Goodbye 2014, You Were Great.

The very last day of 2014 is here so quickly. I can’t believe all the things that have happened in the last year, and all of the new memories I have made. So many things have happened over the past 12 months, and I feel so incredibly blessed to have had such a great year. Thank you to all of my readers friends that have followed along, I can’t wait to see what you are all up to in the New Year! One of my favorite things to do is look back on each adventure made this year, so here are some of my favorites!

January- Kicked off 2014 with Skiing on New Years Day. This was such a fun trip and a great way to prepare me for March!

February- I turned 23. This was a bummer because I wanted to be 22 forever, but now I will just be Feelin’ 22 for the rest of my life! I spent my birthday with some great friends in Atlantic City, we had a blast!

March- First trip to Colorado! Skiing in Breckenridge was amazing and now I am itching to get back out there on the slopes. It was a huge learning experience to get on real powder and it will be great to continue to get better.

April-

May-

June-

July- We got Engaged! The 4th of July was such a perfect day and I still get teary eyed thinking about how amazing it was. I can’t believe in less than 6 months I get to marry my best friend!

August- Dave officially moved in! He had been staying here very often, but we finally moved all of his stuff into my our house. I love living with my best friend! We also asked all of our bridal party this month!

September- Jamaica! We had such a wonderful trip with two of our best friends. I can’t wait to take another all-inclusive vacation and relax on the beach with a constant drink in my hand.

October-

November- Dave turned 25! I can’t believe he is already a quarter century old. This next year should be a blast. We also took a trip to visit friends in North Carolina, what a quaint place to live…maybe someday!

December- The end of an amazing year. There have been many changes, most of which are improvements, and I am sure 2015 will be even better. I am sending 2014 off in style with my family, Dave and some friends.

Heres to all of the new memories to be made in 2015 including stealing Dave’s last name, traveling to 5 new countries, visiting my favorite US city (Austin), and many many new adventures.

Why We Travel

I have read several posts about why to travel alone, or travel with a group, or travel with family. All of these make their own points to why they prefer each method of traveling, but don’t really drive the point home of why they are traveling in the first place. For starters, I am not going into this pretending to be a travel expert, or even claim that I have traveled more than 5% of the earth, because I haven’t (yet). What I am going to share are my reasons to travel with another person, and like the title says, why we travel.

I have never been a stranger to traveling, but until a year and a half ago I hadn’t been out of the country. To some people that is a huge deal because there are so many places outside of the US, and while I totally agree, there are plenty of things to do within the US as well. But since that is not the point of my post, I will start with why I prefer to travel with others.

Lately, I have had my travel experiences alone since it has been mostly business trips. Every time I snap a photo, enjoy a beautiful scene, or stop by a local coffee shop, I think how much I wish Dave, my mom, or my sister were with me. I wish they were able to soak up every bit of this new moment alongside me, instead of me telling them about it, or showing them the experience virtually. I spend most of my free time on this trips endlessly wandering (or trying to find a Target). Experiencing a new area is a lot of fun, I would just enjoy it more if I had someone with me.

Another bonus, there are several in my opinion- but I won’t share them all, to traveling with someone else is sharing the cost of things such as a hotel room, cab ride, meal, etc. This can go either way though. If you opt for public transportation, you will each need to pay the fare or pay extra for two beds, but I would rather spend the extra money on things like that and be able to try some of two meals at a new restaurant instead of one (I just really like food, okay?).

After deciding how you want to travel, you should think about the why you want to travel. Personally there are two main reasons I like to travel, the experiences in new places and leaning more about yourself. Each new place holds a new experience, whether it be something minimal, like seeing 60 deer in one small front yard (I am looking at you Marble Falls, Texas), or something enchanting like chatting with the locals at a cafe in France.

Every travel experience holds something new for me, and teaches me something about myself. Whether something calms me, stresses me, captivates me, or intrigues me, I am always feeling some sort of emotion while I travel. For example, I had no idea I would get so upset when the bike rental wouldn’t take my card, but I also didn’t know seeing the area of Mont Martre would bring tears to my eyes.

