Another year is coming to a close, and as we prepare for another year we have the chance to complete one of our favorite traditions: taking a look back at all the places we visited this year! If you’re a regular Road Unraveled reader, you’ll know we love to celebrate New Year’s Eve overseas, and this year is no exception. In 2014 we celebrated in South Africa, in 2015 we celebrated in Iceland, and in 2016 we rang in the New Year in Portugal. Last year, we stayed in the United States (we had just returned from three weeks in South America and Antarctica– and after the stressful trip we had returning to the USA we were thrilled to spend the night watching movies on the couch!). This year’s Year In Review comes to you from beautiful Bruges, Belgium, where we will say hello to 2019 in a few hours!
2018 was a great year for exploring new places and revisiting favorites both at home and abroad. We spent our vacation time in eight countries and fourteen US states. We started the year a little slow, sticking mainly to regional trips during the first quarter of 2018. It really wasn’t until May that we got things going with some extended trips. We spent a week in California, starting in San Diego and making our way up the Pacific Coast Highway with brief stops in Los Angeles, Wine Country, Sacramento, and the San Francisco bay area.
The summer of 2018 included a brief trip to Ecuador, a week hopping between Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, a couple fun day trips to Maryland and Pennsylvania, and an exciting road trip through the American Southwest with stops in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada.
In October of 2018 we spent a week in the Great Pacific Northwest (Oregon and Washington) and visited a haunted lunatic asylum in West Virginia. Finally, we ended 2018 with an epic return to Australia and a few days in wonderful New Zealand. That brings us to the present, where we’re currently in Europe for New Year’s. We’ve already spent a couple days in Amsterdam, and we’re wrapping things up tonight in Bruges, Belgium. Before heading back to the USA, we’ll also be visiting Luxembourg, Ghent, and London- but those are 2019 adventures that we’ll share next year.
One last fun fact; although it didn’t happen in the calendar year 2018, since we visited Antarctica in December 2017, we actually visited all seven continents over the past twelve months! We’re considering that a huge win for our travel bucket list.
Here is a list of where we went in 2018.
Countries/Cities Visited in 2018
- Ecuador (Quito, Otavalo, the Equator)
- Egypt (Luxor, Aswan, Cairo, Valley of the Kings)
- Jordan (Petra, Mount Nebo, Wadi Rum)
- Israel (Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Masada)
- New Zealand (Waitomo, Auckland)
- Australia (Sydney, Hunter Valley)
- Belgium (Bruges)
- Netherlands (Amsterdam)
States/Cities Visited in 2018
- California (San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Sacramento, Paso Robles, Big Sur, San Jose, Napa)
- Oregon (Portland, The Dalles, Dayton)
- Massachusetts (Boston)
- Maine (Portland, Augusta, Bangor)
- Virginia (Richmond, Charlottesville, Chesapeake Bay, various other cities)
- Washington (Lyle, Maryhill)
- Nevada (Las Vegas)
- Utah (Bryce Canyon)
- New Mexico (Pie Town, Albuquerque, Chaco Canyon, Hatch, White Sands)
- Texas (El Paso)
- Maryland (Baltimore, Annapolis, various other cities)
- Pennsylvania (Hershey)
- Arizona (Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley)
- West Virginia (Weston)
- Washington, DC (Multiple sites)
Number of Vacation Days Used
It sounds like a lot of travel– and it was– but we covered all of that ground using just 17 vacation days! By using a combination of weekend trips, day trips, bleisure trips that combine business trips with vacation time, and traditional vacations we checked off plenty of items on our bucket list and feel like we really used our time well.
Website Year in Review
Our mission is to inspire people to use their vacation time, and this year we shared our message with more than 78,000 readers from around the world! Our website visitors came from 178 countries as well as every US state and Washington, DC, and we had more than 120,000 page views. We also set a new personal record for total blog posts this year. Including the one you’re reading now, we published a total of 54 new articles in 2018. You might have also noticed that we added a new correspondent, Craig Mathias (Stephanie’s Dad), and we spent some time re-designing our monthly newsletter.
