2018 reflections: my top 3 travel moments

As I reflect back on 2018, I feel grateful for all of the amazing places I was able to visit and the memories I made. While it’s difficult to pinpoint my favorite vacation of the year, I can narrow down my top three travel moments of 2018. I hope you enjoy reading about them. Maybe they will serve as inspiration for your own future travels!

My top travel moment of 2018
Trekking through the pitch-black Maya Forest in Peten, Guatemala, my husband and I used our trusty cell phone lights to avoid stepping on tarantulas and tripping on tree roots. Our pace quick and breath heavy, we were determined to make it to the top of Temple IV in Tikal National Park for sunrise.

Aside from the uniqueness factor (how often do you get to be nearly alone in a UNESCO World Heritage-rated Mayan ruin in the middle of the night?), this tops my list as favorite 2018 travel experience because from the top of the temple, we experienced the awakening of a jungle at dawn.

It was too foggy for a picture-perfect sunrise, but it didn’t matter. Howler monkeys screeched, birds chirped, the wind blew and leaves rustled. It was equal parts eerie and peaceful — and a little scary if you’ve never heard a howler monkey before.

Guatemala was enlightening and invigorating — I highly recommend you consider visiting in 2019. Read my posts about Guatemala here.

Tikal Temple Sunrise Tour

Top of Temple IV just after sunrise. That’s Temple of the Jaguar in the background.

First runner up
While riding bicycles through the rolling hills of San Juan Island, Washington, my husband exclaimed, “I heard a whale!” I couldn’t really hear him because the wind was howling, but he pointed, crossed the road and I followed.

We threw our bikes down and anxiously looked out to the ocean, holding our breath. Suddenly, the trademark black pointed fin of an orca appeared from the waves. Moments later, a tail slapped the water. We gasped. Right in front of us were 2-3 pods of killer whales, including a baby! We followed them from the side of the road as they swam, breached, and treated us to our own National Geographic experience.

San Juan Island is known for its prime orca watching, but it also offers a lot of other activities. Learn more about my time on San Juan Island, and why you should visit.

San Juan Island whale watching

There’s no time to take off your bike helmet when you’re looking for whales!

Second runner up
Getting up at 4:20 a.m. isn’t everyone’s bag, but if it means no wait times and an open trail free of tourists, I’m game. Thanks to the early wake up, hiking Observation Point at Zion National Park was a seamless experience: my husband and I parked on-site, hopped on the shuttle and started scaling the trail at 6:30 a.m.

After a 4-mile climb, we reached the peak, where it was noticeably quiet. Just a dozen or so others also made the early trek, and were taking in the sights, sounds and feels. This was my longest and most challenging hike to date, and one I was initially nervous about, so I felt a lot of pride when I completed it.

If you’re planning a trip to Zion, be sure to check out my top tips about what to expect!

Observation Point at Zion National Park

Taking in the views from the peak.

2018 was a fantastic travel year and I can’t wait to see what 2019 brings, though I already have a couple vacations I’m thinking about.

I’ll be finishing up this year in Nashville, so look for a couple posts about that trip soon!

I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

  1. What is one of your top travel moments of 2018?
  2. What are your suggestions for where I should visit in 2019?

Pin this post to reference when you’re vacation planning!

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About Stephanie @ Seeking Stephanie Travel Blog

Travel gives me an extra skip in my step to push through the workweek. Exploring new places through outdoor spaces, food, animals and music are just a few of my favorite things.