The Great Escape: Month 13 Roundup
I recently learned that some of my readers skip past the monthly roundup, thinking its simply a recap of info they’ve read before. Au contraire! My roundups are usually filled with anecdotes, private little moments, and thoughts that are found nowhere else on this blog. Month Twelve’s post was particularly juicy and poignant — if I were to do a roundup of roundups, it would be my best yet. Basically, if you didn’t read it then, do it now!
Month thirteen kicked off my second year of living as a blogger and most-time traveler. My first year was pretty unbeatable — I’m going to have a lot to live up to! But I definitely kicked things off with a bang. On June 9th, 2011 I was on a plane to Scotland, and on June 9th, 2012 I was in Philadelphia, watching friends from The Cayman Islands get married. I can’t wait to see where I’ll be on June 9th, 2013!
Door to door from Albany I was on the move for five weeks. This was a jam-packed month that took me two months to write about. In terms of my ongoing emotional rollercoaster this month had a lot of steps forward and some unavoidable steps back. But I started to get back in the place where life had more highs than lows, and that’s always a good place to be.
Photos courtesy of Heather Holt Photography
Where I’ve Been
• Two nights in Philadelphia
• Two nights in Denver
• Three nights in Keystone
• Four nights in Reykjavik, Iceland
• Three nights road-tripping the Snaefellsness Peninsula, Iceland
• Two nights in Manchester
• Eight nights in London
• And everything between in New York City!
• I kicked off my second year of nomadic life watching two dear friends, who I met while traveling, tie the knot! It made me think a lot about travel and friendship and what a crazy ride it can be. I met these people in The Cayman Islands, they visited me in Thailand, and here I was at their wedding in Philadelphia and planning a visit to their new home in Hawaii. At the ceremony a moment of pure thankfulness washed over me — I’m so grateful for this global life I live and the crazy people I’ve met along the way.
• TBEX blew my mind. Emotionally this was the highlight of my month. I really, desperately needed to do something positive for me, and this trip to Colorado did that. I connected with an old friend in Denver, and went on to make a bazillion new ones in Keystone. I was at a point where I really needed to be reminded of the goodness and kindness and fun-ness of people and wouldn’t you know, a conference of 700 travel bloggers was the perfect place to find that. I listened to inspiring speakers, I talked wanderlust with other travel lovers, I played wine fueled Jenga until the sun came up, and I felt a hope and excitement for the future that I hadn’t felt in a while.
• Iceland was a dream, and when I think about it a surreal music video to the soundtrack of Soley plays in my head — getting massages at the Blue Lagoon, partying in the streets of Reykjavik in full sunlight at 3am, seeing pure joy on my sister’s face while snowmobiling on a glacier, falling in love with a city so hard, seeing my mom smile one morning when we came across wild horses in a field, scuba diving in this crazy neon world.
• So, I can totally rough it like the next backpacker and usually I’m cheerfully happy to take the cheapest options when it comes to accommodation, food, and other travel expenses. But I must admit that I LOVE my (now hopefully annual?) trips with my momma, when I get to bask in some luxury. We stayed in beautiful hotels, ate in luxe restaurants, and got to do some budget-busting activities. I would never be able to sustain this kind of travel all year round, but for one week it’s such a treat. Thanks Mom!
• I WENT SCUBA DIVING IN ICELAND. I think that’s the kind of achievement that calls for suspension of the caps lock ban, don’t you? The water was freezing (literally), the drysuit made me feel like I was being slowly strangled, and I was sore for days from carrying so much weight. And yet it was a highlight. Why? Because I emerged from that glacial water feeling like a hardcore diver. Also, it totally looked like this under there.
• It was really fun to take a creative leap and make my first serious travel video! Iceland was the perfect subject. I love having little projects like this. Traveling is wonderful and one of my greatest passions, but I enjoy it most when it’s hand in hand with something meaningful or creative project.
• Lonely Planet retweeted two of my favorite posts about Iceland — bringing in huge traffic and making me into a temporary Twitter celebrity!
• My entire trip to England was one big travel friend-a-thon. In ten days I met up with seven different friends I’ve made in my travels around the world!
• I always say that I don’t really like London — and frankly, it’s still not my favorite place — but I loved identifying two new areas that I really genuinely enjoyed.
• This month was full of variety! Due to the cost of air travel I tend to travel by land and hit one general area at a time, so it was fun to hop around and have tons of mini trips instead.
• A big lesson for my and one of the greatest highlights of all was realizing how many generous and wonderfully hospitable people I have in my life. It’s pretty easy to feel like a freeloading bum when you don’t pay rent anywhere and spend most of your nights sleeping on the couches, floors and beds of friends. But I try to remind myself that I’m only accepting the hospitality that I myself would extend warmly — and I can’t wait to pay it forward when the day comes. To those that have hosted me and made me feel like I am home — thank you, thank you, thank you.
• Learning about the plight of whales in Iceland — I hope you’ll read my plea.
• TBEX was super inspiring, of course, but it also made me realize I have SO MUCH to do to bring this blog to where I want it to be. And while I made a huge master list of Super Important Top Priority Items to Implement ASAP…. very few of them have happened. Blog improvement fail.
