Looking back at 2014, I realized how many amazing destinations we were fortunate enough to visit. We did slow down our travel schedule slightly towards the end of the year — compared to 2013 — which basically means we were a lot more picky about which destinations we chose to explore.
Forcing ourselves to slow down gave us more time to reflect on each of our travels and spend time enjoying our home in San Diego. We’ve been busy cozying up our apartment (we literally just bought an electric fireplace), surfing, hosting dinner parties, and celebrating birthdays with our tight-knit group of friends.
Last year was the first year I felt like I really got the hang of working for myself and I made more money in 2014 than I’ve ever made working for someone else. We spent a lot of time focusing on our goals and we completed a much-needed redesign and migration to WordPress. The hard work is now starting to pay off and our traffic has increased over 100 percent since the redesign. I’m so excited to start the new year with a fresh new design that is more user friendly.
I can’t figure out whether I’m feeling content spending more time at home because I’m getting older — or if I’m just slightly burnt out on packing and unpacking my suitcase. Either way, I think we will continue at this slightly slower travel pace in 2015. But don’t worry, we’ll have plenty of stories to tell. We’ve just booked two new trips over the next four weeks — and they are places we can’t wait to share with you!
Here’s a look at our favorite travel experiences from 2014.
Adventure in The Florida Keys
My year began with my first real experience in Florida and a jam-packed adventure itinerary. I was surprised by how much I liked the southern part of this state and it reminded me that I need to explore more of the United States. My two favorite experiences in The Florida Keys has to be flying above the ocean with a Jetpack and wakeboarding on a cable. I did come home extremely sore from wakeboarding, but it was well worth it.
Karneval in Dusseldorf
At the end of February, I headed for Europe to experience Karneval in Dusseldorf, Germany. Before my visit, I didn’t know anything about the Karneval traditions in Germany and was told it’s like the Mardi Gras of Europe. This multi-day party in the streets was a fun way to experience Dusseldorf for the first time. I was even in the big parade and threw candy from one of the floats!
Belgian Beer Tasting in Antwerp
Anybody who knows me, knows that I love Belgian beer. Scott had visited Antwerp before we met and he kept raving about this city in Belgium. So after Germany, I took a train over to Belgium to visit Brussels, Antwerp, and Bruges. I was enamored with Antwerp and it’s where I spent most of my time. I loved visiting the cellar restaurants and tasting Belgian beer by candlelight. I hope to make it back to Belgium for a tour of all the Trappist breweries.
Helicopter Tour Over Panama City Beach
Remember how I said I wanted to explore more of Florida? Well, I got my wish just a few months later and spent some time in Panama City Beach. My only complaint about my trip to PCB is that it had just rained and the water wasn’t as clear as usual. It was still gorgeous, but everyone kept telling me it’s normally much better. Towards the end of my trip, the water began to clear up and I took a helicopter tour over the coastline. I could literally see dolphins, turtles, stingrays, and sharks swimming under the water!
Eating My Way Through Bologna
Right after Panama City Beach, I took another solo trip to Europe. I’ve been to Italy several times, but this was my first time in Bologna. I stayed in an apartment right in the heart of the city, bought groceries, strolled underneath porticoes, and ate plenty of pasta and cheese.
Learning to Dive in Bonaire
In June, I spent a week in Bonaire — where I spent most of my time underwater. I got PADI certified on this Caribbean island and absolutely fell in love. I even tried to convince my family to take our end-of-the-year trip to Bonaire because I wanted to share this island with Scott and other members of my family. No such luck, but I will always have those wonderful memories of the first time I went diving — and Bonaire is definitely a place I will visit again.
Recharging in Mauritius
I couldn’t wait for the end of June to roll around because it was my first big trip with Scott in 2014! We traveled over thirty hours to the island of Mauritius in Africa. We wanted this trip to be relaxing and planned on spending as much time at the beach — or in the water — as possible. We celebrated Scott’s birthday on the Le Morne peninsula and savored a few days of down time.
Finding Puffins in Newfoundland
We spent a few warm months at home after Mauritius, until I left for Eastern Newfoundland in late August. I traveled the Irish Loop in search of puffins and whales. I had a magical experience with a few puffins in Elliston, but didn’t get so lucky with the whales. I took two snorkel boat trips with Ocean Quest and jumped in the frigid Atlantic for a chance to get up close with these giants. We couldn’t find the whales on the first boat trip because the fog was so thick and on the second trip, every whale gave us its tail — meaning they weren’t in the mood to play. I have some pretty funny stories to share about the experience though!
Finding Love on Molokai
After Newfoundland, Scott and I headed back to Hawaii for our third year in a row. We spent four days on the island of Molokai, immersing ourselves in the culture and meeting locals who truly respect and love their land. Our only regret is not spending more time in the ocean here. We both hope to head back and get some water time on the island.
Snorkeling with Turtles in St. Maarten
In October, I spent a week at Maho Beach Resort in St. Maarten with a good friend of mine. We visited during hurricane season and just barely missed Hurricane Gonzalo. After the storm, the water was churned up and the island had a lot of damage, so we spent most of our time at the resort — watching the planes land, eating, drinking, and swimming. We did manage to find a tour company to take us out on a snorkel trip and I had the privilege of swimming with a few really cute sea turtles (in murky water).
Central California Road Trip
It had been a while since we visited California’s central coast and Big Sur, so we ended the year with a road trip. We began our trip in San Luis Obispo and finished in Carmel. We explored some of the smaller towns that not too many people know about. Stay tuned for a couple of posts about this area.
Now that I’ve had a chance to look back at our year, it really doesn’t look like we slowed down too much. It was a pretty full year of travel and I’m grateful for all of the places we were able to see and the people we were lucky enough to meet. I’m excited to see what 2015 will bring!
What was your favorite travel experience of 2014?