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Our 2018 Travel Year In Review: The Good, Bad, And EPIC!

After the craziness of 2017, 2018 was supposed to be our year to say NO and to slow down. Although we traveled a great deal, it wasn’t as much compared to 2016 and 2017 so we are proud of that. Things got a little hectic in May/June where we did 5 back to back trips, but otherwise we kept things pretty chill but still epic! 

I only went to TWO new countries in the entire year [India and Haiti] and Terrence went to three [India, Haiti, and Jamaica] so compared to some of our traveling friends, we didn’t do much!

January was chill and we didn’t travel anywhere, but that is because we were gearing up for Feb! Are you ready to see how 2018 went? Read on!

Refresh your memory with our 2017 recap! 

 

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February

February was my favorite month of the entire year because we WENT TO INDIA! I like to call 2018 “The Year Of India” because the trip made much a lasting and memorable impact on me and I think about India every day [literally!] We were in India for 2 weeks and visited 5 states. We had originally planned to head to Bali and other parts of Asia for a few months after, but got so stressed and anxious after our 2017 that we decided to just trek all the way to India and back for the 2 week stay.

The 15 hour flight from NYC to New Delhi was WORSE than they tell you and felt so long! I took a NyQuil PM and literally slept for 12-13 hours on the way home because it was so bad. NEVER fly Air India! When we arrived in New Delhi, I was already in love and so interested that the city of Delhi had the population of my entire state of Florida!

 

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We were in India to work with the India Tourism Board and we took a train around India for 7 days which was so much fun and so interesting to work side-by-side with people in the tourism and government in India. We saw the incredible Taj Mahal which looked FAKE in real life. It was so amazing to behold in real life we couldn’t believe our eyes. We also wrote this post on what to wear in India and talk about modesty and respect!

The best part about India was the people! Everyone was so so nice and helpful and loved sharing their culture. Everyone thought Terrence was Indian so for once it was me getting the stares and asked for photos which was my first time experiencing this. I didn’t mind it other than I was on a press trip and had to hurry along or else I would get left behind from my group. I always made time to meet with women and children at minimum if they asked for photos!

People told us that India was the “doctorate school of travel” and basically meant it was as chaotic as it could get. I loved it and you have to put India in perspective. This is normal life for Indians which differs from normal life in Florida which differs from normal life in Norway which differs from normal life in Peru and so on! There are easily more middle class Indians than there are the entire population of North America. Don’t judge a population of 1.7 BILLION people based on your perception. GO VISIT INDIA!

 

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March

After India and *shudder* that flight [our longest yet!] we took it easy in March and only headed to Jamaica with Sandals Resorts for 5 days mid-month. You can read our review of Sandals Montego Bay here!  We had heard a lot about Sandals and wanted to see if it lived up to our expectations. Not only did it live up to our expectations, it blew them away!

Sandals Montego Bay was INCREDIBLE and we LOVE cruises and were not sure how we would feel about a all-inclusive. Let me tell you, it was great and worth the money if you can save for the trip. The food was good, the staff was good, the views were great! We really can’t say enough about the post! Our review was even featured by Google and a photo of us was up on the Google snippet when you search “Montego Bay” for a few months which was pretty cool!

 

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May 

After staying home the entire month of April, May kicked off our crazy travels of the summer. First we flew out to San Francisco to rent an RV and drive all around the state of California and a bit of Oregon. Read about our California Road Trip Route here! This was one of our favorite trips of the year because having an RV just makes life so much easier! We visited so many amazing places and did so many great photoshoots!

 

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We spent $600 in gas alone because the RV was older but it was great. If you didn’t know, I grew up RVing with my parents for years. We visited 49 states together in the RV and drove from Florida to Alaska twice! This was getting back to my roots [and having to drive the thing!] and introducing Terrence into the life! No campervans for us, RV all the way and the trip in California really cemented in our mind the love and ease of RVing!

 

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Our favorite places we visited during the RV trip were Point Reyes National Seashore, our return to Samuel H Boardman State Scenic Corridor in southern Oregon, and Burney Falls in California! We love the Pacific Northwest and we are glad we got to explore a bit by RV and hope to do it again soon!

 

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After California, we were home for FIVE DAYS before we turned around and left for two weeks in IRELAND! We also brought my mom Linda On The Run for her first time in Ireland as well. We started off with her staying in Dublin while we went on a Game Of Thrones Press Trip all around Northern Ireland with Tourism Ireland. We toured all of the Game Of Thrones locations in NI and you can see them here! 

Being completely honest, while the press trip had lots of good information, it was very tiring and wasn’t the best experience. None of the other people connected with each other and we just powered through like we were going through the motions. We were very tired and couldn’t catch up with ourselves for the entire 5 days. We also got horrible lighting all but one day when we went out on our own and paid a local Northern Irish guy to drive us for a photoshoot.

