My travel plans (and dreams) for 2018

My travel plans (and dreams) for 2018

Between moving and marriage, 2017 was a little light on the big travel plans. Although my biggest travel priority is taking advantage of our San Diego location and exploring more of the West Coast, Mexico and Canada, I’m also hoping to check some of my bigger dream destinations off the list. Christine Merrill in fields of blue agave in Tequila

One of the ways that I work more travel into my life is by committing to going to new places to celebrate certain milestones. I’m turning 30 this year, and early in my 20s, I decided I wanted to spend every birthday in my 20s in a different country (21 in Las Vegas22 in France23 in Australia24 in Croatia25 in Iceland26 in Turkey27 in Curacao28 in Aruba, 29 in Denmark). It’s a tradition I’d like to keep up! Last year, we feted our recent marriage with a honeymoon–and this year, we’ll cheers to our first wedding anniversary in a new city. I’ve also created annual getaways with friends that have become a source of so much joy! These travel traditions give a lot of structure to how I plan my year, but also leave a good amount of room open for adventure. So! Here are a few of the places that are already booked in, and some of the spots that I’m daydreaming about.


First up: a weekend in Laguna Beach with my two best friends! We spent such a fun weekend there in 2016 (although we didn’t have a technical reunion in 2017, we had a lot of wedding-related activities where we could all catch up). We thought about going somewhere new this year, but then we thought: surfing, yoga, tacos, rooftop drinks, easy transit options, more tacos. What more could we want? So! We’re going back to Laguna Beach and staying at the Inn at Laguna Beach, and I can’t wait!

Next, David and I will be heading to Mexico City for our first wedding anniversary (!). We have grand plans of lots of street tacos, lucha libre, and dinner at one of the best restaurants in the world. We’re staying at this super cute Airbnb, and I can’t wait to relax in that living room hammock.

Jillian and I are currently planning our fourth annual girlfriend getaway in the spring! We’ve gone to Bucks County, Maine and Philadelphia in the past. We haven’t decided on anywhere yet, but we’re considering New Orleans, Charleston, Savannah. Mostly: somewhere colorful, full of flowers and easy for us both to get to!

Both Aly and I are turning 30 this year, and we’ve decided to somewhat recreate our magical 25th birthday Iceland road trip in June. The strongest contender so far: Portugal! We’re considering driving along the coast from Porto to Lisbon, and doing a lot of beach (and surf spot) hopping. A few other options (willing to hear arguments in favor of!): Scotland, Norway, Slovenia.

Over 4th of July weekend, we’re going to Jackson Hole with my husband’s extended family. David grew up going to the Tetons every summer (his uncle lives there), and I’m thrilled to finally visit Yellowstone.

We live 20 minutes from the Mexican border, and I’m determined to explore more of our neighbor to the south. Top of the list: a day trip to hop around the craft breweries in Tijuana, a weekend of wine tasting in Valle de Guadalupe (we just booked a mini escape in this bubble), a laid-back beach weekend in Rosarito, and trying the original fish taco in Ensenada. I’m taking Spanish lessons to help make this more of a reality!


Japan is #1 on both my and my husband’s list of places we’ve never been but REALLY want to go. We’ve been pushing it off for a bit, but now that we’re on the West Coast (and thus just an ocean away from Asia!), I really want to make it happen. David is dying to see a sumo match and eat crazy amounts of sushi, and I just want to experience all of Tokyo!

Vancouver is supposed to be an incredibly livable city with a great food scene and crazy cherry blossoms in the spring: I’d love to do an extended weekend there. Another place high on my Canada wish list: Lake Louise in Banff National Park!

In places in the United States that I’ve wanted to visit for a long while: Nashville (and all of Tennessee, to be honest!) is top of the list. How cute is this place?!

In California, there are a few places that I traveled to a lot as a kid but never as an adult. For instance: Yosemite, Big Sur, Lake Tahoe. I’m not much of a camper, but I’d love to do some hiking and exploring in all of those places!

Where are you traveling in 2018?

  • You have some amazing travel plans! This year is going to be slow on the travel for me because I’m expecting a baby in April, but I’m hoping we can quickly adjust to life with a newborn and start traveling again this fall! I’m excited to follow along on all your travels. Happy 2018!

  • Brandy

    Looks like a great 2018! You will love Mexico City – I went there back in 2014 on a whim, after snagging a really cheap nonstop, and I was blown away by how great it was! I loved Japan as well, and it wasn’t nearly as expensive as it’s sometimes made out to be.

    I really love the idea of travel traditions – I need to implement those with my friends as well. We do go on trips together but it’s not really a “thing” and just sort of seems to happen on a whim, so I need to push everyone to pick a week (or a long weekend) and make it happen every year.

