I’ve been traveling for pleasure solidly for more than 25 years and lost track of the countries and cities I’ve been to (that’s not to brag – really I have a terrible memory). But one of the best things about travel and being…ahem…slightly mature…is that you always learn something new from each adventure.
This year, with the illegal blockade of Qatar throwing in a bit of color and movement, was especially instructive and I wanted to share with you some truths I learned in 2017 from cities far and near:
- The best trips don’t have to be meticulously planned
Nearly every trip I have taken this year has been half arsed and last minute. In face one was booked on the morning I flew. I was reading guide books in the lounge to at least get myself acquainted with Bali just before I flew. Meanwhile, AZ and I only decided to sneak to Oman together two days before. All my travels this year have been basically unplanned and the better for it.
2. Touristy cities are popular for a reason – they are awesome
Hardcore travelers would groan at three of my destinations this year – Prague, Dublin and Barcelona in peak season. But you know what? I loved the crowds and the buzz. I met people, went on tours, soaked up the vibe. I won’t ever be THAT destination snob again.
3. BUT….hold on! The “secondary cities” can also hold the most allure
I’m looking at you Galway. What a surprise this city was – great food, friendly locals and a fascinating history. And while Kochi maybe close to the hearts of many living in my home of Qatar, it’s not necessarily on people’s travel maps (and it bloody should be). This demonstrated to me that next year I should make an effort to take a trip outside the bigger cities and discover their less vaunted “little sisters”.
4. Traveling as a couple doesn’t mean compromise
I don’t talk about him often but AZ and I had a glorious visit to Oman earlier this year. Frankly, I was worried – we’re very different personalities in many ways. He loves to sleep. I barely get five hours a night. His idea of a great night is room service and the movie channel. Mine dinner and drinks. But we made it work – primarily because the destination we chose – Anantara Jebel Akdhar – indulged all of our quirks. stay tuned for more couple travels in 2018.
5. A food tour is a great way to see a city (d’oh)
I had fallen out of the habit of booking organized tours when I travel recently and I am kicking myself. This is a perfect way for a foodie and a traveler to experience a city from a unique perspective, and also get a little buzz. I can thank Taste of Prague and Devour Barcelona and their witty, informative and tasty tours for getting me back in the tour groove. Both tours introduced me to restaurants and experiences I would probably not even attempt on my own.
I have to be honest, getting on that Qatar Airways plane back to Doha at the end of every trip is wonderful. Home for me for the last 10 years is Qatar and I am fortunate it’s an actual gateway to the rest of the world. I have some vague plans for travels in 2018 – or at least a list of destinations to explore. Here’s to another year of wonderful travels!
Where are you planning to visit in 2018?