2017 turned out to be a pretty pivotal year. The biggest event was making the decision to leave my job after many months of considering it. A big part of why I left was that I wanted to travel more and be near my boyfriend, who is currently in France. But looking back, I really made travel a priority in 2017. I traveled 6 months out of the year and officially have visited 17 countries to date. I finally delved back into the world of blogging and launched this site, both to document my travels and to inspire people to make travel a priority. I can’t wait to grow this blog in the next year as well as continue to travel and grow as a person.
I’m looking forward to 2018 for a number of reasons. I’m starting a new job in a new city and I’m looking forward to having a less hectic schedule and more time to focus on my well-being, i.e. time for the gym, eating healthier, weekends off, and being closer to family. I’ve already got an overseas trip in the works, but one of my goals for the year is to explore more of the USA. It will definitely be a year of growth, both in my personal life and in my travel life.
I started the New Year off with a trip I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid – spend New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Being in the streets of New York City, chanting the midnight countdown, and cheering while confetti rained down was so fun and something I’ll never forget! The rest of the trip (my second ever to NYC) was spent exploring sights like Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, and Rockefeller Center. I definitely cannot get enough of New York City!
In February I headed from freezing Chicago to sunny Orlando for my first veterinary conference (NAVC). Since I was working full time, I took this opportunity to combine a work trip with vacation. I split my time between attending veterinary lectures to finally going to Harry Potter World – an absolute dream for this die-hard fan.
The travel momentum continued in March as I headed back to Europe for my first trip to Italy. My boyfriend and I traveled to Rome and Florence and I had the best time! Wine, pasta, gelato and ancient buildings – I was in heaven!
April and May were slow travel months, as I stayed in Chicago and worked mostly double shifts to prepare for my July trips. But in June I got to play tour guide to my sister and nephew. My sister visited once before in 2016, but this time was exciting because I got to show my nephew this awesome big city, since he had never been out of small town Paris, Texas. We had a great time seeing the best of Chicago!
July marked my first visit to Mexico and my 15th country visited. It was also my first foray into semi-luxury travel, as we stayed at an all-inclusive resort in Isla Mujeres as opposed to my typical budget travel style. It was SO worth it though to be able to lounge by the ocean, drink Pina Coladas and binge on buffet food. I also checked another World Wonder off my list after visiting Chichen Itza. The month concluded with a road trip to Texas for my annual family reunion.
The months of August and September were spent working and hanging out with my dogs at the lakefront. It was also a time of some deep thinking about what I wanted in life. I finally made the decision to quit my job and my last day was in October. Since I wrote a whole blog post about that here, I won’t go into detail; but it was definitely a freeing moment that I had looked forward to for a long time.
After a few hectic days of packing, moving out, and road-tripping to Texas, I flew to Europe for my month in France. My boyfriend currently works in Lyon, so we made that our base for the month. We made weekend trips to the French Riviera, Annecy, and the Loire Valley. It really is true that there is SO much more to France than Paris. I truly loved seeing all the different things France has to offer, from the culture to landscapes. I think it may be my favorite country!
Barcelona was the last trip on my European sabbatical in early December. When I took my backpacking trip across Europe in 2015, I wasn’t able to make it to Italy or Spain due to time restraints, but I vowed I would return someday. I feel so lucky to have checked those two countries off my bucket list just two short years later. My first visit to Spain was a small taste of its culture, food, and architecture, and I definitely want to return and explore more of the country!