Up until I met Dave my mom was by far my favorite travel partner. We have been to California 3 times just the two of us, and those will remain some of my favorite vacations. We always have so much fun together, enjoying the beach one minute and then hiking the Hollywood hills the next (not really that close since the traffic is always terrible). Both of us are adventurous and get bored easily so we try and squeeze as much into a vacation as possible. We have our favorite spots and an endless list of new places we want to visit.

California will always be our dream destination when we are together. The reason for these trips is to remind ourselves how blessed we are to have each other. Whenever we have been arguing, or simply not seeing each other a lot we have planned a trip to California. It really brings us closer, and holds us off another few years until we can go again.

Then there are the reasons Dave and I like to travel together. We have a very long list of “Travel Wants”, like the ones I shared here and here, and we are always adding more. Our main goal at this point in our lives is to learn more about each other, and the best way to do this is to travel. We get to see each other in new situations, experience new things together, and learn about the world at the same time. That is the reason I travel.

Traveling is a huge eye opener and brings so many other experiences to light, and I only wish others could travel more often. There is nothing like being out of your comfort zone in a new area and needing to adapt to your surroundings, or driving through the mountains and watching the snow roll over the top. If you have ever thought about taking a trip somewhere, do it! If you have a vacation in mind, take it! And if you are one of those lucky travel bloggers that has been able to make a life out of it, enjoy it! Traveling is the best way to experience a life full of wonder.

From Here To There {Chicago}

Over the summer I traveled to Chicago twice. While it isn’t one of my favorite cities, it offered up a nice variety of things to fill my time. What I loved most about this city is the beach area to the left of Navy Pier, I believe it is called North Beach. I took a nice walk around this part and it was so pretty! There were groups of people lounging on the beach, biking, playing volleyball and practicing cheerleading. There was also an area to play chess or checkers, I love when cities have an open of built in games for friends, or others enjoying their lunch.

The view flying into Midway is amazing, it was a nice welcome to the new (for me) city.

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The first hotel is stayed in was the Millennium Knickerbocker. There seems to be a lot of history from this hotel, and it had really nice rooms but on my last night someone was working in the utility closet right next to my room. This kept me up for half of the night, which annoyed me a bit since I had an early flight the next morning.  The best thing about the hotel was the bar though, the drinks were awesome and I love when there are nuts to snack on while chitchatting. I also really loved the vintage style elevator. I would give it a 3.5 out of 5.

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After checking into my hotel, I walked 2 blocks away to rent a bike and explore a bit. I went towards Navy Pier, and then it started to pour down rain. I got pretty soaked but eventually found another bike station and ran into the pier building. This was a nice time to explore the shops inside and buy some souvenirs for my siblings.

Once the rain stopped I rented another bike and went around the water to get a few blocks from Millennium Park. It was tucked away in a really cool spot with a large garden, field and around the corner from structures that sprayed water for children to play in. I loved the atmosphere of this part of the city, it made it feel like you were in the suburbs.

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IMG_9099I decided to walk a little more before getting another bike and was in awe at the beautiful structures and buildings. I made my way to the Chicago River, past the Chicago theatre and then to Magnificent Mile. Maybe one day I will be around to see the river turned green for St. Patricks day, although it still looked pretty green. It was a really great first day exploring the city. I highly recommend getting a daily pass for a bike. Each time you rent one you have 30 minutes to dock it at another bike station. Within 24 hours I used 6 bikes and it only cost $7, so worth it and you get great exercise!

 

The next day we went to an amazing restaurant for dinner, I believe it has been on Man Vs. Foods but I can’t remember the name of the place. Such a bummer because I would love to eat there again. Notice everyone else in the photo taking a picture of their meal. After my huge dinner, I needed a walk around the beach. It was a great end to a conference week in Chicago.

