What A Year?!

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I don’t even know where to begin an annual recap of 2016.  It was just a really rough year.  I experienced some pretty jarring personal loses this year, that’s cause my life to change in a very noticeable way, but it’s also just been hard year for humanity.  We’ve lost a lot of people we held dear collectively.  Celebrity deaths are bizarre.  It’s odd to mourn someone you don’t really know, but I definitely embarrassingly wept in a theatre full of people when they re-released Purple Rain, so it is a real thing. Twitter user @ElusiveJ hit the nail on the head. We don't cry because we knew them, we cry because they helped us know ourselves.

This year my hometown was also the target of the largest mass shooting in United States history, which as we all know now, resulted in yet again absolutely nothing being done to prevent it happening again.  The one bright side (if you can call it that) in the Pulse attacks was the sense of community immediately following it.  All of Orlando, and the whole country really, came together to help in any way they could and for a brief shinning moment we all stopped arguing about who should use what restroom.  It was a sad time of course, but also a very warm time to be here in Orlando.

Raising money for the One Orlando Fund after the Pulse nightclub attack in June.

However hard though, death is a part of life, no one survives it.  Perhaps the toughest blows dealt in 2016 were the political ones.  I don’t really weigh in too much politically, but I’m a writer, a Millennial, a female, and a thinking, feeling, human person and also I have a passport so I think you can surmise why this year was especially trying.  If not I did make a rare exception, break my political silence and lay it all out here.

I also turned 30 this year, which doesn’t feel great, but I suppose is minor in the grand scheme of this ridiculous year.

I’m a travel writer though, and aside from the personal punch in the gut that has been 2016, it was actually my best travel year ever.

My year in travel #appintheair

I logged a lot of miles this year, hit a lot of new and interesting places, and got so close to so many wild animals.  In that regard it was a great year.  It was also a very busy year and I haven’t had time to write about many of the experiences, so thank you for baring with me and here’s a look back at some of the stories you’ve read over the year and some you have to look forward to!

January-

The year started off innocently enough.  Happy New Year! Fireworks, couples kissing, we had no idea what we were in store for!  We were so young and idealistic then. Alan Rickman was probably working on the voice over for my GPS, Prince was one album away from a come back and George Michael was just living his life, being handsome and minding his own business.  I also went to New Orleans for the first of many trip this year.  I don’t know quite how to express my love for New Orleans, but it’s my happy place.  It may be my favorite place in the world, and most certainly is my favorite in the country!  It was also the first of many times in 2016 I would get uncomfortably close to the local wildlife.

Just holding a swamp alligator, not being terrified at all.

Just holding a swamp alligator, not being terrified at all.

February-

February I laid low.  I got the flu (probably from that swamp alligator), lost like 6lbs and then immediately put it back on, and didn’t travel anywhere for the whole month!  Of course, even when I’m not traveling I’m in Disney World, so that’s pretty cool.

Fireworks at Disney World!

March-

I visited San Diego for the first time.  It was as gorgeous as everyone says.  I even flew into LAX and got to do a mini road trip along the coast.  La Jolla Cove was full of adorable (though they smell less than adorable) sea lions or seals, no one seemed too sure, the food was great, and the weather was WAY colder than anyone is ever willing to talk about.

The sea lions at La Jolla Cove in San Diego are adorable and don't seem to mind or even notice that people are there.

April-

April got a little weird.  I was scheduled to go on the maiden voyage of the Fathom Adonia to the Dominican Republic, which ended up getting cancelled at the port and turned into an impromptu trip to Cartagena, Colombia with some travel strangers that are now travel friends.  Travel is all about being adaptable, sometimes you think you’re going to volunteer in the Dominican Republic and you end up inside a muddy volcano in South America.

