Welcome to my annual travel round up! 2016 was another busy travel year for me. I keep thinking that I will slow down at some point, but for now I am happy to embrace this lifestyle we are lucky enough to maintain. I am still not a full-time traveler by any means, but I have chosen a job that allows extreme flexibility and we live as frugally as possible to make sure we can keep traveling whenever possible.
Country Count: 10
US State Count: 12
Southeast Asia (January)
I rang in the new year in Singapore. Which sounds a lot more exciting than it was. Most of my hostel went out, but I just wasn’t feeling it, so I hung out in my bunk and ate delicious Indian food and watched movies on my laptop. Despite not partaking in New Year frivolity I had a wonderful time in Singapore. Logan and I had been traveling together for nearly a month, and this was the first stop on my two week solo trip.
I seriously loved Singapore. It’s beautiful, and modern, and very clean. There is so much to do, and while it is not cheap when compared to the rest of Southeast Asia, it is on par with Western Europe and the United States. It is also more cosmopolitan feeling that many other cities in the region.
After Singapore I headed to Bali and spent ten days in three different spots just hanging out, and eating, and getting massages. It was meant to be “writer’s retreat” of sorts and I did manage to get some writing done, just not nearly as much as I planned on. Infinity pools are hard to ignore.
Death Valley (February)
In 2015 we spent President’s Day weekend/ Valentine’s Day camping in Joshua Tree and we wanted to keep that camping for Valentine’s Day tradition alive, so this year we headed to Death Valley to see the super bloom.
Death Valley is five hour drive away from where we live and is punishingly hot in the summer, but was very pleasant in February.
Zion and Bryce (March)
Since I am a substitute teacher and Logan is a graduate student we are some of the lucky few adults who get Spring Break. Unfortunately our breaks don’t align, but we were able to squeeze in a five day trip to Utah. Our plan was to camp (as usual), but a series of snafus, like forgetting our sleeping pads, completely full campgrounds, and unexpectedly cold weather, had us relocating to my favorite Econo Lodge in St.George. Yes, I have a favorite hotel in St. George. Due to its location halfway between Southern California and Central Colorado I have spent many nights there eating Indian food from my favorite restaurant (yes, I also have a favorite restaurant in St. George) and watching TV in my $50 per night room.
St. George is a about an hour away from Zion, and two hours from Bryce, which isn’t ideal but is do-able. And when it unexpectedly snows in southern Utah in late March it is sometimes necessary. Zion and Bryce are both incredibly beautiful and I feel very fortunate to have visited during a rare late spring storm, despite the slight inconvenience of not being able to camp.
The focal point of my summer travel plans was my best friend’s wedding in Colorado. As her maid of honor I made sure to be available in the days leading up to the wedding to help with any last minute details. It was a beautiful day and I loved being able to spend it with some of our closest childhood friends.
Before the wedding my mom flew out to California so I would have a companion driving out to Colorado (Logan met me there later). We stopped at North Rim Grand Canyon for a night and saw a different, far less-crowded part of the canyon.
National Park Roadtrip (July)
After the wedding we took the long (LONG) way back to San Diego after the wedding, via Montana and Oregon. We took about three weeks to drive north to Glacier National Park, west to Olympic National Park, and then south the Redwood National Park and Lassen Volcanic National Park. It was wonderful.
Colorado (July, and again in August)
As is the case on every Travel Round Up, I spent a lot of time in Colorado, and this year was no different.
I have been on a quest to go on the most beautiful road trips in America, but somehow I had missed out on a few that had been in my own backyard when I lived in Colorado. So at the end of July my best friend and I took a three day trip to right this wrong and drove some of the most scenic roads in Colorado.
I went back to Colorado in August to spent more time with friends and family. Because Colorado in summer is unmissable (times three).
Logan’s mom had a big birthday this year and to celebrate we headed to Disneyland and Universal Studios for a week. It was a crazy fun vacation that we would have no chance of affording anytime soon, and we were so thankful to have the chance to experience a trip of a lifetime.
Europe (September and October)
After some personal things happened this year I was feeling pretty untethered, so Logan encouraged me to use some of our airline miles to head back to my favorite region in the world, the Balkans.
I went with only a vague plan and a few plane tickets. During my five week trip I went to Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Romania, Italy and Malta. I met so many wonderful people and ate so much wonderful food. It was a wonderful escape.
Florida Road Trip (December)
Our final trip of the year was an 18 day road trip mostly through Florida. We flew into Charleston, South Carolina (a new state for me!) and spent a couple of days exploring the city before grabbing a rental car and heading south.
We stopped another couple of days in beautiful Savannah before heading into Florida, the main attraction of the trip. In Florida we stopped in St. Augustine, the Everglades, the Keys, Naples, St. Petersburg, and Crystal River.