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The next time I visited Chicago, I stayed in the Hyatt Regency. Let me tell you, it was a huge hotel! I also had a great view from my room. There was basically no reason to leave, except I wanted to go shopping, so I left for a little while. I had also never enjoyed deep dish pizza, so I did that for the first time. I loved it. I could only have 1 slice because it was so large, but so very worth the extra calories. There was also an underground mall area right next to the hotel with great restaurants.

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I will be back again in the spring, so I am open to suggestions about what I should do!

Change For The Good

I have moved my blog from totravelandbeyond.wordpress.com to totravelandbeyond.com! If you have not received a reply from me for the last 2 weeks, it is because I was basically locked out of this account. Thankfully I had several posts scheduled!

Over the next few days everything should change over and this page will redirect to the new page.

To read todays post, click here.

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Christmas List 2014

I have debated making a Christmas list this year, but everyone in my family keeps asking for one. So instead of just sharing it with them, I thought it would be fun to share it with all of you as well!

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Clear Eyes Full Hearts Can’t Lose shirt from Helene In Between

I am obsessed with Friday Night Lights and when Helene announced that she would be starting an Etsy shop with all these Texas, I couldn’t have been more excited.

Kate Spade Knot Bracelet 

If it’s nautical, I want it. Kate Spade has really been nailing it in the jewelry department.

Longchamp Large Shoulder Tote- Le Pilage

I have wanted one of these for so long, it would be a huge help to have on travel. I always bring more than I should onto airplanes, but this would help me keep it all organized and in one bag.

Name Plate Necklace 

These necklaces are becoming so popular and I would love to have one that represents the start of a new year when I will be marrying my best friend! I can’t decide if I want one that says 6.20.15 or D & M.

Claddagh Ring from The Tree of Jewels

I have had a Claddagh ring for years and it recently broke. It would be nice to get a new one with my birthstone.

Nautical Charm Bangle from Alex and Ani

I am ready to jump on this trend! I want several Alex and Ani bracelets, but this is my favorite one.

I would also love a smaller camera. I have a larger SLR but a small one to put into my bag while I travel would be super helpful. Maybe I could stop with the iPhone pictures on here for a while.

What do you want for Christmas?

 

 

My Favorites {2014 Entertainment}

2014 has been a great year in the entertainment category. From new movies and TV shows to great music, I want to share some of my favorites from this past year. Some are older, but had a special place in this year or I just found out about them.

Favorite Movies

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Begin Again- I left the theatre feeling inspired and full of happiness. This movie had a wonderful story line and I loved each twist and turn along the way. It doesn’t hurt that Adam Levine is in it and looks pretty great.

Divergent- Girl power! This movie is everything I love in a story, and actually compared to the book, which never happens. My favorite part of the story was left out, but all in all this was a great movie. I am so excited for Insurgent in March!

Guardians of the Galaxy- This movie turned out to be nothing like I expected. I was laughing, crying, sitting on the edge of my seat and more throughout it all and I couldn’t have been more surprised. I normally love general Super Hero movies, but this one was more than that.

TFIOS

The Fault In Our Stars- Another book that somewhat compared to the movie. I cried my eyes out, but it was a great movie with a wonderful storyline. Having experienced a lot of the medical situations with my Uncle, it was very relatable yet heartbreaking.

The movie I wanted to love but didn’t- Mockingjay Part 1. I am obsessed with The Hunger Games series, but I really didn’t love it. It seemed like the movie was about 1/3 of the book instead of half of it. It easily could have been cut shorter and made into one movie.

Favorite (new and new to me) TV Shows

Gossip Girl- I don’t know what I did with my life before I started watching GG in the spring. Dave even got into it! I compare something to Blair, Chuck, or Serena daily and I still can’t believe the ending.

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Gotham- This might be my favorite new show of the fall. The twists in Gotham keep me excited week after week to see what is next. I love the way the characters of Batman are subtle, and there is a whole new story line involved.

