As I stare at the rapidly filling fall calendar in front of me, it’s hard not to reflect on what an amazing summer I’ve just wrapped up. This summer brought me all across the USA, from Philadelphia to Denver, from Martha’s Vineyard to Myrtle Beach, and right across the border at Niagara Falls. I even squeezed in a big international adventure, visiting Iceland and the England and checking off my 17th country. I vacationed with both family and friends, soaked up sunshine and time with some of my favorite people on this planet, and when I wasn’t on the road I split my days between my dual hometowns of New York City and Albany.
It’s going to be hard to top that moving forward, but you know I’m going to try! I’ve still got tons of summer stuff to recap, but here’s what’s next.
Next Stop: A Month in Hawaii!
I’m headed off to the Aloha State! Back when I spent a summer living in The Cayman Islands, my friend Wim couldn’t stop talking about her love for her adopted home state. Remember Wim? Not only was she one of my Cayman besties, but she and her new husband Dave also came to visit me in Thailand before I attended their wedding this summer! Now that they are settled back in Oahu, I’m going to go crash with them for two weeks, and I’ve timed my visit to team up with other visiting Cayman bestie Heather.
We are planning on squeezing in tons of beach time, lots of hikes, a little yoga and painting, hopefully some scuba diving, and the most exciting of all… SKYDIVING! I’m completely terrified but also giddy with excitement. I’m sure there will be tears involved but afterward I’ll be so happy I did it.
After those two weeks are up, I’m heading to The Big Island for a week. Heather and I will be hosted by some generous family friends of mine who have retired there. We are planning to tackle the famous Manta Ray night dive, explore Volcanoes National Park, and hopefully spot sea turtles on one of the island’s black sand beaches.
Lastly, I’m swinging through Maui! Here I’ll be relying on the hospitality of my aunt and uncle, who live on the island part-time, and a fellow travel-writing-scuba-diver on the island who I met at TBEX. I don’t think I’ll stop moving on Maui, where I plan to dive, surf, stand up paddleboard and more!
As you can see, I have a rough idea of my plans, but to be honest I’m completely overwhelmed by everything Hawaii has to offer! A month is a long time but I get exhausted simply flipping through my Lonely Planet guide — I think I could spend a year on these islands and just brush the surface of all there is to do.
So far this is a totally free trip — I’m staying exclusively with friends and family and I booked my flight using credit card reward points (SCORE!), so I’m willing to splurge on a few big things. Do any of you have any insider tips or suggestions, any must-dos and sees that I absolutely cannot miss? I’d be eternally grateful for your suggestions!
Also in the Works: Nevada
Some readers may recall that back at TBEX I won a stay at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. So at the moment I’m trying to rally some friends for a wild weekend in Vegas, which I conveniently have just enough frequent flyer miles to get to for free (SCORE AGAIN!) If all goes according to plan I’ll go ahead a few days and take a side trip to the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately this whole trip relies on convincing other people to travel with me (Vegas is no fun solo!) which is not a position I love to be in. But fingers crossed!
Holidays At Home
After those two trips, I plan on laying low and spending the holidays at home. Halloween, Thanksgiving and my birthday all fall within a month of each other. What else do they have in common? I love spending them with my friends and family! I adore throwing parties, getting dressed up, decorating and baking and doing holiday crafts — that kind of stuff is my idea of heaven. True story: One day in Thailand I was sitting on the beach with friends and we were all talking about what we missed most about home. The usual suspects were named: food, friends, etc. My answer, which was met with unending laughter? Crafts. I missed doing crafts.
I know some people love traveling over the holidays, but its just not for me. I had a great time spending Halloween in Sihanoukville last year, but it was nothing compared to the way we do it in New York. And Skyping into Thanksgiving dinner last year from Vietnam just did not cut it. This year it’s convenient for me to spend my favorite holidays at home, and so I’m going to do it.
Then there’s the big one — Christmas. My heart is really pulled in two directions on this one. On one hand I want to throw my annual dinner party, sing carols in church on Christmas Eve, and spend Christmas morning with my family. On the other hand, my feet are already itching for my next big international adventure and I’m just not sure if I can hold off until December 26th.
Looking way forward into the first days of 2013, I hope to be at the beginning of my next big backpacking adventure! Long term readers will recall I’ve been debating whether to head back to Southeast Asia or to go to South America for this trip, which will include doing my Divemaster Training. I’ll have about a five month window before I need to get back to New York to watch my baby sis graduate, and right now I’m leaning towards heading back to Southeast Asia. Stay tuned!
What are your upcoming travel plans this fall?