 

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When we connected back up with my mom, we still had another 8 days to go road tripping around the entire south of Ireland. There were highs and lows but we were mainly just tired and it even led to me crying in the car and wanting to just go back to the hotel and lay down. We visited the Cliffs of Moher again and even walked all the way to the bottom for another epic photoshoot!

 

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We should have NOT gone on a press trip so close to our road trip, so that was our fault and resulted in us being tired and stressed the entire time. But at least the photos were epic, right? Also, while we were in Killarney and I was at the spa, I saw that we had been VERIFIED on Instagram! That was another HUGE moment this year and we are so thankful!

 

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June

We arrived home and had less than 10 days before turning around and leaving for my cousin’s wedding in Ohio. We were home for 5 days in the month of May and already a few days into June we had to turn around and leave again. I got sick for much of the wedding fun and stayed in bed trying to feel better for the big day. We were only in Ohio for 3-4 days and it was a fast turnaround.

THEN, we were at home for less than 5 days before we headed out to Gatlinburg TN for a family vacation with Terrence’s family. We road tripped from Florida to TN and everyone had a great time. We rented a HUGE cabin and played Cards Against Humanity into the wee hours of the morning. We were still tired, but at least this trip wasn’t work! Terrence got to take me back to his favorite cabins [his family had been coming to the area for years] so we could do a photoshoot together and that was a fun part of the trip as well!

 

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On the way home from the family vacation, we were dropped off at the Atlanta Airport to fly straight to Saint Croix USVI for a press trip with Spirit Airlines and Visit USVI. We were beyond exhausted at this point, but visiting Saint Croix and working with Spirit was a “pinch me” moment. We have worked with Spirit Airlines for years, but being invited to this summit on the island to open their new route from FLL to Saint Croix was wonderful!

The trip was only a few days long which is why we decided we just had to do it and we ended up having a great time snorkeling, eating, and touring the island! I highly recommend Saint Croix USVI as it isn’t overwhelmed with tourists and feels very “local” and US Citizens don’t need a passport to visit! What isn’t to love?

 

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July

In July, Terrence turned the big 3-0 so after our CRAZY 5 back to back trips, we stayed home the entire month of July. We threw him a big surprise birthday party and got him good which was AMAZING! One of my presents to him [and to me heehee] was giving him a SURPRISE cruise which we will take in August! Our first vacation in 3 years!

August

In August, we took the Royal Caribbean Cruise I surprised Terrence with for his 30th birthday. RCCL is my DREAM cruise line so of course I had to pick it for his bday 😉 We were sailing on Oasis of the Seas which held 6000+ people. We love cruising and weren’t sure what we would think about being on such a MASSIVE boat.

Well, we LOVED it and really can never go back to doing something “small” again! We left our laptops at home and disconnected for a week. I went to the spa every day and watched Terrence play basketball every day and it was just a wonderful experience. We only got off the ship once, in Haiti, the entire 8 days, and we don’t regret it at all. There was so much to see and do on the ship we didn’t have to get off!

 

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September

In September, we returned to our beloved ICELAND for 2 weeks and also brought my sister for her first time. We hadn’t been to Iceland since the end of 2016 [we went twice in 2016] and it had been far to long. We now vow to visit Iceland every year if possible! We circumnavigated the entire island and went to the far-flung Westfjords for a few days too. We drove more than 1600 miles in the time we were in Iceland and truly showed my sister everything Iceland had to offer.

 

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This was the trip we finally visited Thorsmork in Iceland as well and had the most epic sunset of the entire year! My sister loved Iceland and she kept thinking once place was better than the next and that is honestly the best way to describe a country we love so much!

One part about our trip to Iceland that disappointed me specifically was the way less than hot hot springs! I dragged Vanessa and Terrence to over 10 hot springs all around Iceland and I was disappointed by ALL OF THEM except one random one. In Florida, our OCEAN WATER is 90-93*F in the summer. So for it to be windy and in the 40-50’s out and the water is 98 in the supposed “HOT SPRING” it doesn’t feel all that hot. I was very sad that they were all quite “cool” by my standards and none were super hot. The only one I loved was a secret hole in the wall spring in the East of Iceland that was very hot that you could only stay in it a small while. I wrote about my experience at one particular [way less than hot] spring here if you want to read!

In all, Iceland was EPIC as usual. We had some 12+ hour days in the car with NO REGRETS [okay a few!] and we cannot WAIT to go back! A highlight trip for 2018 along with India and the RV road trip.

 

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November

After staying home the ENTIRE month of October and WORKING, we headed off to Paris for my 26th birthday. I am sad to say that the entire 2 week trip in Paris and London was very stressful for personal reasons and neither Terrence, my mom, sister or I had a great time. It is unfortunate but it does happen in travel and in life.

What I LOVED was that I pushed REALLY hard and got some AMAZING content like the photos for this post on the best streets in Paris and I actually brought outfits for all my Instagram and Pinterest photos specifically for Paris. For work reasons, the trip went great, but for personal reasons it was sadly crappy.

