2013 Roundup: A Year of Travel

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‘Tis the season for reminiscing. Here is my year of travel in 2013, recapped and photographed:

In This Travel Article You Will Discover:

  • My Travel Highlights for 2013
  • Some Cool Images
  • Holiday Wishes

We were sitting at a martini bar in the Mumbai Airport when calendar flipped to 2013. It was an indication of a good year of travel ahead. In fact, on New Year’s Day 2013 I stood on three different continents.

It’s two days until Christmas. And yes, this is a year-end roundup. Buckle up for some shameless humble-bragging. This was my 2013 — in travel, with photos.

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Toasting the New Year in Mumbai, India.

At the Mumbai Airport Martini Bar, a gentleman calmly announced the New Year from behind his laptop. I was choking down a lychee nut and tabasco sauce martini. Our flight home departed at 2:50 a.m. on January 1. We toasted to an amazing month in India then fell asleep waiting at the gate. Frankly, it was no better or worse than many New Year’s parties I’ve been to.

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Posing in front of Princess Diana’s former home.

That morning, we arrived in London. With a solid 13-hour layover, there was plenty of time to tour the city. It was made more special when we met my wife’s relative downtown, Mike, and he took us to a few spots around Kensington. (After making us a traditional English breakfast, of course.) Piccadilly Circus was eerily empty that morning, but the highlight was simply walking through Kensington Gardens on a crisp winter day.

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These backpacks may look weird, but they’ll save your life in an avalanche.

A few weeks later, I was back at 35,000 feet aboard a Delta (boo!) flight to Salt Lake City, Utah. This was strictly business, but it did give me an opportunity to test an avalanche safety backpack, for what it’s worth. And to see for myself the horrid effects of a seasonal inversion combined with enough air pollution to make Beijing seem fresh. Bet you didn’t know that about SLC — it’s incredibly smoggy in winter.

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Aruba — desert island paradise.

Next stop, Aruba — in April. There’s a good reason the Caribbean isn’t terribly popular with West Coast Canadians: it’s a milk run to get there. Fifteen hours to fly there from Vancouver and an overnight layover in Newark on the return trip. I was quite taken with Aruba Dushi Terra, though. Its desert-like environs, including sprawling Arikok National Park, as well as the transparent water ideal for snorkelling (30-metre visibility!), were standouts. That and the trade winds, which re-introduced me to windsurfing after a 25-year-hiatus (yes, I tried it once as a child.).

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Gettin’ a sweat in California. I’m in the grey shirt. (Photo courtesy @TheAthletarian)

Just about a month later I was back onboard a United Airlines flight (I logged a lot of time with that airline in ’13) to San Francisco, California. Work again — I would tour the CLIF Bar factory and conduct some interviews. It was a little dry, to be honest, but I got some good info nonetheless. We finished the day with a bootcamp workout at a park in Emeryville. I need to work on my upper body strength.

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Two months later, June 22, 2013, I got married. Not a travel stat, but surely the most important day of the year. And it led into…

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This is all you get to see.

…Our honeymoon in Hawaii! No work here — just eight days of relaxation. Actually, that’s inaccurate. We were on the Big Island — the Adventure Island — so every day was packed full of snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding, road-tripping, hiking and a little agri-tourism. Erin and I are in love with Hawaii. This was our first trip to the Big Island and we were quite taken by it — in all its rugged, sprawling, volcanic glory.

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Mormon Church, Salt Lake City, Utah.

I was back in Salt Lake City at the end of July; again for the Outdoor Retailer show. I won’t bore you with the details, other than I spent an hour on my last day touring the Mormon Church. It was interesting — though when I realized I was the only person there not on a pilgrimage, I began to feel a bit uncomfortable. Like, “Oh… you guys are here for real! I’ll just be off then…”

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Travel writing, off-grid in Colombia.

Colombia was up next. Media FAM trip. Very cool. Very unexpected. I spent 10 days on the Pacific Coast of the country, exploring the jungles of Bahia Solano and Nuqui. I heard whale song; released baby turtles into the sea; drank fresh coconut water; kayaked into the jungle. I loved it. Read more about it HERE. I’ve written an article on the trip for explore magazine, due to be published in March, so I won’t spoil any more details. You’ll have to wait.

