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28 In Recaps/ Travel

2017 Travel Roundup

2017 has been a doozy! We started off the year on a road trip in Texas and we had a twist ending by finishing up the year back in the U.S! There have been travel triumphs and trials all throughout this year with memories made all along the way. With over 1/4 of the year spent abroad this round up is going to be a massive one filled with everything from weekend trips to long-term travel and everything in between!

MY YEAR IN NUMBERS:

   

MILES TRAVELED [46,509] – This is just under 3k miles from being able to travel around the equator of the earth twice! Another great year of travel is in the books! This is flight, walking and road miles.

DAYS SPENT TRAVELING [173] – We spent just under six months traveling. (It would’ve been over six months if I hadn’t had emergency surgery cutting our trip short, but such is life.)

BEDS SLEPT IN [51] – Hostels, hotels, tiny houses, resorts, guest houses, friends + family and more. We saw it all and it had some really great and unique experiences.

FLIGHTS TAKEN [11] – This is a number that we try to keep as small as possible because of the environmental impacts of flying. We prefer to road trip or take buses when possible. 

STATES VISITED [9] – Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas

COUNTRIES VISITED [4] – Cambodia, Iceland, Laos and Thailand

MY FAVORITE TRAVEL MOMENTS:

TAKING AN EPIC MOTHER/DAUGHTER TRIP IN ICELAND

 

My mom and I found an incredible deal to visit Iceland for about a week together in the winter and it was amazing! This was my mom’s first time abroad without being on a tour, so it was so much fun watching her explore freely. We did all kinds of fun things like hike on glaciers, stand on beaches, search for street art, feel the mist of waterfalls and soak in the Blue Lagoon. We road tripped across Southern Iceland and found all kinds of fun, interesting things to see and explore along the way.

BIRTHDAY TRIP WITH MATT + BFFS

Stacey and I love to celebrate our birthdays together because they’re back to back. So, this year we met up in Nashville and stayed with one of my best friends there. We drank beer + cocktails, ate good food, hit up museums and even did an awesome city scavenger hunt. It was a blast. The highlight for this plant-lover was the Greenhouse Bar. Plus, I love getting to spend time with some of my favorite people.

HITTING THE TRAILS IN ARKANSAS WITH MATT

Matt and I are huge fans of hiking and the outdoors, so getting down to the Ozarks in Arkansas is a must for us. This year we had less adventures there because we were saving money for the big trip. However, we got down several times and explored some cool, new places. My favorite new spots were Paige Falls and Artist Point Falls. Plus, I always love getting to Hawksbill Crag – one of the most iconic hikes in Arkansas – for a beautiful sunrise.

 

A TRIP TO ASHEVILLE TO CATCH UP WITH FRIENDS + FAMILY

Matt and I drove to Asheville and spent a long weekend there catching up with all our dear friends and seeing his parents. We ate loads of good food, drank good beer, saw some amazing street art and just made memories with people we love. I always love getting the opportunity to see some of my dearest friends. Of course, being the mountain-lovers that we are, we spent a sunrise up on top of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was pure magic.

FATHER/DAUGHTER HIKING TRIP TO ARKANSAS

My dad and I take an annual hiking trip and this year we went to the highest point in Arkansas for our trip. Mount Magazine State Park is beautiful and we did one extremely long trail that we hated and one short trail that we loved for sunset. We learned that just because a trail is the longest in an area doesn’t mean it’s the most scenic. Luckily, we still saw an amazing sunset on a smaller hike and accomplished the main goal of the trip, quality time together in nature.

EXPLORING NEW AMAZING, NATURAL SITES IN MY HOME-STATE

Just before taking off on the big trip, my dad and I went on a spontaneous father/daughter trip to explore the Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Southeast Missouri. I’d not explored much of this region, but we spent the full day hiking, exploring old mills, wading in the rivers and gazing into the beautiful waters of the many springs. I’m very much looking forward to exploring more of this area in the near future.

MOTHER/DAUGHTER TRIP TO ASHEVILLE

This was another somewhat spontaneous trip. Glamping Hub hooked me up with this adorable tiny house to stay in, so my mom and I made an adventure of it. We explored Asheville, saw some amazing live music and spent a day chasing waterfalls and shopping in Highlands.

