Globetrotters of 2024: Meet Our Travelers of the Year
Globetrotters of 2024: Meet Our Travelers of the Year - The Solo Explorer - Maria Diaz
For some, traveling alone can seem daunting. But for Maria Diaz, solo exploring is a way of life. This intrepid globetrotter has journeyed to over 50 countries across 6 continents - all on her own.
"I've always been an independent spirit," shares Maria. "Even as a kid, I preferred solo adventures like reading or biking alone over group activities." This self-reliance fueled Maria's early solo travels. At 18, she backpacked through Europe by herself. And at 21, she spent a summer exploring Southeast Asia independently.
Over the years, Maria has mastered the art of solo travel. She loves the freedom to set her own schedule and do exactly as she pleases. "I can be as spontaneous or planned as I want without having to accommodate others," explains Maria. Solo exploring also pushes her out of her comfort zone. "Without a companion, I've been forced to meet new people and try new things."
For first-time solo travelers, Maria suggests starting small. "Don't attempt a solo Eurotrip right away. Try a weekend getaway in a nearby city first." She also advises being open to connections. "Sit at the bar, chat with fellow travelers, join group tours. Alone doesn't have to mean lonely."
Safety is also key. "I always make sure someone knows my itinerary in detail," notes Maria. "I also avoid isolated areas and keep my valuables secure." Apps like TripIt help her share plans easily.
Over the years, Maria has collected countless solo travel memories. One of her fondest is from Jordan. "I was wandering through Petra alone, taking in the intricate carvings," she reminisces. "In that moment, I felt an immense sense of awe and liberation. I realized solo travel was my bliss."
What else is in this post?
- Globetrotters of 2024: Meet Our Travelers of the Year - The Solo Explorer - Maria Diaz
- Globetrotters of 2024: Meet Our Travelers of the Year - The Family Adventurers - The Smiths
- Globetrotters of 2024: Meet Our Travelers of the Year - The Luxury Lovers - James and Elizabeth
Globetrotters of 2024: Meet Our Travelers of the Year - The Family Adventurers - The Smiths
For the Smith family, travel isn't just a hobby - it's a way of life. John and Emily Smith, along with their three kids ages 8, 11 and 13, have explored over 30 countries together as a family.
"We feel travel is the best education," shares Emily. "It exposes the kids to new cultures and global issues." The Smiths began traveling internationally with their kids when their oldest was just 4. "We started with baby steps - a week in Mexico, 10 days in Europe. As the kids got older, we went farther for longer," explains John.
Family bonding is another major motivator. "Exploring the world together gives us quality time to connect," notes Emily. "Without distractions from work and school, we can focus on each other." Memorable family moments happen frequently, from riding camels in Morocco to bargaining at markets in Vietnam.
For other families considering extended travel, the Smiths suggest starting to plan early. "Talk to your kids' schools about taking time off," advises Emily. "We work a year in advance to coordinate." They also recommend test trips to see how kids handle jet lag, new foods and hours of sightseeing.
In terms of destinations, the Smiths look for family-friendly spots with learning opportunities. Costa Rica and Thailand scored high for outdoor adventures and cultural immersion. Italy offered history along with kid-pleasing pasta and gelato. Safaris in Kenya gave wildlife encounters from seeing zebras up close to watching wildebeest migrate.
Practicalities are also key. "Build in plenty of down time between activities," shares John. "Kids need time to recharge." Keeping kids engaged during long flights is also crucial. "We make custom travel kits with new toys, books and games," says Emily. Affordable accommodation helps extend trips. "Apartment and home rentals allow us to cook and spread out," explains John.
Globetrotters of 2024: Meet Our Travelers of the Year - The Luxury Lovers - James and Elizabeth
For James and Elizabeth, travel is all about experiencing the finest things in life. This globe-trotting couple seeks out luxury wherever they go, indulging in opulent hotels, Michelin-starred cuisine and exclusive excursions.
“We work hard so we can play hard,” shares James. “So when we escape on vacation, we want five-star treatment.” The pair began splurging on luxury trips after inheriting money from James’ grandmother. “She loved to pamper herself with massages and facials at ritzy resorts,” Elizabeth explains. “We realized life is short and we should enjoy it.”
Now James and Elizabeth indulge in two or three extravagant vacations per year. These lavish getaways allow them to relax completely and create lasting memories. “Our trips are so much more than pampering,” says Elizabeth. “We bond over amazing meals and new experiences.” Past adventures include helicopter tours of the Grand Canyon, couples’ massages at an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora and racing Ferraris on an Italian racetrack.
For travelers eyeing their first luxury vacation, James suggests picking a special destination like Paris or Bali. “Go all out on a hotel with amazing amenities so you can fully treat yourself.” Elizabeth notes the importance of personalized experiences. “Opt for private tours, customized spa treatments and personal chefs. It makes all the difference.” Upgrading key elements also prevents sticker shock. “Splurge on flights and the hotel, then balance out costs by doing free activities or choosing more reasonably priced meals,” advises James.
To make luxury travel work within any budget, the couple suggests avoiding high seasons and exploring less expensive destinations like Portugal or Mexico. “Look for promotions at luxe brands like Aman Resorts and Belmond Hotels,” says Elizabeth. Using points for flights and hotels helps cut costs too.