Jaillen Yehia

10 Travel Lessons To Transform Your 2016 Trips

Written by Jaillan Yehia

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Travel Lessons

Lesson 1: If you see this sign, you should probably follow it.

I’ve picked my own top 10 travel highlights from the last year and reverse engineered them to calculate just what made them so memorable and share my ultimate list of travel lessons to keep in mind while you plan your 2016 trips.

As travel addicts we want it all and we want it everywhere – but these 10 travel mantras will help you separate the ‘what if I go there?’ wheat from the ‘no, choose this place’ chaff.

See if you agree with my 10 travel lessons for 2016…

Your mission should you choose to accept it, is to use these 10 photos from around the world to pull your own 2016 travel plans sharply into focus.

Here are my 10 most valuable travel lessons of 2015…

Lesson 1: Tick A Bucket List Item Off Your Travel To-Do List

Classroom: NASA, Houston, Texas

Nasa's Johnson Space Centre

Nasa’s Johnson Space Centre, Houston, Texas

Why My 2015 Travel Memory = Your 2016 Travel Mantra

Once I knew I was going to Houston, Texas  I was pretty excited, then it clicked that I could use this opportunity to go to NASA Space Centre.

I has a eureka moment – this was a not to be missed chance to tick one off  ‘the bucket list’ and I knew I had to make it happen.

I wanted to go to NASA on a weekday as you can have lunch with an astronaut, I wanted to go when the extended ‘behind the scenes tour’ wasn’t already fully booked – neither was possible as I was spending a last minute weekend in Houston.

I thought about waiting for the stars to align and going to NASA ‘another time’ but we both know that these fabled ‘other times’ never come around.

You’ll never be younger than you are at this moment. Ergo there will never be a better time than today to start looking at that bucket list.

It turns out there are 10 NASA field centres around the USA, so I have just 9 more to get to in 2016.

And p.s. the NASA gift shop is out of this world too.

If NASA is on your list may I suggest you also consider heading to Florida? While you’re there you can see a gator…

Lesson 2: See Local Wildlife At *Every* Opportunity

Classroom: The Everglades, Florida

Everglades alligator

An Everglades Gator

Why My 2015 Travel Memory = Your 2016 Travel Mantra

I lap up any opportunity to see birds and animals when I travel, so when I noticed The Everglades – and therefore gators – were on the list of excursions from TBEX I jumped at the chance to get on that airboat.

Even though it was raining, even though I was cold, even though I was in Fort Lauderdale for a conference and not as a tourist and had a ton of work to do, once I saw these amazing creatures up close it made me forget everything else, which is just what great travel experiences should do.

Seeing animals in their natural habitat is ALWAYS a win when I travel  – and I hope it is for you too.

Like that time I swam with a turtle…

Lesson 3: If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again.

Classroom: Caribbean Sea, Akumal

Travel Lessons

Turtle time in Mexico

Why My 2015 Travel Memory = Your 2016 Travel Mantra

I’ve been chasing turtles around Central America for years – it took two trips to Costa Rica before I finally got to meet them  – and release baby turtles into the ocean in 2014.

This year that experience was somehow blown out of the water by the even more incredible feeling of swimming with endangered green sea turtles off the coast of the Yucatan while on a Mexican Riviera yoga retreat.

This is a touristy part of Mexico there’s no doubt about it, and I was far from the only person in the water  – but there was a moment when I spotted one of these prehistoric looking creatures nibbling its way along the seabed chomping on grass and I looked around and realised there was nobody else within earshot. I tried beckoning but no-one else saw me. So I simply swam alongside him for a few glorious minutes, just the two of us in total tranquility. And I remember realising I was finally having the turtle experience I had always yearned for.

If your travels are motivated by something, don’t let anyone tell you to give up. It’s your holiday, your time to do whatever you have always dreamed of doing –  if it takes repeat attempts or you want to go on the same trip all over again because you loved it so much, that’s up to you!

Like sports fans who keep following their team until they taste victory…

Lesson 4: Follow Your Sporting Heroes

Classroom: BC Place Stadium

England V Canada

England V Canada: Unlike the other 54,026 people, either way I was #winning

Why My 2015 Travel Memory = Your 2016 Travel Mantra

I joined 54,026 people at BC Place Stadium to see England beat Canada in the Women’s Football World Cup Quarter Final. I was probably the only person who cheered a bit louder when England scored  – and they’d already done so once while I was buying my first beer so I knew I was off to a good start – and the euphoria of winning was a wonderful memory in the making.

