Happy New Year everyone!

Thinking about where to go in 2017? Here are my top twelve travel experiences (ever, not just this year) by month. I hope you find some ideas among these journeys. Thank you all so much for reading, following, commenting and being such an inspirational community!

January: Finding Zen in the Maldives

If you want to forget about everything except the horizon in front of you, this might be the place. Yes, it’s painfully expensive but if you can get to the Maldives you’ll find every tint and shade of blue within an intense peacefulness that will inspire you to do nothing but stare at the view, put your toes in the sand and maybe swim around with the resident tropical fish.

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February: Longtail Boating Through the Canals of Bangkok

This was a short but sweet experience that I’d love to repeat someday. Hop in a longtail boat at the edge of the Chao Praya and ask your captain to take you on a tour of the canals of Bangkok. You’ll get to see a different side of the city with a much less frenetic pace from a cool and relaxing perspective. Don’t forget to stop at the floating market for a bite to eat.

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March: Touring Bagan’s Temples by Horse Cart

If you like history and architecture, you’ll love Bagan. The landscape is crisscrossed with paths from one ancient temple to the next. A good local guide with a horse cart can take you to the most notable temples, or you can follow your whim by looking for spires and biking your way around. It would take months to see them all, but don’t miss the Shwezigon Pagoda — covered in gold and by far the most opulent.

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April: Safari in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is one of my favorite destinations of all time. With temples, history, tea country, train rides through the hills, lush jungles, pristine beaches, friendly locals and abundant wildlife, Sri Lanka has a rare combination of everything that makes traveling wonderful. My favorite experience was a three-day safari at Yala National Park with its incredible diversity — elephants, sloth bears, water buffalo, deer, wild boars, foxes, crocodiles, hornbills, and leopards that are bigger in size and more densely populated than anywhere else on the planet.

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May: Chasing Waterfalls in Yosemite National Park

When the snow stops and the spring sun shines, Yosemite National Park is in its prime. Venture to the valley floor where you’ll feel like a tiny human in the context of the thousands of years of geology surrounding you. Yosemite’s waterfalls — Upper Yosemite, Lower Yosemite, Bridalveil, Nevada and Vernal among them — usually reach peak flow in May. From the road, from the trail and from Glacier Point especially, they are spectacular in their power and beauty. Just don’t get too close!

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June: A Homestay in Borneo

Saloma shares her family home with anyone seeking an authentic experience in the jungle of Borneo. We spent a few days with Saloma and marveled at her way of life and knowledge of the land. From cooking rice in a stalk of bamboo, to foraging for plants and enjoying a barbecue lunch in a hut deep in the jungle, to walking through a longhouse and meeting the neighbors, this homestay was a direct connection with a way of life unfamiliar to us but hundreds of years old in tradition. Saloma is a real-life Queen of the Jungle.

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July: Following the Tour de France Through the Alps

Fly into Geneva, rent a car or a camper, buy some wine and cheese and hit the road into the Alps. The Tour de France is a road trip party with people from all over the world. It’s so much fun that loving the sport of cycling isn’t even necessary (but it does help). There’s a lot of waiting around partying and when the péloton finally shows up it blows past in a matter of minutes. But seeing all the pretty French villages on the route, being able to camp anywhere you want, having cheese and wine every afternoon and and doing it all over again the next day … Mon dieu! C‘est magnifique!

Runner-up for July: Carnaval in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

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August: Car Camping Through Italy

Che cazzo! I don’t have any photos of this trip since it happened way back in 2001. But if you’re looking for slow travel through Italy, car camping might just be the thing. We rented a car in Milan, drove to Florence and Rome, cut east to Francavilla, stopped in Vieste and ended the trip in Bari (before catching the ferry to Greece). We car camped the whole way, astounded by the comfort of the campgrounds — many with markets, pools, laundry facilities and restaurants. Among the best was camping on the beach in Vieste (aerobics every day at 4:00) and our spectacular campsite across the river in Florence (best view of the Duomo anywhere). Why August? Nearly all the shops and restaurants of Italy are closed in August since everyone is on vacation, but this means you’ll be immersed in local culture, make new friends and see the refined art of Italian family camping. Quite an experience — just make your campsite reservations well ahead of time.

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September: Trekking Nepal’s Khumbu Valley

This is a true journey of a lifetime. Trekking farther into the Himalayas each day gets progressively harder and being in tune with your body is especially important. Each step and each breath gets you closer to Mount Everest and on some mornings those are the only two things you can even think about. But when you crest that mountain and see that view of Everest from Kala Patthar, there is nothing like it in the world. Mother Nature sits right in front of you with a greeting that took millions of years to get to you.

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October: Seeing the Fall Colors from a Ryokan in Kyoto

Japan is art. There’s no other way to describe it. Immerse yourself in the composition by staying at an authentic ryoken and venturing around Kyoto’s many landmarks and gardens to see the bamboo forests and changing colors of fall. We stayed at Seikoro Ryokan and loved every minute of our stay. From the tatami mats to the sliding screen doors to the unknown dishes of our Japanese breakfast, it was a visit that has inspired us to return to Japan whenever we can to unlock the meanings of its many customs and traditions.

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November: Touring Sa Pa’s Weekend Markets

If you want to find culture then find the night train from Hanoi to Sa Pa. Plan your visit around the weekend so you’ll be there for the market when minority hill tribes come down into Sa Pa from their surrounding mountain communities. Textiles, clothing, embroidery, beading and color give subtle clues to hill tribe identity. One of our best experiences was sharing a beer and hot bowls of pho with a hill tribe woman at the main market. And discovering the sewing shop and buying a quilt and a custom pair of pants — made overnight. Visiting Bac Ha, the Sunday market in the neighboring village, takes the whole experience to the next level.