We were also very excited that Road Unraveled was featured in the October edition of Regent Seven Seas: Explore Magazine. Their “America Issue” included our article on the Panama Canal as a feature contribution. We were also honored to be featured in Lonely Planet’s top posts from September 2018 and we had the pleasure of working with some great travel bloggers via contributor posts. You can find all those links on our Resources page, and we highly recommend taking a look!
Best of The Year 2018
As we look back at our year in travel, we wanted to continue a tradition we started in 2016 and showcase a few of our favorite (and not so favorite!) moments from 2018.
► Best Places of 2018
It’s hard to choose just a few favorite places from a year’s worth of exploration, but there are a few that rise to the top of the list. Utah’s Bryce Canyon, the otherworldly national park full of hoodoos and stunning views, was a favorite stop for both of us. New Zealand’s Hobbiton and Petra in Jordan are also incredible places that created unforgettable memories.
► Best Meals of 2018When you travel as much as we do, you are treated to at least a few great meals. We loved locro de papa, potato soup that we inhaled by the bowlful in Ecuador. The beet gnocchi at Tmol Shilshom Cafe in Jerusalem was also delicious, as was the Mexican fried chicken at Mexico in Auckland. And since we can’t forget dessert, the ice cream masterpieces we enjoyed at Giapo in Auckland were so good we went back twice for more, and the incredible pies we tried at The Gatherin’ Place in Pie Town, New Mexico remain some of the best food we have ever eaten.
► Best Tours of 2018
Of the tours we took this year, we absolutely loved our food tour with The Big Foody in Auckland. Elle introduced us to some delectable bites as we navigated Queen Street with her on our last day in town, and we felt like we had spent the morning with a great friend instead of a tour guide by the time we said goodbye. We felt the same way about our experience with John during our Auckland Wine Trail Tour; he was so welcoming and knowledgeable that we instantly felt comfortable, and the wineries he included on our tour were a perfect introduction to the wine industry in the Auckland area.
► Best Memories of 2018After traveling for 24 hours and halfway around the world, seeing the Sydney Opera House for the first time in eight years created an incredible memory for both of us. This was also a great year for road trips for us, and we have wonderful memories of planning and laughing as we drove along the Pacific coast in California and through the USA’s southwest. Seeing the pyramids in Egypt is also a great memory as something we had only seen in pictures was suddenly right in front of us to appreciate with our own eyes.
► Worst Memories of 2018
Our trip to Ecuador left a lot to be desired– and the tours we took there provided us with some less than happy memories. We took a tour to the Ciudad Mitad del Mundo– the monument at the center of the world– and our guide inexplicably left the monument out of our itinerary. On another tour, our guide decided not to take us to the Quilotoa crater lake and replaced it with an incredibly boring boat ride at a different location. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you have been let down or taken advantage of during a vacation– and that’s exactly what happened during our two tours in Ecuador.
► Best Lesson Learned in 2018
Any time you travel you will learn a lesson or two, and our trip back from Australia and New Zealand was a great reminder that travel is often fulls of delays and complications. Our flight from Auckland to Los Angeles was delayed by just enough time that we had a tight connection, and after landing and waiting 30 minutes for our luggage we were in a big rush to clear customs, recheck our luggage, and race through four terminals to catch our final flight home. Although there was nothing we could do, we were reminded about the importance of traveling with patience– and optimism!
Another year is in the books, but exciting times are ahead! In addition to finalizing our vacation strategy to make the most of all of our paid time off in 2019, we are preparing for a HUGE announcement that will be coming to you at the end of January. We’ll give you a hint: if you have ever felt discouraged from taking vacation due to work priorities or guilt about leaving the office, the partners and resources you need to make it happen are just around the corner!
We hope you’ve had a wonderful year in travel and that, through our website, we have been able to help you take some great vacations. We always aim to provide interesting tips, captivating stories, and valuable content that you can apply to your own travel plans and vacations. Feel free to leave a comment below and share your 2019 travel plans with us.
Thank you for reading!
Happy New Year!
A map of where we went in 2018
Take a look at some of our previous Year in Review articles.