EXPERIENCING TOTALITY – ONE OF THE MOST UNIQUE MOMENTS OF MY LIFE

This was another spontaneous trip. We decided about 2 days before the eclipse that since it was less than 2 hours away we should go. We met my aunt and uncle up in Fulton, Missouri to experience totality. I’ve never been more grateful for the opportunity to experience a natural phenomenon. I knew it was going to be unique, but I didn’t realized just how moved by totality I was going to be. My parents, aunt uncle and I all stood in the park as the moon cast its shadow. The confused cicadas started their night song, the temperature dropped, an eerie darkness fell and the fellow eclipse-viewers applauded and gasped. Tears ran down my cheek and my heart swelled. Needless to say I’ve already got totality 2024 penciled in.

FEEDING MY INNER-ANTHROPOLOGIST IN AYUTTHAYA

I totally nerded out in Ayutthaya. I loved really exploring these temples and archaeological sites. We were able to crawl into a tomb to view these gorgeous old murals and just soak up all of the history and the spiritual past here. It was an amazing stop and I highly recommend it to anyone staying in Bangkok.

EXPLORING BANGKOK

Bangkok is a city that we ended up spending a lot of time in. We started off and ended our trip here. In our time there we took a cooking class, ate street food, visited temples, explored city parks and even got Western fixes in the shopping malls. It ended up being a place that we felt quite at home. We all at once dove into the culture and let ourselves give into parts of homesickness. It was a great place to explore.

FALLING IN LOVE WITH KANCHANABURI

In 2015 I spent two weeks in Kanchanaburi Province volunteering at a zoo. However, what I didn’t realize was that it’s one of the coolest towns. I totally missed out on my last stay because this area is absolutely stunning. There are mountains, waterfalls, temples and so much more in this stunning area. Kanchanaburi is a must for any of my future trips to Thailand.

   

DOI INTHANON NATIONAL PARK

Love my backpack? I do too – read my Cabin Zero review to find out why!

This Thai National Park contains the highest peak in all of Thailand and we got to stand on top of it. In addition to that we were able to explore the forest, check out the beautiful pagodas and waterfalls. This national park totally blew me away with all the varied natural beauty. Plus, we saw vipers – yes, vipers – and had coffee fresh from a park-based plantation. How cool is that?

REALLY GETTING TO KNOW LUANG PRABANG

Luang Prabang was my favorite city from my last trip to Southeast Asia. So it was an easy choice to spend three weeks of my arm healing here. We made some wonderful friends, ate delicious food, meditated and explored. It was just a perfect stay in what is still one of my very favorite cities I’ve been to in Southeast Asia. It was so amazing to show Matt one of my favorite places. Plus, being here as long as we were, I got to see (and eat) loads of new things.

A SURPRISE 5-STAR BREAKFAST PICNIC AT KUANG SI FALLS

 

Matt and I had the pleasure of visiting Kuang Si Falls bright and early in the morning. We actually got there before the park even opened, but they let us in early. We had the whole park to ourselves for 30 minutes and then for the next hour the only people we met were the lovely couple pictured to the left. These two were on a luxury tour of three Southeast Asian countries and their hotel fixed them an insanely beautiful gourmet breakfast for them to have a picnic in front of this stunning waterfall. And guess what? They invited us to join them because they had so much food. It was such a sweet act of generosity and kindness. It was one of the highlights of our trip.

SEEING EVEN MORE IN THE ANGKOR COMPLEX

Angkor Wat is an amazing UNESCO World Heritage Site. There’s a reason why this is one of the top sites to see in the entire region, not just Cambodia. I’m really excited to write about the Angkor Complex again soon because even though I spent three days exploring the area last time I was here, I got to see EVEN MORE this time. Each new trip brings a unique experience, especially seeing it with someone who has never seen it before. Just amazing.

BEACH-LIVING WITH MY HUSBAND IN PARADISE (A.K.A KOH CHANG)

This is another destination that I’m super-excited to write about. This was Matt’s belated birthday gift because his place in Chiang Mai wasn’t what we had expected. So, we booked a week in a resort on the island of Koh Chang. It was a nice mix of  beach living (which is totally Matt’s thing), work days for me and still getting some exploration time. It was wonderful. Like a vacation from this vacation.