 

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One of the low moments on the trip was getting my BRAND NEW Olympus camera stolen from me in Paris. I was sitting in McDonalds at 3pm and it was NOT busy. The table was full of our food [the four of us] so we put our cameras beneath our feet under the table. There was no one else around except for employees and when I stood up to go just 10 minutes later, my camera was GONE. Long story short, it had been stolen, there was no CCTV, and the police won’t do anything unless you are shooting up and entire mall because “there is a lot of theft in Paris and they can’t control it.” If there is no punishment for the crime, of COURSE there is going to be a lot of theft! Getting my camera stolen SUCKED, but what was worse was the fact that the police and McDonalds owners did not care and did nothing to help. The very people there to protect you did nothing!

During our time in Paris, Terrence and my Mom were almost robbed and we caught the thieves as their hands were literally in their bags. Luckily nothing else was stolen and we consider ourselves to be pro travelers with a watchful eye. This could happen to anyone!

After a week in Paris, we headed off to London, which was all of our first time there. My mom and sister loved it but I was not wow’d. It was okay, like a big city, but I didn’t LOVE it the way I LOVE Paris or other cities around the world. I did LOVE the foodie scene in London and there were so so many great places to eat! I also wrote a post on the 10 prettiest streets in London too after dragging my family around the city to find all of them.

 

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THEN, less than two weeks after we got home, we got invited on the inaugural press cruise for the Celebrity Edge. We had been dying to work with Celebrity Cruises for some time, so even though the Paris/London trip was bad personally and we were pretty annoyed and bitter, we said yes anyone and flew down to Miami for the sailing. Thankfully the sailing was only two days long but it was two very stressful days of creating content. We met some great friends and got some good photos but we were overall happy that we did it.

 

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December 

The Celebrity Cruises press trip was the very end of November. After the horrible experience in Europe, we made a super rash decision and booked ANOTHER Royal Caribbean cruise back-to-back from the Celebrity Edge trip. So on December 1, the day Celebrity Edge arrived back into Fort Lauderdale, we took a 30 minute Uber ride to the Miami cruise port and boarded Symphony Of The Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world.

We had our doubts because we were just so exhausted and anxious from the last two trips and we thought we should have just stayed home. But if we were at home we would have just worked more and not rested. By forcing ourselves to relax on Royal Caribbean for the second time in 6 months, we recharged and felt better for the holidays.

We didn’t get off the boat one single time during 8 days and didn’t feel bad about it either. We ate at the buffet every night and played basketball and went to the spa and watched Netflix every day. It ended up being a great trip and was a great way to wind down after the terrible flurry of November.

 

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The High Points Of 2018

The high points of 2018 were easily India, Iceland, the RV Trip, and the Royal Caribbean cruises [especially the first one!] We truly enjoyed these trips and they were our favorites during the year.

The Low Points Of 2018

The entire Ireland trip and the entire Paris/London trip top the list for sure. Runners up are the Celebrity and Spirit press trips. While they were amazing, we were just too exhausted to do anything other than create content and sleep/feel stressed out.

 

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The Takeaways

In 2017 we said this for our takeaways:

Our 2017 takeaways are to do more slow travel. No more going to a place for over a month and not staying anywhere longer than 2 nights. That won’t cut it in 2018! We also have greatly improved balancing Follow Me Away project shooting and personal time.

We did WAY BETTER this year at saying no compared to 2017. We didn’t go ANYWHERE for a month and stay for longer than 2 nights. We didn’t do that one single time! We did an AMAZING job at balancing shooting dreamy photos for Follow Me Away and shooting “brand” photos for Follow Me Away Travel. We are faster when shooting for FMA and don’t shoot things we don’t think we will LOVE. We also have some capes that we use now and we know that FMAT photos bring in the $$ and they are prioritized equally with FMA. We did much better this year and didn’t really even take that many trips in the grand scheme of things.

For 2019, we would like to continue to NOT run around stressed out and to continue to say NO to trips we KNOW we will be too tired to enjoy [a big problem for me!] We would also LOVE to do more cruises that we pay for and treat them as vacations to get away from the never-ending to-do list of owning your own business!

As always, thank you so much for your support throughout the year, and we hope to see you in 2019!

 

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One thought on “Our 2018 Travel Year In Review: The Good, Bad, And EPIC!

  1. Aunt Robyne

    Ohmygoodness! What a wonderful 2018 Year in Review Victoria! The salient points of your year were fabulous! You make your job seem so easy when I know it is NOT!!! You are a true testament to “HARD WORK PAY OFF!” I am very proud of you (and TJ), your accomplishments, your stunning photographs, great story lines, your success, but most importantly through it all you have remained humble and true to yourself, your readers, and partners. A true balancing act you make look easy but is NOT! Congratulations on meeting your 2018 goals! Here’s to continued success in 2019!!!! XOXOXOOXOX

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