2022 Travel Recap: The Year of Growing and Showing

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2022 has come and gone, leaving behind a flurry of wonderful and less-than-wonderful memories and some big personal changes. For the past two years, I’ve written an end-of-the-year recap, all about our highest highs and lowest lows with our adventures (and this travel blog). I’ve come to really enjoy putting these recaps together, as a reflection on the past year as well as a means of evaluating my hopes and goals for the year ahead.

So, without further ado, here’s our 2022 recap. 

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Couple sitting overlooking Cascade Mountains in Cutthroat Pass in North Cascades National Park, Washington
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2022 Travel Summary:

Countries visited: 3. We had an incredible time exploring La Fortuna and Manuel Antonio in Costa Rica, doing a Yucatan road trip in Mexico, and wandering over into our neighbor to the north, Canada.

U.S. States visited: 9 (Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, Missouri, Illinois, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Colorado)

Couple watching sunset at Haleakala National Park in Maui

U.S. National Parks Visited: 5 (Haleakala, Hawai’i Volcanoes, Mount Rainier, Olympic, North Cascades)

Beds slept in: 19

Campsites stayed in: 13 (plus we backpacked along the Enchanted Valley trail and Shi Shi Beach trail in Olympic National Park, as well as the Summerland Trail in Mount Rainier)

Couple walking across a bridge at Ramona Falls, Oregon

Our Three Travel Highlights in 2022

Going to Costa Rica

Costa Rica had always been on my bucket list, but when I saw a decent deal on airfare to San Jose, I knew I had to jump on it. So, in the spring of 2022, we went on a week-long trip to explore La Fortuna and Manuel Antonio, two of the most popular destinations in the country.

Couple walking on rocks in front of La Fortuna Waterfall, Costa Rica

We had an absolute blast there over the course of an action-packed week— hiking under a massive volcano, soaking in hot springs as howler monkeys roared overhead, swimming at the base of the most jaw-dropping waterfalls, and literally fending off monkeys that were trying to steal our backpack (yes, really!). 

It was our first time visiting a new-to-us country in over two years (thanks, global pandemic)—and it was the absolute perfect place for it. There was plenty of existing tourist infrastructure, like car rental agencies, hotels, and people proficient in English, that made visiting a breeze, but with enough under-the-radar gems, like El Salto Rope Swing, Catarata del Toro, or Soda La Hormiga, to still make it feel like a bit of an adventure. 

Two capuchin monkeys sitting on a branch in Manuel Antonio National Park in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

I seriously can’t wait to go back and explore more of this incredible country!

Road tripping around the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

One of my goals for 2022 was to get scuba certified. So, come August, we signed up for a scuba certification course, where we took online classes to learn all about the 10,000 ways you can die whilst scuba diving and finished up the confined and open water dives down in Tulum, Mexico.

Couple sitting on the curb on a street of Izamal, Mexico

Why Tulum? Well, because, fun fact- the open water dives near our home in Seattle are in the Puget Sound, which does not get much warmer than around 55 degrees at any point throughout the year. I’m definitely not about that life. Plus, who doesn’t love an excuse to go to Mexico?

So I planned a whole road trip around the Yucatan Peninsula, hitting up some stops that have always been on my bucket-list. We dove into the shockingly turquoise water of the Bacalar Lagoon and floated down Los Rapidos, Mother Nature’s version of a lazy river. We gazed up at Chichen Itza, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and afterwards, cooled down in one of the most stunning cenotes in the Yucatan with such an amazing backstory (you can read more about that in our post all about Cenote Yokdzonot). 

Woman twirling in front of El Castillo in Chichen Itza, Mexico

But the coolest experience of all was scuba diving- in fact, one of the coolest experiences of my entire life happened during our diving course! We did our first actual dive at Cenote Casa, essentially a freshwater lake with some small fish swimming about (but generally, nothing overly interesting in terms of wildlife). About midway through our dive, we looked up and spotted a frickin’ CROCODILE swimming along the surface of the water about 20 feet over our heads. The perspective of looking up at him, as he slithered across the water and, beyond the surface, the mangroves drooping from above was absolutely wild—and something I’ll never forget.

Turns out our crocodile friend is well known around the cenote (and affectionately called “Panchito”) and is described by folks that work here as “friendly.” Our scuba instructor insisted that these types of crocodiles are harmless to humans, but per Wikipedia, at least 12 humans have been killed by them. 

Man scuba diving underwater in Mexico

Killer crocs or not, this is definitely one of the most adventurous experiences I’ve ever had!

Seeing my family in Chicago

Between the pandemic, working at my professional job and on this blog, and general adulting, I haven’t had an opportunity to go visit my parents, who are based in Chicago, the past few years. In August, my dad was diagnosed with cancer, though, and I prioritized going to visit my parents as often as I could.