I’m not a huge sports fan – but I have my moments (Wimbledon, The Olympics, that kind of thing) and I *am* English which means I can’t help but be proud when we win the footie. I can now see why people become addicted to following their home team around the world.

There’s no denying the fact that fitting your travels around a big sporting event injects an unbelievable level of atmosphere and adrenaline into the trip, and now I’ve experienced the thrill of seeing the England football team take a victory on the pitch I’d definitely consider booking travel around sport again.

Or booking travel around a favourite band playing a gig…

Lesson 5: Go Where The Gigging Is Easy

Classroom: Commodore Ballroom

Kaiser Chiefs play Commodore Ballroom

Kaiser Chiefs play Commodore Ballroom

Why My 2015 Travel Memory = Your 2016 Travel Mantra

As a Londoner I assume every concert ticket has to be fought for, that every phone line is jammed and I expect every venue to seat thousands of people, so I thought I was being really clever back in the 2000’s when I snagged tickets to see one of my favourite singers Just Jack (unless you’re from England you may be scratching your head saying ‘who he?’) in a smaller, cheaper and more intimate venue in Glasgow some 400 miles away from home – yet the saving on tickets actually paid for the flight.

As it turns out, some 4000 miles away in Vancouver, the gigging is even easier, especially if your musical taste is European like mine: here tickets are still on sale on the day of the gig (unthinkable!) the price of a ticket is usually less than the cost of a drink in London (amazing!) and you can often just stand at the front and watch with ease without elbowing your way past thousands of people (say what?).

The ease of seeing the bands I like in Vancouver has opened my eyes to the idea of travelling to another country or city to see the right band in the right setting, and at the right price – you might already be doing this but next time you’ve got your eye on a trip or a tour, see if you can combine the two.

As I managed to combine my dream day of swimming with turtles, with yoga…

Lesson 6: Use Your Time Off To Actually Look After Yourself

Classroom: Casa Om, Puerto Morelos

Why My 2015 Travel Memory = Your 2016 Travel Mantra

I  tried my first ever yoga retreat in 2014 at Blue Osa and I absolutely loved it.

As a bit of a hedonist I had previously put off wellness holidays and fitness tourism, quite frankly thinking I’d rather be propping up a bar somewhere or stuffing my face with good food, but the feeling of relaxation and wellbeing I had at the end of that week of yoga was priceless.

After a year had passed my body and spirit actually began yearning for another yoga retreat the way your left foot yearns for a massage when your right foot is being rubbed – and that’s how I came to find The Travel Yogi, a website that specialises in helping busy people find the perfect yoga vacation around the world, and as luck would have it they had a 6 day trip to Mexico at the perfect time for me.

Now that I have been on two separate yoga retreats and got so much out of them both I know I’ll never go back to thinking about time off in the same way again.

I remember when I used to try and squeeze every last drop of action out of my days off, and if you’re obsessed with seeing the world too I know that’s hard not to do, but try slowing down, not speeding up and looking inward as well as outward, it’s probably one of the best gifts you can give yourself when planning your travels next year.

Even if it’s just to a local spot to spend some time amongst nature …

Lesson 7: Travel Can Be Just As Amazing When It’s On Your Doorstep

Classroom: The Cowichan Valley

Lake Cowichan

The best things in life – and travel – really are free

Why My 2015 Travel Memory = Your 2016 Travel Mantra

It’s memories plural really for this one – since moving to such a blooming’ huge country I tend to explore the area around me as much as possible – and in a place that’s as famous for nature as BC that usually means lakes, forests, camping and the great outdoors, much to the amusement of many of my friends in the city.

This one is Lake Cowichan, where I found a cabin so lovely, and so at one with nature, that I am not even going to blog about it. It’s that much of a precious secret.

It is so easy to be seduced by the lure of exotic destinations but remember to actually make time for the little gems close to home  – when you only have to drive for an hour or two to get somewhere the relaxation is so much sweeter.

As I discovered when I wanted to visit somewhere Alpine..

Lesson 8: Can’t Be With The One You Love? Love The One You’re With

Classroom: Leavenworth, Washington

Leavenworth

Leavenworth. Nicht Germany.

Why My 2015 Travel Memory = Your 2016 Travel Mantra

I was so busy exploring the USA, Canada and Central America in the last year that I didn’t have time to get back to Europe at all, but I still wanted a Continental Christmas vibe, some good pretzels and pastries, and a beer and a bratwurst, along with the feeling of being up in the Alps.

