Welcome to Things I Love, a roundup of some of my favorite things from throughout the week, including a special travel deal just for readers!
At the end of each year, one of my favorite things to do is look back through photos and notebooks to see what I was doing and thinking at the beginning of the year, compared to the end.
It’s funny, but this year I was thinking that the year flew by and I didn’t do anything with it. I wasn’t living anywhere exotic, and it seems like no time has passed at all between Chicago winters. That’s why it’s good to look back on photos, because while doing so I realized this year has actually been extremely full. One of the busiest of my life as far as work, which is maybe why it all seemed such a blur and I didn’t even realize how much had happened in between.
Here are some of my favorite moments from 2015:
Moving to Chicago! I moved on the coldest day of February and instantly hated my decaying studio apartment (moving soon!), but it only took about 10 minutes to fall in love with the city. We have the best food, the best people, a stunning skyline, the best local shops, the best blogger community, the best summer bars, the most beautiful lake in all seasons, and the best sense of humor about the frozen tundra we sometimes inhabit.
Costa Rica. Jamsheed and I rarely travel together because he works in an office like a normal person and doesn’t get very many vacation days. We usually go on one big trip a year, and in 2015 it was Costa Rica, where we hiked the Arenal Volcano in pouring rain, relaxed on the beach, and ate our weight in soda lunches.
Realizing the vastness and variety of my own country. I lived in Italy for two and a half years before moving to Chicago, so this year I spent a lot of time traveling around the US and saw a few places I might not have thought to go on my own. From ice fishing in Door County to the the picturesque vineyards of Healdsburg; surprisingly good wine and fascinating history in Fredericksburg, Texas; a hilarious girls trip in Colorado capped with a visit to see my brother in stunning Santa Barbara; a work trip to the World Bank in Washington, DC (my former home and one of my favorite places); a first time visit to Boston; falling in love with Louisville; a couple of road trips to Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota; and a final New Year’s Eve trip to New York City, it was a great to remember the beauty and diversity of the United States.
Starting a business. Early in the year, a fellow freelance writer and I decided to start a business–Newsroom Communications. This has proved challenging, stressful, and seriously rewarding. We’re growing quickly and spanning a few different countries, so if you know anyone in need of copywriting or translation services, send them our way!
Iceland. When a friend asked if I wanted to join a last minute trip to Iceland, obviously I said yes. We spent two weeks driving around the country, stopping every five minutes to take photos of yet another mind blowing waterfall or piece of scenery. This place is truly magical. My favorite area was the West Fjords, and my favorite experience by far was whale watching. (Second favorite: seeing lots of Game of Thrones filming locations).
A sibling trip to Joshua Tree and Baja, Mexico. We usually go on an annual family camping trip, but this year my brothers and I went alone. We camped in Joshua Tree on some of the hottest days of the year (115 degrees!), resorted to sleeping in the car at one point, spent a day in Tijuana, road tripped through Rosarito and Ensenada, eating amazing tacos along the way, and mostly reminisced about past family stories and laughed a lot.
Living like a Londoner. For two months this fall I lived in London for work. So much to see and do, and the whole city is beautifully designed, like it’s a toy city or something. I can’t wait to go back because there are still so many areas I haven’t fully explored, but near the end the cloudy days did get to me, as did the insane exchange rate, and I was excited to come home. Still, it was so interesting to be living in a place that is more similar to the US than anywhere else in the world, and yet so completely different (more on that in a coming post). The charming accents didn’t hurt either.
Exploring Europe. While in London, I took a few weekends to explore nearby cities, some for a second time (Barcelona, Athens, Berlin, Brussels), and some for the first (Copenhagen and Oxford). And of course, I had to go back to Rome and Milan to gorge on my favorite foods and see friends, and back to Paros to lie on the beach and well…lie on the beach.
The holidays! I love Christmas and the entire holiday season, and 2015 didn’t disappoint. From holiday parties in Chicago to lounging in pajamas with my family and keeping up our Christmas traditions of movies and board games, capping off the year with seeing John Oliver in Chicago, and ringing in 2016 with friends in NYC, it was one of the best holiday seasons yet.
And in the end, it was a pretty full year. 🙂
Thank you for following along this year! I hope 2016 brings you much happiness and adventure. Don’t forget to share your packing photos with me on Instagram using #InMyCarryOn, and to keep in touch in the comments here or at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love hearing about your travels and answering your questions!
Book I’m reading: You Shall Know Our Velocity, by Dave Eggers. I’m caught up in the competing, sometimes rambling thoughts of the narrator, and fascinated by his quest to travel around the world in seven days, giving away around $30,000 along the way. I love it, but I’m warning it might not be for everyone.
Travel product that made my year: Dropbox. Not really a travel product, but how I store and organize all of my travel photos. I started using it this year instead of iPhoto and it is so much faster and easier from my phone. A year subscription is $100, but worth it, especially if you’re constantly getting that ‘not enough storage’ message when trying to take photos on your phone like I was.
Travel products I got for Christmas that will make travel even happier in the coming year: The Everlane Weekender bag (thanks mom!), the Beats Solo2 headphones (thanks Jimmy!), an Olloclip (thanks Robert and Rick!), and a Moleskin travel journal (thanks dad!).
Quote I’m thinking about: “Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.” – Benjamin Franklin
And finally, the travel deal of the week, just in time for 2016 travel planning! Use the code PRESIDENT on CheapOair for $30 off President’s Day weekend travel.