    No trips booked yet (besides some fun business trips where I’ll probably extend my time) but right now I’m thinking Greece, Scotland, Peru (I’ve been saying I was going to go to Peru for the past two years and still haven’t!) and/or some kind of Central European trip (Budapest, Prague, Vienna, etc.). Domestically, would love to go to Montana and Maine, as I’ve never been to either, and would like to make it back to Miami, Savannah, and NYC.

  • Georgia

    Mexico City sounds amazing – I’m incredibly jealous of all the tacos you will consume, just thinking about the food is making me all kinds of hungry. You would also totally love Japan, and it’s not as expensive as people say, especially the food. It’s easily in my Top 5 countries visited. I’d also suggest considering going there in November, most people wish to see the blossoms, but it’s crowded, fleeting and more expensive. The autumn season is a bit New England-y, and every bit as beautiful, just without the crazy crowds.

    I would totally recommend Portugal for your road trip! Lisbon is cheap, great weather, nice food (oh those egg tarts) everyone speaks good English, and it’s a stunning city to boot. The Algarve region has excellent beaches and a bit more of a ‘fun’ vibe too, especially Lagos. That said, I adored Slovenia, especially if you’re into hiking/adventure/nature.

    I may have actually pilfered your idea of spending every birthday abroad – it certainly makes for a good response to ‘what did you do on your birthday?’ – for me this year, it’s going to be Ukraine!


  • Melissa

    Those travel plans sound great! As for the road trip, I liked Portugal but LOVED Slovenia and there’s loads to see there (both nature and in the lovely capital Ljubljana) so I vote for that. Though Norway would be incredible too….

  • Have you signed up for Scott’s Cheap Flights emails? I just had one land in my inbox for Japan. #enabler That might also help you find a destination for your birthday trip this year. Although, I have to say that I’ve heard Ireland is an amazing road trip destination.

    We’re taking our first trip to Hawaii in February, and I’m taking my loves to visit my old stomping grounds in Czechia this spring too (we found crazy cheap tickets through Scott’s!). I’m also dreaming up a few shorter US based trips, and we’re talking about heading back to Germany in the fall (or maybe for Christmas?) to see family again.

    My travel goal for 2018: get my status back!

  • Shireen

    Such a good itinerary! Some thoughts..

    + Charleston and Savannah in the springtime: LOVE LOVE LOVE. Affordable, delish and beautiful. Plus, Savannah has no rules against open containers, so we were drinking beers in the streets! I went last year for my 30th birthday, and the weather was incredible (sunny, 70s) and the architecture, food scene and adorable shops and bars were all spectacular. Plus I think the annual Charleston Food & Wine festival is in March..

    + Vancouver, BC: Best city on earth. So beautiful, so cosmopolitan, so CLEAN! It’s expensive to stay there and eat, but worth it, especially if you’re going on a sunny weekend. Their version of Central Park (“Stanley Park”) is a beautiful way to see the city by bicycle (easy to rent.) Getting around the city is simple between walking and public transport – it’s small, like Seattle. Heads up they don’t have Uber there — you have to deal with yellow cabs, but they do have Car2Go. Lots of great breweries popping up in Eastern Vancouver and tons of nightlife. Try the Middle Eastern food while you’re there, and sushi! Best, cheapest sushi of my life.

    + Tijuana – Be careful… Bring cash but no other valuables. My stepmom was blackmailed by police right after crossing border, paid them $200 in cash, turned around and went back to US. Ha!

    + Scotland – Very beautiful country but VERY quiet. I went on a road trip there in the wintertime, and struggled to find places that were open! Obviously spring/summer would be different. Not easy to get around outside of cities unless you have a car. If I wasn’t already in England, I doubt I would have made it to Scotland, but that’s just me 🙂

    Everything else on your list sounds so fun! Can’t wait to read about it. I’d love to know your tips on Vietnam, also! My trip is coming up!

    Cheers xx

  • Alex Baggett

    Sounds awesome!! If you end up going to Portugal I would highly recommend spending some time in the Douro Valley! We stayed in Pinhao at The Vintage House which was amazing. I would also suggest booking a tour to Paulo from Anima Durius, we took a boat down the river and then to his family’s winery for lunch. It is still one of my absolute favorite day trips!

