What Was Your Favorite Travel Memory of 2017?

How much did you travel in 2017? Too much? Not enough? No matter how many weeks you spent on the road, we hope you look back on those days with fondness while looking ahead to what awaits in 2018.

Now that we’re at the end of the year and reflecting on all the places we’ve been, there are great takeaways for any traveler. Here’s how we’ll remember our trips in 2017:

Get Close to What’s Close

Upon seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time this year, I was at once stunned at its glory and upset that it had taken me so long to see it. The Grand Canyon, one of the great natural wonders of the world, is not all that far away considering that it would take most Americans less than half a day for to get there. Then it reminded me of how much I am missing, just within arm’s length. I have to credit member Heather S. for making me more conscious of that.

“Hubs is king of the Grand Canyon. January 2017.” – Member Heather S.

Have you visited all the best spots in your city recently? Is there a day-trip attraction worth seeing? Many of us tend to fill our weekend up with tasks, errands and projects, but you could probably spare a couple hours reacquainting yourself with some old favorites.

It’s funny: I’m so busy thinking about places 1,000 miles away that I don’t even realize what’s within 100. Slowly but surely, I’m breaking out of that shell and having the same kind of fun at home that I could have on most vacations. Granted, it helps when you live in a charismatic place like Kansas City.

When in Doubt, Roam

This year was heavy on headlines, and the cure could be as simple as stepping outside. The ability to roam is the ultimate freedom.

Those who spend time outdoors know that nature usually has the solutions for any ailment, even by doing something as simple as sitting on your porch or going for a walk. Turning off your phone and unplugging from the 24-hour news cycle. Getting lost and building a bigger appreciation for home. In this yard, by this river, on this mountaintop – nothing else matters but the moment.

Getting lost in my neighborhood. A wrong turn is only so when you choose to turn back.

I’m trying to make this a conscious decision: If I’m bored, find something to do outside, be that yardwork, exercise or just aimless wandering. I regret none of the hours I spent among the bushes and birds.

Smartphones, Netflix and video games are engaging ways to waste time, but breathing fresh air makes that time worthwhile. As long as I can frolic, I am free.

Travel can be Easy

Piggy-backing on the previous two points, travel isn’t hard to implement. One only needs to set aside the time beforehand.

It can be as simple as: “Dear, how do you feel about going to the lake this spring?” “That sounds fun – let’s look at dates!” Now the plans are in motion. The details will come later.

Even if you’re strapped for time or money, get creative. This is where staycations and weekend getaways come into play (Expressways, anyone?). Flexibility and listening to impulses can lead to limitless possibilities. You’ll often need to be more tactful when planning a vacation, especially when you’re planning around people and events. However, if you’re in a pinch and in great need of a getaway, you have clever and simple solutions out there.

Be Kind

“Chris met with six princesses in one day! It was a dream come true!” – Member Carol B.

Everywhere I’ve been this year, the people have been delightful – the flurry of “dad jokes” courtesy of the Pink Jeep Tours driver in Sedona, Arizona; the Southwest flight attendant carrying a passenger’s baby through the aisle; the charming staff at Lodge by The Blue showing me around the property. Those positive interactions enrich each of those vacation memories, so do not underestimate the power of kindness.

That’s yet another good reason to travel: to see the abundance of inspiring graciousness around the world. I tried to say yes to new ideas, tried to carry my Midwest manners to the coast and tried to leave places better than where I found them. Even when running into misfortunes (such as not getting rental car insurance and having a rock shatter the windshield), approach them with kindness.

But it’s a combined effort. The joyous memories I have were all possible because of the others I encountered who wore smiles like a badge of honor. Happiness multiplies when divided. The world is beautiful.

We hope you were able to travel this year – here’s to more adventures in 2018!

What were your favorite travel memories of 2017?

Corey is a writer from Overland Park, KS, and has been with Global Discovery Vacations since September 2013. Once a sportswriter, he traveled the country and became proficient in airport security line etiquette and leaving items in hotel rooms.