2017’S FIVE MOST POPULAR POSTS ON FOR THE LOVE OF WANDERLUST

TOP 10 IN ASHEVILLE

Asheville is place that I hold very near + dear to my heart. It’s one of the places that feels most like “home” to me. It’s a magical city with an amazing art scene, delicious beer + food, beautiful architecture and the mountains… oh, the mountains. After two trips to Asheville this summer, I finally sat down and compiled my top 10 favorite things to do in Asheville, North Carolina. It has hands-down been the most popular post of 2017.

52 QUICK TIPS FOR BACKPACKING SOUTHEAST ASIA

This post is the ultimate quick guide to backpacking Southeast Asia. If you’re headed off to this part of the world, this post is full of quick, easily digestible little tips that will make your journey even easier.

ONE WOMAN’S LOVE LETTER TO THE OZARKS

This post was a bit more personal. I have totally fallen in love with the Ozarks. This love came late in life for me, considering I was born in Arkansas and raised in Missouri. However, when Matt and I moved back to the region in 2015, I found myself falling in love with this amazing region.

EXPLORING REYKJAVIK – ICELAND’S CAPITAL

Reykjavik is a must-see in Iceland, of course. In February, my mom and I spent a little over a week together in Iceland and totally fell in love with exploring this gorgeous city. So this post is all about my favorite things I discovered in this gorgeous city.

BLISS IN THE BLUE LAGOON

I was actually a little surprised that this post was in the top 5 of the year because the Blue Lagoon is literally the top stop in Iceland. However, I told a little about our experience and gave a little guide full of tips that ended up being quite popular!

MY THREE FAVORITE POSTS FROM 2017

My favorite posts aren’t always the most popular. They’re often more personal or from an activity or a place I visited and completely fell in love with. So, here are my top 3 favorites from 2017.

THAI COOKING CLASS WITH A TWIST

I LOVED taking this cooking class with The Market Experience. Matt and I had so much fun participating in this class – it was one of my favorite activities of our 1.5 months in Thailand this year. I typically am all about just diving into the temples and stuff, but this was a new experience in Thailand for me. Plus, it was unique because it took place in the Flower Market which was just magical. It was just a super fun experience.

TOP 10 IN + AROUND OZARK NATIONAL SCENIC RIVERWAYS

This is one of my favorites because I explored a really magical part of Missouri that I had been wanting to visit for while. The Ozark National Scenic Riverways is an area loaded with natural springs, history and caves that culminate in the perfect destination for outdoor-lovers. Getting to share the beauty of my hometown is what makes this post one of my favorites.

LET’S GET REAL – THE ETHICS OF ANIMAL TOURISM

This post was one of my favorites, not because it’s an upbeat topic, but it’s a hard lesson that I learned the hard hard way. I myself have taken part in different forms of animal tourism because I love animals, not realizing the pain and suffering these animals were subjected to for my own amusement. I don’t want anyone else to make the same mistakes I did thinking they’re doing something because they love animals. This post was hard to write, because admitting your faults can be hard, but it’s a piece I’m proud of.

WHAT WERE THE HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR YEAR? WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2018?

I’M VERY MUCH LOOKING FORWARD THE ADVENTURES THAT 2018 WILL BRING.

 

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28 Comments

  • Reply
    Heide
    December 29, 2017 at 11:51 am

    My gosh, Paige … what a year! With all that travel I don’t know how you find the time to blog. But I’m so grateful you do, because it’s both a privilege and an inspiration to (virtually) tag along with you. Hope the year ahead brings many new adventures and continued happiness and good health.

  • Reply
    Hannah
    December 29, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    This has just made me pencil in the eclipse for 2024! One of my assignments this year was to send a fellow over to Nashville for the eclipse, and I was so jealous of that trip! Sounds like you’ve had an amazing year – bonnes vacances for 2018!

  • Reply
    Mei
    December 29, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    Wow! What an awesome year! We visited Cambodia and Laos in 2014 and really loved it! We’d like to return to Cambodia again in a couple of years, and will probably combine it with Thailand and Myanmar.
    This year, we stayed in Europe (for the first time in many years! haha…) and took time to explore in depth several places that we love, especially in Greece! Next year, we’ll be heading to Peru and Bolivia! What about you?

