Ten Best Travel Stories of 2019
Below are the ten best travel stories published on GoNOMAD during the past year. We used many different criteria to decide, including our reader poll, the number of pageviews each story received, and the opinions of our editors and our editorial associates. Here are this year’s top ten stories.
Overtourism: The Dilemma of our Times
Jared Shein interviewed many different people and came up with some interesting conclusions about this, one of the toughest problems faced by travelers in 2019. His thoughtful reporting and the use of his own experience added to the depth of this think piece.
“I came face to face with this phenomenon for the first time while traveling in Thailand during the summer of my freshman year of college. Like Gili T, Maya Bay is also a tropical paradise with white sand beaches and crystal clear waters; and also like Gili T, the Ko Phi Phi Leh infrastructure was quickly overwhelmed by the sudden influx of tourists.
I was one of those tourists, and I was shocked by what I found upon arrival. There was garbage everywhere.”
Sleeping in a Fire Tower
Molly Pascal treated us to a marvelous account of a strange but interesting place to sleep for the night. In fire towers around the U.S., We love stories that teach us something new and that provide useful information for travelers. This one fits the bill in both cases!
“At two am, I was faced with a typical middle-age problem: I had to go to the bathroom.
The bigger issue was that I was sleeping in a fourteen-by-fourteen-foot wide glass cabin at the top of a decommissioned fire tower on Thorny Mountain in West Virginia, which meant I could either tackle 69 thigh-burning steps down to and back from the outhouse, or crouch over catwalk a hundred feet in the air. What would you do?
3. Mount Athos Greece: A Dazzling Pilgrimage
Cato Rolea shared his story of travel with a religious theme and included spectacular photos of the mountaintop monasteries.
“This summer I decided to re-connect with my Christian cultural and religious roots. As a result, I decided to go on a pilgrimage to Mount Athos, the second most important Christian Orthodox Religious site after Jerusalem. Since 1922, the peninsula was inhabited again by monks and declared a holy land and an autonomous theocratic region, similar to the Vatican.
At the moment, the monasteries on Mount Athos hold the most important Christian Orthodox artifacts, including parts of the Holy Cross, the crown of thorns and Saints tombs.
4. Taos New Mexico’s Famous Pueblo
Fred Mays explores the Pueblo and the many other interesting and culturally rich attractions in this part of New Mexico. His photos gave the piece a great “Let’s go there!” feeling.
“By tribal decree, there is no electricity, no running water, no plumbing in the pueblo. Many Tiwa families still live on tribal lands but have opted for more modern housing outside the pueblo grounds. The pueblo land covers nearly 100-thousand acres up into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, which are considered holy by the Native Americans.
Nearly half of their land was taken by the federal government in 1906 and claimed as a National Forest. The tribe petitioned the government for decades to try and get their lands restored, which finally happened in 1970.”
5. Egypt: Two Women’s Visit to the Ancient Berber City of Siwa
An open and honest account by Sky Sutton, and a nice demonstration of reaching out to another culture, and breaking down some myths and barriers. She did a nice job balancing the joy of traveling freely contrasted with adjusting to a totally different culture than these Americans were used to.
“We’re here to see and be seen, “ said my travel companion, Nicole.” She was correct. As a pair of single American women in Egypt, we were aware that we are ambassadors for our kind: the fiercely independent female traveler. Many people insisted we would need a guide, a translator, at the very least, a man to keep us safe. They were all wrong.
6. Scotland: A Tipsy Distillery Walk
Kevin Spreekmaster really, REALLY loves fine Scotch, and he was more than excited to travel the walking path that took him to many of Scotland’s finest whiskey distilleries. His passion for the topic came through, and he gave anyone who loves Scotch a roadmap for pursuing Scotch dreams.
“I was wide awake at 7 am, and I was so excited for the day ahead visiting distilleries in Scotland that I couldn’t sleep. I dared not move and wake up my wife Sue who’s a happy participant in my adventure but knows that our first and only scheduled stop of the day is at 10:00 am and a half-hour walk away, so no need to rise too early.
