Year in Review | 2017 Summary

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Year in Review | 2017 Travel SummaryIt’s that time of year again, where I like to go back and review my year in travel.  In a general sense, I feel like 2017 is probably the least travel that I have done in years, but in reality we went somewhere every single month except December! I really needed to take a step back and slow down to not overbook our life with travel though, so I tried to just enjoy the trips we did and the time at home in between travels. As much as we love to travel, we are finding it is getting harder to fit it all in with the day to day things my son has become involved with at home. I think 2018 will be the year we continue to find the balance between traveling and living a non-nomadic lifestyle. (Even though all I think about is homeschooling and being on the road full time!)

So, without further ado…our 2017 year in review.

Looking back, it seems we explored much closer to home for most of the year, visiting Mojave National Preserve, Oceanside, Long Beach, Ventura CountyLegoland and San Francisco. That said, we did make a few bigger trips too. Our big trips of the year took us on an overland adventure in Alaska, exploring the jungles of Costa Rica, to Iceland for a day and to Ireland for a conference for myself and visiting the grandparents for Cian and Paul.  I managed to sneak in another solo trip this year to the Family Travel Media Showcase in Clearwater, Florida which was super fun and has inspired me to get us all back to Florida soon. Below are the best of our 2017 travels.

JUCY Camping in Mojave National Preserve

We went camping a few times in 2017, but my favorite was in January when we rented our first JUCY RV and headed out to Mojave National Preserve. I had been wanting to visit for ages, but felt overwhelmed with the prospect of NO services for many many miles of the park. The JUCY mini RV gave me the confidence I needed to hit the road since it included a bed, kitchen and wheels to escape if we needed to! We loved the van and have been considering all year if we should buy one for ourselves. During our visit to Mojave, the temperatures dipped below freezing and we woke up surrounded by ice crystals and frozen water pools all around, but we stayed cozy and warm in our JUCY.

Apart from the awesome JUCY experience, we also loved Mojave. It felt like a combination of Death Valley which we had visited the previous year and our favorite desert retreat of Joshua Tree.  It’s definitely worth the adventure to check it out, even just for the mere fact of being so off the grid in a space where you can camp anywhere you want, drive wherever you want and hike wherever your feet take you!

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Costa Rican Birthday Celebrations

As has become the custom, February is the month I like to get away for my non-existent birthday. This year it was just me and the little one so we headed off to Costa Rica for a quick week visit. I worked with Il Viaggio to help plan our trip, including using their driver service. I wasn’t sure if I would want to drive on my own with Cian and since it was our first trip, it felt easier to go this way. It ended up being amazing. Yes, I could have easily driven on my own, but it was my birthday after all, so it was nice to let someone else do that for a change.

We started in Arenal, then headed across the water to Monteverde and then to the coast to get some beach time in. It was a quick trip, but showed us what an amazing country Costa Rica is and that we need to go back for much longer.

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Overland Adventure in Alaska

The much anticipated trip of the year was to Alaska with our friends from Texas who we have managed to do a summer trip with now for 4 years. It is the one trip of the year my son really looks forward to, so I hope we can keep it going even if it has to be shortened some years! Our trip started in Anchorage, took us to Denali National Park and then to Talkeetna before heading back down to the coast to Seward. After our friends left, we hired a small Cessna plane for a day trip out to Lake Clark National Park to hang out with brown bears for the day. It was truly an outstanding experience that should be on every family’s bucket list. Alaska is where Cian loaded up the most on his park ranger badges – Denali, Lake Clark, Kenai Fjords, and Alaska Land Management in Anchorage. I have many more posts coming out soon in case you are looking to plan your Alaskan summer adventure!

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San Francisco

I’m always a bit of a slacker when it comes to booking our spring break. There are so many options out there that I get stuck choosing which one we will do! This year, the decision was made for us when I heard that my grandmother would be visiting San Francisco. So we loaded up the car and headed up for a week. We spent time exploring Fisherman’s Wharf which is always a blast for families, hiking in the various parks associated with Golden Gate National Recreation Area and of course riding cable cars!

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Ft Worth

Growing up in Dallas, I visited Ft Worth often as a kid, but since I’ve been an adult I have probably only visited once and never with Cian. Since he’s super into all things cowboy, I thought this year’s trip to see my family should include some time in cow town. It was super fun and now I know that we need to go again for a longer, more organized visit. In our short time we saw the cows go down the street, got a custom made leather bracelet and bought a fancy new cowboy hat! It reminded me what fun Ft Worth can be for families. I think we need to spend some more time in my former home state as there is so much on offer to families for much more reasonable prices than venturing to the coasts or abroad.

Ventura County

Our summer visit to Ventura County was part of a media visit, but it turned out to be one of our favorites for many reasons. The top was the chance to go sea kayaking at the Channel Islands. While Cian had already received his junior ranger badge for the Channel Islands from their mainland visitor center, we actually hadn’t ever been to the islands before. So this was a big draw for the visit. And, being part of a media trip meant that we *had* (well not really) to participate in the sea kayaking adventure. It was super scary for me to be in control of a 2 man boat for my first trip ever out on a kayak, but also so fun to experience this as a first for both of us.

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Reykjavik, Iceland

I have been dying to get to Iceland so when I saw that Wow Air had a connecting flight to Dublin via Reykjavik for cheap, I decided to give it a try. One, we loved Wow Air and thought that the flight with super low fares was totally worth it. But most importantly, we LOVED Iceland even though we were there for only a day and only in Reykjavik. Cian had a goal of getting Icelandic wool, chocolate and coins and I wanted to go to the Blue Lagoon. So we made it all happen in a short time. It was super expensive ($800 in less than a day expensive), but it is beautiful. We have had a little taste and cannot wait to go back to fully experience what the country has to offer.

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Typically we visit Ireland at least once a year to see family, however this year the main goal of the trip was for me to attend the travel bloggers conference TBEX held in Killarney. It was the perfect opportunity for Paul and Cian to visit with the family while I got to hobnob with travel bloggers and experience some of the country on my own.I have to say it’s exactly what I needed too. I was able to tour around Killarney and then on to County Mayo with fellow travel bloggers for a week. I loved it! I can now see what so many people love so much about Ireland. The landscapes are beautiful, the people are welcoming and the craic (fun) is everywhere! If you are looking for an off the beaten path adventure in Ireland, I would highly recommend getting yourself to the west coast where you can venture along the Wild Atlantic Way. While there, make sure to pop into County Mayo in particular.

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Clearwater, Florida

Last but not least was my solo trip to Clearwater, Florida. I have not been to Florida since I was a kid, unless you count our ill fated trip there last year to go on a cruise with Fathom! I was excited for another solo trip and to connect with so many family travel bloggers at the Family Travel Bloggers Travel Media Showcase. It was all I had hoped and more. I got to spend some great time playing in the sand building a sand mermaid, I got to chat with industry professionals and hang out with some internet friends in real life. It was the best!

Shockingly I don’t have a ton on tap for 2018, but I’m sure my wanderlust will take me several places! Check back next week for my 2018 travel dreams post to see what we have in mind!

How was your year in travel? What do you have on tap for 2018?

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