Best of the Blog 2018: The Top 10 Faves

As a couple of ex-corporate types we remember the dreaded year-end reviews. You know, the painful process when Le Grand Fromage checks off the strategic goals achieved, new clients acquired… blah blah blah.

But running a personal blog is totally different. The beauty is that the yearly closeout can be nothing more than a popularity contest, and you can’t lose. How fun, refreshing, and easy to do. All it takes is a look at our WordPress stats and voila! The Best of the Blog for 2018.

1. Uxmal: A Window Into the Maya

By far, this post on the ancient Maya capital of Uxmal was our most popular. Like all bloggers, we’re pleased when a post gets lots of attention, but we had another reason to be excited about this one. The editors at WordPress picked this post to feature on their Discover page, and the views, for days and days, were in the stratosphere. In a word, we were chuffed.

2. 7 Lessons Learned in 7 Years of Blogging

Our posts featuring “Lessons and Tips” were popular this year, and this one was at the top of the list. Actually, posts like this one take lots of energy to pull together, but as bloggers, it was well worth the effort. It addition to the “How we blog” question, it helps us to evaluate the “Why we blog” as well. It was also rewarding to hear comments and opinions from other bloggers on what does and doesn’t work for them.

3. 5 Tips for Choosing the Best Travel Bag

For frequent travelers the gear they carry is serious business, and it all begins with the perfect luggage. Of course, there are as many definitions of “perfect” as there are travelers. But we’ve gone through lots of bag iterations, and if post views are any indicator, lots of people wanted to know how we choose our bags.

4. Jūrmala, Latvia: Where Modern Fortune Meets Faded Glory

As a travel destination, Jūrmala has it all. It’s essentially unknown to most travelers, and it has a small town, beachy ambience with splashes of glitter and mystery. And it’s the only place on earth that you’re likely to bump into America’s newest BFF Vladimir Putin.

5. The Ruins at Palenque: A True Jungle Gem

We’re both keen on the Maya, so we were glad to see that our readers shared our enthusiasm. There are outstanding ruins all over the Yucatan and Chiapas, and we hope that our series of posts will help visitors decide good locations to begin their journey.

6. 5 Tips for Getting Global Entry: Breeze Through the Airport

In addition to our real-world experiences on applying for Global Entry, the main takeaway from this post should be that it may be the best $100 you’ll ever spend on travel; well that, and being bummed that you didn’t apply sooner. Travelers tired of the airport grind are catching on, and we hope this post helps motivate them to apply.

7. Ljubljana: Old Europe in a Small, Elegant Package

Ljubljana, Slovenia, which was previously a part of Yugoslavia, doesn’t appear on many Top 10 lists, but it has an intimate and charming ambience that may surprise visitors.

8. Strolling Kyiv: Gray Skies Smiling at Me

Ukraine has had its share of problems recently, but this shouldn’t dissuade travelers from visiting. Kyiv, in particular, has lots to offer and it should be included in any Eastern Europe itinerary.

9. Shake, Rattle and Roll: Riding Out a Mexican Earthquake

As we’ve said before, our loyal commenters are king, and this post is proof. The earthquake we experienced in Merida really shook us up (pun intended), and it was heartening to hear that many others had also experienced earthquakes and were just as frightened and disoriented as we were.

10. Bilbao’s Pintxos: Proving the Sociologists Right

One of the rewards of travel is experimenting with new foods, and our post on northern Spain’s delightful finger-food got lots of attention.

So that’s another fun year passed at Gallivance. Our Best Of series is a chance for us to celebrate all our regular readers as well as our new followers who read our blog each year. Our blogging buddies Rusha and Bert over at the top-notch Oh, the Places We See had a busy travel year as well, so their Seen and Noted 2018 post makes interesting reading.

We know you have almost unlimited choices where you spend your time, and we appreciate very much that you choose our blog.

We wish all of you happy blogging and best wishes for a fabulous 2019.

Happy New Year,
James & Terri


We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at

36 thoughts

  1. What’s not to love?! Your smooth writing, your tantalizing images, your surprising finds, your perpetual curiosity and the joy of discovery that punctuates each post. So glad to be following on your adventures 😉 Happy and healthy new year to you both – and to your families!

    1. Thanks for your kind words Amit – truly, they’re music to our ears. Appreciative readers like you keep us motivated to make the blog interesting and rewarding, and it’s heartening to hear that experienced, world travelers like you enjoy it. All the best to you for an exciting 2019 (excluding volcano-excitement of course). ~James

  2. Well said HealingPilgrim! I find it interesting the ratio between travel posts and sharing of knowledge posts is nearly 50/50. Obviously you have hit the sweet spot. May 2019 bring you continued blogging success and all the health, happiness and travel your hearts desire!

