Best Travel Experiences of 2018

2018 brought us a host of new and exciting adventures both at home and abroad!  We had one daughter finish her bachelor’s degree and another daughter finish graduate school.  Say hello to “adult” jobs!  We were able to spend 2 weeks in Italy, along with traveling to Nevada, Texas, Arkansas, and Florida.  Our little camper trailer got workout, too!  There were some bumps (see Worst Travel Experiences of 2018), but for the most part, 2018 was a fabulous year for Pack Your Baguios!

Best Travel Experiences of 2018

Best Food Experiences of 2018

Carmen- You can’t go to Italy and not fall in love with the food.  This summer we spent 2 weeks touring northern Italy with my brother and sister-in-law (see 5 Days in Northern Italy: Lombardy Region and 4 Days in Northeast Italy: Veneto Region).  My best meal of the year came on the last night in Milan.  It had been a perfect day of visiting sites and ideal weather.  We were going to go to bed early that night due to a 6am train departure the following morning, so for dinner, we decided to try and find a little cafe close to hotel.  Not a block away was a little bar with an old gentleman beckoning us to have a seat.  I took a chance and ordered the seafood pizza.  The seafood was so fresh and the crust was so chewy that I finished the entire pizza all by myself!  The next day even my stretchy pants were tight, but it was soooo worth it!

How to Spend 2 Days in Milan, Italy

Yes, I ate the whole thing all by myself!


Joe-  2018 was my first full year of being allergic to red meat (see how that allergy occurred by reading Worst Travel Experiences of 2017).  Let me tell you, as a beef and pork lover, this type of allergy really sucks (especially when traveling)!  During our trip to Italy, my menu options were basically halved.  There’s only so much cheese pizza the taste buds can handle!  However, I found the Italian desserts to be a delight.  My favorite dessert was a specialty of  Bergamo, Italy called polenta e osei.  The cakes are surprisingly made out of corn meal.  When you take a bite, you discover the outside is a sweet, crystalized sugar, and the inside is filled with cream!  Delicious!!!!

How to Spend 1 Day in Bergamo, Italy

The best food of 2018!


Best Outdoor Experiences of 2018

Carmen- I had no problem at all picking this one.  If you’ve been following us for a while now you know I really enjoy my camera and the outdoors.  Our spring Tennessee Waterfalls Road Trip combined both of these loves!  We’ve crisscrossed our home state more times than we can count, but this was the first time that we made a point of stopping to hike waterfalls along the way.  We were able to hit 6 waterfalls in just 1 day.  Mind you, it was a very long day, but we did it and didn’t suffer from exhaustion, and I got some great pics!

Best Travel Experiences of 2018

Part of our Tennessee Waterfalls Road Trip


Joe-  I may be just a little crazy for selecting a cold January mountain bike ride in the middle of nowhere as the BEST outdoors experience of 2018, but being on my bike in any weather makes for a happy Joe!  The Buffalo Headwaters Mountain Bike Challenge offers an alternate activity during the cold winter instead of spinning on a stationary bike at the gym.  I know of no other event where I can ride in a lone environment like the Upper Buffalo trails with support crews available, loads of beer, bonfires, and 500 plus bikes & riders.  Reaching the top, the views are incredible and make for panoramic Instagram-worthy pics.  So at the end of January 2019, you know where you can find me—in the middle of nowhere Redstar, Arkansas, shredding the trails at the next Buffalo Headwaters Challenge!

Buffalo Headwaters Mountain Bike Challenge

The ascent begins!


Best Travel Destinations of 2018

Carmen & Joe-  We had the same opinion for this category.  We’re big foodies and love old “stuff.”  Our summer trip to northern Italy with family was more than we could have ever expected.  The stay at Milan and Venice offered a triple threat of history, sights, and food. From those major cities we were able to easily travel to outlying towns of Lake Como, Cinque Terre, Bergamo, Verona, and Burano.  To be able to see these bucket-list sites with our brother and sister-in-law by our side made for a travel experience that we’ll cherish forever.  We are so fortunate to be close to our family, and luckily they love us as much as we love them!

Best Travel Experiences of 2018

At Lake Como with family,- Patrick & Robyn Edwards


Most Loved Posts of 2018

Sometimes it can feel like we’re the only ones to read our blog.  Well, Carmen’s dad reads all of them, but he’s family so that doesn’t really count!  However, ever so often, we write posts that other people seem to care about, too!  We appreciate every page view, Instagram like, and Facebook shares so much!  Here are the most loved posts of 2018.

#5- We didn’t see George Clooney, but we did see several picturesque cities when we spent the day at Lake Como, Italy.

How to Spend 1 Day on Lake Como, Italy

This picture was taken on our walk around Menaggio on Lake Como.


#4-  Our daughter’s cat, Riley is the star of this post.  She loves to go hiking!  See how you can train your cat to accompany you on the trail by reading How to Take Your Cat Hiking.

How to Take Your Cat Hiking

Riley taking in the view!


#3- Chattanooga, Tennessee effortlessly combines all the fun of a small city with every activity an outdoor-lover could dream of.  Tucked within the valley of the Appalachians and an easy day trip from Nashville or Atlanta, make sure to check out it out!

How to Spend 2 Days in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Joe “holding up” Balanced Rock at Rock City, Chattanooga.


#2- Carmen’s pick for best outdoor experience was also a highly searched topic on Pinterest.  She’s not the only one who loves a Tennessee Waterfalls Road Trip.

Tennessee Waterfalls Road Trip

Cummins Falls


#1- The Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the USA.  Read about this gem of a destination in How to Spend 2 Days in Gatlinburg, Tennessee!

How to Spend 2 Days in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Scenic Little River Gorge Road


Well, there you have it – our best travel experiences of 2018!  Please continue to follow our adventures because we have even more planned for the upcoming, new year.  For 2019, so far we have planned a trip to Spain and a road trip through Oregon.  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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Best Travel Experiences of 2018

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