Climb inside a volcano for a warm mud bath at El Tutomo just outside of Cartagena, Colombia

Pictured with Megan of Forks and Footprints and Kristi Trimmer

May-

Every year I try to take a cruise with my friends here in Orlando.  It’s usually a Disney Cruise since those are obviously the best, but it turns out those are also obviously the most expensive and with so much travel this year, it just wasn’t in the budget.  We ended up on the Norwegian Epic.  I was a little nervous about a non-Disney cruise after a not so great experience, but Norwegian was fun.  Not as good as Disney, but way cheaper and open bar so that made it pretty great!

The Norwegian Epic offers cruises to the Bahamas with an open bar!

June-

June was pretty busy.  I traveled to Savannah to see my baby brother graduate from SCAD and immediately out accomplish me and then drove straight to Miami board the Fathom Adonia for a do-over cruise and finally got to help out in the Dominican!  Two cruises in row! Then I got to visit Wisconsin for the first time and attend my first sporting event.  It was a crazy month.

SCAD class of 2016 graduating in Savannah, GA

Take a Fathom cruise and make an impact on your vacation by volunteering to teach English in the Domincan Republic

Sportsing so hard in Milwaukee

Pictured with Lauren from Justin Plus Lauren and Jenna from Wander the Map

July-

Another crazy month.  In July I got to explore Slovenia and Croatia and experience glamping for the first time with Big Berry, spent an entire 9 hour layover eating everything in Rome,  I went to Stockholm for my 3rd Tbex, had my first full night of sleeping on an airport bench and explored Hamburg and Berlin.

Glamping at Big Berry camp in Primostek, Slovenia

When in Rome... eat all of the gelato!

The Abba Museum in Stockholm. I think I want to get married here... and also to here.

Hamburg, Germany. Thanks for a great time!

The Germanist photo you may ever see.

August-

Yet another crazy month… you’re starting to see why I didn’t have time to write as much as I would have liked right?  After returning from Europe, I headed straight to Louisiana to visit my family in Shreveport, then back to Orlando, then Back to Shreveport (which you should know is an ordeal!), the New Orleans for the second time this year!  After I was done toggling between home and Louisiana I took a much needed tropical break at the Hilton Resorts World Bimini.

Sunset over Cross Lake in Shreveport, LA

Sunset over Cross Lake in Shreveport, LA

New Orleans is my happy place

Floating off into the sunset in Bimini

September-

This was perhaps my craziest itinerary yet!  I swear by Secret Flying, because I got this flight so so cheap, but Chicago-Abu Dhabi-Seychelles-Johannesburg-Paris-Reykjavik-Baltimore is a pretty exhausting itinerary.  Totally worth it though, because I fell in love with so many places, but none more than South Africa.  I cannot wait to get back there!  Maybe Cape Town next time.  This was, of course, another place I got way close to some wildlife.

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Mahe, Seychelles is an absolute paradise. Every view looks like a screensaver!

Up close and personal with a wild Afrian Elephant in Hoedspruit, South Africa

October-

October was the continuation of the crazy itinerary above, namely the Paris portion.  Of course there’s no place like Paris.. and of course I had to do Disneyland Paris too, even though I’m 30.

Ah Paris, you are perfect!

Disneyland Paris, perhaps the best castle in all of France?

November-

November I fulfilled a bucket list item of mine and finally visited Thailand and I got to witness the Lantern Festival!  I went on yet another Secret Flying itinerary from New York-Kuala Lumpur-Bangkok-Tokyo-New York.  I got way way closer than I would have liked to with some local monkeys, I actually cooked some things that didn’t suck, and I got back to the states in time to spend Thanksgiving with my family in Shreveport (again).

The view of Kuala Lumpur from the Batu Caves

Light a floating Krathong for the Buddhist celebration of Loy Krathon in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Way too close for comfort with a monkey in Phuket

Is there someone behind me?

You'd never know I'm a terrible cook!

find your zin in Tokyo

December-

This month I actually stayed in the country, but I did get to split Christmas between Orlando (there’s no place as gorgeous or crowded as Disney World at Christmas) and, you guessed it, Louisiana!  This time straight to New Orleans.  Christmas in my favorite city was just as magical as I thought it would be.

