Travel Year Recap

2017 is only a few days away…. Wait what?! Yep that’s right.. another year has come and gone, and it sure has been a good one for me. Well travel wise anyway. From taking my first solo trip to exploring a new continent, 2016 was a year of personal challenges and stepping out of my comfort zone… Or as Kylie Jenner would say “Like realizing stuff.” Through many exciting new adventures and experiences I have learned so much about myself, and my life has changed in pretty amazing ways – best part is I’m just getting started. My travel gears have been turning as I start to plan for this upcoming year, but for now here’s a look back on my 2016 travels.

2016 In Numbers

Miles Traveled – 58,934 best estimate*

Travel Days –  62

Flights Taken – 29

Countries Visited – 5

States Visited – 7

2016 Top Travel Moments

12. Napa Valley, NorCal

January 2016

CALLING ALL WINE LOVERS. I started my year off right with a trip to San Francisco waaaaaay back in January (seems like forever ago). We decided to take a day trip to Napa. A day filled with wine tasting, cheeses and beautiful scenery. The perfect day, if you ask me. It was like being in Italy without leaving the United States. If you haven’t been to Napa – add it to your list.

11. Washington, D.C

February 2016

I made a #travelgoal in 2016 to explore more of the United States (my home country), and I did just that – starting with a quick weekend trip to the nation’s capital. I definitely underestimated how much there was to see, so I will definitely be back (considering it’s only a 4 hour 30 minute drive from me).

10. Denver, Colorado

May 2016

Continuing to fulfill my #travelgoal with a trip to the mile high city. I haven’t really ventured out west, besides California, so I was pretty excited to explore Denver. I definitely checked off some must do’s, including a trip to VooDoo doughnuts – pictured above. Can you say sugar high? I mean after all I was in Denver  (if you know what I mean I like you already). I’m also a huge baseball fan, so the trip would not have been complete without a visit to Coors field. Denver definitely opened my eyes up to the wild west and made me want to see even more (currently accepting U.S. destination suggestions for 2017 – comment below).

9. Road trip to Montreal, Quebec, Canada

August 2016

What was supposed to be a weekend in Vegas turned into a road trip to Montreal (don’t ask – but when one travel plan fails, you figure out a new one). Living so close to the Canadian border, and having never been before I was excited to check another country off my list. It was like I drove 5 hours and ended up in France. The trip was a lot better than I anticipated and made me question, why I had not made the drive sooner.

8. Helicopter Ride Over Chicago

September 2016

A helicopter ride was on my bucket list for a while. I always see the tours in New York, but I told myself I would wait and do it in another city. The opportunity finally presented itself. A trip to chicago, the perfect groupon and a little #yolo mentality was all it took for me to finally give in. I mean it’s around $150 for a 15 minute ride, kind of crazy… but TOTALLY worth it.

7. La Fortuna Waterfall – Costa Rica

July 2016

 I was not sure what to expect, but my first trip to Central America did not disappoint. I chose to do a group tour for this trip, which worked out well. With an itinerary already set up for me I felt that I was able to see all the country has to offer. From waterfalls and volcanos to beaches and rainforests, Costa Rica has it all. (It’s also the one place it’s ok to chase waterfalls)

6. Lake Como, Italy

May 2016

My weekend in Italy (yes, I said weekend) was nothing short of amazing, and jam-packed. I was told that while I was visiting Milan I needed to make a trip to Lake Como, so I did just that. I may have been exhausted (sleep is not an option when you only have 48 hours, thank god for espresso), but I’m sure glad I decided to take the short train ride to explore this beautiful place.

5. Golden Circle Tour – Iceland

March 2016

I had a choice between a few tours for this day in Iceland, and seeing as how it is one of the most popular ones I decided to do the Golden Circle. And I must say it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Between the beautiful landscapes, exploding geysers and roaring waters at Gullfoss I’m still trying to figure out if this day was even real.

4. Blue Lagoon – Iceland

March 2016

 One of the 25 Wonders of the World according to National Geographic. This was my first stop in Iceland and I’m not lying when I say I could have stayed here all day. Floating around with a silica mud mask on, sipping champagne from the swim up bar – yes the lagoon has a swim up bar. It’s no wonder this famous hot spring is climbing to the top of everyone’s bucket list.

3. White Temple – Chiang Rai

November 2016

After reading my Lonely Planet guide on Thailand I quickly added the White Temple to my bucket list. I was a little sad when I realized just how far it was from Chiang Mai, but then realized we had an extra day on the itinerary. Sadness turned to excitement as we booked a tour to Chiang Rai! Longest. Day. Ever. accompanied by car sick children for half of the 3 hour bus ride. But once we arrived at the temple the sound and smell of child vomit (gross I know) quickly left and became a distant memory. I had been googling photos of the temple for weeks before my trip, and then just like that I was there, looking at it in real life.  I was so consumed with happiness I could have cried.  Pictures don’t do justice for what I saw with my own two eyes.

2. Koh Phi Phi Island, Thailand

November 2016

I cannot imagine a better way I could have spent my 23rd birthday. Phi Phi was seriously incredible, I almost have no words for it. It’s one of those things that while you’re experiencing it you have to pinch yourself to make sure it’s real life. I fed bananas to monkey’s, swam with the fishes, and searched for Leo DiCaprio in Maya Bay. A day I will seriously never forget. Ever.

1. Elephant Carer Home – Chiang Mai, Thailand

November 2016

This place was recommended by our Airbnb host in Chiang Mai, and was one of my coolest travel experiences to date. After hearing all the negatives about elephant camps in Thailand we were relieved to see that the elephants were roaming free of chains when we arrived. We spent the first half of the day feeding and getting to know our elephants. A quick break for lunch – Pad Thai and fresh fruit, that when I think about now still makes my mouth water, then it was time to go for a ride through the jungle. What started off as complete fear turned into joy as I became more comfortable with my elephant and being around 9 feet off the ground. We stopped and watched the elephants play in the mud before we bathed them. It was a hot day so jumping in the water felt good, until we saw giant wads of elephant poo floating down the river… Regardless of the shit that happen, pun intended,  it was still an unforgettable day.

2016 had its up and downs, but I do not take one moment or experience for granted… That being said I’m ready for 2017!!!

What was your favorite travel memory from this year? Comment below or head over to the Contact page and send me a message 🙂

Happy New Year and Happy Travels!!

xx Lauren

Follow along on my New Years trip through Europe

Instagram: @awanderlustlifee

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