From the cluster of cultures in Europe to the icy depths of Antarctica, the places our TravelAwaits authors cover truly span the globe. 2023 was yet another year full of new destinations and new stories from our community of writers.
“At TravelAwaits, we spotlight quaint small towns, unique experiences in big cities, delicious restaurants, and fabulous stays,” reads the TravelAwaits mission statement. “What sets us apart is making destinations accessible to all readers through our writers’ first-hand knowledge and authentic experiences.”
Since 2018, our writers have been traveling and telling new stories solely for your travel inspiration. With another year in the books, let’s see what travel features really stood out as our writers, and our readers, reached for new heights in 2023.
5 Lessons We Learned Selling Everything And Hitting The Open Road In An RV
Sometimes, it’s the journey that really matters. Written by expert contributor Allison Godlove, our top travel feature from 2023 focuses on Kathleen and Dennis Maloney, who decided to sell everything they owned and live life on the road in an RV.
The couple made this drastic change just before their 50th wedding anniversary. “They sold their house, donated 2,400 square feet of stuff, packed up the essentials, and now live full-time in a 400-square-foot motorhome,” wrote Godlove.
With a wealth of experience living in one place, Kathleen and Dennis shared their story of switching things up and navigating the challenges of this new and unique lifestyle. Detailing the key aspects of RV life that most people would be weary about, Kathleen and Dennis ultimately came to the conclusion that “life on the road is worth it.”
Ireland’s 5 Most Charming Villages Perfect For A Day Trip
From Coastal Skerries to Ashford Castle in County Mayo, our audience loved to read about the Emerald Isle in 2023. However, it was this piece on charming villages of Ireland that topped our travel features list. Expert contributor Mary Charlebois focused on five locations: Donegal, Westport, Athenry, Killybegs, and Inishmore.
“From the rugged beauty of Donegal to the charming streets of Athenry, each village has its unique character and attractions,” wrote Charlebois. “Whether you’re interested in exploring ancient ruins, admiring stunning architecture, or simply enjoying a pint of Guinness in a local pub while tapping your feet to Trad, there’s something for everyone.”
I’ve Worked In 7 National Parks — Here Are My 6 Favorite National Park Service Spots To Visit
From retired flight attendants to a former Washington Post travel editor, our TravelAwaits writers have stashed years of credibility that come in handy when covering travel trends and telling travel stories. And one of the most popular travel experiences in the country — especially among our readers — is visiting national parks. Writer Pat Pilcher, who spent 30 years working as a forestry technician, park ranger, and naturalist guide, shared his six favorite National Park Service spots this past February.
Among all of the National Park Service’s preserved areas — not just national parks — Pilcher drew from his experience to give readers a variety of parks, monuments, and more. While national park goers all keep a list of some of their favorites, Pilcher’s included Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Haleakala National Park, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Dinosaur National Monument, Joshua Tree National Park, and Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.
15 Photos You Should Always Have Saved On Your Phone While Traveling
While TravelAwaits invites everyone around the world to join in our writers’ experiences, we also aim to deliver expert advice and travel tips to help our audience prepare for any type of vacation. Our writers have covered everything from tackling sea sickness to exploring the idea of a soft adventure. However, in 2023, the most powerful resource to travel with is your phone, and readers loved the 15 Photos You Should Always Have Saved On Your Phone While Traveling.
From health insurance cards to your hotel room number, writer Robin O’Neal Smith made sure not to leave out any of the things that help keep her safe and secure while traveling. Avid travelers like to move swiftly and with as few belongings as possible. Smith focused on the images to keep on your phone if items like your wallet are lost. Just make sure you don’t lose that phone.
10 Reasons This Unique Less-Visited National Park Is A Perfect Spring Destination
So far, our top travel features have included groups of villages or parks as well as tips for the most efficient travel. For our fifth entry, however, we’ve finally arrived at one specific location: Badlands National Park in South Dakota.
Boasting fewer crowds and premier stargazing, writer Ann Bush loves Badlands because of its ability to stand apart from other, more popular national parks. But it’s the weather in springtime that really makes it her favorite.
“The rugged beauty of the park shines in the springtime when fresh emerald green mixed-grass prairie covers the valley bordering massive pale spikey hills that literally glow during a full moon,” wrote Bush. Touting it as the “perfect spring destination,” Bush enjoys Badlands for its cool weather, blooming wildflowers, easily spotted wildlife, and much more.
