As each year comes and goes, I like to see how much travel I can possibly do based on my work schedule, budget, and relevant events. While I’m already looking forward to this year’s travel plans (I leave for my first trip next week!), I want to take a moment to reflect some of my travel highlights from last year.
Solo traveling in Asia
Probably the most significant highlight for me last year was visiting Asia for the first time — I had a business trip in Singapore, so naturally, I took some time to visit two countries on my bucket list, Thailand and Japan — and did that solo! It was the most incredible travel experience of my life to date and would definitely do it again in a heartbeat.
Swimming in the infinity pool at the top of Marina Bay Sands in Singapore
This was my number one bucket list item when I found out I was going to Singapore and staying at Marina Bay Sands. On my last night, I headed up there for a quick dip. You feel like you’re on top of the world, in the midst of the Singapore skyline. The day I got there, it was rainy and overcast and you literally felt like you were in the clouds.
Crossing Shibuya Crossing in Japan
This was definitely on my must-do list when I was in Tokyo. Let me tell you, in person, it is just as cool as watching videos of it! Since you can cross the street in all directions, there can be up to 1,000 people crossing at once! I had the pleasure of crossing on two separate occasions, as Shibuya was my favorite ward in Tokyo.
Muay Thai Boxing class in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Of all of the experiences I had on my solo trip, this one was the most out of my comfort zone. First, I’m not an expert boxer, and second, it’s usually a sport attracted by men. Once I got there and got into the class, I really enjoyed it. It was a killer two-hour class in 100 degree heat but was totally worth it!
Witnessing the cross dive on Epiphany in Tarpon Springs, FL
Going to Epiphany in Tarpon Springs is a huge deal if you are Greek. It’s easily on every Greek’s bucket list, as it is the nation’s largest and most prominent Epiphany celebration. Essentially, the cross is thrown into the Springs Bayou, which blesses the waters, but then teenage boys dive for it, and one comes out victorious. The boy who retrieves it is blessed for the whole year. After the dive, there is a big celebration at the park across the way from the Bayou.
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge in NYC
I went to NYC to visit one of my really good friends last year and one of the activities that I really wanted to do was walk across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn.I hadn’t done it on my previous two trips to NYC so I wanted to do it this time. One evening, my friend and I took braved the wind made the walk. The skyline of Manhattan was the most rewarding part of all!
Seeing the New York skyline from on top of a brownstone in Brooklyn, NYC
When I visited my friend, she lived in a brownstone in Brooklyn, which had an access point to the roof. One of the days I was staying, we trekked up there to watch the sunset from the roof. We had the most unbelievable view of lower Manhattan!
Catching the tail-end of cherry blossom season in Japan
I was fortunate enough to be in Japan mid-April, towards the end of cherry blossom season. I was on the hunt for them my entire trip and would stop and photograph them every chance I got. They are so much more beautiful in person, and inspire a whole seasonal movement called “sakura”, where the people celebrate the blossoms and share that with visitors.
Feeding the deer in Nara, Japan
When I was staying in Kyoto, I took a day trip to Nara, a small town just outside Kyoto that is famous for the wild deer that roam around the park. Surprisingly, the deer are very docile given the number of people around them. But, if you have even a trace of food on you, they will be all over you. I purchased some deer food they were selling and fed them. What an experience that was!
Partying on the Queen Mary in Long Bech, CA
If you are unfamiliar, the Queen Mary is a vintage retired cruise shop that is docked in Long Beach and is now an event center. When I was at my young adult conference, one of the events was on the Queen Mary so we got to take in all of the wonders from the ship. It was like we turned back in time. And, rumor has it, it’s haunted!
Staying in a capsule hotel in Tokyo, Japan
I got this recommendation from a friend who visited Japan the year before I did. A capsule hotel is a hotel where instead of rooms, guest sleep in pods and share a bathroom and living space. I stayed in one in Shinjuku, which was the perfect neighborhood to be in. I love the concept, as when you are traveling, you aren’t in your room really at all, just enough to shower and sleep. If you want to do Japan on the cheap, look into one of these!
Lounging in an onsen in Hakone, Japan
I lied. Of all of the experiences I mention here, this was the most uncomfortable. In Japan, they have these natural hot springs called onsen, and you can usually find them in mountainous towns. When I took my day trip to Hakone, I found an onsen to visit for a few hours. The only catch — it’s a nude hot spring. Talk about being self-conscious. But nonetheless, it was a rather relaxing experience, as you are surrounded by nature on all sides.
I hope these inspire you to cross some bucket list items off your list this year!