I want to begin this post by saying that I’m ridiculously grateful for the places I was fortunate enough to travel to this year, with the people I love. For a LONG time I wasn’t able to travel the way I wanted because of school, lack of time, etc. 2017 was finally the year that I knocked a few places off my bucket list and even visited a few spots closer to home that were equally if not more memorable than my trips abroad. I’m sharing some of my favorites with a few tips/suggestions if you plan on traveling to any of these destinations soon. Plus a lot of pictures I wasn’t able to share on the blog or on Instagram previously because there were just so many!
My first trip out of the country was to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. I was so awestruck by the clear blue water. Ed laughed at me the entire time our plane passed over the various islands on the way there because my eyes were glued to the window. Riu Palace Punta Cana was amazing, I absolutely suggest it. Great service and wonderful people. Take the time to do a few excursions, they’re worth it! You can read my full review on the hotel and our time in Punta Cana here.
My best friend from college and I talked for years about visiting Peru. Rebecca and I were dying to experience Machu Picchu, so we checked it off our bucket list in May. I considered it my birthday trip, since we left only a few days after. We stayed in Cuzco and Ollantaytambo (my favorite!) en route to Machu Picchu. Peru is the perfect “adventure trip” that involves a lot of walking and exploring. Bring lots of bug spray, stay hydrated, and take someone with you that speaks the language. Maybe that’s an obvious one, but Rebecca speaks fluent Spanish and I would have been an absolute wreck without her. Something I suggest to everyone is staying at Mama Simona in Ollantaytambo if you’re on your way to Machu Picchu. You will NOT regret it. The views are absolutely incredible and it’s better than any hotel you’ll find.
One of my favorite spots a little closer to home (literally a ten minute drive from our apartment) was The Duke Mansion in Charlotte, NC. I took Ed as a Valentine’s Day gift and it was absolutely incredible. The mansion is beautiful and it’s right in the middle of the city, so you’re close to amazing restaurants and shopping. We spent a lot of time sitting on our porch drinking wine. If you can, visit during the Spring. The gardens are in full bloom and it’s breathtaking. You can see more of our photos here.
Last but not least, my favorite spot was The Ballastone Inn in Savannah, GA. Ed and I looked at each other in awe as we pulled up to the grand steps of this bed and breakfast. Southern hospitality is VERY real here. Incredible management, staff, and service. It was more than the B&B though, it was Savannah itself. We fell in love with the city. The Spanish moss, the food, the people… I could go on an on honestly (or you could read more here and here). I absolutely recommend staying at The Ballastone and visiting Savannah in general.
Here’s what’s on the list (and wishlist) for this year. I’d love to know if any of you have been to these places, and if you have any travel tips!
Germany – Ed spent a great deal of his teenage life in Germany, so we’re going to visit where he lived and some of his favorite locations! I’m also convincing him to take me to Neuschwanstein Castle.
Austria – Another to be checked off this year. Ever since I saw photos of Hallsatt, Austria, I knew I wanted to go. It looks like a snow globe in the winter. The perfect scenic trip!
Iceland – This is definitely a top 5 for me. After hearing so many amazing things and meeting a couple in Peru that gushed over their trip there, I’m more than ready to go. Geothermal pools, here I come!
Big Sur – Somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit in the US, and California in general. I’ve never visited the west coast, and I think Big Sur would be an incredible start.
Greece – A top 3 for me is Mykonos. I’ve wanted to go my entire life, simple as that. I’d love to check this off my bucket list!
France – Ed and I are visiting this year and I’m counting down the days. I’d love to hear any suggestions for those of you that have visited!
Italy – My family is Italian, so it’s somewhere I’ve always been drawn to. Wine, pasta… need I say more?
Giraffe Manor – I know, this is oddly specific. But look it up. It. Is. Incredible. And. I. Must. Go.
Turks and Caicos – This will be my second trip to the Caribbean. This is sort of embarrassing but since we decided to go, I will randomly Google image Turks and Caicos and scroll through pictures. The water is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.