If you are going to Scotland, and have a sense of adventure, an interest in history and an eye for dramatic scenery, there’s a terrific website called “Walk Highlands” that you really should investigate. Plus, there are hundreds of distilleries, that will make any Scotch drinker happy.”
7. Maratea, A Less-Visited Italian Gem
Perhaps it was this exotic, relatively unknown part of the coast of Italy that made this story shine. Author Marie Kimber captures the essence of this fabulous city and makes the reader want to join her on her sunny vacation, where she takes a group tour in the midst of her own solo adventure.
Staying in Maratea gave a feeling of getting away from it all. While it’s a popular destination for Italians, there are fewer hotels, creating a sense of immersion into local life. The peaceful location has provided a comfortable hideaway for many of the rich and famous over the years. It is reported to have been a favorite of Princess Diana and Frank Sinatra.
A gentle breeze whispered through the palm trees as I walked across the lush green lawns and meticulously tended gardens to the large pool. A refreshing swim, and an equally refreshing Gin & Tonic at the poolside bar, with Christ the Redeemer as a backdrop, made for a heavenly afternoon.
8. Newfoundland and Labrador: The Far East of North America
Places like Newfoundland deserve to be discovered, and the reward for visiting faraway and out of the way destinations is that you won’t have crowds or hassles. Visiting this beautiful province in the peak tourist season still meant nothing was crowded. A perfect place to escape America!
“St John’s is a lively city, right on the waterfront, and that’s still a very active waterfront, with a cargo port and cranes to boot. The main drag, Water Street, is full of interesting options, from marijuana shops (it’s legal!) to happening cafes with live music, and a string of great late-night options right down on the waterfront.
The best part about Newfoundland and Labrador is that there are no crowds even at the most striking natural formations and tourist locations. The distances here are stunning–to cross the island of Newfoundland, it’s a nine-hour drive. Over on the other side of Strait of Belle Isle is the other half of the giant province, Labrador.”
9. Dolly Sods: A top West Virginia Backpacking Destination
Whoever heard of this place? Once again GoNOMAD writer Steph Liquori finds something completely unique and in a state that we rarely write about. This story captures much of what we strive for, presenting good useful information about an undiscovered legendary place. In all ways, Dolly Sods is a destination for us!
Overall, a backpacking experience in Dolly Sods is well worthwhile. The scenic views are ever-changing and incredible, and the hikes are exciting and memorable. The meandering trail system can make a backpacker feel lost in the wilderness, without ever actually being lost. The hiking and camping experience connects backpackers to nature and reminds them to appreciate and love Mother Earth.
Read more: https://www.gonomad.com/150410-dolly-sods-a-top-west-virginia-backpacking-destination
9. Traveling in a Bigger Body to Hawaii
Lacey-Jade Christie considers herself an advocate for fat people, and she provides good advice that hopefully will inspire people of every shape to travel and see the world….and that having a larger body isn’t the end of travel. We liked that Lacey-Jade took on this topic honestly and with useful and practical info to help out the many travelers who are larger.
“Hawaii is the travel destination gift that just keeps on giving. From the bustling beaches of Oahu to the secluded forests and volcanoes of Big Island, there really is something for everyone, even if you live in a bigger body or are differently-abled.
Traveling in a bigger body or with extra mobility requirements is definitely achievable and should not hold you back. Everyone should be able to travel and experience everything that the world has to offer.”
10. Montana: Four Delightful Hot Spring Resorts
This story got the most hits of any story this year, and why not? People love, love, love hot springs, and there is nowhere else to find better soaking than the great state of Montana! Contributor Joeann Fossland provided great photos and a little history along with tempting pools to dip in.
Montana has a long history of hot springs. Most were originally enjoyed by the Indians who revered them as sacred places. In the gold rush days, hot springs were sometimes the only place for miners to get a hot bath. Many of today’s remaining resorts date back to that era. In his book, Montana’s Hot Springs, author Jeff Birkby says, “We have about 120 known hot springs in Montana.” Montana Hot springs.net reports and maps 61 known hot springs in Montana, 23 of which are open commercially today.
Congratulations to all of our Ten Best Stories authors for 2019!