Unlike 2014, 2015 was not a terribly adventurous year for me, but it was fun! I revisited some of my favourite countries (Mexico and New Zealand), and travelled within my own country (Canada) with a few day trips to the US thrown in. Although I didn’t travel to any new country, I visited 13 locations that were completely new to me.
The advantages of travelling slowly
What characterized my travels this year was staying put in several places for a week or more. When I first started travelling, many years ago, there was so much I wanted to see that I felt compelled to move to a new destination every few days. This is understandable, but it’s exhausting. At least, that’s the way it now seems to my older self!
Besides being more relaxing, travelling slowly is cheaper, and allows you to deepen your knowledge of a destination and its culture. Why cheaper? Well, obviously your transportation costs go down when you’re not moving as much, but your accommodation and food costs can also be lowered.
Many hosts on AirBnB and similar sites offer lower prices if you stay for a week or more. You can also get free accommodation by house-sitting if you’re willing to stay in one place longer, since most house-sitting assignments last at least a week. Renting an apartment (especially if you’re staying for at least a month) is much more affordable than paying by the night or even week.
If you’re staying somewhere for a week or more, you can start grocery shopping and preparing your own meals. (You can certainly do this over a few days as well, but then it’s difficult to avoid leftovers that you must either discard or carry with you.)
In total, I travelled for 18.5 weeks in 2015 (around 4.5 months). Below is a brief retrospective with some of the highlights.
I started the year by flying to Cancun on January 5, and spent the next three weeks touring around the Yucatan Peninsula, including Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Valladolid and Chichen Itza, Merida, and Campeche. It was my first trip to this part of Mexico. Although I found Cancun and Isla Mujeres too touristy and americanized, I really liked Valladolid and Campeche (both small colonial towns) and had mixed feelings about Merida.
Weary of all this moving around and disappointed with the Yucatan food, I made a beeline for Oaxaca, a city I had previously really enjoyed, and ended up spending six weeks there, renting my own apartment for the last four.
With this much time in one place, I even started getting a social life, which is another bonus of travelling slowly. I met some travellers, as well as some expats who showed me their favourite cafes and shops, and even a few locals.
Summer is typically the time I stay close to home. The weather is great, while flight prices go up because of higher demand. This year was no exception. I started by visiting Nova Scotia, a Canadian province where I had never been before. A week in Halifax (the provincial capital) was followed by three weeks house-sitting in Wolfville, a small town near the Bay of Fundy.
I discovered that this area produces good quality wines and, being the main agricultural area in Nova Scotia, offers lots of fresh food, including seafood! I had a neighbour who brought me homemade baking and drove me around, so this ended up being one of my better house-sits!
I made a couple of trips to Montreal (in early June and early October) to visit friends and family. In October, a friend and I drove down to Vermont (USA) for the day, my first time in that state.
Finally, in late August, that same friend and I spent a few days in Prince Edward County (Ontario) near the town of Picton. PE County is also an agricultural region and wine producer, as well as having a long sandy beach. This area is only a few hours’ drive from Toronto but absolutely requires a car as it is very rural. It was pleasant enough, but we were disappointed that the roads didn’t offer better sea views.
Finally, on December 5, I left for New Zealand on my annual “winter trip”. Like last year, I only bought a one-way ticket. This seems to have become a new habit of mine. Note that New Zealand is one country where you will be asked for an outbound ticket, so I bought a fully refundable ticket to Australia for that purpose.
After a stopover in Los Angeles to visit a friend, I landed in Auckland, then spent 10 days on the rural island of Waiheke, doing day hikes and wine tastings. I travelled south by bus to the lovely Art Deco town of Napier where I spent a few days, before starting the first of two house-sitting assignments in the capital of Wellington, where I still am at the moment.
Looking forward to 2016
I will outline some of my travel plans in the upcoming newsletter this Friday. (If you’re not subscribed yet, sign up here.) All I can tell you for now is that new countries are involved!
But I want to hear from you. Where are you planning to go in 2016?
Happy New Year 2016 to all the travel nuts out there! I wish you good health, prosperity, and lots of travelling this year. Now is the time to make some of those travel dreams come true!