  • Reply
    Brian - EatWorkTravel
    December 29, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    Looks like you had an eventful year of travel in 2017! Iceland is one of our favorite places! The Ozarks are on our list and we hope to go in 2018. Happy New Year and all the best in 2018.

  • Reply
    Anuradha Goyal
    December 29, 2017 at 10:34 pm

    Beautiful round up of the year. May you get to travel even more during 2018.

  • Reply
    Lauren
    December 30, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    You had an amazing year! I love the balance of exploring cities in the states and wandering around southeast Asia. Plus, Iceland is one of my favourite places ever so I’m really happy to got to experience it. Plus, thank you for writing about responsible wildlife tourism! It’s something that I have a strong interest in, both personally and writing for my blog, so thank you for spreading the good word 🙂

  • Reply
    Siddhartha Joshi
    December 31, 2017 at 3:50 am

    Loved how you started your post – with numbers! I have never quite looked at my travels this way, and now I am so keen to do this calculation for my travels though I am sure it won’t be anywhere close to yours 🙂

    It’s amazing how you manage to make trips with everyone important in life and yet also identify the anthropologist within you (I think even I am secretly one)…many wishes for even more adventures in the coming year 🙂

  • Reply
    Nisha
    December 31, 2017 at 6:05 am

    What a wonderful year you had Paige! We also travelled a lot this year but not where you did. 🙂

    I am looking forward to, okay dreaming to go to Iceland. It’s one of the dream destinations. Good that you wrote about responsible tourism. It’s time that we do something about it.

    Wish you a very Happy New Year. May you get to travel more in the coming year.

  • Reply
    Mikkel
    December 31, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    Ahhhh! So much goodness in this post. I love that you spent quality time with your mom in Iceland (so cool to see INSIDE that building by the water – I was there and saw the outside but not inside) and the quality time with your BFF. I also have a similar photo near the mural wall in Asheville (with the colorful puffer fish!) so I smiled at that! And now I want to go to the Ozarks!

  • Reply
    TravelTheGlobe4Less
    January 1, 2018 at 2:08 am

    Oh what a great year of travel. It always astonishes me how much I manage to pack into just 26 days of holiday from work but I would be able to travel longer. Luang Prabang is one of my favuorite places of all time. It is amazing but I also love Asheville and Nashville. Happy New Year

  • Reply
    Lydia Smith
    January 1, 2018 at 7:18 am

    Need I say you had the best of 2017? Reading your post, I think I need to do more of family traveling. I smiled reading your travel post when you had your mom with you. Guess 2018 can only get better. I look forward to reading your 2018 adventures.

  • Reply
    Medha Verma
    January 2, 2018 at 8:12 am

    You seem to have had a brilliant 2017. I love how you’ve accounted for the miles travelled, the beds slept in and the flights taken 🙂 You’ve travelled for almost half the year, in terms of the days, that’s pretty amazing statistics! Also love that you’ve spent quality time with your family, mother-daughter and father-daughter trips are pretty cool, in their own ways. Here’s wishing you an even more adventurous and lovely 2018! Cheers x

  • Reply
    Carolina Colborn
    January 2, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    We almost have the same record, except in reverse: 9 countries and 4 states in six months! And you have been to a lot of pretty cool places! Hectic, Hopefully, 2018 will be more cruising (but still 4 months)

  • Reply
    Sandy N Vyjay
    January 2, 2018 at 8:26 pm

    WOW! these three alphabets of the English language sum it all up. 2017 has been a great year and you have traveled to some really amazing places. Happy to have been a part of the journey virtually through your posts. As I read through this post it all came back to me in a stream of memories. For me the best of your experiences were the trails in Arkansas and the trips you did with your Dad and Mom. I am sure you will be scaling new heights in 2018, keep going!

  • Reply
    Jitaditya Narzary
    January 2, 2018 at 9:55 pm

    I am sure you had a great year and I hope you continue to do the same. I like that you did a lot of hikes this year, just like I did, although in different locations. Iceland seems epic as always but I think you had some great experiences in your own country. Sometimes we neglect our backyards in an effort to discover other lands but you havn’t.

