2019 was one heck of a year! While I slowed down on the traveling as compared to 2018, I still managed to squeeze in some incredible trips and check off some cool items on my bucket list. I went internationally, and checked off a new continent in the process. I managed to fulfill 2/3 of my travel goals. I also started working full time and moved, making 2019 more about that in the second half of the year than about travel.
It’s hard to believe I’m wrapping up my third year of blogging. This site adds so much to my travels. I want to learn so much about where I’m going in order to share it with you, and it leads to such a rich experience for me when I visit new places. All in all, I accomplished some pretty amazing things in 2019 and I can’t wait to share them with you!
My year started off with moving back home to ‘The Region’ and visiting some of my favorite people in Chicago. I got to ride the South Shore Line, a train that connects South Bend to downtown Chicago and shared my experience with you. Then my cousins and I walked across the city to the John Hancock Tower where we enjoyed drinks on the 105th floor at sunset. It was the most incredible way to kick off the new year!
Read More: Taking the South Shore Line to Chicago
Read More: How to Get into the John Hancock Tower for Free
Flash forward to March. It’s spring break time and because of the flexibility of my schedule as a substitute teacher, I decided to take an extra week off so I could spend it halfway around the world with my friend Mary. We met studying abroad together back in 2016 and we’re still close! When she invited me to come visit her in China I knew I needed to take her up on it. The trip started with a 16-hour overnight train ride to Shanghai, and I got my first taste of Chinese city life.
I loved the pedestrian shopping street downtown, visiting the Bund during the day and at night, seeing the ancient gardens and eating Hot Pot for the first time. I also ventured outside the city limits to one of Shanghai’s ancient water towns, and had mixed emotions about it.
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Read More: What I Learned Visiting Tongli Water Town
The second week of my trip to China was spent in its capital city of Beijing. I was so excited to be here, surrounded by thousands of years of history. I think I am so fascinated by historic sites because I live in such a new country. In Beijing I hiked the Great Wall of China! Definitely a life-long bucket list item I checked off. Other highlights of this city included a food tour, the Forbidden City and visiting Llama Temple.
Read More: Beijing in a Day
Read More: How to Travel China by Train
Read More: Hiking the Great Wall at Jinshanling
Read More: My First Food Tour
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On one of my annual trips to visit my sister in Georgia, we spent a day exploring historic Savannah. This has to be one of the prettiest cities in the United States. I loved the Spanish moss hanging from the trees and the old colonial buildings. My favorite part of the day was eating dinner on a second-floor restaurant balcony at sunset on River Street. You really can’t go wrong!
Read More: How to Spend a Day in Savannah, Georgia
There’s nothing better than a good old-fashioned road trip! I took a day trip driving along the coast of Lake Michigan from Indiana over the boarder into Michigan. The day starts off at the Indiana Dunes National Park and ends in the cute town of St. Joseph, Michigan. There are stops at breweries and ice cream parlors along the way!
Read More: Road Tripping the Shores of Lake Michigan
It’s no secret that I love Utah. In 2017 it rang in at the #1 spot I traveled to that year after visiting Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. This year I checked off visiting all 5 of Utah’s parks from my bucket list! On an epic road trip out west I explored Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. I can safely say that Bryce Canyon is my favorite national park I’ve visited. I ended my time in Utah camping on the shores of Lake Powell, and that was one of the best times of my life. We actually shifted our trip schedule to allow for one more night camping on this beach because Paige and I loved it so much!
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Read More: One Day at Capitol Reef National Park
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Read More: One Day at Zion National Park Without Angel’s Landing
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Arizona was a new state for me this year. While I’d technically stepped foot in Arizona while I was at the Four Corners, I can now officially say I’d been. I spent a few days in Page, Arizona, home of the famous Antelope Canyon, as well as heading to Sedona to see the beautiful landscape and experience Slide Rock state park for the first time. One of my favorite moments from this trip was finally getting to the Grand Canyon. That was one of my travel goals for 2019!
Read More: What to Do in Page, Arizona
Read More: Photo Gallery from the Grand Canyon (South Rim)
Read More: The Perfect Day Trip from Phoenix
Nevada was another new state for me this summer, and I saw some amazing sights while I was out there. I was also battling 107°F heat. I hiked across the bridge over the Hoover Dam (and had my car/camper suspiciously inspected by a guard). I floated in Lake Mead in order to beat that unbearable heat, and I ended my time here in the Fabulous Las Vegas! What could be better?
I don’t have a Vegas blog post yet because I don’t feel I did enough to warrant one. I am aiming to go back soon to put together a more thorough post for you!
Read More: How to Beat the Summer Heat at Lake Mead
Read More: The Best Hike at Valley of Fire State Park
Just like I do every summer, I packed up my belongings and headed north over the Bridge to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. While I love going back to my family’s home in DeTour Village, I’m trying to do something new up here each time. This summer it was taking a dream trip to Munising and jumping in kayaks. We paddled 5 miles along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore! It was just a dream!
Read More: The History of the Edmund Fitzgerald & Other Shipwrecks at Whitefish Point
Read More: The Best Way to Kayak Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Read More: 20 Photos to Inspire You to Visit the Upper Peninsula
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Over Labor Day weekend, Charleston quickly became one of my favorite small cities in America. I hadn’t heard much about it and honestly hadn’t really considered visiting, but when my two best friends suggested it for our long weekend, I jumped at the idea. We walked downtown through the city’s quiet streets, thinking it reminded us more of a cute town than a bustling capital. We went whiskey tasting at a distillery, tried local ice cream and pizza parlors, and we even had a unique experience trying to tube down the Elk River. It was all very local and charming. It makes me want to explore what else West Virginia has to offer!
Read More: Your Guide to a Weekend in Charleston, West Virginia
Read More: My Experience Tubing on the Elk River
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Like I mentioned earlier, much of my fall was spent adjusting to my new life in Fort Wayne. I finished my first semester of teaching middle school (yay!), I made new friends and explored locally for a few months. I even took December off from blogging, which was a much needed break. I’m so grateful for the experiences I had right here in small-town America.
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Read More: Looking Back on September
Read More: Looking Back on October
Read More: Looking Back on November
LOOKING AHEAD IN 2020
Ringing in the New Year means getting a chance to decide where I want to go in 2020! I had some very exciting news: I’ve already book my spring break trip! For those of you who don’t know yet, I’ll be heading to London & Dublin at the end of March! I can’t wait to explore the UK. It’s a place I’ve always dreamed of going, and so planning this trip over the next two months will be the highlight of my evenings. I’m already counting down the days until I get to leave!
This summer is going to be my first summer off after working full time, so I want to make it epic. I want to visit a new region of the world! I haven’t been to Central America, South America, Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia or Australia/Oceania yet, and I’m going to let you decide where I go.
Keep a look out in the spring of 2020 when I start polling for which region of the world you want me to explore next. First I’ll have you all vote on the region, and then I’ll narrow down the countries and have you make the final decision!