2019 was a big year for me.
When I write blog posts I always start with an outline so I don’t miss anything I want to talk about. Making the outline for this blog post left me in awe of what I did this year. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have done and seen all the things in this post.
This year I grew both personally and professionally. I’ve made new friends and connected with community members I never thought I’d get to meet in real life. To everyone that has helped me along the way this year, THANK YOU! You have made this year so memorable. For every word on this blog that you’ve read, to any link you clicked on to every like on social media, THANK YOU!
What you’re about to read are highlights of one of the most incredible years of my life. And for every single person that had been a part of it again I say, thank you.
Disney World with the Nanny Family
In January I headed to Walt Disney World in Florida with my Nanny Family for the 3rd time. Our trip started off a little rocky as we had to leave a day early because a huge blizzard was heading our way, but we made it work.
As the time I didn’t know how frequently I would see these kiddos after the end of the month as I was leaving my full-time job with them to write and lead trips full-time. It was bittersweet, so I wanted to make the most out of this trip.
We went to the Magic Kingdom (like we always do) and got to ride Splash Mountain together for the first time. (It was being refurbished our last 2 visits.) Then we visited Disney Studios and were able to go on all the rides in Toy Story Land with a little FastPass magic and patience.
I feel so blessed to have been a part of this family for over 5 years. Not matter what our future together brings I will treasure every second, even the ones where I wanted to pull my hair out, with them that I’ve been privileged to have. With any luck we’ll get to back there together soon enough.
Kilimanjaro with the Curvy Kili Crew
This is the trip in 2019 that changed me more than any other. The Curvy Kili Crew is a group of 20 plus-sized women that banded together to conquer, Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa, to show the world that bigger bodies can do anything.
This trip was organized by WHOA Travel and my dear friend and fellow travel blogger Christa and the co-founders of WHOA asked me to join the adventure. They felt that my can-do attitude and spunk were a great fit for the group. They were right.
These women taught me about a culture I didn’t know existed. When you’re not a plus-sized person you don’t know what it’s like and the challenges that come with it. By the time the trip was over I had a laundry list of body-positive books to read to help me be an ally.
Thanks to these women I see the world in a different way, I’ve gained friendships that I treasure deeply, and I’m a better group leader because of all the things they’ve taught me.
I don’t know if I’ll climb Mount Kilimanjaro again, but if I do that group I go with have a lot to live up to.
Pin it for Later!
When I told people I was going to London for the first time they were shocked that I hadn’t been before. I’m not really sure why it took me so long to get there, but I’m glad I did because I loved every minute of it! When I was there I was reading the second book in the Discovery of Witches series, A Shadow of Night, which takes place in London (a bit). Some of the places I was seeing and visiting they were talking about in the book which was so cool to me. I know, I know, I’m a total nerd.
I was able to visit places I had read about is history books and walk down streets that have existed for centuries. My entire trip I was in complete awe of my surroundings. There was a lot of geeking out. I’m really glad this was a solo trip so no one could make fun of me.
One of the highlights of my trip was meeting up with Kelly from Girl with the Passport. We had connected through a travel blogging community and luckily were in London at the same time. We met up and had tea at Sketch. They probably hated us there because we were there for 2 or 3 hours. Sorry not sorry.
This was also one of the first trips where I worked with a bunch of brands on the same trip. That was exciting and scary all at the same time.
Cozumel and PADI Open Water Certification
The beginning of a new hobby I can’t really afford, I headed to Cozumel to get my PADI Open Water Certification with ScubaTony and hang out with my travel blogger friend Claire of Claire’s Itchy Feet.
I’ve always wanted to go scuba diving and like most things in my life I’m all about going big or going home. I read my PADI Open Water book before arriving in Cozumel and did all my practical skills during my trip.
Now that I know how to scuba diving I feel like I can fully explore the world on land and under the sea. During the 8 dives I did with ScubaTony I saw a nurse shark, an eel, and tons of sea turtles.
One of the days on the island Claire and I did a Cozumel Road Trip. We rented an old Volkswagen Bug and drove around the island. Getting to explore the less visited part of Cozumel was such a treat and at the end of the day we got to go scuba diving again which was a welcome surprise.
Women in Travel Summit in Portland, Maine
Being part of the travel blogging community has been one of the best gifts I received this year that I didn’t expect.
These 4 ladies in the photo made my experience at WITS so amazing. I knew Kate and Cyndy before the conference and met Iaona and Maloney there. We’re one hell of lady crew! Since the conference, we’ve stayed connected and I’m working on plans to see all of them (fingers crossed) in 2020.
Thanks for being your amazing selves ladies. I love watching your progress online. Keep kicking ass!
After the conference, I went on a FAM trip with Lauren from JustinPlusLauren to the Maine Beaches Region. Over the course of 3 days we went bowling, explored the beautiful beaches, ate yummy seafood, and my personal favorite did a scenic flight over the coast.
I can’t wait until WITS 2020 in Kansas City so I can see all these amazing ladies again and connect with even more boss travel ladies.
Skyline to the Sea with Girl Scout of Northern California
I’ve been a Girl Scout since I was 5 years old. The Girl Scouts have shaped me into the women I am today. I’ve been a leader, worked for Girl Scouts running adventure activities, and was a Camp Director for 4 years at the camp I went to growing up.
My friend Mary works for the Girl Scouts of Northern California and she invited me to come to California and teach a group of high school girls all about backpacking and take them on a trip.
The 2 weeks I spent a camp with this motley crew where spectacular. Most of these girls had never been backpacking before and we spent 7 days, actually 6 because our last camp didn’t have any water for us to filter, hiking and exploring along the Skyline to Sea trail north of Santa Cruz.
We were hot, we were smelly, and we were completely free. It’s so hard to put into words how proud I am of the ladies on this trip. And the best part? I was invited to come back for the summer of 2020 and do it not once, but twice! If you have a high school girl in your life that loves hiking have her join us! She doesn’t have to be a Girl Scout during the school year to come to camp. Click here to register for Skyline to Sea at Skylark Ranch.
Epic 41 Day Adventure
This 41 day trip took me to 3 continents and I circumnavigated the globe. It is the longest I have ever traveled and while I was glad to be home to sleep in my own bed it only made me want to travel more.
My first stop was Los Angeles for a WHOA Travel company retreat. I got to see the awesome ladies that lead trips for the company, some I’ve traveled with and others I got to meet for the first time.
From there I headed to Japan. It was my first time in Japan and I’ve never fallen in love with a country like this before! In 18 days I feel like I only got a taste of this extraordinary culture and can’t wait to go back in April to lead another trip there. I climbed Mount Fuji, visited Tokyo DisneySea, took in all Tokyo had to offer and so much more!
After Japan I headed to Germany to explore Bavaria and to go Oktoberfest. When I first arrived I spent time with the co-founders of WHOA, did a little Travel Nannying, and visited Dachau.
Once the trip, well trips because I did 2 back to back, started I was on the go for 2 weeks straight (with a day trip to Salzburg in between trips). I ended up going to Oktoberfest 3 times and by the 3rd I had hit the wall. I now look for reasons to wear my dirndl in day to day life (with little to no luck).
If 2019 is the year that started it all, then I can’t wait to see what 2020 has to store for me. I can feel it, 2020 is going to be my year!