The Craziest, Hardest, Best Year Yet – 2016 Travel Review

Looking back at the last 356 days there is no question that 2016 has been one of my most challenging years, at the same time I look back in awe of everything I was able to accomplish and can truly say it was my best year yet.

I spent ten of the months working on my 30 by 30 list and I was able to accomplish so many of these goals. I had a breakup that was harder than just about anything else I’ve faced in my life. I’ve learned more about who I am, what I want, and what is of value to me. I spent countless hours with the people I love, often traveling with them.

I left the country twice, added two new continents to my checked off list, I spent 88 nights on the road as part of 34 trips. This was an increase over 2015, which I didn’t know I could do.The best of 2016 travel. From Bali to Mendocino to Austin to Los Cabos. A month by month look back at my favorite travel destinations of 2016.


The first trip of the year was a week laying on the beaches of Los Cabos. It involved sailing, snorkeling, eating so much Mexican food and a lot of time in the sun. Along with the week long trip, I took a weekend down in San Jose visiting my sister for the first time in the year. There were a total five of these trips over the year.


This month starts every year in Lake Tahoe with a large group of good friends to watch the Superbowl. This year I started it off with an outdoor adventure and tried snowshoeing for the first time. I also had a staycation where I spent a night in Old Sacramento on the Delta King.


In March, I made it to my first travel blogger conference at the Women in Travel Summit. On this same trip, I got to visit with some family in town I hadn’t seen in a long time. I also made a day trip up to Chico for the first time and got to enjoy some Sierra Nevada.

One last stop in Southern California after #WITS16 before heading home. Enjoying an early dinner in Pasadena.

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Started with the perfect getaway up to Mendocino. I spent two nights and the Little River Inn and got to explore the area. It was the recharge I was desperately in need of at the time. From delicious food to beautiful beaches to topnotch wine the trip had everything I needed. Took a day trip out to San Francisco to get in a Giants game as well. And finished the month off with exploring some new parts of Orange County that I’d somehow missed before.


This was the big one! My first solo trip. I spent two weeks in Bali. Additionally, I had a stop in Sydney on my way there and a mini-trip over to Gili Twaragan. This trip is one of the reasons why the year was amazing. I had been dreaming of this trip for years and finally put away all of the excuses and took the trip. It was even better than I could have dreamed of.


I spent June exploring more of Northern California. Instead of just driving through it I finally took some time to explore the Tri-Valley and loved the food, wine, and beer in the area. On top of that, I visited both San Jose and San Francisco. In San Francisco, I was lucky enough to stay at the Intercontinental! I wrapped up the month with my favorite annual friends trip camping, this year up near Lake Tahoe.


The month kicked off with a family trip to Napa where we had folks in from all over the country to celebrate my Grandmother’s 80th birthday. It was a beautiful setting to spend time with the people you love. On top of that, I spent a weekend enjoying the beautiful views from the parent’s house in Laguna Beach.


In August, I had my first piece of writing published! Well by someone other than myself. On top of that, I went to Lake Tahoe to get in a meteor shower and paddle board on the lake. Then I made it down to the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks where I had the chance to be inspired by the largest tree in the world and second largest canyon in North America. One of my favorite trips of the year.


I took a trip with one of my best friends to one of my favorite cities, Austin. We ate amazing food, explored the city, stayed out late, and made new friends. It was about as much fun as you can pack into threes and just about as many calories too. On top of that, I visited with my family in Southern California and attended a good friend’s wedding in beautiful Temecula Wine Country.

Where are you off to next? Getting ready for my next trip and thinking about the last one.

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I turned 30! And you know what? I couldn’t have been more excited for it (my last goal on my 30 by 30). I kicked off my new year in Nashville with my sister and a good friend. It was the perfect excuse to eat too much. listen to good music late into the night, and just have a blast in the city. After getting back I spent a week in Southern California including a visit to Pasadena, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, and Riverside.

Starting the morning with bonuts (biscuit/donuts) and hot chicken and biscuit. Gotta love breakfast in the south.

A photo posted by Megan MacNee (@traveling9to5er) on


After a few crazy months before this was supposed to be “No-Travel November”. Well, it didn’t exactly turn out that way. Instead, post election I needed a chance to recharge and headed to the water in Carmel where I got to get out on the water and hike as well. It was a perfect mid-week break. I also enjoyed Thanksgiving with family in San Jose, which included a relaxing train ride there and back.


Another chance to explore more of my own backyard. It included a few day trips including Amador wine country and San Francisco. I also snuck into Healdsburg wine country for a great chance to explore the food scene in the area. Finally, I headed down to Southern California to spend the holidays with my family and visiting some old favorite spots. And ended it with a one of a kind meal at Q Sushi in Downtown Los Angeles.


A Year In Memories

It is weird, to say the least when after one of the hardest years you’ve had to get through you can only really look back on it and smile. When I go through and list all the amazing things I had the chance to do and the memories that were made that is when it makes sense. I traveled to some of my favorite places, found new ones, traveled with some of my favorite people, and wrote all about it!

I would not change a single thing about this year!

Now off to 2017. I’m hoping for a little less struggle. Some new paths ahead of me, not that I know what they are yet. And a few more amazing trip! I think we won’t try and top the days traveled this year but still take some amazing trips.

Thank you to all of you for following me along on these journeys. I hope you’ll continue to stay tune for what comes next in 2017. The year will kick off with a trip with my family to Maui, Hawaii. I’m working on planning Cuba in the spring. Then in the fall, hopefully, Europe.

Let me know what your favorite travel memory from travel 2016 is and where you’re most excited to go in 2017. Leave a comment below. 

About Megan

Megan MacNee is the founder of Traveling Nine to Fiver. From nine to five she works in the non-profit world in California. She focuses on exploring the world from her own backyard to across the globe. You'll find her sharing about explorations through food, books, travel, and more.