• Minor point, but packing is still so stressful for me, considering how frequently I travel! In my defense, this time actually was tough. I had to pack one bag with fancy wedding clothes, semi-professional conference clothes, warm stuff for Iceland, rain stuff for England, and summer-in-NYC-acceptable clothes for the rest.
• While in Iceland my sister and I had a mega jet-lag-and-general-sibling-conflict-fueled showdown that resulted in my dramatically storming around the streets of Reykjavik at 3am. I vowed to myself several times that she was dead to me and once the trip was over we would never speak again. Obviously that was a tad dramatic, and of course everything is fine now, but I really upset my mom and dampened some of our trip memories. I don’t know what it is about family and tempers, why is my fuse so much shorter with people I’m related to? Not my finest moment. Love you, sissy.
• I had an emotional meltdown in London. I’d love to blame it on the weather or my ho-hum feelings for the city, but it went a little deeper. I’m not going to go into it any more detail, so feel free to slap me on the wrists for vague-blogging, but I returned home to New York so thoroughly rattled it would be weird not to mention it here in what is in many ways my online diary. For the full details, you’ll have to wait for my tell-all book. Ha!
Again, this category is getting somewhat irrelevant now that I don’t track my daily expenses. In general terms though, I could not live this way for long! Even with my mom paying for the bulk of our Iceland trip, and my only accommodation costs for the month being a modest house share in Keystone, I spent a small fortune. If only I could give up eating and drinking — I’d be rich!
The rest of my summer would find me exploring my home country by visiting familiar destinations like Martha’s Vineyard, Myrtle Beach, and Niagara Falls. Stay tuned!
You going to skip on up to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls?
Ps. I LIKE your round-ups. They always make me feel like I know a person better – even when I’ve never met them. And somehow no matter how sincere I am I come off as creepy. That’s just me.
I went to the Canadian side too! And I’m glad to hear people like these posts — I love them! And I for one have never found you creepy 🙂
Well I for one like your round-ups! Random question: how do you afford flying to so many destinations? Do you have a special rewards credit card or something?
Hey Ashley, I have the Capital One Venture card which is GREAT for travel rewards, and I used it for a round trip ticket to Hawaii this month! As for the trips in this post, I drove to Philadelphia, and my mom bought my flight to Iceland (I paid for the $200 upgrade to add London as a stop, great deal with Icelandair). And I bought my flight from NYC to Denver way ahead of time so it was about $250. So, while $450 for flights isn’t cheap it is doable occasionally!
Thanks for the tip! I’m leaving the U.S. soon to move to Paris and I’ve been shopping around for a good travel credit card.
Highly recommend them for a credit card, and Charles Schwabb for a debit card. They refund ATM fees anywhere in the world!
Great round-up. Made me remember all your wonderful adventures all over again.
Thanks Gaelyn! Glad to hear feedback on them 🙂
Whaaaatt?? Your round-up posts are my favorite! Seriously. And it’s irrelevant, but I have to say one more time that your photo of the week posts are the only photo of the week posts of anybody’s that I ever look at (meaning I really like them). Couple more things:
1) It’d be really cool to see the budget next time! Even if you could just do certain segments like what you spent in London (really curious about that) that’d be cool
2) Don’t wait for the book! Still have my fingers crossed for a post on travel and “getting the blues” (and worse)… for me travel has such huge highs that sometimes the lows can feel pretty rough.
I really should get back into budgeting posts! I totally meant to do one for Hawaii but I was traveling with friends and we kept splitting stuff and owing each other and all this complicated stuff and I gave up 🙁 I mean I guess I could figure out the overall total from my bank statements, though usually my circumstances are a little off, because I haven’t paid for accommodation or something. Okay, that’s it, I’m making this my goal for my upcoming trip to Vegas!
As for the London thing — I guess I am going deeper, ha — it was a situation that involved my relationships with other people. It’s hard to know where to draw the line. When writing about myself I’m an open book, there is no line! But then other people are involved I have to think about how what I write will affect them as well and if it is worth the fall out. It’s a tricky line…
I love and cherish how honest you are on this blog! That is so inspiring!!! Despite some of the lows, your life is SO beautiful!!!!!!
Every month that I have done this roundup, there are more highs than lows 🙂 I love to look back and see that!
oh, how I know those sibling arguments – but they are part of the love, aren’t they?
I hope so 🙂 My relationship with all my sisters has improved since I’ve gotten older, but every once in a while I guess these big blowout fights will still happen!
Please don’t stop the posting – I certainly look forward to them. I did not have a sister, but if Linda and Karen are typical – then the fights are part of life. They’re still at it. They just got over a real screaming match last week, Just have fun – Gram E
I’ve been slowed down a little bit by Hawaii, but I’m certainly not stopping 🙂 My last few summer posts are coming up!
I love round up posts! I can’t wait until I can do my own 😉
I have a similarly short fuse with one of my close cousins. Looks like it was a generally a good month though.
It was a great month! Variety is the spice of life, and this month had a ton of it! I loved my jam packed summer 🙂
I am a very (quiet but) avid reader of the site and love the monthly update! Keep up the great posts 🙂
Jade, thank you so much! So glad to hear from you. Oh, and I fixed that typo and deleted your other comment about it 🙂