While everyone is saying good riddance to 2016 because of all the celebrity deaths, 2016 was one my best years of my life! First and foremost I got married to my best friend, Beth, this summer, it was an amazing wedding with friends and family. On top of getting married it was by far the best travel year I have ever had with many of my travel goals (bucket list) being hit. Miles and points allowed us to travel to many of the destinations in 2016 that we could not have typically afforded otherwise.
So without further ado!
Our 2016 Travels!
red 2014 travels, blue 2015 travels, green 2016 travels, orange 2017 travels
Banff & Lake Louise, Canada
I started off the year with a long-weekend father and son ski trip up to Canada. The old man can still ski while I hit the slopes on my snowboard. While the snow conditions weren’t great, they were not terrible. It was warm and sunny for Canada in January with temperatures in the upper 20s. The scenery was truly amazing in Banff and Lake Louise and easily surpassed any other ski resort I had been to. The first day we went to Sunshine Village with the next two days at Lake Louise Ski Resort. Doing the 4,000 vertical front face was my highlight with the beautiful Lake Louise out in the distance. It was cheap too with the Canadian dollar being so low compared to the US dollar and we each used 25k Delta miles for free roundtrip flights. Winter visit checked off my travel goals list, now to head back in the summer sometime!
In March, me and Beth had an epic trip to Australia to visit some of Beth’s friends. To start we were able to get last minute business class award tickets on United making the flight very comfy for a 24 hour transit, well worth the 70k United miles each. We flew back via economy for 40k United miles each. Staying with Beth’s friends was amazing as we were able to get a more local experience. We ventured to downtown Melbourne and even went to a footy game! The footy season just started and I have to stay I loved the sport. Of course we had to go to a Australian zoo, Healsville Sanctuary to see native Australian animals and also had a wonderful time wine tasting in the Yarra Valley. It was great seeing where Beth lived and taught at from when she did her student teaching in Melbourne over 3 years ago now.
The Great Ocean Road, Australia
We also took to driving on the wrong side of the road as went rented a car and drove along the Great Ocean Road. We survived driving and were afforded amazing views along the coast. Our friends thought we were somewhat crazy as we only spent three days along the road which really isn’t that much time but we think it was just about perfect. Granted we didn’t have time to relax too much but we love being active and busy anyway. The Twelve Apostles, Lorne, and the Great Otway National Park were just a couple of the highlights.
Queenstown, New Zealand
While we were still in the southern hemisphere we jaunted over to the awe-inspiring Queenstown, New Zealand. We spent the rest of the week hiking and taking in the amazing scenery. No trip to Queenstown would be complete without some bungy jumping! I jumped off the Kawarau bridge into the river and wow what a rush! Another classic was cruising the Milford Sound which lived up to the hype. But the highlight in Queenstown was hiking up the 4000 vertical foot Roy’s Peak. It was one of the tougher day hikes we’ve done but totally worth the awe-inspiring views at the top. We stayed at the Queenstown Double Tree for 30k Hilton points a night for a total of 120k points for our stay there. To get back home we took a roundabout way with a quick stop in Wellington and a night in Sydney, Australia.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
After celebrating our wedding we first headed to relaxing Punta Cana to wind down. This was our first stop on our almost month long honeymoon. We stayed at the Westin Punta Cana for 5 nights at 10k SPG points per night there and it was perfect for unwinding after all the festivities. There was not much in the way of activities but we did love the lagunas and of course the beach. Everything was great at the Westin and we even made some friends!
After relaxing on the beach we flew business class to Rome for 50k American Airline miles. For June, the weather was perfect, sunny and 75. Our 4 nights at the Radisson Blu Roma were free thanks to 200k Club Carlson points. Throughout the day we ventured throughout Rome to the Colosseum, Vatican City, and Ostia Antica. We would come back to the hotel in the afternoon to relax at the rooftop pool before going out for some amazing Italian dinners.
Cinque Terre, Italy
Another travel goal on our list had been to hike through Cinque Terre. It was truly amazing as we hiked through all 5 towns in one day. Our base was in a quaint Airbnb in Monterosso with a picture perfect view of the Ligurian Sea where we stayed for 4 nights. We had plenty of time to hike, enjoy the beach, and wander through the little towns. We see why so many people have fallen in love with this region and hope to be back someday!
After Cinque Terre we headed to Venice for 3 nights to see what the canals were all about. To be honest it was not our favorite place but we are glad we went. There is a ton of history as the Venetian empire controlled much of the Adriatic Sea. The canals were beautiful but it felt like an adult Disney world with just a ton of tourists. There was not much to do but wander or shop. We love to wander but shopping is not our thing. We thought Venice was overrated but it is still interesting place to visit once in your life.
Our final stop on our month long honeymoon was a 5 night stay at the Sheraton Dubrovnik at a mere 3-4k SPG points per night. The area was incredibly beautiful and our hotel was outside the city limits so we did not have to deal with many of the tourists. Of course visiting old town was on our agenda and to get our Game of Thrones on. The city was great but we really loved many of the other lesser known attractions along the Adriatic Sea. Lokrum Island was a fun little escape from old town with plenty of rocky beaches. A day trip to Perast and Kotor, Montenegro added to the awe. But the icing on the cake was a day trip to the Great Wall of Croatia and to Prapratno Beach which might be one of the most beautiful beaches we’ve ever been to. It was a perfect way to conclude our honeymoon!
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
We somehow snuck in another international trip in with a quick 4 night stay at the Sheraton Puerto Vallarta. Our Southwest points and companion pass got us there for near nothing and we only spent 3-4k SPG points per night. With the Mexican Peso being so low we honestly might have saved money by going to Mexico instead of staying at home. While the beach in front of the Sheraton was just okay we loved the location as it was easy to walk into town. We did a great day trip to Las Animas where we hiked through the jungle and along beaches to get there. At Las Animas we were bums and just ate and drank. From there we took a water taxi back instead of hiking.
I started the year with an epic snowboarding trip and I ended it the same way. It was a guys trip where me and a couple of buddies went to Steamboat, Colorado for some fresh powder, some videos here. Wow, did we time it right with over 2 feet snow falling the first two days we arrived. We had almost too much powder as we kept getting stuck in the trees. We would fall up to our waist in snow, by far the best snow conditions I have ever had. On top of that the condo we stayed at was within a 10 minute walk of the gondola and the terrain at Steamboat might be one my favorites.
Final Thoughts & 2017
2016 was truly an amazing year in all facets of Beth’s and my life. We got married and traveled to so many incredible places this year. It will be very hard to ever top it. As for 2017 we do not have much planned trip wise with the only big trip on the horizon being a family trip to Puerto Rico in the summer. But in lieu of traveling we are planning a move to Denver, Colorado so we have easier access to many of the activities we love like hiking and just being outdoors. On to 2017!