Disney World's Cinderella Castle at Christmas is simply magical.

Christmas in New Orleans

Needless to say I have mixed feeling about this year.  For me is was extraordinarily difficult, but also full of incredibly amazing experience and I’m utterly exhausted.  I can’t say I’m sad to see 2016 go.

Happy New Year everyone!  And thanks for following along during this crazy crazy year!

 

19 thoughts on “What A Year?!

  1. Sounds like a good/crazy year. Glad you got to experience Croatia and well down eating everything in Rome the food is so good. It is one of my favorite countries in Europe. Sorry to hear about your hometown. So tragic.

  2. Looks like you have had a wonderful year. Wish you all the best for 2017!!

  3. Bob

    Looks like you had a busy year. Hope the new year brings you a lot of new places to visit. I want to visit Thailand during the latern festival also I was there one time but the wrong part of the year.

  4. Sounds like you had an amazing year of travel! Your glamping trip in Croatia sounded awesome. Cheers to 2017 and all of the adventures ahead for you!!

  5. Wow, that was an epic year of travel. I loved Croatia too, though I haven’t tried glamping. And I agree with you that South Africa is a fascinating place, one I hope to revisit soon. To 2017, and more travel.

  6. You had a fantastic year! I REALLY want to visit South Africa & Thailand. I agree that Disney cruises are the best. We like Royal Caribbean and, like you said, NCL, but nothing can compare to Disney.

  7. Sorry to hear that there were parts of the past year which were rough – I guess we’ll always have to take the good with the bad huh 🙁 Sounds like some pretty incredible trips in between though, and that’s a great way to escape whatever the political situation at home, or take our mind off personal loss. Hope 2017 is better for you all round XXX

  8. You’re right, the sense of community after these attacks is comforting. But I’m still so ashamed of our government. Here’s to 2017 being better! Great post, thanks for sharing 🙂

  9. Chrysoula

    Oh wow, you did a small around the world trip in September visiting all these great countries. I am sorry it was also a hard year for you. I wish for a better 2017!

  10. OK I think September wins for the utter randomness and amazing countries you got to see because of that Secret Flying opportunity. Good for you girl! 2016 was certainly a weird and depressing year but it’s girls like you and me that have gotta keep up those travel dreams! 😀 Excited to see what 2017 brings you!

  11. Some incredible highs and incredible lows. I think that describes 2016 pretty well! You went to some amazing places. Thanks for sharing your incredible year with us 🙂

  12. So I feel like we had parallel years. I also turned 30, had a lot of personal stuff I had to get through, but traveled more than I ever have. Hope when you look back on this year you remember all the great things and grow from the tough stuff. Happy New Year!

  13. Wow – What incredible adventures you had this year! So much fun to balance the not so nice stuff that happened this year. Thailand and South America are high on my bucket list, but I don’t think 2017 will be the year. Hopefully next year 🙂

  14. I’m so jealous of all the amazing places you got to visit in 2016. I really want to go back to Thailand (since I only saw Bangkok) and am dying to visit Sweden and Scandinavia. But what I really need to know is how did you create that epic travel map with the routes and lists of airlines, miles, etc? Is that an app? Dying to know!

    • Mags

      Hey Lynne, it is an app. It’s called App in the Air… it was a lot of work and a lot of manual input to make that map happen, but pretty worth it. It’s a free app, you should check it out. (I’m not at all affiliated with them, I just think it’s neat)

  15. Your fall travel looked incredible as did the muddy volcano in April. Great year of travels- Look forward to seeing where you go in 2017

  16. Carol Colborn

    What a way to remember…set against a world backdrop of happenings.

  17. You went to so many great places in 2016 and i’m sure 2017 will be even better. Hopefully we can bump into each other at some point! 🙂

  18. Agree. 2016 had been a really tough one. Glad that’s over.
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