2017 Travel Year in Review

How do you measure, measure a year? 2017 was the year I spent time in 13 different countries and 11 different states. I traveled to Europe three times. I set foot on my fifth continent. I revisited London, Indianapolis, Ireland, and Portugal. I reunited with friends from college in Prague and Dublin and old coworkers in London, Chicago, and Dubrovnik. I traveled for 10 days in Cape Town with someone I met in Mandalay and for 12 days in Croatia with someone I met in Dublin. A twelfth of my year was spent dog-sitting, both in Chicago and Jersey City. I added Shenandoah National Park to my list of U.S. National Parks.

NJ | Grounds for Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton

I’ve taken the NJ Transit train from New York City to Hamilton, NJ and back, maybe fifty times. At least forty of those times, I’ve been fooled into thinking that the human-sized sculptures of people scratching their heads while they stare at a giant sculpture of a tooth outside of the train station, were actually human. It wasn’t until years and years after making the journey to meet my family at home base (my grandmother’s) did I realize that the sculptures (there are also huge mariachi dancers when you turn into the train station) were there for a reason.

November 2017 Recap | NJ, NYC, & PA

In November, I had the closest thing to a regular schedule than I’ve had in over a year, and I actually really liked it. I felt like I was going to the office every morning, even though “the office” was every library and coffee shop within a 20-minute radius and my coworkers were the woman who works at the doughnut shop in Ocean City, an octogenarian with a MAGA hat, and my 9th-grade English teacher who now works at one of my libraries (Hi, Mrs. B!).

France | The Only French You Need to Know in Paris

Just as all parents hear advice on raising children from people who don’t have them, all travelers can relate to people who “poo-poo” on where they are going without having been there themselves. I get so annoyed with the people who say: “I hear Rome is overrated.” “I hear India isn’t safe.” “I hear the French ask Americans to stop butchering their language when they speak French.”

National Gallery of Modern Art in Bangalore, Karnataka, India

India | 21 Ways to Fall in Love With Bangalore

This time last year I was spending my last few days in India, a country that means so much to me. I spent the first four weeks of my trip in Bangalore and fell in love immediately with the food, the people, and the chaos. My last two weeks in India, in Goa, were very different and much more challenging for a few reasons, but my time in Bangalore remains one of my favorite experiences of my gap year (and a half). Bangalore is also where I’ve spent the most time aside from NJ and NYC in a number of years.

Austria | What to Do in Vienna if You’re Not 300 Years Old

I had trouble with Vienna. It was the halfway point of a six-week trip after two weeks in Cape Town with two friends, a wedding in London with many friends, and a few solo days in both Budapest and Bratislava. I love traveling by myself, but for some reason, in the middle of February in Central Europe where I seemed to fit in with the crowd, I hadn’t had any conversations of value in a week.

October 2017 Recap | Croatia, Jekyll Island, NJ, NYC

When I returned from Ireland and Portugal in August, I have to admit I was in a mood. I’m so thankful for the opportunities I’ve had and the decisions I’ve made that have allowed me to travel so much this year and last, but I was sad that it was coming to an end. I couldn’t stop thinking about traveling and couldn’t stop messaging with people I’d met during my travels and so, I took off again. A friend I’d met in Dublin was heading to Croatia, which has been on my list for ages, at a time when I had nothing else planned. So I found a cheap flight and flew back to Europe, feeling normal again on the way there.

Colonial buildings in Lagos, Portugal

Portugal | 9 Adventures to Have in Lagos

I don’t think I’ve ever spent less time planning for a trip as I did when I traveled to Lagos in the Algarve solo after spending time with my family in Ireland. It wasn’t until a week before I left home that I finally booked my flights and Airbnb in Lagos and that’s because before it was a trip to Portugal, it was a trip to Scotland, then a trip to Wales, and then a trip to Norway. I’m so glad that none of the other trips ended up working out and that I settled on a few days in Lagos. But trust me, I was not “settling” at all. Lagos is an incredibly beautiful destination with a party vibe that reminded me of a fun Jersey Shore resort (think Sea Isle City) except with charming centuries-old buildings and winding, cobblestone streets. Here’s what I recommend doing on your own trip to Lagos:

Hotel Review | Holiday Inn Resort, Jekyll Island, Georgia

When I returned from India, someone I hadn’t seen in a while said, “Welcome back from vacation!” Though I know he meant, “Welcome back,” part of me wanted to say, “Vacation?!?!?!?! That wasn’t a vacation!!!!!” I loved India, but volunteering there had taken a lot out of me, and I certainly didn’t feel like I’d been on a beach with a drink in my hand. In Croatia this month, I was working on my laptop in a caffe for a few hours almost every day. Even when I’m not volunteering or working, I’m trying to experience and photograph as much as possible or I’m exhausted from catching a bus or train every two days. A few days after working my booty off in Croatia, I arrived at the Holiday Inn Resort in Jekyll Island, Georgia. For the first time in years, I felt like I was truly on vacation.

September 2017 Recap | NJ & NYC

This time last year, I was traveling throughout Myanmar on my first trip of my gap year. This year, I was home with no upcoming travel plans, feeling a little bummed about that but also feeling wonderful about many other things. I had lots of visitors, my longest stint back in the NYC area in a year, and started a few new exciting projects. 

Fraunces Tavern, New York City

NYC | A Hamilton Happy Hour with Urban Adventures

Everyone in New York City knows that Hamilton tickets trump everything except for weddings. “I can’t go to your charity event – I have Hamilton tickets.” “I can’t travel to DC for that important meeting – I have Hamilton tickets.” “I can’t go into labor right now – I have Hamilton tickets.”

But what if you don’t have Hamilton tickets? {I’m speaking hypothetically of course, because I *do* have a ticket thanks to one of my cousins, though we have to wait a whole eight months until it’s our turn – for all we know, Carrot Top will be starring in it at that point.}

Wisconsin | How to Relive Your College Days in Madison

I went to my TEN-YEAR college reunion this summer. While I definitely don’t feel as old as someone who graduated ten years ago, I don’t necessarily feel as young as I was then either, especially after having an intense allergic reaction to Miller Lite, of all things. A few weeks before I traveled back to the University of Delaware for alumni weekend, my friend Kristyn and I relived our college days in Madison, Wisconsin. In some ways, the University of Wisconsin – Madison reminded me of our alma mater, but in other ways, I was envious of the current Badger population. Here’s how to relive your own college days in Madison:

Ireland | Why You Should Stay in Real-Life B&Bs & 3 to Try

Airbnb is all the rage and I love it, don’t get me wrong. If everyone in my life thought about me as highly as my Airbnb hosts did (my reviews are off the charts), I would have zero problems. But, friends, there are a few core issues with Airbnb that you may not realize: the main one is that there’s only a requirement for one of those Bs, a bed. There is no requirement for the other B, breakfast. A real-life bed & breakfast has both those Bs and more and Ireland’s B&Bs are as off-the-charts as my own Airbnb ratings. Below are a few reasons why real-life B&Bs can be better than hotels, Airbnbs, and hostels.

August 2017 Recap | Portugal, Ireland, Finger Lakes, New Jersey

The summer always flew by when I was working full-time because I never got as much sun as I needed while stewing away in my cubicle. I didn’t think the summer would pass so quickly when I was just working part-time, but, man. I mean, I’ve done a lot this summer, that’s for sure, but I initially expected to be back in the city by the fall and, well, it’s basically here.