Top Travel Experiences of 2016 & Travel Goals for 2017

As 2016 came to a splashing end, I decided to jot down my top travel experiences to dwell on the year. Due to the launch of my travel blog, this was perhaps my best year so far, with a multitude of exciting opportunities, challenges, and 15-hour work days! Here’s why this year was worth all the hard work and what I’m looking forward to in 2017.

Best Travel Experiences of 2016

Game Watching in South Africa

two cheetah

Two cubs enjoying their supper

Our South African escapade was beyond words, as we watched lions next to our resort, four cheetahs preying on a deer, a black rhino family charging our vehicle, and the elusive genet on a night safari. Spending six days in the Zululand Rhino Reserve was surely one of the highlights of 2016.

Click here to read my full game watching report.

Exploring Offbeat places of North East India

Looking back at the sacred grove

Looking back at the sacred grove

Northeast India was always high on my bucket list. As an Indian, I always thought I would visit in the future and focused on faraway lands instead. In 2016, I did a lot of traveling within India and immersed in the beauty and the act of rediscovering my own country. There, I ventured into off-the-beaten-path villages and some of the most exotic spots in the country.

Covering monsoons in Wayanad, Kerala

Paris Peacock butterfly wayanad

Paris peacock butterfly showing off its bright green wings and neon blue accents

This trip was very special as it was my first monsoon getaway, my first time in Kerala, and my first press trip. As a new travel blogger, I was excited to start working with brands. Since I had to turn down a trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina due to visa issues just a month earlier, this was the perfect pick-me-up. It was amazing to walk around in rain boots with my rain jacket, umbrella, and GoPro, capturing shots and videos of my adventures.

Being a Part of Trip of Wonders

Hiking up padar island

Taking pictures and soaking in the beauty of Padar

Trip of Wonders is an Indonesian Ministry of Tourism initiative to reintroduce this country to the world. I was part of a team of over 30 bloggers and photographers invited to experience Indonesia firsthand. Since I had spent 11 months in this beautiful land in 2015, I was very excited to return. Not only was it a great travel experience, but it also offered a good opportunity to learn. Living and traveling with a bunch of like-minded and motivated bloggers and Instagram superstars was just epic.

Spotting Hundreds of Birds in Zululand

A lovely Pair of Crested Barbets

A lovely pair of crested barbets

As an avid birder, South Africa was a highlight for me. The Zululand Rhino Reserve is so rich in animal and bird life, and the birds were very different from those in the Indian national parks. In South Africa, almost every bird was a lifer, or a new bird, for me.

Exploring North Thailand

white temple chiang rai

White Temple Chiang Rai

Even after six trips to Thailand, I had never visited the northern part of the country. I’d heard great things, though. Thankfully, the Thai Tourism Authority awarded me a trip to North Thailand, where I joined five other bloggers to explore Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. I was simply floored by the Thai royalty and the amazingly friendly faces and exotic places I got to visit.

In addition to these, I did plenty of shorter trips, including the amazing trek to Kheerganga to gaze at the supermoon. However, the seven experiences above simply stole the show for me.

Travel Goals for 2017

This year, my goals are not just an extension of my bucket list destinations. They also include changes to my traveling style. I plan to do more meaningful travel and also look for best locations for digital nomads to live and work.

I plan to jot my goals down here and return to edit each as I complete it. So bookmark this page if you want to stay posted about my goals and achievements this year.

Volunteer WorkVolunteering with children

Volunteering with children

Volunteering with children

I think volunteering is the best way to experience living in a new country. Volunteer jobs are easy to find if you pick something that interests you. I’d love to be involved in animal welfare activities or teaching English to children. To ensure that I meet this goal, I’ve joined WorkAway and applied for volunteer work in my upcoming destinations.

Coworking Spaces

coworking space

Join a coworking space to connect with like-minded people

To make sure that I have the best place to work, network, and brainstorm ideas with fellow entrepreneurs and nomads, I want to explore coworking spaces in top digital nomad hubs around the world. If I’m headed to a destination that offers an opportunity, I’ll buy a day pass and spend a few days meeting people and living the laptop lifestyle.

Bucket List Goals

Breathtaking Icelandic waterfalls

Breathtaking Icelandic waterfalls

I want to try to experience at least half of the places on my overflowing bucket list. I’d like to visit Iceland for the Blue Lagoon, waterfalls, and Northern Lights; Jamaica for the beautiful Montego Bay; Rwanda for gorilla trekking; and Europe to explore both Eastern and Western Europe.

Hiring a Campervan

hire a campervan

Renting a campervan and driving around on a monthlong road trip with family is just what the doctor ordered. I’ve never experienced this and would love to try camping, cooking, and exploring new places without having to worry about accommodations or timelines.

My goals might be too aggressive, but like I always say, dream big or go home! I’m off to pack my bags and prepare for new adventures on the road. What about you?


  1. Wow.. all that in the first year of blogging is amazing Jo! Here’s wishing you many more successes. I did a similar post on my blog, earlier last month and I should say, have had a good start 🙂 This is here- in case you want to read 🙂

  2. That’s a great first year travel list. I’m sure you have 2017 all chalked out as well. What’s your favourite memory from last year?

  3. Sounds like a fantastic first year. We have looked into voluntourism and it seems like a fantastic way to see the world. It seems like you’ll get viewed as a member of the community and not just a nessissary nuisance to raise money.

  4. Quite an impressive diary for 2016.

    The 2017 list too looks doable one. There was a camper van in Karnataka couple of years back. They don’t allow road trips with it but you can experience night stay in that.

    • Oh really? I never knew that. Do you know if they are still there – living overnight sounds interesting too – though it would rock if I could drive around. I don’t even know if I need a different license for it.

  5. You had some fantastic experiences in 2016! Getting to Africa for a safari trip is high on my list for 2017. Your South African adventure sounds amazing. If you’re headed to Eastern Europe, definitely make time for Romania. It was a highlight for me in 2016. I loved the medieval villages and the unspoiled countryside. It’s truly a hidden gem in plain sight.

  6. You definitely had a wonderful year so I feel quite sure your 2017 will be equally as good or better. Good luck with all your goals. I cannot wait to hear about the camper van travels. 😉

  7. Sounds like such a great year! You had so many amazing experiences–I would especially love to explore northern Thailand and Indonesia! We did a camper van trip this past year and had so much fun with it. Hope you can do a trip with one this year and have a great 2017!

  8. That was an impressive first year Jo! And I know sincerely you are planning for this year. 🙂 It is doable. And hopefully you don’t have to slog for long hours. All the best.

  9. You really had a great 2016 and visited some really amazing places, Wish your travel dreams fructify in 2017. Iceland is a dream destination for us and we hope to get there some day too.

  10. Loved reading about your adventures game watching, and through India, Indonesia and Thailand this year 🙂 Looking forward to following along this coming year as you volunteer! X

  11. You visited such amazing destinations! Africa, India, Indonesia. Incredible! Hope 2017 is equally as awesome!

  12. wishing your dreams come true
    hav a grt year ahead

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