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At the end of each year, I like to reflect on travels from the past year and look ahead to trips in the new one. It’s a nice way to recap and categorize trips as well as prioritize upcoming trips. I mean after all, when someone asks me what kind of places are on my bucket list, I want to say “EVERYWHERE!” :-). Although 2020 has been a different kind of year in all sorts of ways, I figured I would still take time to do a recap, so this post will be recapping 2020 in travel, and next week I will be back with a post about what 2021 might look like in terms of travel for my family.

Early 2020: The Travel That Happened Forever Ago

It’s hard to believe now in December, but my family and I DID actually travel some in 2020! Yes, not only did we actually leave our house, but even the state!

For me, my first trip of 2020 was in January when I went my first ever MIT Mystery Hunt in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The MIT Mystery Hunt is an annual competition held each year on MIT’s campus over Martin Luther King weekend. The hunt features more than 100 puzzles of many sorts. The kickoff had probably 1,000 people in MIT’s Kresge Auditorium with a legit wedding!

The team I was on (The Team Formerly Known As the Team Formerly Known As the Team To Be Named Later) had about 100 people on it and we were all holed up in the Le Meridien Cambridge hotel for the weekend. I had an amazing time and our team finished I believe 4th.

Later in January, I went to Las Vegas for a work meetup (the company I work for was already fully remote pre-pandemic, so they have / had annual in-person meetups). While Vegas is not really my scene, it was a fun trip nonetheless.

In February my wife and daughter went out to California to visit family in Sacramento and were there for a few days.


The 2020 Trips That Were Canceled

And then… March :-). I’ve mentioned this to several people in the past few months, but it’s funny looking back to remember how up in the air all of this was in early to mid-March. We had a family trip to Hawaii planned, leaving Tuesday, March 17. On March 2, I was not planning on canceling it or any of my trips. But in the week before our planned departure, as COVID-19 started becoming more and more of a thing (at least in the U.S.), my wife and I went back and forth trying to decide if we should cancel. My mom was planning on coming to stay with one of my kids who wasn’t going, and she called up saying she was getting nervous about it.

We talked about what to do, and back then, I remember not being as concerned about catching it and getting sick, but more about the things that we couldn’t control. What happens if someone we happen to fly with or come into contact with gets sick and they quarantine our whole plane? Or what happens if Hawaii shuts down and we can’t get back home when we’re expecting to? In the end, on March 13, 4 days before we were supposed to fly, we canceled our trip. The kids were disappointed. Heck, *I* was disappointed — Hawaii is the only state I haven’t been to, and I STILL haven’t been there!

a pineapple wearing a face mask

Looking back, of course that was the right decision and even had we gone, I doubt we’d have been able to stay the whole time we were planning or do all the things we anticipated. It was really when the NBA and March Madness shut down that it all started getting real.

Of course, it didn’t (and hasn’t) stopped there. We canceled pretty much everything that we had planned in 2020. Thankfully, I was able to get almost all of my miles, points and cash back. Only in a very few cases did I have to end up taking a loss. We had planned a trip to Europe with my dad and my sister, a family trip to Yosemite, and I’m sure we would have planned even more had 2020 gone in a different direction.

2020 Trips We Did End Up Taking

We have taken 2 more:

a group of people in the water

  • September – My son left home to serve a two-year church mission in Portland, Oregon, and he and I flew out there to drop him off. Thankfully the West Coast had stopped being on fire. While there, I took a few days to road trip by myself and visited 38 new counties, my only new counties of 2020. That (visiting at least 1 new county) is something I have done every year for the past 23 years. You can see the area I visited in medium blue, along with that annoying white hole in California that was supposed to be plugged up by our Yosemite trip

a map of the state of california

Looking Ahead to Travel in 2021

So…. now what? We’ll cover in next week’s post what my plans are for 2021, but as of now, I don’t have anything booked. I am cautiously optimistic that we will be able to get back to some traveling, at least in the latter half of the year. And I’ve got plenty of miles and points saved up to do it!

What about you? How did 2020 look for you in terms of travel taken vs. canceled?

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