>  Toni's Travels   >  My Travel Year In Review: 2023

2023, Kindly see yourself out.

Y’all, I’m going to be really honest, 2023 was a hard year for me. If it was hard for you, consider yourself seen. Things didn’t go quite as I expected. Projects I thought would be lucrative were less so, due to wild acceleration of cost. I’ve made little progress on the writing project I thought I’d be finished with in 2022. I’m singler, and childless, and older than ever. I’m losing someone dear to me and it’s devastating, and frankly unfair. I can’t look around and prove to myself that I’ve done everything right.

Overall, things look pretty messy.

It feels like much of this year can be seen through gray-tinted lenses. It was a year full of difficult emotion—emotional might be my word of the year if I were Webster’s Dictionary. And despite some truly bright spots, I’ve grappled with a sense of “blah” for much of 2023. As we wrap up this year, my heart is heavy, but at peace. I’m hopeful, a quiet optimism crystalizing inside me as I look forward to the coming year. I’ve got some exciting things happening early in ’24 that I can’t wait to share. And I’m looking forward to time with friends, a fulfilling work life, my creative pursuits, and taking really good care of myself.

We’re on the up-swing. (We’ve got to be, right?)

I want to take this post to highlight some of the…well, highlightsof this year. Namely, all the places I’ve traveled. Being a flight attendant, it makes sense that I’d travel a lot, but this year felt like more. (Just ask my financial advisor!) In recapping recently, I realized there was only one month out of this year that I didn’t take any personal travel. They weren’t all big, lavish trips, some were quick getaways to visit friends or attend a wedding. But still, they happened.

Looking back through my travel memories provided a reminder that, actually, some of those bright spots were really bright. I may have been gutted once or twice this year, but I also had a lot of FUN.

So, now that I’ve sent you all into a depression via my gloomy little intro, let’s get into the good times. Here is my bright spot highlight reel:

Buckle up, we're going places.

My Travel Year in Review


I started the year with a trip to the UK to visit an old flame, who was current back then. It’s incredible to look back and see how much has changed in twelve months. We kicked it around the little town of Stone, in Staffordshire, had a very windy hike in the Peak District, and spent a few nights in Manchester. I had my first visit to Old Trafford to see Manchester United play and got to see what this gritty but hip city had to offer. If you end up hiking in the Peak District, be sure to check out one of the many caves. We took a tour of a cave once mined for Blue John Stone, a rare semi-precious stone only found in this area. It was not for the claustrophobic-at-heart, but it was really freaking cool. This trip also served as my introduction to the “Sunday Roast”, a traditional English occasion where you eat what amounts to an inflated Thanksgiving dinner on a Sunday (or maybe not a Sunday.) It’s become one of my favorite things about visiting England.

Fun in the Peak District

HUGE football fan

I also turned 37 in January.


January ended, and February began, with a birthday trip to see one of my dearest, bestest, long-time friends in Colorado. We had a spa day, including fancy foot soaks and body massages, shopped around Boulder, had brunch with a big group of some fun and amazing women, and ate tons of delicious food. We even threw in a water slide at some point.

There are two things I know to be true: 1. Spending time with your closest girlfriends, who know you to your soul, is the best medicine for any ailment. And 2. You are never too old for a water slide.


Related Post:

A Kick-Ass Girls’ Weekend in Colorado: Happy Birthday To Me
girls' weekend in Colorado, Girls' getaway ideas, girls' weekend ideas, long weekend colorado, louisville, CO, Lafayette CO, things to do in Lafayette CO, planning a long weekend in Colorado, Girls trip to Colorado, girls trip to Boulder, Boulder CO,

Is there anything better than a birthday with your bestie?


March was spent in Mexico. First in Tulum, where I learned how to breathe under water and got scuba certified. We rode around town, checking out restaurants and art galleries (and getting pulled over by la policia) on an ATV. We saw Mayan ruins in Tulum, went snorkeling with sea turtles. And we fought. We went to see the ruins at Chichen Itza as part of a full day tour. It was his birthday, blazing hot, and difficult, as we navigated the coming days—a breakup and the second half of our trip.

We hopped a flight to Mexico City, a place I love. There, we visited museums, I ate street food, while he demurred, afraid for his fragile English stomach. We strolled around the Zocalo and El Centro, looking at ancient books, and el Bosque de Chapultepec—the ‘Central Park’ of Mexico City. I walked by my old apartment, where I used to live. I steeped in the familiarity of a place that feels like an old friend, leaned on that through the unraveling of a relationship in real time. We had a non-rev experience for the ages, missing a flight, being rolled over, having to stay an extra night in Cancun to get the next day’s flight with only one seat to spare.