My 10 Favorite Walkable Cities In Europe
Sometimes, our readers like to take a break from adrenaline-filled activities and go on a relaxing walk. At the beginning of this year, expert contributor Alison Browne gave us her 10 favorite walkable cities in Europe. Starting the list in Paris and ending in Florence, she certainly did not shy away from some of the continent’s biggest cities.
For some, walking may seem like a mundane activity, but Browne looks at it differently.
“When your feet hit the cobbled streets of Europe, you are transported to a different century, a unique culture, and an opportunity to feel the city,” wrote Browne. “Walking, for the curious traveler, opens doors. You can turn left while the crowds go right. You can make personal discoveries and observations that will render a permanent place in your heart.”
Our 16 Favorite Cities To Visit In The U.S.
Every year, the staff at TravelAwaits looks to you, the reader, to present the Best Of Travel Awards — or BOTAs, as we like to call them. Voting for specific destinations and activities in a plethora of categories, readers participate in hopes to see their favorites make the list. From the best family-friendly resorts to the best airports around the world, the BOTAs cover all types of travel topics.
It was one of the most popular BOTA categories that made our list of top 2023 travel features: our readers’ favorite cities to visit in the U.S.
Some familiar cities made the list — like New York City and San Francisco — while other more surprising cities topped it, including the first three entries: Kansas City, Boston, and Nashville. Written by Dan Happe, he detailed many shining factors of each U.S. city. From the historic San Antonio missions to the Embarcadero in San Diego, this article gives readers a great idea of where the population likes to travel within the States.
We’ve RVed Full-Time For 8 Years — Here Are 10 Key Tips We’ve Learned Along The Way
Since our list started with an RV story, the topic of hitting the open road — a popular one on TravelAwaits — was bound to show up again. This time, readers couldn’t get enough of writer Carol Colborn’s RVing journey with her husband.
“My husband and I found each other late in life, and my brand-new groom took me RVing full-time,” wrote Colborn. “It became an eight-year honeymoon, crossing the continent six times, staying in 49 U.S. states, nine Canadian provinces, and six Mexican states.”
In the article, Colborn details her eight years of RVing with tips to encourage you to take up the ever-growing lifestyle. She brings us along on her epic adventure and entices even the most skeptical of readers with her enthusiasm.
9 Reasons To Visit This Quirky Arizona Town During Your Next Trip To Phoenix
A small desert town just north of Phoenix, Cave Creek might be the most unique destination to be covered on this list. Written by Arizona native Cindy Barks, readers loved learning about her experiences during multiple visits throughout the years. Dubbed as a “place where you’re likely to see a Tesla, a Harley, and a horse parked side by side,” Cave Creek earns the “quirky” moniker it’s given in this article’s title.
“Part rustic western town, part quirky shopping and dining center, and part gorgeous desert enclave; the small city of Cave Creek offers a wonderful mash-up of some of the best of Arizona’s iconic scenes,” wrote Barks. She explores the many Cave Creek landmarks — from unique shops and ice-cream parlors to museums and parks — that make it the perfect day trip during a vacation to Phoenix.
12 Most Walkable Cities In The U.S., According To Our Readers
Wrapping back around to the 2023 Best Of Travel Awards, our 10th top feature from this past year is the 12 Most Walkable Cities In The U.S., According To Our Readers. From bucket-list skyline views to hidden-gem treks along quaint streets, these cities are perfect for the travelers who prefer using their legs to get around.
“The fast pace of modern life means that most Americans tend to drive cars for transportation, often on large, fast roads,” wrote Happe. “In recent years, however, people have been rediscovering the joys of getting around on foot. Not only is walking good exercise, but it also gives people a chance to take in their neighborhoods and actively engage with their communities or the communities they’re visiting.”
The list covers cold and warm weather cities that are good for a leisurely walk during any time of year. Boston topped the list because of areas like the Beacon Hill neighborhood and Boston Common, while other cities made the list because of their unique features, like San Antonio’s River Walk.
More To Explore
Even though our list stops here, 2023 has given us a multitude of authentic and inspiring travel stories. If you want more of our top travel features from 2023, check out the next five entries on our list: