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I'm Jewels, founder of travelJewels and dedicated to helping you live a full & intentional life through travel. On this site you will find detailed travel guides and tips focused on first-hand experiences.

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Top 12 Travel Moments of 2018

Instead of the detailed New Years Resolution list that I typically make, this past year I decided to keep things simple and continue to live boldly, embrace spontaneity, and speak abundance into my life. With these vows in mind, I explored six different countries this year, basked in new and unforgettable experiences, and had reunions with friends all around the globe. Here are my top 12 travel moments from 2018!

1) Black Pride in Brazil

I brought in 2018 at Réveillon in Rio de Janeiro, one of the largest NYE celebrations in the world, and then made my way to Salvador, where we had an endless amount of beach days! The most captivating part of my experience in Brazil was soaking up all the Afro-Brazilian culture. From watching Candomblé dance circles in Rio to taking capoeira and samba lessons in Salvador, my heart smiled at the pervasive display of Black pride.

2) Visiting Both Sides of the Iguazú Falls

The Iguazú Falls is one of the new seven natural wonders of the world. It is the largest waterfall system in the world, spanning both Brazil & Argentina. There was so much debate on which side to visit, so we decided to go to both. We went on an exhilarating boat ride under the falls in Argentina and were able to walk closer to the falls on the Brazilian side. Experiencing both sides of the Iguazú Falls was a treat!


Read more about my experience at the Iguazu Falls here


12 Top Travel Moments of 2018- Iguazú Falls

3) Staying at the Hotel Guaminí Misión 

The Hotel Guaminí Misión in Puerto Iguazú was my favorite accommodation of 2018. The hotel grounds was beautiful with its ruins feel, the infinity pool had a gorgeous view of the Iquazú River, the food was delicious, and we were able to get to the waterfalls easily.

4) Everything about Peru

Peru quickly became one of my favorite countries because I had a lot of first-time experiences there: hiked up Rainbow Mountain, which was the largest mountain I’ve done to date (17,000 feet), went sand boarding for the first time in Huachachina, marveled at the iconic Machu Picchu, petted a llama, and watched Peru make a historic return to the World Cup with their match against Denmark. One of the most charming features of Peru is its people. Peruvians are truly some of the most genuine spirits I’ve ever come across. One of the most memorable individuals we met was Mario, the gardener at the Temple of the Sun in Cusco. Mario ended up being our informal tour guide, just so we could have the best experience in Peru.


Read more about my epic experience in Peru here.


12 Top Travel Moments of 2018- Watching the Peru vs Denmark World Cup game
12 Top Travel Moments of 2018- Temple of the Sun

5) Moving Back to NYC

After 5 years of living in North Carolina, I made the decision to move back to my hometown of NYC for a slight shift in career focus! This was a really bold move for me, as I swore I would never more back :-). But life here has been adventurous and filled with growth!

12 Top Travel Moments of 2018-  Moving back to NYC

6) Playing Mas in Caribana

I finally got to live out my dream of dressing up in costume for Caribana in Toronto. Caribana is one of the largest celebrations of Caribbean heritage in North America. It was such a fun experience playing mas and being in the winning band of the year (Saldenah)!


To learn all about how to play mas in Caribana read here.


7) Swimming in the Caribbean Sea & Atlantic Ocean in Grenada

I’ve had a paralyzing fear of swimming in the ocean for years! But this was the year I was determined to overcome it. I took swimming lessons (for the third time) to prepare for my scuba yoga diving retreat. Due to murky waters, we weren’t able to go scuba diving in the ocean, but I was able to swim in the ocean! It was the best feeling ever. I felt free!


Read more about my birthday trip to Grenada here.


8) Seeing Grenada through the eyes of my friend

One of the best parts of my trip to Grenada was the privilege of being guided around town by my college friend and local, Malaika. Although I hadn’t seen her since we graduated college and only spoke with her a handful of times over the years, we were able to pick up like no time has passed at all. We did so much laughing, reminiscing, and planning! It was everything I needed as I welcomed my 29th year.

9) Reunions in Paris

I was so happy to return back to Paris to have a reunion with my friends Jessica and Vivien. Jessica and I met Vivien five years ago in Barcelona, and we also hung out in Paris. Although we’ve had plenty of reunions in NYC, we decided to reunite in the city where we all became close—Paris. It was lovely to experience Paris during off-peak season! We returned to a few of our favorite spots and explored many new places.

12 Top Travel Moments of 2018- Eiffel Tower

10) Attending a Women’s March in Paris

Stumbling upon a women’s march in Paris that was protesting violence against women was one of the most touching memories for me this year. It resonated a lot with our fight against the injustices women and other marginalized groups in the U.S. face and the need for communities to rise up against it.

11) Discovering my newfound obsession with Parisian metro stations

Parisian metro stations all have different feels to them. You’ll feel like you’re in a theater in one station and in another, you’ll feel like you’re on a runway. The service is efficient, the train and platforms are clean, and you can clearly hear the stop announcements (evidently I’m a New Yorker scorned by the MTA). I was super impressed by the metro system and wished that I could import it to NYC.

12) Girls Trip to San Francisco

My last trip of the year was a weekend trip to San Francisco to celebrate the 30th birthday of Joy, one of my best friends! A weekend filled with amazing tacos, fellowship with some of my favorite people, a stop in Napa Valley, exploring the Mission District and soaking up all the chill Cali vibes — my heart was content.

In Summary…

My travels in 2018 brought me so much joy, and they served as an affirmation that I’m exactly where I need to be. Stay tuned for my 2019 adventures!

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Top 12 Travel Moments of 2018
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