Welcome, 2018! I’m so excited to see you.

Really. I mean it.

As I’ve reflected on 2017, it seems that it was a year of change, heartbreak, love, disappointment, discomfort, laughter, and new beginnings. It’s been awhile since I’ve been this excited to usher in a new year, and it’s already off to a solid start. But, for me, with the beginning of a new year comes reflection on the past one: what was good, what was bad, what would I have changed, if at all possible, and what did I learn.

All in all, I spent about seven months traveling nationally and internationally in 2017, and as I move forward into 2018, I’m reflecting on what I loved and didn’t enjoy so much by sharing my top travel experiences of 2017. Some of these I’ve written about before, while others I kept to myself as I struggled through re-centering, finding my place, and readjusting to post-backpacker life while simultaneously starting my own business.

Needing a little inspiration as you start thinking about your travel adventures for 2018? Take a look, read about my experiences, and find a place that speaks to you!

San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

San Jose del Cabo, Mexico | A Wandering Foreigner

After nearly five months solo on the road, living out of a backpack, moving from hostel to hostel, meeting new people and then saying goodbye a few days later, I ended my latest solo backpacking trip in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico with two of my closest childhood best friends. One lives down there with her husband and baby boy, who was three-months-old at the time, and the other flew from Oakland to meet us. I’d visited Cabo before, a few times, for vacations and weddings, but this time was very different.

To be in one place, in a home, with people that are like family to me was something I didn’t realize I’d missed until I had it back in my life. A week on the beach with my two girlfriends, surrounded by beauty, love, laughter, incredible sunrises, and my self-claimed nephew was the perfect ending before going back to the “reality” of the US.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico| A Wandering Foreigner

Sunrises in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico | A Wandering Foreigner

Sunrises in Cabo, Mexico are unreal!

Oh, and did I mention this is where we spent the week? Not too shabby…

Your dream house in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico | A Wandering Foreigner

Gorgeous sunsets and views in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico | A Wandering Foreigner

Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua is the first place I visited in Guatemala, and I immediately fell in love when I arrived. The old Spanish architecture, cobblestone streets, stunning volcano backdrop, close-knit expat community, and buzzing energy makes Antigua hard not love. While Guatemala itself didn’t turn out to be the experience I’d expected (ummmm can we talk about letting go of expectations, 2017?), Antigua surprised and delighted me with its charm, friendliness, and beauty.

Antigua, Guatemala | A Wandering Foreigner

The Top Travel Experiences of 2017| Antigua, Guatemala | A Wandering Foreigner

Antigua, Guatemala | A Wandering Foreigner

Mazunte, Mexico

Mazunte, Mexico was one of three short-lived beach experiences in 2017, so needless to say I was delighted to find this quiet little hippie oasis. Located about an hour bus ride south of Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca State on the Pacific side of Mexico, Maxunte it’s also a Pueblo Magico (big fan of magic over here), and you can feel it in the air the moment you arrive.

A massive storm had rolled through just days before I arrived and I was nervous the beaches wouldn’t be picture-perfect by the time I got there. Lucky for me, the weather was lovely, and the beaches were clean enough for a girl to work on her tan. Plus, I was some incredible sunsets. A community full of yoga, healthy, local food, small-town charm, and friendly locals makes Mazunte a must-visit.

Mazunte, Mexico | A Wandering Foreigner

The Top Travel Experiences for 2017| Mazunte, Mexico | A Wandering Foreigner

The Top Travel Experiences for 2017| Mazunte, Mexico | A Wandering Foreigner

Oaxaca City, Mexico

Oaxaca and Oaxaca City have been on my list of places to visit for years now. After visiting for nearly a week, I now understand why people rave about it. While it is a city, there’s a small town charm to it that reminded me a lot of San Cristobal de las Casas. Walking in and out of quaint little shops along the bright and colorful streets lined with Spanish architecture, busy marketplaces, incredible views, all while eating some of the best food in Mexico made for a beautiful week. Oh, and did I mention it’s cheap?

Don’t forget to taste the mezcal, eat some mole, and visit the Hierve el Agua while you’re there.

The Top Travel Experiences for 2017| Oaxaca City, Mexico | A Wandering Foreigner

Oaxaca City, Mexico | A Wandering Foreigner

Oaxaca City, Mexico | A Wandering Foreigner

Mexico City, Mexico

Yet another place I’ve wanted to visit for years, Mexico’s capital is a sprawling mix of skyscrapers, museums, cafes, giant parks, street vendors, art, food, culture, and music. Not only that, there are a ton of great day trips to smaller towns outside of the city if you need a change of pace or scenery. My five days spent in Mexico City were jam-packed from beginning to end, and I still have a list of places to go and things to do the next time I visit.

For those traveling on a budget, be sure to stay here. And for art-lovers and museum fans, don’t you dare miss the Frida Kahlo museum (buy your tickets in advance to save time waiting in line), the infamous Palacio Nacional, and massively awesome National Museum of Anthropology (give yourself at least half a day for this one).

The Top Travel Experiences for 2017| Mexico City, Mexico | A Wandering Foreigner

Mexico City, Mexico | A Wandering Foreigner

Mexico City, Mexico | A Wandering Foreigner

Mexico City, Mexico | A Wandering Foreigner

The Top Travel Experiences for 2017| Mexico City, Mexico | A Wandering Foreigner

San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico

Talk about surprise and delight, San Cristobal de las Casas in Chapas, Mexico wasn’t even on my radar until other backpackers just couldn’t stop talking about it. With limited time (and money) available, I made an itinerary change while in Guatemala and chose to make my way towards this Pueblo Magico.

To this day, San Cristobal is one of my favorite places in Mexico. It’s not what you expect when you think of Mexico; there are no beaches, no resorts, and very few margaritas. The weather tends to be a bit cooler since you’re up in the mountains, but with its old colonial buildings, delicious and crazy cheap food, friendly expat and healing community, and rowdy night scene (if that’s your thing), San Cristobal turned out to be an incredible ten days.

Check out my travel guide to San Cristobal, here, with recommendations on what to see, do, and where to stay. And don’t forget about my favorite places to eat!

The Top Travel Experiences for 2017| San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico | A Wandering Foreigner

San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico | A Wandering Foreigner

San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico | A Wandering Foreigner

Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua

This post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning one of my favorite places in the world, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua. But it’s not just the volcano-painted background, friendly locals and expats, calming energy or healing workshops that made this my top travel experience of the year. What struck me, and will stay with me forever, was my two months at InanItah, an eco-community tucked away on the side of one of the volcanoes.

I often find myself thinking back to the experiences and conversations I had at this special community, remembering how connected and grounded I felt, how grateful and thankful I was for each day, and how much love I felt for the beauty and people around me. Those two months taught me more about myself and listening to what I need more than any experience I’ve ever had – even my yoga teacher training. I now firmly believe that the world would be a much softer, gentler, more compassionate place if more people opened themselves up to similar experiences of community living.

Looking for a travel guide to Ometepe? I wrote one just for you!

The Top Travel Experiences for 2017| Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua | A Wandering Foreigner

What It's Like to Live in an Eco-Village in Nicaragua | A Wandering Foreigner

InanItah, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua | A Wandering Foreigner

The Top Travel Experiences for 2017| Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua | A Wandering Foreigner

The Top Travel Experiences for 2017| Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua | A Wandering Foreigner

As you reflect on 2017 and move forward into this new year, what were your favorite experiences? Leave a comment and let me know!

Like this post? Share it here! I’ll sure love you for it. 🙂

Needing some travel inspiration? Check out this massive list of top travel experiences in 2017 full of ideas and insight on where you should consider planning your next trip! | A Wandering Foreigner

 

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26 Comments

  1. Abby's Atlas

    January 24, 2018 at 8:12 am

    Your pictures are beautiful!! I have to had this to my list 🙂

    1. Casey Colesworthy

      January 24, 2018 at 10:55 am

      Central America is a special place! A definite must-visit at some point. Thanks for reading!

  2. Addie

    January 24, 2018 at 8:21 am

    Well these places all look pretty amazing from your pictures. I’ve been wanting to explore Mexico, but I don’t want to go to a resort, I want the authentic experience. However, I’m a little worried about safety. Did you have any issues on your trips? Do you have any tips that would make me feel more comfortable to make the trip?

    1. Casey Colesworthy

      January 24, 2018 at 11:01 am

      Hi Addie, Mexico is amazing! I traveled solo throughout the country for six weeks and never felt unsafe once. My biggest piece of advice for any solo trip is to simply be smart and go with your gut. Terrible things can happen no matter where you are, so just being aware of your surroundings is huge for safety. I usually take night buses for long-distance travel, but if that makes you uncomfortable, travel during the day. I also always like to do some research on where I’m going before I get there so that when I arrive I have some sense of where I am. Using an offline map (my favorite is the app Maps.me) is super helpful to give you a better idea of where you are in relation to everything around you. Hope that helps and thanks for reading!

  3. Diana

    January 24, 2018 at 8:54 am

    Looks like you had an amazing year travelling

    1. Casey Colesworthy

      January 24, 2018 at 11:01 am

      Thanks, Diana! It certainly was a great year of exploring. 🙂

  4. footprints around the world

    January 24, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    Looks like you had an awsome year! Mexico, Guatemala and Nicaragua, amazing places! I’ll look into your Ometepe story, it’s a magical island and I really liked my stay there too! I was there only for 5 days you were there for 2 months? Lucky you!

