16 Things Travel Taught us in 2016
Reflecting back on 2016 got us thinking about the lessons we learned from our travels. We exceeded many of our goals for the year and stepped on 6 new countries (if you count Puerto Rico as a separate country, which we do). We watched our boys rapidly grow another year older and we had one of the most prosperous years on record.
Simply put, 2016 we will be filed as a really good year.
Today, we’d like to share some of the things travel taught us in 2016.
(1) Cruising is a great way to travel with young kids
Our boys loved being on the cruise ship. They loved running on the sun deck, eating at the buffets and sharing the cabin with us. It was a little cramped at times, but that was part of the fun. We learned that cruising is not for the old or unadventurous. Quite the opposite, actually.
There seems to be a shift in perception these days, as families and younger demographics see the value of cruising. It’s a fun and convenient way to experience a lot in a short period of time.
(2) Everyone should visit Old Town San Juan
Seriously. San Juan is such a cool city. The colourful architecture, the blue cobblestone streets, the old forts, the restaurants, the beaches. If it’s not already there, you should add Puerto Rico to your travel wish list.
(3) Guinness tastes much better in Ireland
True story. We’ve heard this before but didn’t give it much thought. We love beer, but we’ve never been big fans of Guinness. That completely changed on our trip to Ireland.
The Irish pour a proper pint of Guinness. We went from not liking Guinness to not liking an evening without Guinness. We blame the Irish for this.
(4) You don’t have to travel far to have meaningful experiences
As our boys grow, and the cost of traveling as a family of four increases, we’ve shifted our focus to destinations that are closer to home. Fortunately for us, the Pacific Northwest is arguably the most beautiful region in North America. Okay, the Rockies are pretty sweet, too.
We had some awesome travel experiences this year at destinations that are within driving distance to our home. It was a good reminder that you don’t need to board an airplane to have fun travel experiences. It’s about what you do, not where you do it.
(5) You SHOULD go chasing waterfalls. Don’t listen to TLC.
Connecting with nature is always high on our list of things to do. Regardless of where you travel, you need to include activities that take you away from the city and man-made attractions.
Whether it’s hiking in the forest, climbing mountains or walking on the beach, the more you connect with nature, the more fulfilling your travel experiences will be.
Read more – Bioluminescent Kayak Tour in Fajardo
(6) Blarney Castle is a great place for hide and seek
Just be mindful of the uneven ground and the murder hole. Yup, I said murder hole. Google it. There’s much more to this world famous tourist attraction than the castle. Our boys loved running around the lush gardens and exploring the forest that surrounds the castle. It’s a fun place to spend a few hours.
(7) St. Lucia is our new favorite island in the Caribbean
St. Lucia is the definition of a lush, tropical island in the Caribbean. We only had a half day to explore the island because we were on a Southern Caribbean cruise, but we instantly connected with this island and its people.
Taking a Caribbean cruise allowed us to visit 6 islands in short period of time. Now we know which islands to return to and which ones to skip. St. Lucia is an island we will revisit in the future so that we can give it the proper attention it deserves.
(8) When traveling with kids, choose your battles wisely
Our youngest, Connor, did NOT want to take off his boots when were in the Caribbean earlier this year. It was the funniest thing. Whenever we tried to put on his Crocs or sandals he would have an epic meltdown. The kind of meltdown every parent dreads.
The solution – we let him wear his bright blue rubber boots in the tropical heat. He sweat in them constantly and they looked super uncomfortable, but he was happy. Toddler footwear is not a battle worth fighting.
(9) Everyone needs to try Glamping
Sleeping in a comfy bed inside a tent that sits 20 feet from a rushing river is an experience that everyone needs to add to their bucket list. It was probably the best sleep of the year.
(10) Jet lag and children can be a dangerous combo
Crossing oceans can be tough on little ones. Who am I kidding, it can be tough on big ones too. Our trip to Ireland (from Vancouver) reminded us that jet lag can be a real pain in the ass.
Jet lag affects everyone differently. We try to avoid doing activities the day after we arrive from an overseas flight. Instead, we’ve learned to take it slow and let our moods dictate how the day will play out. Trying to do too much is a recipe for disaster.
(11) You’re never too old for roasted marshmallows
When was the last time you roasted marshmallows over a campfire? Our boys continue to transport us back in time to younger days. Although, they prefer to stick the marshmallows directly in the fire so they catch fire and turn crispy black. They called them ‘Fire balls’.
The lesson here it to always stay young at heart and make time for the simple things, like roasting marshmallows. Put down the phone and enjoy the moment.
Read next – 30 Photos from our Winter Ski Trip to Sun Peaks
(12) Ireland is the perfect country for a road trip
We love a good a road trip. It’s our favorite way to explore a new country, especially now that we travel as a foursome. We love the freedom that road trips provide. The freedom to start when we want, stop when we want, and go where ever we want.
Ireland and Northern Ireland have the right mix of tourist attractions, road infrastructure, English road signs, friendly people, and slow pace.
Read more – Highlights from our 2 week Ireland road trip
(13) Our boys continue to amaze us
Earlier in the year we put Braydon in a ski camp while we were at Sun Peaks Resort. We went into the ski trip assuming he would probably resist and not want to try skiing. We couldn’t have been more wrong. He loved it! By the second day he was bombing down the mountain and making turns. He absolutely blew our minds!
The lesson learned is that our boys are for more capable than we give them credit for. It taught us that we need to give them more freedom to experiment and we need to let them fall more often. It’s amazing how quickly they learn and adapt.
Read more – Learning to ski at Sun Peaks Resort, Canada
(14) Popsicles taste better at the cabin
We stayed at four different cabins this summer. We were exploring the idea of purchasing a vacation property, so we spent the summer visiting a number of different locations.
We didn’t end up finding ‘the one’ but the process taught us that we’d rather rent than buy. It’s so much easier that way. Staying at these different cabins also reminded us how important it is to get outside when the weather is nice.
Read more – An oceanfront cabin retreat at Porteau Cove
(15) The window seat is a good idea
I’m typically an aisle person because I like to get up and walk around on flights. I’m glad we had the full row on our return flight from Dublin to Vancouver because we got quite the show from our window seat.
We passed over Greenland and witnessed a landscape unlike anywhere else on the planet. Glaciers, mountains, icebergs. It was incredible! It reminded us that nothing beats a window seat on a clear, sunny day, especially when you’re flight path takes you across the Arctic.
(16) Art is everywhere. You just have to open your eyes.
Earlier this year we visited Point Roberts in Washington State. One afternoon, when we were walking back from the beach, we noticed a fire hydrant that was painted to look like a Minion. I thought to myself, that would make for a fun photo. So I pulled out my phone and snapped a photo of this peculiar fire hydrant.
As soon as I took the picture I noticed that all of the fire hydrants in Point Roberts were painted. Of course, that meant I had to capture a photo of every fire hydrant we passed.
The lesson learned is that there’s something interesting around every corner. You just have to open your eyes and look.
Read next – 26 Epic Adventures by Travel Bloggers in 2016