2018 Round Up!

Catching the travel bug is a tricky thing. On one hand, my wanderlust inspires me to prioritize travel and make those trips of a lifetime actually happen. On the other, sometimes it leaves me thinking “I never get to go anywhere” and focusing on all the places I haven’t yet been rather than feeling grateful for those I have. Rather than setting traditional New Year’s resolutions, I’ve started using January as a time to re-examine my priorities. I also take time to reflect and feel gratitude for the experiences and growth from the previous year.

On a personal note, in 2018 I experienced two miscarriages. Let me tell you, the combination of grief and hormone changes is a bear. It’s so common, and yet so lonely because it’s something that doesn’t get talked about. I’m excited to report that I’m now 20 weeks pregnant with a due date in May of 2019, and I feel so incredibly grateful. My top priority for 2019 is family, and I am also prioritizing keeping my blog active and continuing to travel. Though I know traveling with a kiddo is tough, I also want to expose them to new places and model that you can find ways to do what you love.

Travel Themed Pregnancy Announcement

I’m also grateful to have had these travel experiences pre-baby, including a long awaited solo trip through four countries in Europe. Here were my travel highlights of 2018. Looking at this list, I don’t think I get to complain anymore about not getting to go anywhere!


Atlanta

I was a pseudo-resident of Atlanta around 2012 as I finished graduate school in Auburn and commuted to Atlanta for 3-4 days each week. Though the south wasn’t really my cup of (sweet) tea, I did develop a soft spot for Atlanta and was excited when a work training brought me back to the city in February. I was spoiled with a room in a downtown hotel that overlooked Centennial Olympic Park and the “SkyView” Ferris wheel, which was built after my time there. After the trainings, I had a blast riding the SkyView, finding some of the city’s new murals, and revisiting some of my favorite spots.

Downtown Atlanta
View of downtown Atlanta from my hotel room


Iceland

It took some convincing to get my husband to go to Reykjavík with me in March. Though he was initially deterred by the idea of vacationing in cold weather, he was later sold by the thermal hot springs and the possibility of seeing the northern lights. Both of these things were accomplished, as well as a glacier lagoon exploration and visiting some of the most stunning waterfalls I’ve ever seen. Thinking about heading to Iceland? You won’t regret it. Check out my posts about Iceland here.

Gullfoss Waterfall in Iceland
Gullfoss Waterfall in Iceland

 

Germany, Austria, Slovakia, & Hungary

In late May and early June, I went on a 2.5 week solo trip through these four countries. I flew into Munich, took trains to Innsbruck, Salzburg, Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest, then took an overnight train back to Munich for a few more precious days. There’s no other independence and confidence booster like it. Also, basing my trip on cheap airfare in and out of Munich, as well as staying in hostels, made this trip surprisingly affordable. My only regret? Not taking a couple extra days to fit in Prague. Next time!

I still have a little blogging to catch up on from that trip, but you can read about some of the adventures here:

https://suitcaseenvy.com/2018/09/09/my-experience-visiting-the-dachau-concentration-camp-memorial-site/

https://suitcaseenvy.com/2018/09/16/the-highlights-of-budapest/

https://suitcaseenvy.com/2018/07/31/why-travel-to-bratislava/

https://suitcaseenvy.com/category/austria/

Devin Castle in Devin, Slovakia
Devin Castle in Devin, Slovakia

 

Fort Worth

I was a proud Austinite for a couple years but never made it up to Dallas or Fort Worth during that time (other than for the occasional airport transfer of course). When work brought me to Fort Worth in June, I was insistent on finding some fun things to do. My highlights were the water gardens and a classic vegan restaurant I’d often heard about, Spiral Diner. It lived up to the hype!

Water Gardens in Fort Worth, Texas
Water Gardens in Fort Worth, Texas
Tofu Scramble at Spiral Diner in Fort Worth
Tofu scramble at Spiral Diner

 

San Diego

One of my closest friends got married in August at a beautiful venue in La Jolla. First and foremost, this trip was all about my friend Janet and catching up with the amazing group of friends I’ve had since high school. We went on a wine tasting tour through Temecula and a gorgeous hike at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. My husband and I also stayed an extra day to check out the sea caves and stop by Ocean Beach. Hey Janet, stay put in San Diego because I want to visit again!

Wine Tasting in Temecula
Wine tasting in Temecula, California
Spotting Sea Lions in La Jolla
Spotting sea lions in La Jolla
Sea Cave in La Jolla
Sea Cave in La Jolla

 

Orlando

I hadn’t been to Orlando since I was a kid, but another work trip brought me back in October. Though I was 7 weeks pregnant, nauseous, and experiencing crazy food aversions, I wanted to make the most of the trip. I went to Disney Springs one night and Epcot the other. Pregnancy kept me from doing a few fun things like certain rides at Epcot, taking advantage of the hotel hot tub, and of course drinking. Fortunately, I had maintained a sweet tooth that allowed me to enjoy some treats from Erin McKenna’s, a vegan & gluten-free bakery in Disney Springs that can’t be missed. A glazed donut and a cinnamon roll were just what the doctor ordered.

Epcot
Epcot
Erin McKenna’s Bakery in Disney Springs
Erin McKenna’s Bakery in Disney Springs

 

New Orleans

My favorite trip within the U.S. this year was to New Orleans in October. I ate copious amounts of vegan food (see this blog post), saw gators on a swamp tour, drank chicory coffee, and got a great tour from my friend Melanie. I recommend taking your coffee from Cafe Du Monde down the street to Jackson Square and enjoying it on one of the many park benches.

Sipping Cafe Du Monde in Jackson Square
Sipping Cafe Du Monde in Jackson Square
Louisiana swamp tour
Louisiana swamp tour

 

Portland

December brought me back to Portland, Oregon for the holidays with my family. Since my folks are likely moving this spring, we played tourist and went on a city tour that included a visit down into the Shanghai tunnels. If you haven’t heard stories about these tunnels, they’re worth looking up! I also got some much needed family time in and ate way too much vegan ice cream at Salt & Straw.

The quintessential Portland photo
The quintessential Portland photo
Vegandulgence ice cream flight at Salt & Straw
Vegandulgence ice cream flight at Salt & Straw

 

2019

As of now, my 2019 will include a visit to my friend Jackie in Maine, a possible low-key babymoon, and the biggest adventure of all – the arrival of a tiny new family member. What are you up to in 2019? Tell me where you’ll be traveling in the comments below!

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