2017 has been a really great year. For one, I started this blog! I got to go sand boarding in Dubai, go on a safari in Botswana, I visited Europe twice! I can say without a doubt, this year I was able to make incredible memories with more people in more places than ever before. I went to Greece with Elizabeth, Florida with a bunch of friends, Paris with my mom, and Zambia with my cousin. I even did some solo time in Istanbul and Dubai of all places. It makes me so excited for what is in store for next year in 2018!
Six countries on three different continents is quite a lot of places in one year, and even I am surprised I did it. As my friend Elizabeth says though — once the travel bug bites, it doesn’t stop! So here I go, my list of favorite travels for 2017.
It’s so hard to pick favorites, isn’t it? I feel like there are so many incredible places to go and see that it’s hard to find the best of something. I think a lot about memories and about what I did in places, that is what makes them so special! I’ve tried my best to create a list of my favorite travel moments of 2017 in hopes that I can remember the best that this year offered me and maybe give you and idea of some things you might want to do too!
1000 Steps Beach in Laguna Beach
This beach was incredibly beautiful! It has a nice sand space but also has a ton of tide pools, a really big cave, and the perfect spot for viewing sunsets. I decided basically on a whim to head out to Laguna Beach because I had planned on going to the Broad Museum to see the Infinity Mirrors Exhibit. I decided I could stand in line for two hours or I could drive for one and see the sunset on the beach. I went for beach sunset and I am so glad I did!
I have never been to a palace as incredibly opulent as Versailles! I think one reason this is one of my favorite places I visited is because I’ve learned so much about it as I grew up, but also because I got to explore it with my mom. We spent all morning in the palace and explored around the city too. It was really beautiful and quiet on a winter day. Versailles is home to so much history and it’s fun to discover and see the history for yourself.
Everyone talks about Santorini and for good reason! I would go back in a heartbeat, especially to visit and eat all the incredible food on this island. Greece in general has amazing food, but I loved the food and wine available on Santorini the most. We had the best Halloumi cheese covered in local balsamic, Greek yogurt for breakfast with fresh honey, amazing calamari, fresh fish, delicious wine, and I could go on! Everything I had there, whether from a fancy restaurant or a little hole in the wall, was incredible.
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Safari in Botswana with Bushtracks
A safari has always been on my bucket list (I LOVE animals!), and so this was just an incredibly special day. I can’t tell you how great it was to see over 20 different animals in the wild on two different game drives. I highly recommend this tour company as well. Friendly staff, timely service, and great guides!
I ended up by chance in Istanbul because of a flight issue and I am so glad. I stayed at this awesome AirBnB Deniz House that is actually a hotel. It was within walking distance of everything I wanted to do on my short trip. They had a rooftop view of the Blue Mosque where breakfast is served, homey rooms, Wifi, and I had a balcony overlooking the Bosphorus river – all for $40. I watched incredible sunrises and sunsets from here and had a great experience with the staff.
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Barker Dam in Joshua Tree National Park
This was a super easy hike that my sister and I recently did, but I loved it! The views were incredible on this hike. You go through so many really neat rock formations, and there is a ton of history here too. Back in the 1800s, people would hide stolen cattle here for rebranding inside the hidden valley. There are also pictographs drawn by Native Americans that you can get up close to which are really cool, and I had never actually seen any in the rocks up so close! We were also able to jump around the rocks and climb on some really cool rock formations. So while this is a super easy hike if you stay on the path, there are chances to make it more difficult and fun by going off the beaten path which is really easy in Joshua Tree since there are so many chances to boulder.
Favorite Theme Park
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
I have read all the Harry Potter books. I’ve seen all the movies and so when I had the chance to go to Harry Potter World this fall, I was not going to waste it. Universal did a great job making you feel like you were really in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. From the magical spots to the interactive rides, it was definitely one of the best theme parks I’ve ever been to, and it was so fun to see the place come to life.
Visiting the edge of Victoria Falls
If I am being honest, this is one of my favorite experiences of all time. I cannot believe that I was able to swim on the edge of the world’s largest waterfall. It is definitely something I didn’t think I would every get the chance to do, but am so glad I did. Talk about the biggest adrenaline rush ever! We were freezing the whole time, shaking, and laughing at the fact that we were on the edge of the falls the entire time. I can say without a doubt it is something I will talk about and remember forever.
There you have my favorite travel experiences of 2017! I count myself as very lucky to be able to travel as much as I do on my teacher’s salary and I know that I will continue to be grateful for all life brings me. I am excited to see what 2018 brings.
P.S. This also marks the end of my first year having a blog and I have to say thank you to all who are reading my posts and following along. I work so hard on this project and have so much fun sharing ways to save and make travel possible for anyone. Thanks for following along on my adventures and seeing where this journey takes me next.