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2012: A Year in Travel

2012 was another big year of travel for me – five new countries and I circumnavigated the globe like a boss. Since this time last year I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone more than once and grown as a result. I’ve learned that I can handle international solo travel and tried new activities like white water rafting, surfing, zip lines, parasailing, sea kayaking and more. I even survived the Mayan apocalypse  ;) I’ve made progress on learning new languages and tried lots of new foods. A few lessons were learned along the way, of course. Here’s a tip: if you have a cold and are flying, don’t be hero, take the cold meds, or you could end up some temporary ear trauma like I did. Lesson learned. Despite a few hiccups it’s been a great travel year.

Much thanks to Adventure Girl, Stefanie Michaels, for giving me the kick in the arse I needed to finally get serious and launch this site in July.

2012 By the Numbers

  • Number of trips: 6
  • Airports Visited: 17
  • New Countries Visited: 5
  • Miles Flown: 33223

Sunset at Playa Tamarindo

March – Costa Rica

Ten days in Costa Rica was the first time I ever really traveled solo internationally. I booked it on a whim because of an incredible seat sale. I researched it to death, as I do, but was still nervous on the way there. It didn’t take long to fall in love with the country. The landscape is gorgeous and varied and the people were so nice. I never once felt unsafe, although the short flight in the 12-passenger Cessna was close. I challenged myself by doing things I’ve never done before: whitewater rafting, zip lines and surfing. I can’t wait to visit again. I still need to see a monkey, hold a sloth and prove myself on a surfboard.

April – Toronto

I’ve been to Toronto many, many times so it was pretty old hat. I visited in late April to see some baseball and visit some friends and family. It was the first time I used AirBnB for accommodations. It was really nice having an apartment to come back to at the end of the day instead of a hotel room and it’s something I’ll definitely look into again when I travel.

September – Peggy’s Cove, NS

My visit to Peggy’s Cove was a chilled, low-key weekend one to hang out with my best friends, their husbands and my adorable “niece” (as an only child, she’s the closest I’ve got). I was still happy to get to play on the big rocks down by the lighthouse. No matter where I travel I always love hanging out by the ocean.

Mel in Dubrovnik | SuitcaseandHeels.com

September – Croatia

When I told most people that I would be spending five days in Croatia on my way to South Korea they all looked at me confused and said “Why would you want to go there?” All they associated with the country was the Balkan wars of the ’90s. To be honest, I once saw Dubrovnik on an episode of House Hunters: International and thought it looked beautiful. So when I learned that I could make a stopover for no extra points on my Aeroplan rewards flight I decided to make the stop in Croatia. The food was disappointing but the scenery was amazing, the swimming was fantastic, and the culture was intriguing. I would love to visit the country again, but I would probably explore other areas of the Dalmatia coast this time.

DSCF0464

September – Bosnia and Herzegovina

I was only in Mostar for a day and it was a bit of a sobering one. While a lot of the town has been rebuilt and fixed up over the last 17 years, there are still a lot of reminders that Mostar was once devastated by war. Things are better there now but far from perfect. Highlights for me were getting to walk across the renowned bridge and the lovely copper pieces I bought at the market.

Mel in Seoul | SuitcaseandHeels.com

September – South Korea

For only having two weeks in the country, I got a pretty good taste of South Korea , visiting Seoul, Busan, Gunsan and Jeju Island. It was culture shock for sure and I was really glad to have one of my best friends as my tour guide. I experienced my first love motel, dealt with temporarily lost luggage and was pleasantly surprised by Korean food. I even got my hair cut there using mostly hand gestures and my driver’s license photo, but that’s a story for another time. The locals were all surprised to learn that I was on vacation and not, in fact, there teaching English. South Korea is back on my travel itinerary for 2013 and I hope to try some new things like jimjilbangs, noraebang and visit a cat cafe.

Sensoji Temple

October – Japan

Tokyo was probably my most challenging destination. I was only there three days and it wasn’t until the last that I started to get into the swing of things. I found that there wasn’t nearly as much English as there was in Korea and the only conversation I ended up having the entire time was with a nice old Japanese gentleman at the Meiji Shrine. Because I didn’t find the more touristy restaurant area I had a hard time finding a place to eat as well, but I did manage a nice sushi breakfast at the Tsukiji Fish Market.  I hope to visit Japan again and this time travel outside of Tokyo as well. Japan and I aren’t through with each other yet.

What Will 2013 Bring?

The only thing I know right now is that I will be returning to South Korea in February and that I have to make it back to Toronto at some point during baseball season this year. Go Blue Jays! Beyond that…the world is my oyster.

What plans do you have for 2013?

Before You Go

2 responses to “2012: A Year in Travel”

  1. Congrats on your first solo travel experience. I hear Costa Rica is lovely and safe for women. Too bad no monkey sightings.

    Could’ve sworn some travel blogger named it as the new travel spot, but I can’t remember. Anyways, was wondering just how nice it is. That photo of the culture IS interesting. It begs further exploration. =)

    Congrats again on Korea!

  2. Croatia? I want to visit again, but explore more of the country. Dubrovnik is probably the most expensive part of the country because of all the cruise ship tourists but it’s definitely worth visiting for a day or two. I wish I’d had more time to explore the vineyards of the Pelješac Peninsula and find those sandy beaches I heard about on the islands (though swimming off the cliffs of the city walls was cool). The performance by Folklor Lindo was one of my favourite things and it was something I completely stumbled upon. I suspect the food gets better once you’re away from Dubrovnik. I think restaurants there cater to cruise ship palettes too much. Or maybe I just had bad luck picking restaurants.

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