These trips have been like a walk down memory lane- playing mini-golf at the horror movie-themed entertainment park where I used to have birthday parties as a kid, walking through the fall leaves on a beautiful autumn day, and driving around, looking at Christmas lights together. We’ve even added some new fun activities to the mix, like visiting The National Museum of Mexican Art and eating in an outdoor igloo, pumped full of Christmas lights, cheery music, and lots of fried food. 

Of course, I wish these visits were under different circumstances but it’s been so special to have fun—and really, just spend time—together. It’s our most valuable asset, which, in today’s busy world, can be hard to keep in perspective.

Honorable mentions:

  • Snorkeling with manta rays, seeing a lava lake, AND climbing the world’s tallest mountain on the Big Island (Hawaii is the COOLEST, y’all)
  • Celebrating my friend going to grad school by hitting up a Vegas pool party, deejayed by Zedd, and capping our weekend off by drinking boozy Dole Whips from the best rooftop pool overlooking the Strip
Couples' feet laying in the Cosmopolitan's Boulevard Pool in Las Vegas, with the Paris hotel in the background
  • Watching the sunrise over Maui from the water, as school bus-sized humpback whales leapt and crashed into the water around us
  • Camping with our friends outside of Mount Rainier National Park in our Safari Condo F2114 trailer 
Group of friends sitting outside a Safari Condo Alto F2114 trailer

Our Three Travel Lowlights

Okay, I’m going to be honest. After the cataclysmic shitshows that 2020 and 2021 were, our travels in 2022 were an absolute breeze (thank you, travel gods!). Accordingly, I’m kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel with these examples, but we all know that travel (and life in general) is not all rainbows and unicorns, so I think these are important to include as well.

Ripping my toenail off in Maui

This is really our one true travel mishap this year- and warning, a little bit gross.

In January, we headed off to Maui to do all the Maui things: whale watching, hiking down into Haleakala, and, of course, driving the Road to Hana. 

This scenic drive snakes through 65-miles of some of the lushest rainforests in the world and is definitely more about the actual journey itself than the destination. Along your drive, you pass rushing waterfalls, jaw-dropping beaches, and more tropical fruit stands than you could possibly eat at in a year.

Justin and I had just started our drive, first stopping at a beach and then a hike called Twin Falls. Along this trail, you follow a flat, rocky path back through the jungle, across a shallow stream, to a waterfall that looked straight out of Jurassic Park. Once we got to the waterfall, I slipped off my sandals and shorts and jumped straight into the cool, green water. 

But wading around in the water was actually a little painful, due to the rocky and uneven floor of the plunge pool. And with one wrong and swift step, I accidentally kicked a small boulder that was underwater hard enough to make the nail of my big toe rip completely off. 

The nail ripping off initially didn’t hurt that bad but it did mean that I had to get out of the (probably not very clean) plunge pool, hike through the (probably not very clear) stream, and hobble about a mile back to our car with a large open wound on my foot. And since the Road to Hana is quite remote, we had to drive for over an hour in the wrong direction to find hydrogen peroxide and gauze and all the things you need to treat a ripped off toenail that was gushing blood.

Woman standing in Twin Falls along the Road to Hana, Maui
Riiiiiight before I said goodbye to my big toenail.

It also turns out that most of the things that Justin and I would typically do in Maui, like swimming or snorkeling in the ocean or hiking, are not exactly advisable when you have a big ol’ open wound on your foot, so this small misstep (quite literally!) sort of ruined the rest of our trip. Luckily, this happened the second to last day we were on the island, but, with just four days there, it definitely sucked.

Lesson learned: always wear Tevas if you decide to jump into a random body of water. Your toenails will thank me later.

Almost canceling our trip to Costa Rica due to the weather

Usually, Justin and I are positively giddy in the week leading up to an international trip, but, for whatever reason, we were both feeling kind of “blah” in the days immediately before heading off to Costa Rica. And, being the procrastinators that we are, we hadn’t started packing for our trip until about an hour before we needed to head to the airport.

When we looked at the weather to figure out what we should pack, our stomachs dropped- there was basically a 100% chance of thunderstorms, literally every hour of every day that we were visiting. 

Low-hanging clouds around Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica, Mexico

I was pretty annoyed- I had specifically scheduled our trip during Costa Rica’s dry season. And if there was apocalyptic levels of rain, I didn’t know what the hell we were going to do there—while rain may be okay if you’re visiting, like, London or Paris or someplace where you can wander around a bunch of museums, Costa Rica is someplace you go to swim under waterfalls and hike through the jungle and do a bunch of stuff that would probably be decidedly not so fun in a torrential downpour.