  • Reply
    Tom
    January 3, 2018 at 7:21 am

    Wow you have been around, that is so cool! Great adventures and as a Thailand fan Im happy to see you had fun in the Country of Smiles. Also hiking with your dad looked great and I am going to do the same in Nepal in 2018. All the best for the new year!

  • Reply
    Vibeke
    January 3, 2018 at 10:26 am

    You are so lucky that you got to travel this much this year. I wish I could travel this much. Iceland looks amazing, I want to go there soon.I have been to Bangkok and Cambodia. So cool you got to see the eclipse. I only saw it on tv lol. This is such an inspiring roundup. Hope I can visit all the places on this list 🙂

  • Reply
    ambujsaxena05
    January 3, 2018 at 2:38 pm

    2017 seems like a great year for you! You traveled to the places that are on my bucket list like Iceland! What i really admire about 2017 from your perspective is that you have strategically planned your trips and that too with different sets of near and dear ones’. It must have helped you rejuvenate. I hope 2018 is better for you!

  • Reply
    Cat
    January 3, 2018 at 7:11 pm

    wow 173 days! You spent quite a bit of time on the road! I really enjoyed your outdoor pictures. I would love to do Thailand again someday. Last time I was there, we spent most time doing spa and shopping!

  • Reply
    Noel Morata
    January 6, 2018 at 6:36 pm

    Looks like an adventure year going local and then Asian tropical, I love visiting SE Asia, so many exotic locals that are easy enough to get to.

  • Reply
    Claire
    January 7, 2018 at 5:44 am

    I love the idea of counting miles and beds, I never think to keep track of things like that! You certainly had a busy year, I’m sorry about the surgery though, I hope everything worked out ok! I’d love to visit Southeast Asia, that is definitely on my list for 2019, I’ve already got 2018 pretty much sorted!

  • Reply
    Elaine J Masters
    January 7, 2018 at 10:44 am

    You must have one of those 52 page passports! Great journeys. I love that you try to take public transportation when you can and I do too. That and Uber or Lyft have been a big help. I’m going to try and reduce my carbon footprint more in the coming year. Wish my mom were still around to visit Iceland with!

  • Reply
    Adelina
    January 8, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    It looks like you’ve had an amazing year with lots of travel. One of my regrets of 2017 was not taking time off and making the trip to experience totality. It was about a 6 hour drive for me, but the next one is a lot further away and harder to get to! We had partial coverage and even that was eerie. I can only imagine what totality must have been like. Must have been an amazing experience.

  • Reply
    diningtraveler
    January 9, 2018 at 10:38 am

    What an amazing adventure! I regret going to Thailand so many times and not taking a cooking class! It looks fantastic. Looking forward to seeing where 2018 takes you. Safe travels!

  • Reply
    Taiss
    January 9, 2018 at 2:04 pm

    I love that you had bonding time with each of your parents on different trips. My sister goes on trips with my mom but I’ve never gone with just the two of us. You seem to really love hiking and the places you go look fantastic! We went to Doi Inthanon and loved it, too but it was super foggy when we went so we don’t have great photos…It’s always so cool to meet random people on a trip and you met some awesome folks to invite you to a great breakfast (at Kuang Si waterfall no less!) That is quite epic!

  • Reply
    Veronika Tomanova
    January 9, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    I am sorry about your surgery but despite of that you seemed to have an amazing travel year! Al least it look like that from you statistics – 11 flights that means quite some travelling. Good that you paid a visit to Bangkok, I love the city and its sights so much.

  • Reply
    Jenna Kvidt
    January 9, 2018 at 11:39 pm

    Sounds like a wonderful year! Both Iceland and Asheville would be such fun spots to take a mother daughter trip. I’m planning a trip with my mom this year and might just have to consider Iceland—it’s one of my favorite spots, but I think she’d love Asheville too! Nashville would be a great spot for a birthday trip and the hiking in Arkansas looks really fantastic. Would love to take a cooking class in Thailand like the one you did too!

  • Reply
    Debra Schroeder
    January 12, 2018 at 2:04 am

    What a fun travel year. That’s an impressive amount of miles. I’ve never thought to track walking and driving miles. Love your Iceland waterfall photo and Artist Point Falls photo.

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