2019 was an interesting travel year for us as it saw us greatly reduce the amount of travel we did. We bought our house in August of 2018 and due to a number of family issues and illnesses, job changes and the investment into our house renovation, we knew ahead of time that this year would be lighter on travel than previous years. To be completely honest, I really missed our typical travel this year and I definitely want to get back into more travel as we get into 2020 and beyond. I did end up getting to head to Asia spur of the moment at the end of the year which helped round out my travel this year but all in all, it was definitely a different year in terms of travel for us than our typical has been the last several years.
We focused more this year on travel closer to home, less international trips than we have been doing and places we could drive to in order to cut costs and time commitments for travel and still be able to experience places nearby to us in the Pacific Northwest. We were able to do a lot of the things and see places that have been on my travel list for years that are closer to home which was really fulfilling and amazing to see some incredible places within a few hours of us here in Portland. All in all, 2019 was not my most memorable travel year but I will also say that due to our circumstances, I’m happy with what we accomplished with travel this year even though it was different than what we’ve been used to in the past and it gives me that much more drive to get back into more travel in the next year to come!
Favorite Travel Moment
For years, I’ve had the Harry Potter World at Universal Studios on my travel list. Nick and I both love Harry Potter and we’ve wanted to make it down to the LA location for a long time. In January of this year we finally made it happen and spent 2 days down in LA taking it all in. We spent a weekend in Hogsmead and the Hogwarts Castle, drinking Butterbeer and giggling like little kids on all the rides. Truly it was such a fun weekend and a much needed break from life and it started out the year on a high.
Favorite Reoccurring Travel Moment
After having to cancel our Spring Europe trip due to a family illness, we rebooked the trip for a Summer escape to France and spent a couple days at the beginning of the trip in Paris. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I adore Paris and it’s one of my very favorite places in the world so our time there was lovely this year. We didn’t have any real plans for the city and ate amazing food and wandered the picturesque streets and it was amazing.
Biggest Travel Surprise
On our Summer trip to Europe, we were originally due to spend a few days in Provence but due to a crazy heat wave (see my Most Emotional Travel Moment below…) we ended up changing our plans and spending a few days in Lyon, France instead. It was such a great choice because we absolutely fell in love with Lyon. For a city that I knew virtually nothing about, we were both surprised by how much we loved it and it’s definitely a place I’d go back to again and again.
I also have to add Myanmar to this answer as well. In December, an opportunity came up last minute for me to spend 3 days in Yangon, Myanmar and I jumped at it. As a country I had never had high on my travel list and that I didn’t know a lot about, I had very little expectations for it going into my trip there at the end of December. The city of Yangon though, blew me away. It felt like parts of India, Cambodia, Thailand and Bali all came together to create this amazing culture and I loved my time there.
*All my Myanmar posts coming soon covering my time there and what you need to know before you visit.
Worst Travel Moment
After we found out that my Grandma would be having a mastectomy due to breast cancer in the early part of the year, we canceled our planned trip to Europe in March. And while most of the trip was easily canceled, I had a two night hotel stay in Seville, Spain that really dragged their heels helping me and in the end, flat out denied me a refund even though I had doctor’s notes and all the documentation they requested. Long story short, it was a huge headache and several hundred dollars down the drain. Months later I did end up getting it refunded through my Chase Sapphire credit card travel insurance but the whole process took about 5 months and was a huge headache throughout the year unfortunately. In the end, it taught me a couple lessons: 1) Always book refundable hotel stays and 2) I won’t be taking my business to that hotel chain that caused such an issue ever again.
Best Hotel Stay
We didn’t actually end up staying in that many hotels this year and when we did, they were mostly chains. But our hotel in Lyon, France was probably my favorite. We had just arrived from Provence where the temperatures were over 100 degrees and had spent the previous night in an AirBnB without AC where we didn’t hardly sleep at all due to the heat so arriving to the College Hotel in Lyon with AC and a really comfortable bed was a godsend!
Most Emotional Travel Moment
I’m usually pretty easy going when we travel and when problems arise (which they often do), I’m usually good with adjusting plans and just go with it. But on our Summer trip to France, temperatures were reaching 100 degrees in Provence the day we arrived and had been that way for several days prior to us arriving. Long story short, the apartment we rented didn’t have AC (even though they said they did!) and if you know me at all, you’ll know that I don’t do well in really hot weather. Like, it makes me really physically sick. So spending the night in Provence (while I do love that area) was kind of nightmare in that stifling heat with no respite. I didn’t sleep at all that night and it truly made me really sick it was so hot, so we ended up leaving early and headed back to Lyon where it was cooler. While I was sad to leave Provence so soon, we actually ended up having an amazing few days in Lyon so it was all worth it in the end!
Most Beautiful Destination
For my birthday this year, we headed back to Vermont and New England, a place that is close to my heart. I love this part of the US and Vermont is especially incredible during the Autumn when we visited. We saw Fall color galore and stopped at tiny little towns to wander. All in all, it was so nice to visit this area again and it truly is so beautiful!
I’ve had the Painted Hills in Central Oregon on my travel list for years and while in Sunriver for a family trip in September, Nick, his brother and I ventured over to this amazing destination for sunrise one morning. This incredible natural landscape about 2 hours outside of Bend, Oregon is truly an amazing spot to explore. We arrived shortly after sunrise and had the entire area to ourselves.
I’ll have to say France as my favorite country of the year! With stops in Paris, Lyon and Provence this past Summer, France continued its path to my heart as one of my favorite places on Earth.