Travel Inspirations & Highlights: 2012 in Travel

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We’ve had a very exciting year! I’ve traveled to some pretty fun places, sometimes on my own, sometimes with my crew in tow – but always with excitement in my heart for the next adventure.

This New York City Mama grew and Girl Gone Travel was born to celebrate travel beyond the NYC borders and to further embrace my free spirit and love for travel everywhere.

From happy celebrations, to great family visits from different parts of the country, to moments of sorrow and mourning, we have experienced them all this year. Personally, I feel affected and changed, an overwhelming sense of peace surrounds me and I am grateful for the joy my family and friends bring. We are ready to embrace all that 2013 has to offer and are preparing to take on new adventures. I truly hope you will join us on this fun ride!

In the meantime, though I went to some pretty great places this year all of which were fun to experience, here are some of the highlights of 2012.

My biggest surprise in travel this year was my visit to Ohio. Put-in-Bay was pretty great, and even still when I mention Ohio’s Lake Erie Shores and Islands as one of the funnest destinations I’ve visited this year, people react with surprise. But I think it really serves to remind people that a trip worth taking doesn’t have to be far away.

Montreal also impressed me because it went against the stereotype of being cold or arrogant. On the contrary, I found Montreal to be not only beautiful, but friendly and welcoming. I was also able to relate to the pride of it residents, as it is similar to the pride most New Yorkers hold for their own city, though I have to admit that I kinda liked their bagels a little bit more – sorry NYC!

One of the largest beers ever was had in Montreal!

People from the islands of Hawai’i say that each person has their island. I am not sure if Maui is mine, since it is the only island I have visited thus far, but it certainly makes the list of great places to see before you die.

A trip to Parma, Italy not only fulfilled a dream of mine – to cook alongside Academia Barilla chefs, but also reconnected me with a sister I hadn’t seen since she was a month old. She is now in her 20s and engaged to be married. Italy remains as one of my favorite places in the world, for its people, its food, its beauty, and of course, for being the home to someone I hold so dear to my heart.

I had the opportunity to live out the dream of cooking with Academia Barilla chefs!

Reconnecting with my baby sister, Ysabel and her fiance!

Most people are probably sick of me going on and on about Scotland. It rained almost the entire time I was there. I ate more haggis than I ever thought I would in this lifetime and drank more Whisky than I probably should’ve in one week. But Scotland stole my heart, completely. When asked why, I can’t really put into clear words the reasons. Something about the Scottish was so genuine and warm, no matter the cold weather outside, that it has stayed with me and has left me with a longing to return. I felt a close affinity to the environment, even though my own ancestral roots are Caribbean. I often laughed so much on this trip that my ribs hurt and tears came out of my eyes. I made friends that I will cherish my entire life. It was pretty magical. I can’t wait to return.

The friends I made in Scotland really complimented my experience.

Scotland was magical for me.

I often laughed so hard my ribs hurt.

Costa Rica was the trip that really defined us as a traveling family. My children did things I never thought they would ever have the courage to. We saw things we would never see anywhere else, and loved it. From taking in sunsets while laying in hammocks, to hiking the rainforest in search of waterfalls, to going on night tours in search of snakes and poisonous frogs, my kids eagerly joined us in all of it. It was this trip that made me realize that there is nothing they can’t take on and no place in the world that I wouldn’t take them.

We spent most of our time in Costa Rica in search of waterfalls…and finding them.

Costa Rica showed me there is nothing my children won’t try, at least once.

I enjoyed the Finger Lakes (Upstate NY) so much that I couldn’t wait to return. Both times were great visits, and with it being only a few hours away, it remains on my list of must-do road trips for 2013.

Vail, CO in the summer time is a must. I quickly became addicted to my morning hikes there because of their meditative affects on the soul. And the food…oh man, the food.

If you like CO in the winter, you will love it in the Summer.

These are some of the highlights, but that’s not to say that other trips haven’t been memorable for me. We found that no matter what the destination, what often made the trip most memorable were the people we met along the way. We went to Orlando a total of three times this year, a stay at the Ritz Carlton Orlando was a family favorite. We returned to Hershey Park and saw it in a totally different way. I returned to the Dominican Republic to tour Puerto Plata, a place I frequented as a teen living there, and so much more.  It was the year of California visits! I got to learn everything about wine and hang out at some posh vineyards in Napa (You can too! Read more about how here). I got to visit San Francisco for the first time and could immediately see why so many people leave their heart there – such a great city!  I also ventured into Santa Barbara where not only did my baby brother get married to one of my favorite people, but I also got to tour some gorgeous sights.

Shameless touristy shot in San Francisco

So many adventures, both near and far, that helped to further inspire us to live out our dreams even more – something we hope to pass along. And that remains our holiday wish: that you live your life to the fullest and make at least one travel dream come true this coming year.

Thank you for following me and my family through our ups and downs, through the changes and all our adventures, and for reading my stories. You help us make this site all it has become. THANK YOU!

Happy Holidays and many healthy, happy wishes for the coming New Year!



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Carol Cain

Carol is her happiest when on an adventure, either close to home or farther away. She's the mom to three fun boys and wife to a handsome Irish/Scot. She lives in New Jersey with her happy crew, but will always be a girl from Brooklyn. You can read her full profile here.

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6 Responses to Travel Inspirations & Highlights: 2012 in Travel

  1. I really wanted to visit Scotland since the day I met my brother-in-law.

    He told me that He and my sister had a fantastic honeymoon there.

    It was really pretty and the weather was really lovely.

    He shared stories to me about their visit there.

  2. Carol Cain says:

    @Belinda@Spa Esthetician: I hope you get to visit soon!!

  3. Amy says:

    Your photos from Scotland are fantastic. Looks like 2012 was a great year for you!

  4. Carol Cain says:

    @Amy: Thank you Amy!

  5. Katy says:

    Love these pictures Carol – congratulations on a fabulous year! Hope 2013 is even better!

  6. Carol Cain says:

    @Katy: Thank you Katy! Happy Travel wishes to you as well!

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