Year in Review: My Top Travel Adventures of 2018

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When one year comes to an end, it is only sort of natural that one looks back in reflection at what has happened… So that means it is time for my Year in Review for 2018 where I take a look back at some of the incredible places I visited.

This type of thing is pretty fun to put together because it reminds me of how far I’ve come (literally in this case when it comes to travel) and gets me excited to start thinking about what comes next… 2018 encompassed many, many thousands of miles of road trips and was filled with so many awesome new places, which makes it tough to whittle it down into a “top list of favorites, but I shall give it a try.

Let’s kick it off with my Top 10 Travel Destinations and Adventures of 2018.

Torres del Paine, Chile

This national park in Chilean Patagonia near the town of Puerto Natales is high up on my list of favorite places ever. From the Grey Glacier to the iconic Cuernos mountains, there was beauty everywhere you looked.

Year in Review: My Top Travel Adventures of 2018 travel

While we didn’t get to trek the famous “W” route, we nevertheless enjoyed a few nights camping out in the back of my truck by night and hiking some of the beautiful trails by day.


I’ll be honest, I’ve never even remotely been interested in traveling to Texas… I’d always just considered it a big, flat, boring place and never have thought too much about the whole Texas thing, at least how it is represented in popular culture.

Year in Review: My Top Travel Adventures of 2018 travel

But I headed down to visit Austin for TravelCon (a travel blog conference) and quickly found myself blown away by this energetic, fun, eclectic city. Everything from the millions of bats, to the many bars and restaurants, to the electric scooters that dot the city, to the vibrant greenery was awesome.

Year in Review: My Top Travel Adventures of 2018 travel

Afterward we headed down to San Antonio and I also found myself blown away… While the stay wasn’t as long as in Austin, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Yellowstone National Park

Further north, I finally visited Yellowstone National Park for the first time ever! And yes, it was every bit as spectacular as I imagined it would be…

Fall colors in Yellowstone National Park

From the bizarre sweltering, bubbling landscapes, to the wildlife, including many, many bison… But the highlight was undoubtedly seeing a grizzly bear in the wild!

Grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park

Wish we could have seen some wolves too, but I guess that will have to wait for a return trip.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

We spent a month renting a tiny apartment in the San Telmo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, and I gotta say, this city truly captivated me. It is stunningly gorgeous and vibrantly alive with cafes, tango, incredible restaurants, and so much culture.

Year in Review: My Top Travel Adventures of 2018 travel

I loved the pizza by the slice (the fuzagetta!) and the afternoon ritual of coffee with medialunas (little sweet croissants) or the occasional splurge of a big steak drizzled with chimichurri and a glass of malbec.

There is too much that could be said about Buenos Aires, but it is probably my favorite in all of Latin America (second to Mexico City).

Read More: What to Do in Buenos Aires

Chile’s Lake District

We kicked off the beginning of the year in Chile’s Lake District, sitting just past the northern limits of Patagonia. Here you’ll find beautiful blue lakes, cool little towns, and snow-capped volcanoes.

Year in Review: My Top Travel Adventures of 2018 travel

Being in this part of Chile felt like being back in the Pacific Northwest, and felt most like home.

The town of Puerto Varas was the highlight, but I also really enjoyed Pucon. And while not on the lakes, the town of Valdivia nearby was another highlight… A German descendant town with good beer, good food, and a just a cool atmosphere.

Driving the Carretera Austral

From the Lake District we continued our road trip south to the end of the continent by driving the famous Carretera Austral, a mostly gravel road that dots along through various fjords and peninsulas, connected by ferries. The views of mountains and mother nature were incredible…

Year in Review: My Top Travel Adventures of 2018 travel

Hiking in Corcovado National Park or the spectacular Queulat, were probably the highlights, but there were so many, including the vibrant blue Rio Baker, seeing Cerro Castillo, or so much more.

Road Tripping the USA (Twice)

From Buenos Aires, we shipped the truck to Jacksonville, Florida, which meant meeting up with the truck after more than a month at sea, and then ultimately road tripping across the United States to Seattle.

