The New Year is almost upon us, which means it’s time for my yearly retrospective. I like to take this time to remember where I’ve been and what I’ve done over the year that’s ending. I won’t bore you with every little detail but rather cover the highlights of 2017.  So let’s start with Travels!

(You can also check out retrospectives of other years here.)


Although I didn’t travel as much this year as in previous years, I still managed two trips to Europe (Spain and Ireland) and two trips to Montreal.

Early in the year, I spent 23 days in Spain, including Málaga, Ronda, and two of the Canary Islands (Lanzarote and Gran Canaria).

In late September, I flew to Ireland where I spent 16 days gallivanting around the country and attending the TBEX bloggers’ conference. I visited Galway, Cork, Killarney, Cashel, and Dublin. This was my first time visiting Ireland, so I got to count it as country #60. (Only 40 more to reach my lifetime goal of 100!)

I always go to Montreal at least a couple of times a year to visit friends and relatives, but this year was special since it was the 375th anniversary of the city. I managed to hit a few attractions although I wasn’t able to see and do everything I wanted. On my second visit in early September, I attended the YUL Eat Food Festival for which I had won tickets during a bloggers’ event here in Toronto. I’m the person who never wins anything, so this was quite exciting.

The General Admission Zone (guide to YUL Eat)

Festival YUL Eat, Montreal

In total, I spent about 8 weeks away from home this year. I didn’t do any house-sitting in 2017, but I’ve kept my membership with Trusted Housesitters active. House and pet sitting is such a great way to save money on accommodation while travelling that I know I’ll be getting into this again at some point.


One of the reasons why I travelled less this year is that I made a conscious decision to focus more on income-generating activities, especially freelance travel writing. I decreased the frequency of my blog posts to two a month, so I would have more time to write for others.

The blog now has a total of 278 posts. The following posts from this year are among the 25 most popular:

I also received a growing number of requests for book reviews, interviews, and collaborations with other bloggers this year.

I’ve kept my newsletter readers up to date on all the new opportunities and experiences that came my way each month. For the rest of you, let me summarize the highlights of 2017.

Highlights of 2017

Going back to Málaga, Spain

I’ve been having a bit of a love affair with Málaga ever since my first visit in 2014. This was totally unexpected, as these things often are. While I was planning my trip to the Canary Islands last January, I was delighted to find out that the best place to fly into, to get there from Toronto was … Málaga! I can’t tell you how good it felt to arrive there on a warm sunny morning after the dark freezing days of Toronto. The air was like silk. I feel strangely comfortable and at home in that city and I’m not sure why that is.

Muelle 2, Málaga, Spain (highlights of 2017)

Becoming a writer for Intrepid

The North American editor for the Intrepid Travel blog contacted me last March to see if I wanted to write for them. Hell yes! Intrepid Travel is a small-group adventure tour company that was born in Australia back in 1989. Let’s just say it has grown A LOT since then. Intrepid is the kind of company I like to travel with when I don’t want to go independently. (Doesn’t happen too often, but it does.)

Between April and November, I wrote six articles for Intrepid Travel and three for their Peregrine brand (similar but more upscale tours). Two of those articles have not been published yet, but you can check out the others in my portfolio if you’re interested.

This partnership with Intrepid has been great and I hope it continues for many more years.

Making an unexpected discovery in Cashel, Ireland

When I planned my trip to Ireland, Cashel was an after thought, a stop on the way between Killarney and Dublin to see the popular ruin called The Rock of Cashel. This is your typical tourist attraction, with regular tour buses coming through, and a guided tour that takes you around the site. It was a misty, cool, damp and rainy day. I was cold and windswept, trying to listen to the guide while waiting for my chance to take photos without a group of tourists in the way. Not ideal.

But I also heard about a lesser known ruin called Hore Abbey, a 10-minute walk from the centre of town. When I arrived there in late afternoon, it was completely deserted. The rain had stopped, and the sun even made a brief appearance. But the best part was that I had this entire ruin to myself for over an hour. Two pairs of tourists came by and left after 10 minutes. I stayed, exploring every nook and cranny, and took over a hundred photos of this place under different angles. It was so peaceful and interesting. It’s hard to put into words why I felt so happy there all by myself, but if you’re someone who doesn’t like crowds, you’ll probably understand.

Hore Abbey, Cashel, Ireland (highlights of 2017)

Being dined by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau

Last month I finally decided to contact the Taiwan Tourism Bureau in Toronto, ahead of my upcoming trip to Taiwan. They have been heavily promoting their destination in North America over the last few years, and I wondered if they would be interested in collaborating with me.

This felt like a bit of a leap though, given that until now I’ve worked almost exclusively with tour companies, writing about day trips on my blog in exchange for free tickets. I wasn’t sure I would hear back, but about a week later, I received an email asking me to call them to schedule a lunch!

Long story short: they took me to a very nice Japanese restaurant for lunch and we spent a couple of hours chatting. They gave me some tips for visiting their country and told me they would be in touch. Well, I haven’t heard back yet, but it felt great to have gotten this far. When tourism bureaus host events, you’re competing with dozens of bloggers and other media for attention and rarely manage more than a few words and an exchange of business cards.

25 years of solo travels

2017 also marked 25 years since I started travelling solo. I commemorated this in May by writing about 25 things I learned in 25 years of travelling solo. (The post even included a Tilley hat giveaway.) Then I rewrote a much better version of it for Intrepid!

In Switzerland on first solo trip (highlights of 2017)

BigTravelNut in Switzerland on first solo trip (1992)

Looking forward to 2018

What will 2018 bring? Well, I’m starting the year with a bang on January 11 by flying off to Taiwan with my childhood friend (her first time in Asia!) If you’re curious, you can read why I picked Taiwan here. I’ll be there until February 5, giving me time to go around the whole island. I’m especially looking forward to the warm south!

Happy New Year 2018 to all the travel nuts out there! I wish you good health, success (however you define it), and lots of travels this year, solo and otherwise. 🙂

What about you? What was your main travel highlight this year? And where are you planning to go in 2018?

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