Kluane National Park.

Kluane National Park’s glaciers, Yukon.

I barely had three days to recover before I was back at YVR and en route to Yukon for more media FAM tours. I joined a group of journalists — one from Montreal, one from Mexico and two from Germany — and explored the North for five days. We drank the Sourtoe Cocktail in Dawson City; hiked in Kluane National Park; panned for gold; went flightseeing atop the world’s second-largest non-polar ice-fields… I love the North. Each time I visit, I just can’t wait to go back. (Shoutout to @technomade@board_completed@joseantonio1977 and @TravelYukon)

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Prince Edward Island is ridiculously cute.

One day’s “rest” and I was back in the air — headed to Prince Edward Island for GoMedia 2013. This annual conference matches travel media with Canadian tourism representatives for the purposes of generating story ideas and media coverage of Canada. Plus, there is a lot of après drinking. Socializing aside, it is an invaluable event for travel writers. I’ve already published articles that came as a result, with more in the pipe. See you at GoMedia 2014 (I hope)!

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I didn’t take my camera on this trip. This gorgeous photo is courtesy agunther (wiki).

I thought I’d have a couple of months to relax, but I was back on a plane at the end of September — this time for a business trip to Toronto. I attended “Discover America Day” — it’s pretty much the same concept as GoMedia, though much smaller. Airport layovers not withstanding, it was actually my first trip to Toronto. Not very Canadian of me, eh?

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R&R in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

It was time for a vacation, so when the opportunity arose to join a group trip to Puerto Vallarta for a week’s stay at a huge, pretentious, all-inclusive resort — we were all in. I have very little to report from the week. I remember swimming a lot. And surfing a little. There may have been some cervesas involved.

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Kayak sailing in Belize — a ’13 standout.

Three weeks later, I was en route to Belize for a weeklong kayaking trip with Island Expeditions. This ranks high in my ’13 travel experiences. We pushed off from one tiny caye, 20 km offshore of Dangriga, and paddled caye-to-caye; snorkeling and paddleboarding along the way. Tobacco Caye, my favourite of the bunch, was a quintessential desert island — a five-acre dot along the world’s second-largest barrier reef. I paddled offshore on an inflatable SUP until the islet was a speck on the horizon. Later that night, waves crashing on the reef lulled me to sleep as I lay in a swaying hammock on the balcony of my overwater hut. Perfect paradise. Stingrays and all.

Of course, in between, there was a bit of regional travel as well: Kelowna, Seattle, Vancouver Island. Three wonderful destinations, actually. Maybe I should blog about them more…

There are eight days left in December, but I don’t have a plane ticket anywhere — so I’m calling it a year. And a great year at that.

Last week, I tweeted my 2013 Travel Stats. I actually need to revise them. Here is my year, summed up in numbers:

  • 4 continents
  • 8 countries
  • 15 out-of-province trips
  • 43 planes
  • 1 awesome year

And one final point — until 2013, I had never missed a flight. This year, I missed two. WTF?

Merry Christmas. Happy holidays. And have a great year of travel in 2014.

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About the author: David Webb is a Vancouver, BC-based travel writer, photographer and magazine editor.

4 comments… add one

  • Susan Jan 6, 2014

    Hey David,
    Being a travel enthusiast I can relate how amazing year you had. I am amazed by Kluane National Park’s glaciers, Yukon. Looking forward to travel this place.
    Have a great 2014 ahead.

    Thanks
    Susan

  • David Webb Dec 31, 2013

    Thanks Marie-Julie! Have a great New Year’s and 2014. I’ll (hopefully) be at GoMedia14 as well, if they have me back…

  • Marie-Julie Dec 31, 2013

    What a year! And yes, you should blog more about what you call “regional travel”. I wish you a wonderful year 2014! See you in Winnipeg (if they invite me again)!

  • Erin Dec 23, 2013

    Loved every minute of it

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