Year in Review: My Top Travel Adventures of 2018 travel

While it was a go-go-go type of trip, there were some great moments whether it was exploring the south for the first time, like Savannah, Georgia, or visiting Asheville, North Carolina, or just driving through the beautiful Great Smokey Mountain National Park.

Year in Review: My Top Travel Adventures of 2018 travel

Further west, the highlight was most definitely Badlands National Park, a place where we saw more wildlife than any other, perhaps only rivaled by Yellowstone.

Year in Review: My Top Travel Adventures of 2018 travel

A few months later we headed back out on the road and drove down to Texas (mentioned earlier), passing through Southern Utah (one of my favorite places for a road trip) and then driving back up through new territory for me in Colorado and Wyoming.

El Chalten, Argentina

El Chalten is a place that I’d long dreamed of visiting… To me, this place, more than any other, was what epitomized Patagonia. The jagged peaks of Fitzroy and Cerro Torre are absolutely iconic.

Year in Review: My Top Travel Adventures of 2018 travel

The town itself is alright, but the highlight here is the nature, of course. We spent a number of days hiking around the park and taking in this beautiful area before running into problems with gas shortages and huge wind storms that drove us to push on.

The Perito Moreno glacier in nearby Calafate was another highlight of the region.

New York City, NY

I Love New York. When I used to live in DC it became a sort of annual tradition for my mom and I to visit NYC for the holidays and the city definitely captured my heart. I hadn’t been back there in six years though… And it is a place that is prohibitively expensive for someone like me who travels on a budget and on the cheap… BUT, thanks to travel hacking, I racked up enough hotel rewards points to get five nights in Manhattan for free! You can’t beat that.

Year in Review: My Top Travel Adventures of 2018 travel

Andrea and I spent those days exploring just a little bit of all that NYC has to offer, and I loved it every bit as much as before. New York seems to me to be the only place in the world where you can feel like you are “traveling” to literally anywhere on earth without leaving thanks to the huge mix of immigrants from everywhere…

Medellin, Colombia

Finally, the year wrapped up with our return to Colombia, Andrea’s hometown, and the place where I’ve spent the longest out of any of my travels. It was nice to be back in Colombia, and specifically in the City of Eternal Spring. It is a city on the move, and it has been great to see it grow and evolve over time.

Year in Review: My Top Travel Adventures of 2018 travel

While our time here in Medellin has been mostly downtime and nothing too exciting (quite a few dental visits for me! hah) but it has been nice to kind of “stay still” for a bit after so long on the move. We haven’t been anywhere for more than a month at a time since we left Medellin in early 2017.

Year in Review: My Top Travel Adventures of 2018 travel

But there were some fun things too, like how Medellin turns into a big party during the month of December with music, dancing, food, and drinking.

Top Travel Destinations of 2018

So there you have it, my top travel highlights, adventures, and destinations of 2018… There were plenty of awesome places that didn’t quite make the list, whether that’s Grand Teton National Park, making it to the “End of the World” in Ushuaia, Argentina, or even things like visiting a penguin colony in Chile.

What were your favorite destinations of 2018 and what do you have planned for 2019?

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Year in Review: My Top Travel Adventures of 2018 travel

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Year in Review: My Top Travel Adventures of 2018 travel


Head Writer and Adventurer at Desk to Dirtbag
Ryan is an author, adventurer, perpetual wanderer, and self-proclaimed dirtbag (but that might not mean what you think). Originally from Seattle, he headed to Washington D.C. where he spent five years working for Congress before heeding the call of the wild. He set out truck camping to road trip across the American West, and then across all of Central America and South America. When he isn't on the move, you can find him living as an expat in Colombia. He is also the author of the best selling book: Big Travel, Small Budget that will help you travel more for less. Follow the adventures on social media or read more.

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Comments 2

  1. I need to get to Patagonia!
    I totally get the looking back on the years highlights. Thanks to the milage game, last year we spent a week in the jungles of the Yucatan and scuba diving on the coast, 2 weeks in Iceland and the Faroe Islands, 5 days in December flying business class and staying next to Central Park for free, but my best trip was 3 weeks solo to Colombia including 11 days and 1200 miles on a motorcycle way into the back country. I’m not much of a city person, but I loved Medellin. 2nd favorite city so far after Prague.

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