But we made it out alright.


Related Posts:

Getting Scuba Certified in Tulum, Mexico
Older Mexico City Content

Tulum, Mexico

and CDMX


April began with a trip to Raleigh, North Carolina, where my running buddy and I did what previously felt impossible: We ran an ultramarathon. Our 50-mile run was peanuts compared to our fellow runners who were tackling a 100-mile course, but it was still so challenging and rewarding. If you’ve ever thought about running an ultra (or if you just want to hear about two semi-lazy runners taking on 50 miles), then check out my post about the Umstead 100.


Next up, was a girls’ trip to Colorado for Corey’s birthday. A giant house in a ski resort, complete with hot tub and plenty of space to lounge around was the setting for our ladies’ retreat in Steamboat Springs. There was hiking, hot tubbing, bracelet making, and dancing. There was laying on the floor, propped up by dozens of plush pillows and wrapped in blankets. A slumber party from childhood, brought back in the best way. There was a trip to my favorite hot springs in Colorado—Strawberry Hot Springs, and there was a lot of downtime to Just. Chill.


Related Posts:

50 Miles of “Fun”: Running My First Ultramarathon
How to Have The Perfect Hot Springs & Hiking Tour in Colorado

``It's garbage CAN, not garbage can't!``

Sore, surly, and successful.

Girls' getaway in Steamboat Springs, CO

Strawberry Hot Springs


Back to Colorado, I went. This time to Estes Park for my cousin’s wedding. Sans date, sober, and only knowing five people in attendance, I wasn’t sure how it would go. But (obviously) I had a blast. The ceremony was simple and sweet, the setting was rustic and beautiful, and everyone had fun. I took advantage of the travel and spent a day wandering around downtown Estes Park, a cute ski area. The next day was brunch at The Stanley Hotel—famous for being Steven King’s inspiration for ‘The Shining, followed by a breathtaking hike at Mt. Olympus. Dinner and Netflix with my bestie back in Boulder was the perfect way to end this quick trip.


Related Post:

How to Have the Best Wedding (Guest) Weekend in Estes Park
Estes Park Wedding, wedding in Estes Park, Estes Park, CO, things to do in Estes PArk, quick trip to Estes Park, getaway to Estes Park, Weekend trip to Estes Park, long weekend in Estes Park, getaway to Estes Park, solo wedding guest, going to a wedding solo, sober wedding guest, going to a wedding sober, tips for sober weddings, how to spend a weekend in Estes Park

We clean up alright

Hiking Estes PArk, things to do in Estes Park, Estes Park, CO, Mount Olympus, Mount Olympus Colorado, Drake Colorado, Estes Park, CO, getaway to Estes Park, things to do in Estes Park, best hikes in Estes Park, top hikes in Estes PArk, challenging hikes in Estes Park, hikes with the best views, estes park, Estes Park, hikes with a view, hikers, hiking trip, colorado hiking, hiking in Colorado, rocky mountain national park, rocky mountains, summit

Notes left on Mt. Olympus, Estes Park, CO


Another birthday bash, this time in Orlando, to celebrate my other bestie’s 40th. I worked really, REALLY hard to plan the best surprise party, but this particular friend’s internet game is questionably strong. In the end, she found us out, but it was still a good fucking time.

Just TRY to surprise this woman. (It’s impossible.)


I had no travel plans for July, opting instead to work high hours and spend my off time with family and friends, enjoying the best of Summer in New England. But then my best friend’s dog died, and I found myself hopping a flight to Colorado to be with her in her time of need. We went hiking, swam in the river, and spent lots of bestie time curled up on the couch in pajamas, eating ice cream and watching Netflix.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: One of the best things about this job is being able to show up for the people you love. Without a second thought, on a whim, when you’re needed.


Related Posts:

Lone Wolf to Bride’s B*tch: Learning How To Friend

Showing up: A Love Language


August was my Big Fat Italian Vacation! I went on a 10-day trip with my aunt and ten other family members I had never met. We visited Rome, Grottaminarda, where we met a dozen more relatives living in Italy, toured Pompeii, and then spent four days in Sorrento, where we enjoyed sweeping views and the joy of being in water. My biggest takeaway from this trip was that you should never visit Italy in August, but besides that the trip was wonderful. I got to visit new places, and probably best of all, to bond with family members. I still have hardly written any content about this trip, because after the plot twist of the century, it turned into a wild ride of emotion.

