless at TBEX in June (including Michael, Ayngelina, Dylan, Lorna,ย Stephanie, Cailin, Candice, Norbert, Jeremy, Sherry, Benny, Jodi, Cam and Nicole, Adam, Jenny, and many more)


Best of the Best

(Some of these were inspired by the “Best of Travel 2011” meme, which I was nominated to participate in by Jeremy of Budget Travel Adventures.)

Best domestic destination: Utah — I fell in love with this state and its amazing landscapes. (Though Hawaii is a close second!)

Best international destination: New Zealand, of course! It was great to return after 3 years and cross more things off my NZ bucket list.

Best Ohio destination: Yellow Springs, an almost-hippie-enclave in southwest Ohio.

Best street performer watched: A classical guitarist on Cuba Street in Wellington, NZ.

Best beach visited: Hawaii certainly has some amazing beaches; I can't pick a favorite!

Best sunset: At Paraparaumu Beach on New Zealand's Kapiti Coast.

Best sandwich eaten: A yummy turkey/avacado/cream cheese/cranberry one in Sedona, Arizona.

Best short hike: I visited Arches National Park on a ridiculously hot August day, and wasn't at all in the mood for hiking. That being said, though, the hike out to “the Windows” section was well worth the sweat.

Best view: It's impossible to choose. But looking out over Lake Hawea on New Zealand's South Island sure did take my breath away.

Best overall experience: I had some great ones in New Zealand this past spring, but I think I have to go with taking a hot air balloon over Monument Valley.

Monument Valley

Achieving Goals

Bucket list items crossed off: 19

Travel goals met: All of them! I traveled so much more this year than I anticipated.

Site goals met: 4 out of 6. Last year, I set a few specific goals:

  • To reach 500 Facebook fans.
  • To surpass 2,000 Twitter followers.
  • To have at least 300 RSS subscribers.
  • To earn more from advertising.
  • To sell some of my photos.
  • To “win” the 1,000-1,000 challenge (1,000 visitors per day and $1,000 per month).

I smashed the first 4 goals, and almost met the last one as of this month. It'll be time to set some new goals soon for 2012!

Hanauma Bay

Biggest Lessons Learned

I learned a lot of things this year from traveling.

  • I learned that you don't have to travel far from home to have amazing adventures.
  • I learned that the people you meet while traveling are what really make a trip special.
  • And I learned that it IS possible to travel with a sibling for 3 weeks without killing each other.

But if I had to cite the most important thing I learned this year in relation to travel, it would have to be that if you want something badly enough, you will find a way to get it. If you really want to make travel a part of your life, you can find a way to do it, no matter what your lifestyle entails. Don't make excuses or buy into anyone else's definition of travel or “the right way” to do it. Stay true to yourself and go after your travel dreams. This is your life, and you are the only one who can make it into what you want it to be.

Doubtful Sound

What sorts of places did you travel to in 2011? What's the main thing you learned from your adventures?

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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37 Comments on “The Year in Travel: 2011 in Review

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  1. I just noticed your questions in the end, so I will add my answers:

    2011 was a year for travel. The big thing was my trip to San Diego & Honolulu,HI.
    Lesson learned: No particular one this time….

    Your are looking good, above Hanauma bay!!

    Happy New Year to ya, Amanda!!
    Wishing you health,happiness and plenty of new trails in 2012. I got a trip under wraps, for June. Waitng and planning build up the excitement :)).

      Happy New Year to you, too!

      And yay for trips already in the works! I’m also already cooking up some great adventures for 2012… it’s good to have things to look forward to!

    What a year! I’m excited to track our own 2012 adventure but so far, for the new year, I’m tracking sick days and bug bites. Lol. Oh well. Can’t wait to see what else is in store for you this year. Happy New Year!

      Oh no! Sorry to hear you’ve been sick and full of bug bites! Here’s hoping the rest of 2012 is better to you!!

    Great post, and impressive numbers! Can’t wait to see what 2012 has in store for you. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks! I can’t wait to see what 2012 has in store, either. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Sounds like you pulled off some really great stuff–congrats! I love the fact that you had adventures in the US. Many think that you must go far away for that to happen, but evidently not. Very cool!

      I had a lot of adventures this year in the U.S. — from Hawaii to Ohio to the Southwest. And all of it was amazing. I am very lucky to be living in a country that has so much to offer a traveler! You really don’t have to go far here for adventure, that’s for sure.

    Wow nice work! Smashing those site goals is very inspirational!

      Thanks, Will! And yes, I was so amazed that I met all those site goals. It feels really good to have accomplished so much this year!

    I like the lessons learned. I cannot say anything about the third one, but I totally agree on the first two.

      People say that you can learn a lot from travel — and I totally agree!

    Absolutely brilliantly summarised. Loved the post, gave small details of your travels…
    I only visited in India in 2011, in fact I have never been outside India…
    Wish you and your family a very Happy New Year:)

      Thank you, Arti! I was trying to think up a fun, easy way to sum up my travels in 2011 beyond just posting photos… and I’m happy with the way this turned out!

      And don’t worry that you’ve never been outside of India — I’m sure it’s an amazing place to explore, even for a local! The reality is that you don’t have to go far to really “travel”!

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    Great list of travels this year Amanda! You did so much! I am a bit envious of your road trip across America but you really should have stopped in California! Congrats on all that you have done this year and for really working hard to accomplish your goals. I am going to be much more focused on this next year (I still have a day left right?).

    It was so great meeting you at TBEX. When we met, I really liked you. I like your quiet drive and determination and thought you were very underrated. Glad to see you making your move here in 2011! And best of luck and success in 2012! Isn’t school starting soon? ๐Ÿ™‚

      I really wish we could have added another week onto our road trip to include California! But it would have simply been too expensive. I still want to do a PCH road trip someday, though! I’m a big fan of road tripping now after that trip — I’d totally do it again!

      It was great meeting you at TBEX, too! I’m flattered that you think I’m “underrated.” ๐Ÿ˜‰ Hopefully that will change in 2012!

      And I don’t start back to school until Jan. 9… lots planned between now and then!

    Fantastic, Amanda!!! Congrats on such an amazing year =) Loved reading your lessons learned

      Thank you, Andrea! It was an amazing year indeed. Hopefully yours was just as great!

    That photo of you at the beach is just gorgeous… where is that?

      That was taken at Hanauma Bay near Honolulu, Hawaii. They aren’t messing around when they say Hawaii has some amazing beaches!

    It sounds like 2011 was a great year for you! We wish you all the best in 2012. Happy New Year!

    Congratulations on having such an amazing year of travel. I’m sure 2012 will be even better.

      Thanks, Alouise! I think it will be hard to beat this year, but I’m sure going to attempt to in 2012!

    You forgot me in your bloggers met ๐Ÿ˜›

      You’re right — I did forget you! Sorry! I’ll add you in now.

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