This past year was one of huge changes in the non-travel aspects of my life. First, Elliot and I bought a condo. Then we got married.
As we were house-hunting and wedding-planning in January, I was sure 2017 would be a “light” travel year for me. Because, you know, house-buying and wedding-planning take up lots of time AND money.
But, instead, my year turned out to be just as travel-filled as ever! Between work trips and for-fun trips, I managed to travel somewhere almost every month this year.
Which means, as usual, that it was difficult to narrow down my year-end list to just the top highlights!
But I somehow managed it, and here are my favorite travel experiences from 2017.
My Top 10 Travel Highlights of 2017
10. Exploring Stockholm
For years I've professed myself a lover of all things Scandinavian, and yet up until 2017 had only visited Iceland and Norway. That changed this summer, when I split a week between Stockholm and Copenhagen. Stockholm quickly charmed me, with its narrow Gamla Stan streets, colorful subway stations, and awesome museums. I had so much fun getting to know Stockholm over the course of 3 days – I know it won't be my last visit!
9. The Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland
I actually visited Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland once before, back in 2013. But that was just a quick day trip from Dublin. A highlight of my 2017, then, was getting to explore more of the Causeway Coast on a tour with Shamrocker Adventures. I re-visited Giant's Causeway, got to see the famous Dark Hedges, and crossed the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. It's no wonder that Belfast and the Causeway Coast were named the top region in the world to visit in 2018 by Lonely Planet. I may return next year, too!
8. Visiting Yellowstone National Park for the first time
Yellowstone was the first designated national park in the world, so it's probably no surprise that I've wanted to visit for ages. I finally had the chance this past summer, when my sister and I did another cross-country road trip. We dedicated two full days to Yellowstone, exploring from the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone to Mammoth Springs to the impressive Geyser Basin. It's an incredible park but also an HUGE one – definitely a place where you need to go in with a plan!
7. Mini Oregon road trip
In June, Elliot and I flew out to Oregon to visit his sister, who recently moved to Bend. I suggested we make a small road trip out of it, which turned out to be an excellent idea. We visited Portland, the Columbia River Gorge, the Painted Hills, the Willamette Valley wine region, the beaches on Oregon's coast, and of course Bend. There's a lot more to Oregon than most people realize, and I know it's a state I'll be visiting again.
6. Chasing waterfalls in the Finger Lakes
Another trip Elliot and I took together this year was to the Finger Lakes region of New York for a mini-honeymoon immediately after our wedding in October. While we didn't see any amazing falls colors, we did chase a lot of waterfalls, drank some wine, and ate a lot of tasty food. It's a beautiful part of the US, and made for a perfect romantic getaway!
Read more: A Mini-Honeymoon to the Finger Lakes
5. Road tripping in Northern Norway
For the third year in a row, I made a trip to Norway! This year I finally visited Bergen, did the Norway in a Nutshell tour, and headed up north to drive around some of the country's northern islands. This road trip was amazing. I skipped the touristy Lofoten Islands and instead focused on some of the lesser-visited spots in Senja and the Vesterålen Islands. I felt like I was let in on multiple secrets on this trip, and left even more in love with Norway than I was before.
4. Beach-hopping in the Seychelles
I'm usually not a beach-loving type of traveler, but visiting the Seychelles was about so much more than beaches. (Though, admittedly, the beaches there are absolute stunners.) I had fun beach-hopping, yes, but also enjoyed meeting giant tortoises, holding the heaviest nut in the world, and eating delicious seafood. If you're looking for a tropical destination in 2018 with amazing beaches AND lots of other things to do, look into visiting the Seychelles.
3. Seeing ancient sites in Egypt
My last-minute “splurge trip” in 2017 was a 12-day tour through Egypt. It's been a bucket list destination for me since before I even HAD a bucket list, and the reality of visiting was even better than I could have imagined! I took selfies at the Pyramids of Giza, visited temples like Abu Simbel and Philae and Karnak, and went into King Tut's actual tomb. The ancient sites were 10 times cooler in real life, and Egypt itself is much safer (in the touristy areas, at least), than most people think. If you've been holding off going to Egypt, now is the time to go.
2. Falling in love with the Faroe Islands
One of the campaigns I worked on this summer was with Visit Faroe Islands for the country's annual G! Festival, a quirky music festival that takes place each summer on a beach. I also had time to explore the main islands while I was there, and damn… the Faroe Islands are amazing! The landscapes are just as incredible as what you can find in Iceland and Norway, and yet the islands are still generally undiscovered by mass tourism. The Faroe Islands ended up being my favorite new country I visited in 2017. If this spot is on your list, too, make 2018 the year you visit!
1. Seeing the total solar eclipse in Idaho
It was difficult to organize the middle of this list with so many amazing travel experiences to choose from. But #1 was a no-brainer. Seeing a total solar eclipse in the USA was by far the coolest thing I did this year! My sister and I planned our summer road trip around the August 21 eclipse, driving all the way out to western Idaho for the big moment. And it was all so worth it. It's difficult to explain what those few minutes of totality really feel like; there were so many emotions running through me, from awe to giddiness to disbelief. If you can catch the next total solar eclipse, I highly recommend it!
So there you have it: my travel highlights from 2017! There were plenty of moments that didn't quite make the list, like re-visiting my favorite part of Utah, mentoring at Bloghouse in Indianapolis, falling in love with South Dakota, introducing Elliot to Chicago (one of my favorite US cities), and going to Florida for the grand opening of Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando.
But I had to end the list somewhere!
Here's hoping your 2017 was just as adventurous, and that you have even more exciting travels in 2018!
What were some of YOUR travel highlights in 2017? Which of mine did you enjoy reading about the most?