  • Been to Norway (went for Chris Guillebeau’s party to celebrate him visiting all countries in the world, in fact) and it’s a gem. Definitely pricey, but the fjord tour I did was spectacular. I still remember how I felt as the bus left the tunnel and entered the valley where the tour started; my heart skipped a beat or two and I experienced an overwhelming sense of awe at the beauty and grandeur of the place. I love that feeling. Another bonus of Norway is everyone seems to speak English. The food was kinda blah for me; had TGI Friday’s in Oslo and Chinese food in Bergen. I did try reindeer at one of the local places and it wasn’t for me.

    No travel arrangements booked yet for 2018, but my stepdad turns 70 in November and my parents want to take a family trip to Sedona to celebrate. Other possibilities: back to Vermont in October (fall foliage was late in 2017 so it wasn’t as vibrant when I was there!), Indianapolis to visit friends, birthday trip in May to some semi-off the grid place (Montana, Banff, Abiquiu NM, St. George). Although all the comments about Portugal are making me want to go there!

  • Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Spring is good but the weather can be hit and miss. Whereas July/August = plenty of sunshine, festivals, food trucks, markets and more.

  • camorose

    Yay! Congrats on the baby! That’s so exciting but will definitely take some adjustments when it comes to travel–can’t wait to hear how it goes!

  • camorose

    That’s good to hear about Japan! Any tips on making it more affordable? i was looking at Airbnbs in Tokyo and it definitely looks like there are some cute, reasonable ones.

    You have some great travel goals for 2018! My husband hasn’t traveled in Eastern/Central Europe at all, so I think that might be a priority in 2019. I loved my time in Budapest, Prague and Vienna, and I’d love to go back! Montana is really high on my list too, and I wish I had more time to explore Maine–so much natural beauty! Good luck with all of the places in 2018!

  • camorose

    Haha as I was writing this I was like…so many tacos!!! And yes, we’ve been considering fall for just that reason–I would love to do the cherry blossoms but it’s so tough to plan, and our spring/summer is always heavy with plans. I’ve seen photos of all of the leaves changing in Japan and it looks gorgeous! Glad to know it comes recommended!

    I think it will come down to flights for my birthday, but good to hear that Slovenia was beautiful too!

    Ukraine will be so cool–what a neat place to spend a birthday! 🙂

  • camorose

    Yes! That’s great to hear! I’ve heard amazing things about Ljubljana. I am dying to visit Norway but since I spent last year in Copenhagen, I’m kind of itching to explore somewhere beyond Scandinavia! We will see!

  • camorose

    No! I will have to check out Scott’s Cheap Flights, although one of the things I’m trying to do is be more conscious of earning airline points/status instead of just doing cheap flights. TBD on how that turns out! Germany for Christmas/Christmas markets is so high on my list–I vote that! 🙂

  • camorose

    Yes! So many good tips here–thank you!!! For Vietnam–my main recommendation is to eat everything and often, drink all of the Vietnamese coffee and definitely spend some time exploring beyond just HCMC and Hanoi. The Central Highlands were the most beautiful place, IMO!

  • camorose

    Ohhhh thank you! If we do end up in Portugal, definitely checking those out! 🙂

  • camorose

    Yes! I’ve heard incredible things about the fjords in Norway–I’m mostly holding back because I spent my last birthday in Copenhagen, so would love to do something other than Scandinavia.

    Sedona is incredible! I love the vibe there. My parents are actually moving to Phoenix this spring, so I foresee a lot of Arizona travel in my future! I’ve been wanting to visit both Montana and Banff for a while–I hope you get there. They look beautiful!

  • camorose

    Ohhh ok noted–will plan on Vancouver in the summer then! Great to know!

  • Jenna Thomas

    The places you and Aly are considering are four of my absolute FAVORITES! My husband and I honeymooned in Portugal (road-tripped from Lisbon to Porto just like you’re thinking of doing) and it was magical. We always have a bottle of port on hand to help us reminisce 🙂

  • Germany is hands down my favorite place to celebrate Christmas. It’s been ages since we’ve been there at Christmastime, and we’re both a bit homesick for it!

    The great thing about Scott’s is that they tell you which airlines they are. So you can debate if a $400 SEA-FRA roundtrip ticket on a non-status airline (normally $900-1200) is worth the discount. We scored our Prague tickets through Scott’s on British, which is an Alaska partner (my airline of choice).

  • I went to Japan last year and had a great time. The food was AMAZING. One of the best food destinations I have ever visited. I was also there towards the end of one of the sumo tournaments and really wanted to go. I learned that if you decide to travel there during a sumo tournament, get your tickets as soon as they become available. Everything was sold out when I was there, and then I tried to line up for day-of tickets but it was the last day of the tournament, so of course people had started lining up from the middle of the night! Regardless, I got to see many of the sumo wrestlers going into the stadium, and that was great. There’s also a place in Tokyo where you can watch them practice.