And at that moment, we received a notice that the airline we were flying was giving away significant vouchers if you were willing to reschedule your flight. It seemed like a sign from the travel gods that we were never meant to go to Costa Rica in the first place! So I called up the airline to see if we could just cancel our flights there and maybe even get a sizable voucher for doing so. 

Couple looking at Rio Celeste waterfall in Costa Rica

I waited on hold to speak to someone at the airline, until, eventually, we absolutely needed to start heading to the airport. Ultimately, I gave up on the vouchers, and we decided to just make the most of whatever the weather threw our way in Costa Rica.

And you know what? It literally didn’t rain AT ALL during our trip, but for a 10 minute shower when we were in the car. I don’t know if it’s a dead giveaway of how much we loved Costa Rica, given that it was our #1 highlight of 2022, but yeah, we were, like, SUPER into it. 

Couple kissing at Playa Espadilla at sunset in Costa Rica

It’s a good reminder to not put toooo much stock into weather apps and be willing to just roll with the punches- you may just be pleasantly surprised!

Tulum, Mexico

When we booked our scuba certification course in Mexico, I couldn’t WAIT to go back to Tulum. We had explored Tulum and the surrounding area for a long weekend in 2019 and I had loved that it was a sleepy beach town, with lowkey boho glam vibes.

Come 2022, though, Tulum was… not it. It’s like all of the investors in the world found out about Tulum blowing up a couple of years ago, dumped a bunch of money into it, and REALLY oversaturated the market with luxury apartment complexes, hipster beach shops, and huge, airy restaurants with impossibly white walls.

We passed SO many newly-constructed, very American-looking restaurants that were seemingly completely deserted and half-constructed condo buildings that had been abandoned at some point during the pandemic. It just kind of feels like its soul has been completely sucked out.

So if you’re heading to the Yucatan, I’d personally recommend skipping Tulum- there’s so many cool towns, like Bacalar or Merida, where your time will be better spent!

My word for 2022

If you’re an OG Uprooted Traveler follower and have read our 2021 travel recap, you’ll know that I pick a word each year, to kind of act as a North Star on how I was my year to go. 

My word of 2022 was growth– and grow we did! In fact, our blog had INSANE growth, growing 414% year-over-year, to end with an eye-popping 642 thousand sessions and 732 thousand individual pageviews. My goal for 2023 is to break one million sessions and the fact that that’s a rather conservative number, in lieu of our historical growth, is absolutely bonkers to me. 

Couple sitting in a Safari Condo Alto F2114 trailer

Beyond the blog’s growth, we had some other cool accomplishments- we kicked off a very cool partnership with Safari Condo, the manufacturer of our trailer; Justin’s photo was featured on PAGE 2(!!!) of Country Living Magazine nationwide, and we launched our YouTube channel. While we haven’t gotten to make as many YouTube videos as we’d like, we currently have 577 subscribers, so, at a minimum, it can’t just be my mom watching at this point. 

Smiling woman holding an open RVing magazine

My word for 2023

My word for 2023 is diversify– we’ve been working hard to turn this blog from a hobby to a side hustle to a business. And slowly but surely, it’s working! But, to be honest, I haven’t really been great about treating it that way. 

I’d love to learn new ways and finetune existing skills on how we can make money from this blog, while creating super helpful, engaging, and honest content for our readers. 

I’d also love to spend more of our time making videos (which is clearly the direction the world is moving). I need to brag on Justin for a moment- he is SO talented at editing videos, especially given the limited number of videos he’s worked on, and I really can’t wait to see what he can accomplish with a few more videos under his belt. That being said, at the moment, we both are awkward turtles on camera and have a ways to go until we figure out how to simultaneously be ourselves and engaging whilst on screen. But, like I said, this year is all about diversifying, right?

Man working on a laptop in the Safari Condo Alto F2114

Working on Uprooted Traveler certainly has its ups and downs but one of the biggest blessings has been the amount of skills that we’ve learned. From web design to SEO, photography, and videography, we’re constantly learning and growing and getting better- and I can’t wait to do more of that in 2023!

How’d we do on our 2022 bucketlist?

In our 2021 travel recap, I put together a list of travel-related goals that I wanted to accomplish. So how’d we stack up?

Snowshoeing at Crater Lake National Park.

Negative. To be honest, traveling to Crater Lake from Seattle is kind of logistically a pain, especially in the wintertime. The roads are usually really snowy, so we probably couldn’t take our trailer; we’d have to get a dog sitter; and it’s an 8 hour drive, which is just a bit too far to make for a long weekend trip and a bit too close to make a whole week-long trip around. Maybe next year, Crater Lake.

Go on a multiple-day backpacking adventure.

Check! We hiked to the Enchanted Valley in Olympic National Park, over the course of three days and it was incredible. We listened to elk bugle along the trail, gazed up at the massive trees as we ambled through the Valley of the Giants, and woke up in one of the most beautiful campsites I’ll ever have the pleasure of camping.

Couple sitting in a tent at the Enchanted Valley in Olympic National Park

Take an international trip. 

Check! Costa Rica and Mexico are in the books.

Get scuba-certified.

Panchito calling in to say “check”!

Man and woman scuba diving and looking at a turtle and lionfish

Take our trailer to at least one new state. 

We didn’t go to a new state, but did go to Canada… so I’m going to count it. Check!

Take a trip to Alaska to see the Northern Lights or a fall foliage road trip around the East Coast of the United States

Negative. I’d love to take our trailer to both Alaska (…probably not in winter, though) and to the east coast for a fall foliage road trip, but that’s not in the cards right now. Fingers crossed, someday soon!

Spend Christmastime in Chicago. 

Check! Given my dad is immunocompromised, Christmas in Chicago looked a little different than in years past but we nonetheless had the best time- the aforementioned igloo, two different greenhouses with poinsettia shows, and driving around Lehnertz Ave. to see their annual Charlie Brown-themed Christmas lights display.

Get 50,000 unique visitors per month on our blog

We actually accomplished this all the way back in January 2022 when our Tree of Life post unexpectedly went viral. So check!

Start a YouTube channel and publish at least 12 videos. 

Che… (in case you don’t get my hysterical sense of humor, that’s half a check). We definitely started a YouTube channel and made a few videos we’re really proud of, but fell short of the 12 video goal. This year’s our year, though, baby!

Couple standing in front of the Enchanted Valley Chalet in the Enchanted Valley in Olympic National Park

My 2023 Travel Bucket List

So what are my bucket list items I want us to check off this year? To be honest, most of our big trips this year are already booked and meticulously planned (because I’m me), but here are some of the items that I’d love to accomplish that we haven’t committed to yet.

Thru-hike the Enchantments

The Enchantments is a famous thru-hike through some of the most dramatic parts of Washington’s Cascade Mountains, with Gatorade blue alpine lakes and lots of mountain goat friends. I’ve unsuccessfully applied for camping permits three years and counting, but this year is my YEAR. 

If we’re not lucky enough to snag permits (less than 2% of lottery applicants score them!), I’m doing this baby in one day- all 18 miles of it. Let’s pray for those permits, though!

Couple holding hands in front of the North Cascade Mountains in Washington

Drive along Highway 1 with our RV

I’ve wanted to drive along Highway 1 for probably a decade and I’m feeling like 2023 would be a good year for it. Big Sur, here we come!

Go kayaking with orcas in the San Juan Islands

I’ve lived in Seattle for three years and, while I’ve spent a lot of time in the general vicinity of Washington’s San Juan Islands, have never actually stepped foot on them. They’re one of the best places on the planet to spot orcas and, while I’ve been lucky enough to see orcas several times during my time in the Pacific Northwest, it would be next level amazing to actually kayak around them.

Spend three weekends in Canada

I’ve lived, like, two hours from the Canadian border for years and haven’t really explored north of the border yet (mostly because it was closed for two years).

There’s so many things I want to see in British Columbia (Garibaldi Provincial Park, Whistler, and Vancouver Island, to name a few) and, to be honest, I’m not sure how long we’re going to live in Seattle (it turns out that I’m really not about that high-cost-of-living life). So I better get to exploring right quick!

Scuba dive at least twice

We’re headed to Kauai in May, where I know we’ll scuba dive at least once, but I’m not sure where else we’ll dive. French Polynesia? The Channel Islands? I’m not sure what 2023 has in store for us, but hopefully, it’s lots of underwater adventures.

Couple scuba diving in Mexico

And a couple other goals that are more Uprooted Traveler focused than travel, but I’m going to list them here anyway.

Hit one million sessions on our blog

The number “one million” sounds completely nuts to me, but, theoretically, it should be fairly achievable. Hitting one million sessions (i.e., when a user visits our site) would account for about 50% growth, whereas we’ve grown at least 300% year-over-year for the past two years.

I know that, at some point, our growth is going to slow down substantially (it’s a lot easier to go from 100,000 to 200,000, as compared to one million to two million), but I’m hopeful we’re not at that plateau quite yet!

Woman sitting in the Safari Condo Alto F2114 working on a laptop

Post 16 videos on our YouTube channel

I know what you’re thinking: “But Jessica, you didn’t even get around to posting 12 in 2022. Why would you shoot for 16 in 2023?” Because I dare to dream, friends.

And there you have it- our 2022 travel recap. What’s on your bucketlist for 2023? I’d love to hear all about it!

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