Our airline industry experts have flown all over the world multiple times, so we wanted to know their favorite personal trips of 2022. The results might surprise you and may have you booking a similar trip in 2023! Retired flight attendant Kentrell Charles chose three very different locations. Flight attendant and private chef Heather Earl traveled this year looking for great biking adventures along with a special place to volunteer. Pilot Christy Karsten kept her favorite right here in the U.S. Flight attendant Lara Ketterman checked three more spots off her bucket list!
1. Maui, Hawaii
Charles says Maui is hands down his favorite destination. He has stayed in a variety of places, but this year, he tried out the Wailea Beach Resort. If you want to see the island, Charles suggests renting a car. He used Toro and really liked it.
There are so many things to see and do that it’s hard to pin it all down. But his favorite is always a day at one of Maui’s amazing beaches. And when you’ve worked up an appetite from all the relaxing, Charles usually heads to a locally owned restaurant. He says he has never had a bad meal on Maui!
2. Laguna Beach, California
Karsten also headed to the beach this year with Laguna Beach being one of her favorites. She likes the accessibility from the airports and the charming, artsy vibe, plus miles of gorgeous coastline. Her favorite hotel is Surf and Sand Hotel located on the beach. You feel like you’re relaxing in a Mediterranean villa.
Activities center around the water. She enjoys paddle boarding around Crescent Cove. If you look under your board and you might see garibaldi, California’s, bright orange fish, or see sea lions. Laguna is very hilly, so walking can be challenging. There are no trains, but there’s always Uber and the public bus. Kasten’s favorite time to visit is in September.
3. Boston, Massachusetts
Beantown is just magical, according to Karsten. It’s one of her favorite cities for frequent visits. You can experience our country’s history firsthand by walking from Boston Commons to Bunker Hill or strolling through The Freedom Trail. The Green Dragon Tavern is a pub known as the Headquarters of the Revolution. Order a pint of your favorite brew and imagine how the Sons of Liberty dreamt up the Boston Tea Party! Another dining option is Italian in the North End. Karsten could eat at Quattro every night! She enjoys visiting in the fall and seeing the leaves change colors.
4. Southern Arizona
At the beginning of the year, Earl and her husband hopped into their Airstream and hit the open road. They were looking for beauty and great biking trails. They ended up in southern Arizona, with their first stop at Catalina State Park. After an interesting New Year’s celebration, they headed to Patagonia Lake State Park and then to Sleeping Dog Ranch near Sonoita, Arizona. All had great biking trails and unique places to eat and explore.
5. Jonesborough, Tennessee
Charles said this quaint Tennessee town was a pleasant surprise. Main Street alone will take you on a journey of the past with its diverse history and markings of all those that have come to make the town so special. He explored the famous Chester Inn State History Museum and The Watauga Valley Railroad Museum. After all that walking, he was ready for lunch. Main Street Cafe was the perfect spot — right in the center of town. Charle suggests ordering a burger and the hot crispy fries while washing it down with a good local soda, Dr. Enuf. Of course, leave room for some delicious gelato.
6. New York City, New York
New York City has everything for just about everyone. The history of the city is fascinating, and Karten often takes a walking tour of Manhattan to learn about the founding of this great place. Her favorite time of year to go is spring or late summer into fall. The easiest way to get around the city is by public transportation. She prefers the bus to the subway. The MTA app is very helpful. New York also has some of the best restaurants in the world. You can head to Chinatown for some amazing Asian cuisine at Shanghai 21. Or check out a speakeasy like Beauty & Essex for champagne and steak.
7. Vancouver, British Columbia
Another trip was a spur-of-the-moment decision with two friends. Charles picked Vancouver, and it didn’t disappoint. Canada has such incredible natural beauty. Charles suggests The Sea to Sky Gondola. The views and landscapes are amazing. Vancouver is also a foodie’s dream. Your palate will be pleasantly surprised by all the options. One of his favorites is Rice and Noodle in West End. But he does have one piece of advice before you leave Vancouver — go buy ketchup chips!”
8. Amsterdam, Netherlands
What started out as a 2-week cycling vacation in Spain turned into a budget adventure in Amsterdam for Earl. With her Hilton points, she stayed at Hampton Inn Hoofddorp. She thinks the best way to experience Amsterdam is by bike. You can rent bikes or bring your own. If you need a day off, she highly recommends taking a tour of the canals with Those Dam Boat Guys. She calls it a DIY dinner cruise and comedy show all wrapped into one. Another unique tour is the free art tour. Amsterdam was the perfect backup for Earl.
9. Dead Sea
Ketterman’s favorite destinations were tied into a delayed bucket list trip. Her family visited the Dead Sea. They drove there from Jordan and had a day pass ($60 USD) at the Holiday Inn Dead Sea Resort. The hotel has a private beach on the Dead Sea. She enjoyed it because after a salty swim, they could swim in the hotel pool. A day pass is the way to go because you cannot spend more than 10 minutes in the Dead Sea as the salt content is too high. The water was not cool, but it was not hot either.
10. Southern Spain
Earl did make a return trip to Spain in October and boy did she explore! There are so many cities to enjoy: Costa Del Sol, Jalon Valley, Calpe, and Xalo. They all offer unique experiences and have great biking trails and beautiful scenery. But if biking isn’t your thing, you can hike or walk to experience this beautiful part of Spain.
If you’re looking for great restaurants, Velosol Cycling Bar serves up hearty sandwiches, healthy salads, and great coffee. Earl also recommends Café de Palmera with its unique menu, to-die-for pastries, and homey atmosphere. It’s on Main Street in Xaló overlooking the river. If you get tired of rural life and cycling, head to the beaches at Moraira or Calpe for all things beach-related, nightlife, and restaurants.
The pyramids in Egypt were at the top of Ketterman’s bucket list, and seeing them confirmed why. The travel time was almost 2 days. They started out in Cairo. After a glorious day of seeing the pyramids, Earl and her family took a 5-day Nile cruise. At each stop, they disembarked and visited one of the Pharoah’s temples. Some sites were visited at night and others during the day. This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The beautiful homes and hotels are built into the side of the mountains with stunning views of the desert. Ketterman compares Jordan to Israel. They stayed in a mountainous resort overlooking the city by Petra. You definitely felt like you were in an Indiana Jones movie. You aren’t allowed inside the movie building but you can climb to the top of the Monastery. It is quite the climb. When they made it to the top, it was like nothing they’d ever seen before. If you ever get a chance to go, make time and bring good shoes and climb to the Monastery.
13. Braga, Portugal
Earl’s visit to Portugal was not just for pleasure, but for purpose. She volunteered with Women of Hope to help rebuild a furniture factory for the Fuller Center for Housing. Earl and the other volunteers helped turn the factory into six apartments for refugee and local families. This was one of the hardest builds they’ve done to date. The local coordinator organized fun outings like a tour of Braga. Again, this was not your average trip, but Earl would encourage anyone to check out international service opportunities. It’s a unique way to experience a country from a different perspective.