Parenthood- Another Netflix binge watch for me. We normally watch a 2-3 episodes a night. I don’t know what took me so long to start watching this show, but I love it. I can relate to a little piece of almost all of the characters, and the story lines are so real.

The Flash- I will admit, it took me several episodes to get into this one. Dave’s favorite show is Arrow, and I can’t stick with that one for the life of me, but I wanted to give The Flash a try. They reminded me of each other a lot at first, but now that I realize The Flash is supposed to be such a corny character, I really dig the story line.

Favorite Music

1989

1989- Taylor nailed this one. 95% of the songs are amazing and I haven’t stopped listening to all of them at least twice a day. I am also even more excited because I will be attending the 1989 World Tour in June!

Bastille- I am obsessed with this band. I saw them live in May and I may or may not have cried a little. They were amazing, and I love the mashups they have been putting out lately. It’s my dream to see them in Europe one day! This is further proven by the email I receivedScreen Shot 2014-12-10 at 11.47.33 AM from Spotify

 

What have you loved this year?

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Wedding Wednesday {Our Honeymoon}

Before I jump into it I have two things to mention.

1. I am SO excited to announce that I am now a Bride Blogger on Budget Savvy Bride! You can read my introductory post here, and check back every Tuesday to read my latest post! Those that have followed along for a while know how exciting this is for me as I begin my Wedding Planner adventure, and can tell how obsessed I am with all things wedding!

2. We mailed our Save The Dates yesterday! They are all sealed and delivered and I can’t wait to start hearing that people have received them. I got butterflies putting them into the mailbox!

Now onto the real post! I just realized I never mentioned that we officially have our honeymoon planned. About 2 months ago we put the down payment on our honeymoon and finalized the dates. It was pretty easy for us to decide exactly what we wanted to do, but deciding which itinerary was the hard part. I have mentioned before that we are going to Europe, we were in love when we went to Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels last summer which made it really easy for us to decide we wanted to go back.

But where should we go? I wanted Greece and Croatia, Dave wanted Italy. How were we going to be able to afford to make the both of us happy? I hoped a cruise would solve this problem. I started searching for any itinerary starting after July 4th so we would be able to celebrate my favorite holiday in the states, and have at least a week after the wedding to prepare for it. But then I decided it would be easier for someone else to step in and handle this portion.

I called my travel agent and told her the places we both wanted to go just to see if we could both get what we were looking for in one trip, I had a feeling it wouldn’t happen. She was able to find us about 10 options and it was up to us to decide what we wanted. We sat down with all of the itineraries, prices, and time frames and picked a top 3. Then we looked on Trip Advisor for each of the areas and made our final decision.

We will be leaving on July 8th for Rome and coming home from Paris on July 26th. I could not be more excited! We have one amazing itinerary, and I can’t even imagine the sights we will see. We decided to arrive in Rome 2 days before our cruise which gives us the chance to explore the city and relax before our days are filled with soaking in a new country everyday.

On July 11th we will board our cruise to start our sail around the Strait of Messina. During our cruise we will visit other ports in Italy, Malta, Greece, Croatia and Montenegro. After 11 amazing days, our cruise will end in Venice where we will spend another two nights touring the city. After all of this we left off on a Thursday, we had the option to go ahead and fly home (which would have still been amazing!) or travel more of Europe for the weekend.

We decided to fly from Venice to Paris and visit my BFF and her husband for the weekend! We are also going to try and go to Disneyland Paris since we didn’t make it last time we were there. We will be flying home early Sunday morning and I am so happy about having all direct flights!

Only 209 more days until this amazing trip, but I am even more excited for what is in 192 days!

Today is bittersweet because I am linking-up with Kristyn for the very last time. This is also very exciting because I will be co-hosting the link-up with Meg from Borrowed Heaven starting next week. Thank you, Kristyn for passing the link-up on to us, we will treat it well!

Be sure to come back next week and join your new hosts, there may even be a giveaway in store!

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Grab the new button for next week!

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