2011 was my year of “settling down” in San Francisco. After 2 years around the world paid for with consulting gigs in Chicago and Milwaukee from 2008 to 2010, I was set to really get into making a home in my new home town in 2011. This meant putting a Big Trip on future’s horizon, keeping it just near enough off to know it would happen and just far enough keep me focused on the present. This also meant keeping my travel mojo alive in this city while making a home and staying put for the first time in three years.
Easy to do.
San Francisco is 49 square miles of adventure and sights – ripe for keeping my travel mojo alive. I created the Treasure Map Project to find unusual destinations within the city and make day trips out of them. I also got a great writing gig with SFTravel.com and now do monthly assignments on San Francisco activities.
Walking with my camera bag and notebook, I feel my traveler self take over. The sights of San Francisco seem fresh and new to my senses. The people I talk to are knowledgeable locals who want to connect and are eager to share. On the days I “traveled” I went from a transactional resident seeing the same things every day to a open-eyed traveler, bent on catching the magic and specialness of the city.
On Easter Sunday, I donned a headscarf and visited a Russian Orthodox Cathedral to witness 2 hours of jubilant celebration all in Russian. One early Saturday morning, I put on my stretchy pants and tried three breakfasts for an article on Breakfast at the Ferry Building farmer’s market, finding savory donuts and bacon-stacked breakfast sandwiches. The Mission is my failsafe destination when I want to feel all traveley. There, I find gourmet eats, fantastic murals, and another country type of feel.
Read more about my local travels in these posts:
- The Treasure Map Project and subsequent treasures: 18 Reasons Community Center, Women’s Building, Conservatory of Flowers, and the Holy Virgin Cathedral.
- Six Ways to See the World in San Francisco
Day and Weekend Trips
San Francisco is the urban playground housed in a state of natural wonders. With the help of Zipcar and Avis, I took day trips up and down the dramatic coast, into the Sierras, and always to Napa and Sonoma wine country. The latter of which prompted a coworker to say, “Are you always going to Napa?”
Every time I leave the city, I feel blessed to live so near such gratuitous natural beauty and culture, not to mention exceptional food destinations. With a travelers heart, I treat them as adventures full of discovery, not just a way to “getaway” from the city. Here’s a sampling of my weekend trips, all perfect for a day or weekend away.
- A Weekend Getaway To Yosemite
- First Timer’s Itinerary to Napa Valley
- Day Trip to Point Reyes
- The Best Indian Restaurant in the Bay Area
Connecting with Other Travelers
Photo by city__chic
Sometimes, I just want to talk about travel. Talk about where I’ve been, where I’m going, where you’ve been, where you’re going. With other travelers, would be travelers, or travel writers – you know, people who “get it.” Their reactions are supportive and excited when sharing my stories and lifestyle. Their lists and stories are even more enticing and make my list of destinations even longer. The traveler and travel writer community in San Francisco is lively and full of story tellers, adventurers, and wanderlusters.
Every month, I join the gang at Travel Massive (planned by the fabulous Lauren) and share tales and a boozy late dinner with new friends and fellow travelers and bloggers: Spencer from The Traveling Philosopher, Kelly from By The Seat of My Skirt, Nico from 10TimesOne, Andy from Lonely Planet, and Mike from Ethical Traveler. In June, travelers Simon and Erin from Never Ending Voyage popped into San Francisco and we met up for an afternoon at SOMA – a perfect prelude to our TBEX good times. In October, I was one of the featured speakers at the annual Meet Plan Go Event. In November, I spoke at the Bay Area Traveler Writer’s annual industry meeting about travel blogging with Spud Hilton, travel editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, and Andy Murdock, digital editor at Lonely Planet.
San Francisco is also a hotbed for travel writers – there’s the helpful Bay Area Traveler Writers. There are excellent essay and publication classes at the San Francisco Writer’s Grotto, taught by professional travel writers Chris Colin and Laura Fraser. Book Passages hosts an annual conference and hosts readings of travel writing and author meet and greets.
Here are some posts on how I’m connecting with other travelers in San Francisco:
- Planning the Big Trip: Questions and Answers from 2011 Meet Plan Go – Spence and I will be hosting monthly meetups in 2012 to provide resources to would-be travelers. Check out the Facebook page for more details.
- San Francisco Travel Book Club and Lecture Series
- Eight Writing Lessons from the Book Passages Travel Writing Conference
Whew! It’s been quite a year.
Settling down has been pretty easy in this city, with all the incredible adventures nearby and the supportive traveler community. My traveler resolutions for 2012 are to:
- Support other travelers to get out and live their travel dreams
- Finish and submit my India stories for publication
- Continue to find enjoyment at home.
For trips, there will be a lot of smaller ones and then saving for the Big Trip in 2013. Over the next two months, I’m heading to Mexico in January, Dublin and Amsterdam in February, Sedona, Arizona in March, and then Chicago in the Spring.
Happy travels my friends!