2022: The Travel Year in Review
Life may look a little strange during these, ahem, “unprecedented times,” but if there’s one tried and true tradition I can stick with, it’s my annual travel recap. Can you believe I’ve now been doing this for a whopping twelve years? Last year’s post may have come nearly six months late, and my blog has certainly been a little quiet this year, but I found fewer excuses to procrastinate in the final days of 2022. Why? Because I spent my holidays in isolation. After nearly three years of playing it far safer than most of the world, COVID-19 found me at last.
I’m lucky that my symptoms were mild and that I was finally able to emerge from isolation last night, but this still wasn’t quite the way I’d envisioned the year ending. Despite that disappointing end to the year, 2022 wound up exceeding expectations in just about every other way, particularly when it came to travel.
I got out of the country (twice!) for the first time since 2019, enjoyed plenty of domestic travel, and kept myself busy even when sticking to L.A., all while managing to stave off the virus most of the year. So, in true Venga, Vale, Vamos tradition, I’m looking back on all the places I traveled in 2022.
January through March
The spike in COVID cases earlier this year meant I stuck close to home for the first few months, taking advantage of the many hikes L.A. has to offer, plenty of great television, and, well, that’s about it.
April brought us a visit from my boyfriend Truman’s parents. Then, the four of us headed off together for Palm Springs, an annual family tradition we’d missed out on since before the pandemic. We spent the weekend lounging by the pool, reading, and enjoying Downtown Palm Springs’ food and drinks. All in all, it was a lovely getaway and a relaxing way to dip our toes back in the travel water.
This year, my birthday month corresponded perfectly with COVID reaching enough of a nadir that we felt comfortable traveling internationally. Our first destination outside the U.S. since fall 2019? Oaxaca, Mexico! I wrote a little about it in this post on why Oaxaca is the perfect place to travel during COVID-y times, but in case it wasn’t clear from that post, Oaxaca was a true delight, and I was thrilled to get back into the swing of international travel.
Also in big travel news that month: I learned that I had won a $2500 Expedia voucher in a sweepstake sponsored by Corona! After a few weeks of deliberating over the best way to spend that credit, we booked our next international trip of the year: Barbados! More about that in September, though.
June and July
The big event of our summer was Truman testing positive for COVID while I managed to avoid it. Even outside the nearly two weeks we spent in isolation/quarantine, we didn’t venture out of Southern California during June and July. We did keep busy, though, with activities like two of my siblings’ graduations, dogsitting, some delicious meals out, a beach day, and a scavenger hunt through Downtown L.A.
In August, we flew north to Washington for Truman’s annual family trip to Lummi Island. Last year, I wrote about the tragic shadow cast over that trip because both my aunt Jenny and my grandma Gammy passed away while I was there. This year, I worried that returning would be incredibly difficult, but, fortunately, I was able to use the time there to celebrate their memories. The beautiful weather, excellent company, and stunning scenery certainly didn’t hurt either.
How better to spend a $2500 Expedia prize than on a trip we’d otherwise never splurge on? In September, we treated ourselves to four free nights at an all-inclusive beachfront resort in Barbados. As high as my expectations were going into the trip, I wasn’t prepared for just how fabulous it would be: our hotel room overlooked the crystal clear Caribbean, the sunsets were some of the best I’ve ever seen, the hotel was comfortable and the staff friendly, the free watersports were a blast, and everything was idyllic in just about every way. I’ve been working on a post detailing more about that trip (and how I won it!), so keep an eye out for that.
I stuck close to home in October, though my sister, her boyfriend, my aunt, and my uncle all paid us a UCLA football-oriented visit late in the month. Other close-to-home activities that month included Knott’s Spooky Farm, more college football, canvassing for Christy Smith, and celebrating Halloween with friends.
Two of my best friend I met while living in Sydney, Jo and Ari, spent about a month in Sacramento on their way from Perth to Buenos Aires. So in November, we met halfway at an Airbnb near Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Both parks were absolutely breathtaking, especially because they’d been covered in a fresh blanket of snow just a few days prior, plus I could not ask for a better travel group.
For Thanksgiving, my sister invited my mom and me to celebrate with her boyfriend’s family, so we drove up to California’s Bay Area (specifically Los Altos) for the festivities. While there, we also took a scenic day trip to San Francisco where we explored some of the city’s most beautiful views.
In early December, Truman and I coincidentally got back-to-back news that we were joining the legions of tech employees who were laid off this year. It was a shock and wasn’t handled particularly well by either of our companies, but what good was it to dwell? Fortunately, that weekend, we already had a Downtown L.A. staycation planned for Truman’s birthday, so we spent a night at the historic Biltmore Hotel and met up with friends in the Arts District.
We wasted no time in taking advantage of our new unemployment situation and a few days later drove to Las Vegas, where we stayed for a night in a comped room (thanks to some silly mobile games I’ve been playing) en route to our real destination: the Grand Canyon! I’d been to the Grand Canyon once before, back in 2016 with my sister, but my attempt to return with Truman in 2018 was foiled by a snowstorm. This time, we finally made it there with no road closures, and it was worth the wait. That said, as grand (ha) as the Grand Canyon is, the true highlight of the trip may have been Bearizona, a wildlife sanctuary in Williams, Arizona where you can drive through open enclosures of wolves, bears, bison, and more roaming free.
For the final trip of the year, we flew up to Portland, Oregon so I could spend some pre-Christmas time with Truman’s friends and family before—in theory—celebrating Christmas with my family in L.A.. The cold and rain prevented us from doing a ton of sightseeing, but we spent a cozy few days at his parents’ house before I returned home.
A few days later, I was feeling perfectly fine but took a PCR test as a precaution before seeing family. To my surprise, it came back positive, so I spent the next twelve days in isolation. As I mentioned at the start of this post, I was lucky to have mild symptoms—and also glad that I made it nearly three years COVID-free. My mom unfortunately also tested positive, but the silver lining to that was I got to spend Christmas with her (and briefly see my dad’s family from my car, windows rolled up).
Did I anticipate ending the year with two layoffs and COVID? No, but I also never expected to see as many places as I did in 2022—notably two trips out of the country. And it’s pretty hard to feel sorry for myself right now, because, in a few weeks, I’m heading overseas again, this time to spend a month exploring Egypt, Jordan, Italy, and Malta! I’m turning a career setback turns into an incredible adventure and could not be more excited for it.
To those of you who have been reading my annual recaps through the years, thanks for sticking with me, even as my posts have become increasingly sporadic. Or if this happens to be your first time stopping by, welcome! I look forward to having more adventures to share with you in the year ahead. And to all of you, I wish you a 2023 that’s everything you dream of and more!