As we look back at 2017, there were some not so pleasant moments (read Worst Travel Experiences of 2017), but for the most part, we had pleasantly memorable travel experiences. From visiting a childhood friend in Brazil to spending 2 weeks in Greece to taking several long road trips, 2017 was a travel year for the books!
Best Travel Experiences of 2017
We’ve broken our favorites into 3 categories. Even after doing that, we had a hard time narrowing down our top picks. But hey! I’d say that’s a good problem to have!
Best Food Experiences of 2017
Carmen- When it comes to food, the Greeks have it down pat! With the cultural influences from Spain, Rome, and Turkey, the result is a foodie’s delight! Everyday we spent in Greece was one fantastic food experience after another. One day in particular that stood out was the day in Mykonos that we rented an ATV and explored some of the less popular beaches. When we were ready for some lunch, we spotted a cafe that overlooked the sea. We pretty much just went from swimming in the sea, throwing on a cover-up, and sitting down to eat. And eat we did! We started with a Greek salad, had these flavor-popping tomato balls, then ended with some of the freshest shrimp that has ever graced my tastebuds. I go into more detail in my article entitled What to Eat & Drink in Greece.
Joe- Luckily, when we were in Brazil this Spring, I hadn’t developed my current allergy to red meat yet, and that’s why I now cherish the following top food experience of 2017 in an even higher, bittersweet esteem. On our last day in Rio, we were treated to a smorgasbord of protein at this picturesque, local restaurant called Churrascaria Rodizio. Throughout the meal, our waiters tempted us with large, long skewers of delicious meats, lamb, pork, chicken, and beef. Not only was there MEAT, there were assorted salad offerings, olives, cheeses, rice and potatoes, and sides. If you have been to a Brazilian steakhouse, it was that, but only better, because it was the real thing! Read What to Eat & Drink in Rio de Janeiro for more information on Brazilian steakhouses plus more!
Best Outdoor Experiences of 2017
Carmen- Some people love the outdoors because they’re athletic or an adrenaline junkie. I’m far from either of those. Very, very far away! I’m an outdoor lover because I love the beauty of nature. I like SITTING while enjoying said nature!! Add some good food and drink to the sitting, and you’ve given me a perfect afternoon.
On one of our last days in Rio, my local Brazilian friend, Aline, wanted to show me some of the quieter beaches. Without a time crunch or schedule, we spent the whole day driving down the coastline, stopping at every beach that looked inviting. There wasn’t much swimming involved in our day, just sitting under umbrellas, watching the surfers, and drinking fresh, fruity drinks. I actually wished for time to slow down. Not only was it a gorgeous day spent on Rio beaches, but I was there with my friend, who I hadn’t seen in decades. Take away our time together, the beach may have been just as pretty, but the experiences wouldn’t have been near as memorable.
Read Everything About Rio’s Beaches to see what makes the outdoors in Rio so spectacular!
Joe- Two years ago, we stopped in Santorini on a Mediterrean Greek Island cruise for a short 6 hour expedition. Let me tell you, 6 hours is not nearly enough time to get a sense of any island, let alone the beautiful jewel of Santorini!
Because of this, we made sure to take another trip to Greece in 2017. And this time around, we were determined to “do Greece” the right way!
Now despite what Carmen may have stated about not being outdoorsy, she powered through a 3 hour long, 6 mile hike in the Greek heat on our adventure to the edge of the caldera (crater) that makes up the remains of the Greek island of Santorini.
Starting at the city of Fira in the early morning, we began to hike along a guided path. Determined not to rush ourselves this time, we took our time to fully experience the small, scenic villages along the way. We made our way beside little churches and took in views of the sea along a rugged landscape. The path was easy at first, consisting of concrete sidewalks then gravel road. Towards the end, we were challenged when the path changed to loose stone, soil and then finally, sand. Despite the varying conditions, we remained in awe of the surrounding view of the sea. Once we arrived in Oia, we rewarded ourselves with a sit down lunch at a restaurant perched along the cliff overlooking the sea. Perfection! You’ll want to see all of the breathtaking views yourself in the post Santorini- Fira to Oia Hike.