So being a girl who is used to getting what she wants I cast my eye around and didn’t give up until I found Leavenworth, an über-German style town in Washington State’s Wenatchee Valley that’s channeling Bavaria in a big way.

Once I looked into it I discovered there were quite a few European inspired towns in North America, I have popped into one, Fredericksburg, Texas for a German breakfast during my last USA Road trip and have been eyeing up another, Kimberley BC.

A good reminder that in this small world in which we live, one can almost always find a taste of home should we need it, we just have to look hard enough.

Talking of where to look, my top tip for travel is to always, always, wherever you go, seek out the best viewpoint…

Lesson 9: Seek The View From The Top

Classroom: Calgary Tower

Calgary Tower

The view from Calgary Tower

Why My 2015 Travel Memory = Your 2016 Travel Mantra

Another day another road trip, as I joined a friend and headed off to spend a whirlwind 24 hours in Calgary, Alberta. The best thing to do in any new location is, for me, find the highest point and get up to it. I’m a bit of a viewpoint obsessive; once you’ve seen a new city from above it makes navigating back on the ground so much easier.

The Calgary Tower was actually one of the best of its kind – the audio tour is genuinely interesting and the transparent floor panel that leaves you feeling suspended in mid-air is a lot of fun.

There are viewpoints everywhere – and they don’t have to be the biggest, most expensive all-singing, all-dancing towers either. Many cities have tall buildings which offer view free viewpoints or offer views from floors not quite as high as the most famous, but for a small fraction of the cost.

In Kuala Lumpur you can swap the Petronas Towers for the Menara Tower for example. It’s always worth a quick Google search when you travel to find out where to go to look down on everyone and everything else, just for an hour or so.

Or you can splurge and …

Lesson 10: Drag And Drop Your Screensaver Into Your Reality

Classroom: Banyan Tree Mayakoba

Travel lessons

Coffee by your private villa’s pool? Perfect.

Why My 2015 Travel Memory = Your 2016 Travel Mantra

There are times when we need a hotel to provide a bed to sleep in and that’s about it. Then we’re on our way to the next place, the next task, the next meeting or the next airport.

And there are times when we want a hotel to provide not just a bed, not just a room, but a whole other magical world. The world of white sand and azure sea we’ve been drooling over in brochures all our lives.

We want this world to open up its exclusive doors and swallow us whole – along with a choice loved one – to wipe the endless meetings and airports and tasks from our line of sight, and replace them with endless acres of manicured lawns, beach chairs and pampering.

I love amazing travel experiences in any format – from backpacking to B&B’s via boutique hotels I’ll try it all once, but there’s nothing like true luxury – and I was treated to just that at the Banyan Tree Mayakoba an ultra exclusive resort on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

As a travel professional I was wowed by just how right they’ve got it (though in the safe hands of Banyan Tree that comes as no surprise) – and it was a salient reminder that as a travel consumer it’s worth treating yourself at least once to the kind of experience where it feels like the ultimate holiday brochure has come alive. Only you’re in it, sipping a margarita and living in a world where your every whim is not only catered to but anticipated and you are not ‘travelling’, but you’re on – and here the American word really feels right – Vacation. Ahhhhh….

And that concludes my travel lessons from 2015.

 


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  • Nice photos!

    • Jaillan Yehia

      Thanks – most of these are also on instagram! @savoirthere if you’d like to follow along 🙂

  • Miranda P

    These are all super poignant – especially #10, 8 & 2. I had a similar experience to yours at the Banyan Tree Mayakoba during my stay at Azuridge last year and want to try to aim to be COMPLETELY pampered at least 1x per year… #Lifegoals

    • Jaillan Yehia

      Wow Azuridge looks spectacular! Yes it’s funny how much we travellers forget to take an actual lie on a beach, get a massage, don’t leave your hotel grounds, vacation – being pampered is absolutely necessary at least once a year I totally agree!

  • Leigh

    I’m glad to hear of a good experience with Travel Yogi – I’ve had my eye on their website for a while now, and hoping I can join one of their 2016 trips!

    • Jaillan Yehia

      Yay! I’m glad to hear that you found this post and that you are planning on trying one of their yoga retreats 🙂 I honestly loved being on retreat – now I just need to work on putting everything I learned into practice everyday, that’s the hard part!

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