2012: A Year of Travel — Life on the Road

It’s been one heck of a year for travel. Over the course of 2012, I’ve gained status in two hotel chains, a whole new status level for one airline, experienced 11 different airports, ate gluten-free in countless restaurants, and been on 3 continents, in 5 countries, and in about 24 different cities/towns.

Sounds glamorous? In reality, it’s not. Life of the road is difficult (both mentally and physically) and is so complex that it’s hard to begin to explain. The good news is technology makes it somewhat easier.

This year’s cluster of easy tools: Uber, a Nexus card, Hipmunk, Air Canada flight passes, Virgin’s Buddy numbers, an unlocked phone, GoogleTalk (phone, voicemail, and video) and mobile and maps and hangouts, Evernote, Eagle Creek, Baggallini, Tripit, and my best friend Yelp.

Here’s a wrap-up of destinations for 2012:

Las Vegas. 2012 started with a trip to Las Vegas for the AT&T Developer Summit. Beyond the casinos, shows and the grittiness that is Las Vegas, you could easily do the town in a weekend. My advice: book early and online for shows and go with the understanding that you either love or hate Vegas… there’s nothing in the middle. Bring a good pair of walking shoes.

Vancouver. This was the dominant travel destination in 2012. The benefit to travelling regularly to a Canadian city is that I can: use my Canadian sim card, call home as much as I want, avoid customs declarations, carry fruit and food in my bag, can leave my passport at home, travel alone with my child without needing a letter or a lawyer. Journeys in British Columbia also included road trips to Panorama, Vancouver Island, Whistler, and across the Rocky Mountains.

Seattle. Lovely lovely Seattle. It was a “let’s move here” destination for a while. On the surface, it’s like Vancouver with its mountains, outdoorsy activities, and sporty people. However, scratch the surface and it is very different. In Seattle, I discovered a world of underground cabarets, good food, strange roadside attractions, and terrible drivers.

Atlanta. A week in Atlanta provided a welcome reprieve from Calgary’s snow in March. Along with the warmth, this is a city that has deep Southern roots that permeate into everything. The pace is slow, the people proud and polite, and it seems to be a place that has a propensity for the odd. I only visited Atlanta a couple of times and couldn’t begin to even scratch the surface. One dear friend moved to Atlanta in 2012, so I hope to see the city again.

London. I love London and every time I travel to the city I feel like I’ve come home. This year we used London as a pass-through city. Here’s a pro-travel tip… if you’re planning to fly to Europe or other Eastern destinations from Calgary, fly direct to London first and then book with a discount airline for your next destination. It’s much much cheaper. The only catch is you’ll probably arrive at Heathrow but leave from Gatwick, so plan accordingly.

Spain. Easter was spent in the South of Spain. Semana Santa is one of those events that have the power to make you cry. Couple this with fantastic food, great wine, culture, dance and festivals and you have a memorable trip. Niña talks constantly about going back.

Morocco. We didn’t spend a huge amount of time in Morocco, but enough to get a brief glimpse at Northern Africa, camels, Moroccan French, the markets and loads of vendors.

San Diego. Last but certainly not least is San Diego… our quick weekend destination of choice. There’s so much to see and do in San Diego that even after two trips we still plan to go back in 2013.

So, what are the travel predictions for 2013? San Francisco… lots of San Francisco… and probably Toronto too. Then someplace warm with culture. There’s also talk of moving to a different city, which will bring a whole new set of adventures in the years to come.

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