As you may have noticed from reading this blog, 2014 wasn’t the busiest travel year ever for me. I had to scale back on my travel this past year to save money for a 2-year roofing assessment at my condo complex and a very expensive 2015 European cruise I plan to take. On the bright side, though, I spent a lot more time with family and friends (even reconnecting with relatives I haven’t seen in 30 years!) and appreciating my home in Vermont all the more. I took my first “staycation“. I got a promotion at work. And I’ve created a better work-life balance, which I highly recommend to all you workaholics out there.
Even though I didn’t travel a lot during 2014, I had great trips and I managed to do them on the cheap, thanks to air miles. While New England was hunkered down against the uber-cold “polar vortex” last January, I was in shorts and flip-flops on Waikiki Beach in Hawaii. This was my second trip to Hawaii, and I loved it even more than the first.
On this trip, I met with friends new and old; took a Circle Island tour that showed me even more of Oahu’s natural beauty; spent a day at the Bishop Museum learning about the history and culture of Hawaii; and saw whales up close, closer than I ever thought I’d see them in the wild. Spending time in Hawaii reminds me how to slow down and appreciate the simple things in life, like an ocean breeze and a beautiful sunset. Hawaii is a special place, one I would be happy to return to again and again.
My June trip to Las Vegas could have been better (I spent most of the week sick with a head cold), but I still managed to do most of what I wanted to do, including seeing Billy Joel in concert (squee!), feeding sea turtles at the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay, and a long overdue visit to the Atomic Testing Museum. And my October trip to Washington, DC re-introduced me to our nation’s capitol, with its superlative museums and monuments and mouth-watering restaurants. I can’t wait to return here and explore it some more, hopefully sometime in the next few years.
But as they say, “out with the old, in with the new”. 2014 is over and now it’s time to look ahead to my 2015 travel. I love looking ahead at a new year. It’s like a huge, blank canvas, just waiting for me to splash some color onto it and create a picture. The possibilities aren’t endless, but it’s always so exciting to consider all the options. As the picture starts to take shape, I can say that 2015 is going to be a much bigger travel year for me.
I will be headed back to Las Vegas the last week of January. I need to get out of Vermont in January, because six solid months of winter is enough to drive a person stir-crazy. But I knew whatever trip I took this winter needed to be cheap. I researched a lot of destinations, but nothing is as cheap as hotel prices in Las Vegas in late January.
I used air miles for my flights, so this will be a very affordable winter escape for me. Granted, I won’t be wearing shorts and flip-flops in Vegas in January like I was in Hawaii last year, but I’m hopeful it will be at least a few degrees warmer than Vermont. And there’s always a lot to do in Las Vegas, no matter what time of year it is.
In early May, I’m headed off on my most exciting and most expensive trip ever: a cruise on Norwegian Jade out of Venice, Italy. I repeat: VENICE, ITALY. Sigh. I have been dreaming of visiting Venice my whole life. Well, at least since I read “The Merchant of Venice” in high school.
Sadly, the Jade is not one of Norwegian’s ships that has the cabins for solo travelers, so I am getting nailed with a hefty single supplement. (Boo, hiss!) My US Air flights weren’t cheap, either (flying out of Burlington is never cheap). I didn’t use air miles on this trip, because I needed flights with just one layover between here and Venice, and United doesn’t offer any. (I know I’ll be awake all night because I can’t sleep on overnight flights; navigating Venice while groggy will be tricky enough without adding in an extra country in which to change planes.) Add in hotel costs before and after the cruise, shore excursions, and other miscellaneous expenses associated with cruises, and let’s just say this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip. . . because I doubt I’ll ever be able to afford anything like it again.
But I’m willing to pay the price in this case because the itinerary is fantastic! I’ll be able to spend time in Venice, as well as Athens, Greece; Dubrovnik and Split, Croatia; and Ephesus, Turkey. In a little over one week, I’ll be able to hit five destinations that are at or near the top of my travel “to do” list. Since I can only usually take 1-2 weeks off at a time from my job, this is pretty much the most efficient way to do that.
I’m a huge lover of ancient ruins, so I cannot wait to visit Athens and Ephesus. I may be the only person in the world who swoons at the thought of The Parthenon and The Library of Celsus. (I swear, I must have been an archaeologist in another life.)
And I’ve heard such great things about the beauty of Croatia in recent years that it has been steadily climbing up my travel list. It would have been hard for me to choose between Dubrovnik and Split, so I’m glad I don’t have to. As is always the case with cruises, I won’t be able to do more than “sample” the highlights of each place, but I’ll be happy to see whatever I can of them.
It looks as though I’ll get a chance to return to the Big Easy (New Orleans) in July for a work conference. I fell in love with New Orleans (and its food, music, history and diverse culture) back in 2008 and have been hoping for a return in the near future. I wouldn’t have chosen July to do it (at the peak of the year’s heat and humidity), but since I have the opportunity, I won’t say no to it, either.
This one’s a big question mark for me. August through early October is my busiest time at work, so immediately after that is typically a good time to take a break for a week of travel. This will probably be a domestic trip, and there are two U.S. cities I’ve been itching to get to: San Francisco and Seattle. Which to choose, which to choose. Should I flip a coin? Or do you have an opinion? I have friends who live in or near both cities, so it’s kind of a toss-up for me. Clearly, I need to do more research about things to see and do in each city.
Outside of those trips, you never know. I may have an opportunity to do some weekend getaways. For instance, I’m sad I never made it to Montreal this year. So I’d really like to do that in 2015. And if I could afford another weekend in DC or NYC, I’d be game for that, too.
Where are you headed in 2015? Do you have some travel plans you’re excited about?