It was on Day 1 of this exciting trip to Italy that I got the news: Someone I cared for was dying.

It changed the trajectory of the trip, how I experienced the places I visited, how present I was during the various tours, and ultimately led to me leaving three days early. I wish I could have spent more time with the fabulous people in my group, and I hope I get to in the future– Ideally, when I have less crisis on my plate and fewer emotions on my palate.


Though there was nothing I could do to save a sick person, it felt both wrong and terrifying to be gallivanting around The Almafi Coast while my friend’s condition worsened. There came a point where I simply wasn’t having fun. Where I couldn’t compartmentalize. Because the only thing that filled my mind, from waking to closing my eyes, was how full of regret I’d be if things got worse, if I were too late.

On the morning that I was supposed to take a boat tour to snorkel in the sea and tourist around the island of Capri, instead I took a taxi to the train station in Sorrento. The train took me to Naples, where I got off and boarded a bus. The bus took me to the airport, where I ran through the terminal to catch a flight to Munich, where I would then connect to Manchester, UK. I should have misconnected and been stuck in Munich, but by some miracle (and fast legs and pumping lungs), I was able to make it, just in the knick of time, onto my second flight. I arrived in Manchester, checked into an airport hotel, took a much-needed shower, and Ubered myself to the hospital.


I stayed in the UK for a week, shuttling back and forth between my friend’s parents’ house and the hospital where he was staying. I cried in the mornings, while I had the house to myself, then I put on a brave face and smiled all afternoon in the hospital. I crashed my rental car. I burnt his parent’s floor with a curling iron. I cursed the sunshine that poured through the French doors in the living room, bitter for everything beautiful. Incensed it would still dare to shine while he lay there dying.

It was brutal. And I’m so glad I went.


There were a lot of beautiful moments, good food, and fun sightseeing in Italy that I would love to write about someday. But for now, to read a bit about my trip itinerary and my time in Rome, check out these two posts:

Quick Trip To Rome (Without Seeing The Vatican)

If you’d like to read my thoughts about death, feel free:

Someone I Love Is Dying 

The trip wasn’t completely RUINED, despite receiving dire news.

Got the five star treatment and warmest welcome from family in Grottaminarda, Italy

Aunt/niece bonding time 😊

Scenes from Rome

and UK scenes


September was a travel month I had been looking forward to all year. In fact, September is always a travel month I look forward to.

First, I headed to Maryland because somehow my friends convinced me to take part in a Spartan race for Dasha’s birthday. They told me it would be fun, and I can attest that it most certainly was not. But I did feel a sense of accomplishment finishing the course, and the weekend overall was a good time. I got to meet some very cool people, eat lots of yummy snacks, and even sing karaoke in this Airbnb’s private bar room. They are already talking to me about signing up for next year’s race, even though I keep telling them “No freaking way”.


Towards the end of September, my flight attendant friends and I traveled to Calgary, Canada to run the World Airline Road Race (WARR for short.) WARR is an event I’ve talked about a few times on the blog, and it is one of my favorite trips every year. Airline employees around the world travel to a different city to compete in a 10k, 5k, or both. But don’t worry, this is not all running. There are four days of events, including a tee-shirt swap, meet & greet, and a banquet with awards, dinner, and dancing. A different airline hosts every year, and they choose the locale. It was so much fun getting to check out Calgary, a city I probably wouldn’t have visited otherwise, and all of us are PUMPED to do next year’s WARR in NEW FREAKING ZEALAND!

If you’re airline, DM me to find out how to sign up next year!!


After WARR, my friends and I drove West to Alberta to spend three days in Banff National Park. This park had been on my bucket list for over a decade, and it is every bit as stunning as Instagram makes it seem. We saw the famous lakes, Louise and Moraine, we hiked through the brilliant gold Larch Valley, and we did the Via Ferrata (a cross between rock climbing and hiking) on Mount Norquay. If you are considering visiting Banff National Park—and why wouldn’t you be?—then check out the post below for all the details on what we did. (I happen to think our itinerary was perfect.)


Related Posts:

Surviving My First Spartan Race (Barely)
The World Airline Road Race Takes Calgary!
Quick Trip to Banff National Park

Never doing this again

But this is the BEST

Calgary, Alberta, CA

Don't miss the Larch Valley hike in Banff.

