When I said farewell to 2015, I was at the very beginning of my new journey. At that time, I had no idea what 2016 had in store. There were no travel plans, only a hope that I would spend most of the year on the road. As a teacher, I would view the years from September to June, but looking at it now, 2016 was my first year of full time travel. I almost cannot believe that I have been able to spend an entire year doing what I love most and not letting anything hold me back. It’s a dream I have always had and with hard work and determination, I have made that dream a reality.
Of course, it’s not all glamorous and each day I am filled with worries about how to keep up this lifestyle. But, looking back, all those memories I have made and people I have met make up for any doubts or concerns. 2016 has been a trying year, that’s for certain, but in my eyes and through my experiences it’s also been pretty darn perfect. So here’s to looking back at one incredible year of travel before looking forward into the new year.
California and Nevada
After lots of travel in September through December of 2015, I took a few months off. But, wound up on the road again in March. I had plans to go to Las Vegas for a conference, but I wanted to visit one of my best friends who lives in California. Since we had both been to Vegas together in our early twenties, we thought it would be fun to go back for a few days. We spent some time at her house in Lake Arrowhead and then escaped a day earlier than we expected to run away from the snow. Then, we drove to Vegas, which was a fun experience and spent two nights there before the Travel Goods Show. It was a great little trip, especially to start off a year of travel.
In April, I headed down to Miami and boarded a cruise to the Dominican Republic with two of my favorite people, Lola and Craig. But, it wasn’t any old cruise, it was a cruise to volunteer. We were able to take the maiden voyage with so many other amazing people in the travel industry, and I made plenty of new friends. I also got to see another side of the Dominican Republic, which made a big difference for me. It made me realize just how much my travels can impact those all around the world.
The Netherlands and France
In May, I found myself in Provence, an area of France I have always wanted to explore. I was lucky enough to take a Viking Cruise with a few other bloggers and social media influencers, and I even got to bring my mom along. On our way, we had a stopover in Amsterdam, and I got to reconnect with my dear friend, Jade, who I had met in 2012 in Africa. This trip was so beautiful and so much fun. I got to make a few new lifelong friends, and bond with my mom in a way we hadn’t done in years. Some of the best memories were made during this trip. After Provence, I headed to Paris, a city I hadn’t visited in almost ten years. I stayed near the canals, an area more for locals than tourists, and it made me start to fall in love with a city I always wanted to love more than I did on my first trip.
After making new friends in the Dominican Republic, I made plans to meet up with them in Portugal. Even better, it was for Portugal Day! This trip was so much fun and I really fell in love with Lisbon. I could see myself spending more time there in the future. We also found ourselves in Sintra and Porto, both of which I also loved. Portugal was a new country for me, and although I only had about a week there, I’d love to explore more of the country, especially the coast.
This July, I partnered up with GoRVing Canada to drive an RV from Toronto to Calgary, which allowed me to see a completely new side of the country. Previously, I had only spent time in Montreal and Toronto, and I was excited to see the rest of Canada, especially the West. Much of the drive reminded me of last year’s cross country road trip. After the drive, I also spent a week exploring the parks that make Alberta famous. Some of the sights were so beautiful, it was hard to believe that they were even real.
On my way home from Canada, I took a little side trip to visit one of my best friends in California. Flights from Calgary to Palm Springs were cheap enough and since we hadn’t seen each other in a bit, I figured it was the perfect way to relax after the adventure in Canada. We hung out at the beach by the lake, watched helicopters fill up with water to fight a nearby forest fire, watched the Olympics, and drank lots of local beer. It was the vacation I rarely get, but so often need.
In August, I headed up to Maine to sail with the J&E Riggin. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect of the trip, but it was probably one of my favorites from the year. For the first time in months, I was forced to relax and just be present. I wrote and practiced yoga and ate the most delicious food. On the journey, I also made some amazing friends. Maine was so good to me in August, that I even ventured up North again in October to experience some of the fall foliage. It rained a lot that weekend, but it was perfect in so many ways. Maine holds a very special place in my heart.
I had heard about the Finger Lakes for years, especially praise for their wine. It’s only five hours north from where I live, but I still had never been. That all changed this September. I had the opportunity to spend a week with three other travel writers taking in the beauty of the region. Not only did we enjoy the views, we drank up the local wine and craft beer and had a few adventures as well. I had no idea that the Finger Lakes had so much to offer. I am so glad I finally got to experience it because I cannot wait to go back and visit again one day in the future.
2016 brought me back to one of my favorite countries: India! This experience, however, was different from last year’s adventure. This year, I was on a trip with fourteen other bloggers, YouTubers, and social media influencers for the #Escape2Goa trip. Goa was quite the contrast to the places I visited last year, which is something I love about India. But, I definitely struggled with seeing my favorite country in a new way. Since Goa was a Portuguese colony until 1961 the architecture and even much of the culture is vastly different from the areas of India I visited last year. Still, it was a beautiful adventure, and one where India had a lot to teach me about myself, yet again.
Colombia and the Caribbean
As my final trip of the year, I decided to escape to the tropics to celebrate my 32nd birthday. After returning home from India, I looked up a few last minute deals and stumbled upon a great one through MSC Cruises. Since I had never been on that cruise line, I wanted to experience it, plus the itinerary was ideal. The first stop was Cartagena, Colombia, which is a place I have always dreamed of visiting. While we didn’t have nearly enough time there, it did peak my interest enough to put Colombia a bit higher up on my to-travel-to list. Other stops included Aruba, Curacao, Turks and Caicos, and the Bahamas, so this cruise added two new countries to my list. I also learned that there’s something really nice about a ten day cruise, I truly felt relaxed.
My year of full time travel wasn’t always easy and it had its ups and downs, mainly in my bank account, but it was the year I needed. I needed the freedom to explore the world in my own way at my own time. I needed a year without restrictions from a full time job or from people in my life. While I am not sure I could live a truly nomadic life without taking a few breaks inbetween travels to see family and friends, I do know that I enjoyed this year to the fullest extent. I even got to step foot on four continents this year alone.
I have no idea what 2017 will bring, but hopefully more adventures are in store for me. Sometimes half the fun is filling up that blank page that is the new year. My hope is to make it as beautiful as possible.
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