    1. Casey Colesworthy

      January 24, 2018 at 2:27 pm

      I was living in an eco-community and teaching yoga on Ometepe; I completely fell in love with the island. It really is a magical place! Thanks for reading! 🙂

  5. Stefanie K.

    January 24, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    Loving the photos! Thanks for sharing – travelled through you. Never been to the South America and hope to go one day!

    1. Casey Colesworthy

      January 30, 2018 at 8:45 am

      Central America is pretty incredible, Stefanie. I recommend anyone to visit, even if it’s a quick trip! Thanks for reading!

  6. Brittany

    January 24, 2018 at 4:47 pm

    I’ve heard amazing things about Mazunte! I’m planning a long-term, Latin America backpacking trip beginning next year and I’m hoping to check out Mexico! Can’t wait!

    1. Casey Colesworthy

      January 30, 2018 at 8:47 am

      Yes! This is awesome, Brittany. Mazunte is pretty magical and long-term backpacking is the way to go through Latin America if you can make it work. I’ve been to a lot of different Latin countries during my travels so be sure to check out some of my posts with recommendations and tips. Thanks for reading!

  7. Ruth

    January 24, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    I freaked out when I saw your first picture because I know it was taken at Hierve El Agua. We went several year ago as a day trip from Oaxaca City. What a place! You visited a lot of cool places last year. This year I would love to explore more of Mexico. I have been to several states but I feel like I want to see more. Lets see how it goes!

    1. Casey Colesworthy

      January 30, 2018 at 8:49 am

      The Hierve el Agua is soooo cool! Love that you’ve been there. Mexico is awesome and there’s so much to do and see. It will take many trips and lots of tacos for me to see and do everything on my list. Thanks for reading!

  8. Diana

    January 24, 2018 at 6:44 pm

    Looks like you had an amazing year travelling. I have always wanted to visit Mexico City but was hesitant as wasn’t sure about the safety. My girlfriends just visited and loved it and felt extremely safe. The architecture is so gorgeous.

    1. Casey Colesworthy

      January 30, 2018 at 8:50 am

      It was an amazing year of travel and I feel lucky to have done it. Mexico City is incredible and I felt extremely safe the entire time, highly recommended to anyone and everyone! Thanks for reading, Diana.

  9. Agness of a Tuk Tuk

    January 25, 2018 at 4:40 am

    You obviously had an awesome year travelling, Casey! You pictures have left me speechless. I hope that 2018 will be even better for you. Looking forward to reading more about your travel adventures. 😉

    1. Casey Colesworthy

      January 30, 2018 at 8:51 am

      Thank you, Agness! It was an awesome year, I feel lucky to have had it. Can’t wait to see what unfolds this year! 🙂

  10. authenticfoodquest

    January 25, 2018 at 4:48 am

    Fun experiences and nothing better than connecting with friends in different parts of the world. Love your pictures, especially the beach shots…perfect for now in in the winter! Wishing you safe travels in 2018!

    1. Casey Colesworthy

      January 30, 2018 at 8:52 am

      Thank you! Yes, a little beach time would be nice right about now considering I’m currently held up in a (beautiful) snowy, mountain town. Wishing you safe travels as well this year!

  11. valerie

    January 25, 2018 at 8:01 am

    What at an amazing journey you’ve had the past year, I love Mexico! I havent explored much of it, just Puerto Vallarta and Tijuana. I am 52 and have never been on an extended trip..or abroad > I hope to get more independent this year and take off on some solo trips…a little scared though :/

    Valerie

    1. Casey Colesworthy

      January 30, 2018 at 8:54 am

      Thanks for reading, Valerie! I’ve never made it to Puerto Vallarta but I’ve heard it’s great. Solo travel can seem intense and scary before you embark, but the second you make the leap it’s amazing what unfolds. You question what you were so scared about in the first place. Safe travels to you this year!

  12. Jessica Ufuoma Okumagba

    January 25, 2018 at 10:04 am

    You had such amazing travel experiences in 2017. Excited to see what 2018 holds for you. I hope its one that you enjoy and feel blessed by.

    PS: Your photos looks stunning!

    1. Casey Colesworthy

      January 30, 2018 at 8:56 am

      Thanks, Jessica! Yes, it was an incredible year of travel and I feel extremely lucky and blessed to have seen and done the things I did in 2017. We’ll see what 2018 has in store for me. 🙂 Thanks for reading 🙂

  13. Jennifer Jane

    January 26, 2018 at 8:50 am

    Traveling with your bestfriends is the best! Although I’ve been to Mexico many times, I haven’t been to Cabo, Mexico City and Oaxaca. I would love to venture outside the resorts side and experience the real Mexico. Your photos look look great!

    1. Casey Colesworthy

      January 30, 2018 at 8:58 am

      Traveling with friends really is the best. It was a special week for us. Mexico has so much to offer outside of the resorts and every place I visited I basically fell in love with and never wanted to leave! Plus, the food – OMG! Thanks for reading, Jennifer. Safe travels on your 2018 adventures!

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