Or the Via Ferrata at Mt. Norquay

Or Lake Louise (obviously)


October took me back to the UK, where I spent a few days in Staffordshire, visiting a Monkey Forest, strolling along the canals that wind through the town, and attending my second Man United match at Old Trafford.

The second half of the trip was spent in Wales in a little village called Llwyngwril. The weather was shit, but the converted chapel Airbnb we stayed in was the perfect refuge from the wind and rain. We sat in quiet, cozy pubs, looked for sea glass in the sand of a desolate beach, and kicked it around several other storybook, stone villages. We watched lots of Netflix and made the most of some trying situations. We visited a castle and went thrift shopping. We took local transportation that was an adventure all its own.

I left happy.


Related Posts:

Quick trip to Llwyngwril, Wales

Fan-ing @ Old Traf.

George III pub, The George, Welsh countryside, Welsh scenes, Wales, visiting Wales, trip to Wales, planning a trip to Wales, quick trip to Wales, getaway in Wales, romantic getaway in Wales

Scenes from Llwyngwril

Barmouth, Wales, toni from awheelinthesky, shopping in Barmouth, things to do in Barmouth, quick trip to Wales, getaway in Wales


November was the only month in 2023 that I didn’t do any personal travel. To make up for it, I bid fun layovers. I worked trips with friends. I spent time in Aruba, and Trinidad, and Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.

These trips were a far cry from the easy, one-leg west coast trips, or the quiet redeye turns I usually work. It was more legs, and different crowds than I’m used to. There were a lot of trips through customs & immigration, nothing major, but an added annoyance when flying is your job. It was exhausting, honestly.

But I got to spend some quality time with amazing friends and co-workers, check out destinations I hadn’t been to before, and soak in the vitamin D so often missing from my New England home life. And how can I be mad at that?


Aguadilla, PR

Aguadilla, PR

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

New York


December brought my final trip to the UK for the year, and it seems we saved the worst for last. What was supposed to be a cozy, Holiday-esque getaway turned out to be emotionally grueling and over all pretty fucking awful. There were fun moments—a quiet morning by myself in a quaint coffee shop, the only shop in town, befriending an orange cat on a foggy morning walk through the winding streets of whatever Cotswolds village we were in, a hip rooftop bar with red and pink lighting and heat lamps, a refuge from the hysteria of Downtown London at Christmastime, a comedy show that made me laugh, despite the cultural barrier—the first laughs in my week away. But besides these moments, I wished, for most of the time, that I were somewhere else. Working, even.

Death is such a trip. Time is so fucking outrageous. If this person I love had a lifetime to live, I’d be content to hate him. Ten years, even. Maybe five. I’d have hopped a flight back to the States and gone about my business, mad and aloof. But time is so short. It’s so, so limited. And who can say what we’ll regret in the end? And who’s to know what is ever really the right thing to do? So, I stayed on the bad trip.

Maybe the few moments of peace, the happy times, were worth staying for. Maybe the reminder—the sitting in the hospital and watching paint peel while the IV dripped—was worth staying for. It shocks you to remember, in the throws of hating someone, that they’re leaving soon. That they have so much of your sympathy. That the parts of them you love will be gone, too.

London at Christmastime is special. It was a hard trip. I’ve been struggling through the end of the year.

I hope all my vacations next year are light, fun, beautiful, soul-filling.


Don’t worry too much, I’ll be okay in the end. And to prove it, I’ve got one more trip planned for 2023. It’s nothing crazy, just a little trip down to Orlando to ring in the new year with one of my best friends. But man, that feels like a lot to me right now.

Here’s hoping you look back on all your 2023 memories—the travel, the relationships, and everything else—and smile. The good times and the bad times—they’re all just snapshots in your collection. Pages in the story of your very human experience. And how lucky we are to get to walk through these stories.

Here’s hoping that your 2024 travels—near or far, for work or play, for adventure or relaxation, with loved ones and alone—are all more than you expected. I hope this year is full of moments that take your breath away. <3

airplane logo


  • Jim Hope

    December 28, 2023

    I find it very therapeutic to recall past experiences and realize how very blessed I am. I’s so sorry for your friend and his circumstances. Here’s hoping that 2024 will be a more fulfilling year for you. I believe it will be for me, with lots of travel and lots of time spent doing volunteer work that I love and fulfills me. Please know that your posts bring me joy and your way with words is so attractive!


post a comment