As another year comes to a close, some may look back on the highs and lows of the past 12 months. Others set career and personal goals for the coming year. Many will vow not to break New Year's resolutions (for once!). But travel enthusiasts like us here at Travel Mamas look at everything through travel-colored glasses. We are plotting journeys for the year to come and reflecting on where we traveled this year. Maybe some of these destinations will make you want to cast your net somewhere new in the year to come. Here are our personal picks for the best travel destinations of 2013.
My solo trip to Hana reminded me of who I am…without a husband, without kids, without distractions. I unplugged and spent time with myself. I chose where to go, what to eat, and what activities to do. I learned how to throw-net fish from a fourth-generation Hana fisherman and gained a deeper understanding of Hawaii's people and culture. I rode a horse by Hana's magnificent stretch of sea and remembered the teen I used to be, the one who rode horses competitively. I swam in Travaasa Hana‘s stunning infinity pool, the cool water gliding over my skin, the words, “You are so blessed,” rolling in my mind. I slept to the sound of ocean waves and my own thoughts. I went to Maui, fretting over turning 40. I came home focused on the time I have today.
Los Cabos, Mexico
“A year of adventurous travels and journeys, with or for families and children, makes it tough to choose a favorite. But my mind returns faithfully to Los Cabos and Grand Solmar, with the brilliant beaches and all the experiences we had there. We ventured away from the resort just enough to taste the land's mystery, and learned of the resort's bountiful offerings for families.”
Mexico City, Mexico
“My fave trip was Mexico City. Why? It was so unexpected. It was like being in Europe, but in North America. The architecture, the food, the revitalization that's going on downtown, it was almost overwhelming. I mean, the historical district is 34 blocks! I felt like a fool for being swayed by reports about safety and not travelling there sooner.”
“Our favorite trip of the year as a family was our tour de France: Paris to Dordogne. It was the hottest time of summer, and I felt that a good old American road trip-style adventure was the kind of experience none of us would forget. Seeing my boys take in the Eiffel Tower for the first time, and our magnificent trip to the south in Dordogne are memories that I will always have. They're still asking to go back to the family hotel by the dinosaur caves next summer and we'd love to go back too.”
“Hands down my favorite trip of 2013 was to Southwest Florida. The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village was a luxurious new 236-room retreat perched overlooking the massive Caloosahatatchee River, waterways and the Gulf of Mexico. I had a blast kayaking the 400-mile network of canals (more than even Venice) and exploring Captiva and Sanibel Islands, ranked the No. 1 travel destination in the world from Frommer’s travel guide. I had the most surreal moment of my life when I gathered piles upon piles of seashells that formed a thick ribbon along the shore!”
“One of our favorite trips was spending spring break on our favorite Hawaiian island of Kauai. This Garden Island paradise has it all: sun, sand, surf, good food, shave ice, and lots of things to see and do. On a family holiday, there is nothing better than relaxing on the beach, watching the kids surf the waves, and enjoying some homemade mai tais, while watching a brilliant Hawaiian sunset. It's the stuff that wonderful family travel memories are made of.”
“We had another year of incredible travel experiences but my favorite trip was our end-of-summer family vacation in London. This was my third trip to London and our second family trip but it's a city that I will never grow tired of visiting and one of only a few places that I could imagine myself living. For the first time ever we took along a friend for my teenager and it worked out incredibly well. We spent nine days sightseeing, taking in several shows in the West End, and day-tripping to Windsor and Stratford-upon-Avon. We also spent a day at Warner Bros. Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter which was a dream come true for the teenagers who grew up with the Harry Potter books and movies. My girls were a few years older than the first time we visited and I happily watched as the two of them truly fell in love with London.”
The travel memories that stand out most to me are the ones that transform in some way. My 12-year wedding anniversary trip to Carmel and its neighbor, Monterey, along California's Central Coast transformed my relationship with my husband. This romantic getaway was just what we needed to revitalize our marriage. The slow-down pace, the natural beauty, the romantic dinners, and the friendly vibe enabled us to remember why we had chosen each other so many years ago.
What was your favorite travel destination of 2013? Let us know in the comments below!