I always said I wanted to take a year off to travel and see the world, but I never got to it as the pandemic came along.
Out of 12 months in 2022, I spent more than half the year traveling. Before covid, my trips used to be more quick and short. Go, get it done, and come back. But in 2022, I changed the way I traveled. Instead of going for 4-5 days as I usually do, I decided to take off for a week or more every time.
Below is a recap of all the trips I took in 2022 and the many lessons/reminders I got along the way:
1. In Barbados 🇧🇧, I was reminded to slow down in life, when we had to wait over an hour for breakfast every morning at the hotel because they were on "island time."
2. In French Polynesia 🇵🇫, I was reminded of the importance of supporting local businesses when one of our guides thanked us for choosing to book a tour with them as it's what helps him keep his job.
3. In Qatar 🇶🇦, I was reminded of the fleeting pleasures of this world when I only spent less than 40 hours in the country. I tried to make the most of my time by keeping a busy schedule, despite being tired from the long flight it took me to get there.
4. In Egypt 🇪🇬, I was reminded that detaching myself from the world is the best way to reconnect to my purpose and my Creator. We stayed in an ecolodge in Siwa, where we had no electricity and I got used to showering with cold water, but despite that, the experience was magical and allowed me to take a moment to look up at the stars and appreciate the things I have a lot more.
5. In the United Arab Emirates 🇦🇪, I came across some of the most interesting innovations at the Dubai Expo and was reminded of how important history is in creating a brighter future.
6. In the Philippines 🇵🇭, I saw how easy it is to connect with locals and how easy it is to bring happiness to others. We became good friends with our tour guides and even got invited to visit their village. There, we experienced a day in their family's life by visiting the house, walking in the rice fields, going for a ride with the water buffalo, and learning to ride a motorbike).
7. In Kansas City 🇺🇸, I met so many women at #WITS who inspire me to want to do more. It was my first time attending a travel conference and I couldn't be happier than to have chosen one that empowers women.
8. In Austria 🇦🇹, I spent my layover exploring the sights of the city. As I wandered the streets of Vienna and passed by locals eating at the restaurant and hanging at the park with friends, I couldn't help but think how it is so interesting that we tend to share the same lifestyles around the world, but everyone has a different approach to it. In North America, I feel like we are always pressured to be constantly kept busy with work, and there is no set balance between our work and personal life (unless we ourselves set those boundaries), but in places like Europe, life is a little more laid back and less stressful.
9. In Italy 🇮🇹, we spent the night sleeping on the benches at the airport and had to find our own way to our ship when the shuttle never showed up, but it reminded me of how nobody ever sees the struggles behind all the highlights reels and edited shots people post online.
10. In Greece 🇬🇷, I was reminded that not everything is what it appears to be when I realized that spending only a day on some islands is more than enough.
11. In Alaska 🇺🇲, I was reminded that everything is temporary. Every interaction we had were with people who only came to Alaska for a few months. They had said that once the cruising season is over, they will close their shops and return back home to their country for a few months.
12. In Morocco 🇲🇦, I was reminded that being spontaneous can turn into some of the best memories.
13. In Bosnia 🇧🇦, I was reminded to always keep an open mind. I signed up for a week trip with a primary school in the UK and stood out as being the only Canadian, but still made the most out of the trip.
14. In Albania 🇦🇱, I was reminded of how who you allow in can completely change your mood. As I was traveling solo, I opted-in to join the free walking tours around the city. In Sarandë, the tour I had joined only had a group of Italian travelers (who did not know each other), but they bonded over matching energies and brought positive vibes, which in turn, made everyone in the group have a great time.
15. In Canada 🇨🇦, I was reminded that though everything may seem the same, it is our differences (sometimes this can be very minimal too) that bring beauty. This thought came about as we drove around Newfoundland and a thought came to mind: "In Canada, everything looks the same wherever you go, it's just flat land," my travel partner stated.
16. In Iceland 🇮🇸, I was reminded that anything you set your mind to is possible, as long as you have a proper plan to execute and reach your goals.
We flew to Iceland on a mission to drive around the country in the span of 5 days (as that's how much time we were limited to there), while also hitting up the best spots and finding some gems along the way. We created a Google map of all the places we wanted to go and approximately how long we needed to drive in a day while factoring in the amount of time needed at each stop.
17. In Switzerland 🇨🇭, I was reminded of the importance of time. I had several layovers in Zurich en route to other destinations and every time, I tried to do something while waiting. I visited the Lindt factory, and slept over at the airport several times, and went out into the city. I realized that when I am most productive with my time, time goes by faster. However, I also realized that sometimes doing nothing is okay too (something I am guilty of, as whenever I want to rest and do nothing, I feel bad for not doing something. Those layovers changed the game for me and allowed me to accept that it is fine to do nothing at times).
18. In Mauritius 🇲🇺, I was reminded of the importance of family. I flew to Mauritius for a family event and spent time with loved ones. Though the trip was a quick and short one (despite the long hours of traveling it took to get there), every moment turned into lasting memories.
19. In Oman 🇴🇲, I was reminded of the power of kindness. The first quote I saw when arriving at the airport is pictured above. While on the road, we stopped at a mosque in a small town to pray, and a man saw us there and invited us over for tea. He took his home, introduced us to his sons, gave us dates, fruits, and Omani tea. It was an unexpected gesture but one that made our trip even more memorable.
20. In Argentina 🇦🇷, I saw the way a community comes together. In Buenos Aires, that bond was created over football. I spent my days in the city close to the World Cup finals. We walked by a gas station and attempted to go inside to see what they had as snacks, but they locked the doors and closed it. Why? Everyone was seated inside with their eyes glued on the TV screen, watching Messi play.
21. In Antarctica 🇦🇶, I learned how fragile the environment is. We were constantly reminded to not bring any food items ashore. All items we brought went through a biosecurity check to ensure that we don't introduce any invasive species to the environment. The level of protection and care set for Antarctica is unlike anywhere else I have seen. It made me wish we would care about the planet just as much.
22. In my travels, whether it was a staycation, a place I've been to before, a place I only passed by, or a new place I visited, I was constantly reminded to appreciate life for what it is, despite the struggles that come along the way. After all, whether good or bad, the moments pass and a lot of things change as time goes by. The memories remain. The good and the bad moments become stories we tell and lessons we learn from. The experiences we have, help us grow. The opportunities we come across may not pass us by again.
And with that, the 2022 season comes to an end. What a year it's been. I was burned out from traveling somewhere along the way, but I am thankful to be able to cross many things off my list, the number one being: spending as little time as I can in Canada 🇨🇦.
Looking back, I also found it interesting how everything came in full circle when I ended the year on the ship that describes me perfectly: world traveler. الحٓمْدُ لله.
What is your biggest takeaway from 2022?