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December: Desert Camping in Oman

December had a close runner-up: Christmas markets in Germany. Whether you sip glühwein while eating a bratwurst and shopping for ornaments, or drive your 4WD vehicle into the uncharted desert to drink Omani coffee and do some sand dune sledding, you can’t go wrong. Both experiences are unique, memorable and evoke a sense of place that won’t be forgotten. I still think about Oman’s desert silence, the unexpected cold of the morning, the sunsets and shadows, and the feeling of being very far away from everything.

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Wherever you are in 2017, I hope you find yourself in love — with life, with yourself, with each other, with the world, with the kindness and beauty that persists and will always be there for discovery. Happy New Year!

37 comments

    1. RON! Happy New Year! So wonderful to hear from you! Hope you and Rosie had a great holiday season. Cheers to the new year ahead! And thank you for continuing to follow me and read my writing! It means so much to me. xo

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  1. I love this idea for a post. I’ve been pondering whether to do a year in review, or a two-year round-up as I have now been blogging for two years. Warm wishes for a happy and fruitful year to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Congrats on blogging for two years! Yes, do some kind of summary! I sort of made this one up. It was fun to think about when and where. Thanks for the warm wishes — it’s been SO cold here in Vancouver. Craving some tropical heat.

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    1. Hi Peta! Thanks so much! Climbing Adam’s Peak for sunrise was pretty great, although I was hobbling by the end. So many steps and they’re not small! There’s lots to explore in Malaysia — great diving, culture, wildlife. We’ve heard amazing things about Redang and Perhentians (beach) but never did get there (we did go to Tioman.) We stayed at Bunga Raya off the coast of Kota Kinabalu — nice getaway and I enjoyed the market in KK. Melaka/Malacca was fun to explore but we heard that Georgetown is better — for the food mainly. And I really wish we had gotten to the Cameron Highlands although the Sri Lankan tea country is probably just as beautiful and much less crowded. Oh, I miss that part of the world so much! Happy 2017 to you, too!

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    1. Thanks, Clare! The Khumbu Valley is amazing — hard to take a bad photo! I just followed your blog. I’m a designer and I LOVE your concept of ending each post with a color. So cool! Can’t wait to see more and what inspires your choices. Thanks for your comment and connection! ~Kelly

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    1. Thanks, Ron! I had to go back and clarify in the first paragraph that these are trips I’ve done over the past years. I only listed them by month (and good weather) so people would maybe find some inspiration for their own vacations throughout the year. In any case, thanks for your comment and for reading my blog! All the best to you in 2017!

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  2. It took me a while to realize you didn’t do all these trips in 2016! I was (a) insanely jealous and (b) wracking my brains to remember whether I’d seen posts on all of those this year! Whenever they were, they are all amazing, fabulous trips. Happy 2017!

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    1. Lex! Happy New Year to you, too! Funny… I see your point about thinking all these trips happened in the same year. I went back into the introduction and clarified that they didn’t all happen in 2016. Wow, I would be exhausted if they did! Anyhow, thanks for reading and wishing you many new adventures in 2017!

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  3. Kelly, what wonderful travel experiences and ideas! It’s so hard to choose, but I’ve already put Borneo on the list. James and I want to wish you a Happy New Year filled with love and adventure. All the very best, Terri

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Terri! Thank you both so much for the New Year wishes! Happy to hear this post may have inspired a trip to Borneo. I like your sense of adventure! Hope you and James are doing well and looking ahead to a new year filled with new horizons. Can’t wait to see where the year takes you! Happy 2017! ~Kelly

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  4. What a fabulous post Kelly. Now I want to do all the ones I haven’t done which is most of them! Wonderful photos. I love the one of J in the Japanese robe bent over the computer. And the elephants! And several of the Oman ones, and the beautiful portrait of Tchu. We too took the overnight train to Sa Pa and went to the Bac Ha market. I don’t know how we missed the Shwezigon Pagoda. I’m a bit miffed that our horse and buggy driver didn’t take us there! I think Sri Lanka needs to be added to our list – it keeps coming into consciousness, and we would love that safari.
    Alison

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  5. t first I thought you had visited each of these countries in one year and was wondering how you could have managed it.
    Even after I realized these photos were taken over several years, I still am mightily impressed. Great shots!

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    1. Hi Ruth! Thanks for your comment. Hope you get to Sri Lanka someday — it’s a wonderful country! Check out the blog called Empty Nesters on a Green Global Trek. Peta and Ben are in the process of building (now finishing) their home near Galle, Sri Lanka and also just returned from a trip to Jaffna in the north. Amazing journey they’re on. Enjoy and thanks for your comment! 🙂

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  6. This blog is awesome! I am so impressed by all of your travels! Love all the different ideas places I never even thought of going to. Every year for my husband and I’s anniversary we always plan one big travel and we were thinking of taking it early this year in May so this really helps in figuring out where to go the Yosemite waterfalls looked beautiful! 🙂

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    1. Hey there, alwaysdessert1st! Thank you so much! Great to hear this post inspired you for your annual anniversary trip. I’m intrigued! Let me know where you end up going. Whether it’s here on my list or not, I’d love to know what you choose and why. Thanks for reading and for your comment! 🙂

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