Best Tourist Destination Experiences of 2017
Carmen- My favorite “tourist” experience this year was visiting Nashville, Tennessee. We only live a couple of hours from Nashville and go there frequently. However, before this summer, we’d never really “toured” Nashville. My daughter, Rachel, was determined to change that. For 4 straight days, the 2 of us saw as many Nashville sites as our feet could handle. What a cool city! If you want a fun-filled girls trip, Nashville is a perfect destination! There’s no need for you to even plan it out because we did all the hard work for you in: How to Spend 4 Days in Nashville.
Joe- My top tourist destination for 2017 was returning to my boyhood home in great, Pacific Northwest USA. Growing up near Seattle, all of the city’s famous tourist attractions were right in my own backyard; however, I never had the opportunity – let alone the money – to experience them. Luckily, Carmen and I have been able to go to Washington State several times since we have been married. But this year was especially memorable because we completed 2 Pacific Northwest road trips. See all of the road trip details by reading San Juan Road Trip and Cascade Mountain Road Trip.
We also hosted a Filipino family celebration and said goodbye to my boyhood home. It would be sold a month later (August 2017). It was a bittersweet experience that I will never forget.
Most Loved Posts of 2017
These posts have been voted “most popular” “most handsome” and “most likely to succeed”. Their peers are jealous of their success and have every right to be!! Read to see why!
#5- Want to see How We Eliminated $35,000 in Debt in 1 Year So We Could Travel the World?
Really, could a post have a longer title? This post is our 5th most popular, but has the most comments of any post to date. There’s no secret formula to eliminating debt. No get rich quick schemes. Read to see how with a combination of working our tails off and sacrifice, we can now travel pretty much wherever we want (well, almost!).
#4- How appropriate that our number 4 is How to Spend 4 Days in Nashville.
Nashville is pretty close to our home in Memphis, so we go there quite often. For this extended trip, we played the part of tourist and learned that we should “tour” our neighboring cities more often!
#3- A snowstorm cancelled our plans so we improvised a quick 3 Days in Atlanta!
We had planned a weekend in St. Louis, but an ice storm in Missouri closed the interstate. We could have stayed home, but decided to head east instead. It was one of those perfect weather weekends that worked out spendidly. It goes to show you that sometimes no plan is the best plan!
#2- Have you taken any of these 9 Epic USA Road Trips?
Apparently, a lot of our readers like road trips. In this post, we asked other travel bloggers for their favorite USA road trips. We appreciate all the input we can get from our fellow travel blogger friends!
#1- She’s the road trip that is getting all of the love. We agree that the Olympic National Park Road Trip is an amazing way to see Washington State!
And it’s the underdog for the win!! We didn’t think this post would be that popular, but it has had 4 Xs as many views as the next popular post. It is a road trip for true nature lovers. In just 3 days you can drive along a mountain ridge, through a rainforest, and along the rugged Pacific Ocean shoreline.
Well, there you have it–our best travel experiences of 2017! Please continue to follow our adventures because we have even more planned for the upcoming, new year. For 2018, so far we have planned a Tennessee road trip and a trip to northern Italy. Hopefully we can go camping lots, too!
Did you have any good travel experiences this year? Let us know by commenting below!
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~ Carmen & Joe
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ShonaDecember 29, 2017 3:36 am
I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts this year. The road trips have given me some great ideas for 2018 and your Greece and Brasil trips looked fabulous! I’m looking forward to reading more next year. Have a very happy new year. All the best!!
Rob+Ann @TravelLatte(.net)December 30, 2017 7:12 pm
A Brazilian Churrascaria in Brazil – that is epic! But I’d have to side with Carmen, as Greek food is sort of our kryptonite. (That’s a lie. Food in general is our kryptonite!) Great list guys! Happy New Year!