    1. Thanks so much Laura. We enjoy writing tips and How-to posts, but the challenge is finding topics and angles that haven’t been done 100 times by someone else. We’ve decided that the key is to make certain that the tips are personalized, that is, what were our experiences like and how did we do it. That sounds like common-sense writing, but sometimes, it’s hard to do well. All the best to you and Steve for the New Year, and here’s to Waldo’s continued health as well. ~James

    1. Thanks GP, and a Happy New Year to you as well. It’s a cold, rainy night tonight, so we’ll let the party crowd fight the weather while we snuggle in with Netflix. All the best in 2019. ~James

    1. Thanks Beth. We’re still in stay-home holiday mode here, so we haven’t thought much about travel in 2019. But, aren’t airfares really cheap in January … umm may have to start thinking about it. We hope you have a happy, healthy and fun-filled New Year. ~James

    1. Rusha, I think I remember that you’re going to Vietnam soon. Well run, don’t walk to get your Global Entry. You’ll get TSA pre-check for domestic flights, and when you get back stateside from overseas, you won’t believe how smug and rockstar-like you’ll feel strolling by those poor sods in the long gueue at normal immigration. ~James

  3. Love reading your post, learn something new every time, looking forward to following you in 2019. Have a wonderful New Year Love to you both.

    1. Thanks so much Joyce. We’re glad that you enjoy the posts and we appreciate your continuing to follow along. We hope that you, Dascal and all the family have have a happy and healthy New Year. Love, JH

    1. Thanks Lynn. This year was a busy travel year which we always like, so there is lots of grist for the ol’ bloggin’ mill. We hope that your New Year brings good health and lots of fun and excitement. Thanks for continuing to follow along. ~James

    1. Susan, that’s an interesting and accurate observation. Writing a personal blog means giving up a bit of privacy, but we want our blog to be genuine so we give up a bit of privacy. We like to think that that’s one of the things that our readers enjoy. All the best to you for the coming year and Happy Blogging. ~James

    1. Leslie, it’s been a busy travel year for us, which was a mix of revisits to a few old places as well as some new cities. You’ll hear about all of them in the coming months. Have a Happy, Peaceful, and fun-filled 2019, and thanks for continuing to follow along. ~James

  4. Thanks for the effort you both put into your posts. I have learned so much over the years and my travel list has expanded. We have applied for Global Entry as well, thanks to your post. Best wishes for a magical 2019, filled with new explorations, lots of laughter, and always good health.

    1. LuAnn, thanks so much for your kind words. From a blogging standpoint, we think this is the perfect compliment. Obviously, we’re enthusiastic about travel and we want to do whatever we can to encourage readers to travel. Also, blogging makes us more observant travelers and writing posts takes research, so in that respect, our blog is a learning tool for us as well. We know that you’re busy and have lots of places to spend your time, and we really appreciate that you choose to spend time on our blog. All the best to both you and Terry for the 2019, and above all, Happy Trails. ~James

  5. I have enjoyed all of the above posts and in particular number 2. Your writing is always interesting, fun and informative. I will look forward to continuing following along in 2019. Have another healthy and adventure full year 🙂

    1. Thanks so much Gilda. Milestones are always an opportunity for introspection, and the 7 lessons post was enlightening to us as well. And “interesting, fun, and imformative” is exactly what we hope for, so it’s rewarding to hear that you think so. We wish you all the best for a happy and healthy New Year, and we appreciate your continuing to follow along. ~James

    1. Liesbet, your kind words make us smile. As you know, writing a blog takes work, and it’s gratifying when someone recognizes the effort. It’s fun to be at a point in the blog where we can indulge our interests a bit and introduce a bit of variety.

      We know that you have a busy life and must be selective about where you spend your time, and we really appreciate that you choose to spend some reading our blog. All the best to you for a fun, peaceful and exciting New Year. ~James

  6. I smiled at the comparison to the dreaded corporate year end review. Such a great thing having one’s own blog and being able to do whatever one likes.
    This is a fabulous top 10 and I note a combination of travel tip posts along with unique finds. One of the things I love about your blog is that variety.
    Best wishes for 2019 and may your journeys be filled with discovery and wonder.

    1. Sue, as you and I have agreed from the beginning, blogging is about having fun. And yes, most of our readers expect us to write primarily about travel and we enjoy it. But, as we discussed in our “7 things we’ve learned” post, it’s all about quality content. I’m forever wandering around in my daily life and saying to myself: “That’s pretty interesting, I could blog about that.” And I’m sure you do as well.

      So here’s to another year of successful blogging for both of us, and a fantastic 2019. And it goes without saying that we appreciate your continuing to follow along. ~James

  7. I thoroughly enjoy all your posts though I get quite behind in reading them! We are planning a trip to the Yucatán in Feb., and I had remembered your posts about Uxmal and was headed to reread them – and here they are! I’ll check out all your past posts about that corner of Mexico. Thanks again and Happy New Year Travels!

    1. Marilyn, I’m happy that you’ll be going to the Yucatan. We based ourselves in Merida, which was perfect for trips to Uxmal and Chichen Itza. If you get a chance also visit Palanque in Chiapas. Palenque town isn’t much to speak of, but the ruins are wonderful. Bon Voyage. ~James

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