2015: My Better Than Best Travel Year Ever

When I said at the end of last year in my year-end wrap up that it was my BEST travel year ever I really meant it and had no idea I could actually top it….but I did! I am so amazed at the places we’ve seen, things we’ve done, and the travel goals I’ve achieved, and even exceeded in some cases.

2015 was certainly a year like no other so let’s get to it and see what all has happened!

Quick Stats

Countries Visited: 10

  • Albania, Belgium, Canada, England, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Scotland,United States (still definitely counting the US as we did a ton more exploring around the US this year)
  • This is one more country visited than last year.

New Countries Visited: 4

  • Albania, Germany, Luxembourg, Scotland
  • This is the same amount of new countries as I visited last year.
  • Achieved my 2015 travel goal to visit three new countries (towards my long term travel goal of visiting 100 countries)

Most Countries Visited in One Day: 3

  • Belgium, France, and England
  • These are the same as last year as we made our way from Belgium, on to the Channel Tunnel in France, and then home to L’s house in England.

Flights Taken: 19

  • This is almost double the flights I took last year

Total Miles Flown: 55,415 miles!

  • This is 2.3 trips around the Earth!
  • It is also 22, 529 more miles than I flew last year.

Approximate Number of Hours on an Airplane: 118.25 hrs – that’s almost 5 days sitting in an airplane!

  • This is 50.75 more hours than last year’s total of 67.5. Good thing I managed to reach Silver status last year with United so at least some of those hours could be spent in Economy Plus.

Highlights from the Year

  • Exceeding my goal to travel to at least three new countries by visiting four. Also being in 10 countries beats my previous record of nine set last year.
  • Maintained my Silver status with United Airlines and am actually this || close to getting Gold. If my flight to London on December 26 hadn’t been bought with my air miles I would have made it. So close! Oh well, I’ll likely not fly this many miles again for a long time so it’s probably good a good thing that I don’t get comfortable with Gold status because I’d come crashing back down to Silver or no status the next year. :-)
  • Spending the month in Europe this past summer was definitely a highlight. Besides seeing a TON of new places I got to share it all with L as we were able to spend all our weekends together.
  • One of my photos from this post was featured by the National Gallery of Canada on their “Holidays at the Gallery” page and in their holiday email newsletter. To say I was excited about this is an understatement.
  • I officially became a travel agent! I love doing this and so far have been able to help a few people out with planning and booking their really neat trips.
  • I actually reached my travel goal to see 16 UNESCO sites this year!! What? I know. I thought I was only going to reach 15, and I would have been pleased as punch with that, but L surprised me on our trip to Edinburgh when he found the Antonine Wall was within our reach and is part of the UNESCO listing for Frontiers of the Roman Empire. And the best part? He only told me he had a surprise destination for our trip so I had no idea I was going to reach this goal. My 16th site will be visited today, the last day of the year, when we tour the city of Edinburgh. How cool is that? I am honestly still stunned I actually reached this goal this year.

Highlights Month by Month

January

We kicked off our awesome year of travel in my home country of Canada exploring a city I’ve never been to- my nation’s capital of Ottawa. It is a GREAT city to visit, even in the winter when it was oh so cold. I have definitely become a wimp and might have complained about the cold temperatures more than once. As my friend Jaime told me, “It’s a sad day when a Canadian says -15°C is cold.” Sad indeed Jaime. Sad indeed.

Despite the cold though we visited several important sights in Ottawa including:

We then spent a day exploring Guelph before we had to head home. I’ve been to Guelph a few times but had never really played tourist. We visited the McCrae House and the Basilica of our Lady Immaculate.

Our trip to Canada was a great start to an amazing year of travel ahead. We’re looking forward to our next trip to Canada to explore the East Coast.

2015 Travel Year in Review- Canada || www.onetripatatime.com
Parliament Building || Hogsback Falls || McCrae House

February

February found me back in the UK (I can never get too many trips to the UK) on a business trip and of course I made the most of my time there to see more of England. Business trips rock! Especially when they coincide with Valentine’s Day weekend. :-)

For a romantic weekend we opted to take a get-away to Bath and it was so beautiful. We strolled the streets on a tour given by the Mayor of Bath’s Corps of Honorary Guides. I really can’t recommend this walking tour enough to anyone planning a visit to Bath. We also visited the very famous Roman Baths (and they are worth the visit) along with No 1 Royal Crescent. On the way home we made a stop at Stonehenge, a place that has been on my bucket list for over 10 years- unfortunately it wasn’t as impressive as I had hoped it would be. Oh well. They can’t all be fabulous sights.

2015 Travel Year in Review- England || www.onetripatatime.com
Bath Abbey || Stonehenge || Roman Baths

February also found the kiddo and I visiting Dallas- me for the first time even though I’ve lived in Texas for 15 years! The reason for our visit was to see a hockey game but we worked in some sightseeing to visit the Grassy Knoll and the 6th Floor Museum from where JFK was shot. Before heading home we stopped in the Dallas World Aquarium which we both agreed had way more non-aquatic animals than one would expect for an aquarium. They even had a sloth and a panther.

2015 Travel Year in Review- United States || www.onetripatatime.com
Dealey Plaza || Giant Eyeball Art Piece || Dealey Plaza

 

March

March saw L and I take another amazing road trip through France and Belgium, similar to our Normandy/WWII sites trip in 2014, but this time we focused on WWI and the Western Front. We also took a quick overnight detour down in to Luxembourg as neither of us had been there. I’ll be blogging about this trip next, starting early in January, so if you’re thinking of planning a similar trip please do stay tuned. I’ll include our itinerary at the end of the posts and lots of information about all the places we visited in our five day trip- including three more UNESCO sites!

2015 Travel Year in Review- France, Belgium, & Luxembourg || www.onetripatatime.com
Reims Cathedral || Ramparts around Ypres || Thiepval Memorial || Canadian Commonwealth Cemetery in France || Brooding Soldier Monument || Notre Dame de Lorette || Vimy Memorial || View of Arras from the Belfry|| View of Luxembourg from the Casemates

April

In April I stuck a little closer to home and the kiddo and I made our way to our state capital- Austin! What a great city with tons of interesting things to do. Our main reason for visiting was to go to the state capital building for his Boy Scout badge but we also visited the Bullock Texas State History Museum and then strolled around the streets taking cool photos like the one below of the funky and colourful guitar.

You definitely don’t have to go far to find new adventures.

2015 Travel Year in Review- United States || www.onetripatatime.com
Bullock Texas State Museum || State Capitol Building of Texas || Funky guitar on the streets of Austin

May

Oh Albania…how I loved thee. As I’ve recently only finished writing about Albania and feel like I’ve probably said I how much I loved it one too many times, well I won’t write too much more about it again in this post. This was the trip I was most looking forward to in 2015 and it did not disappoint. L, the kiddo, and I had a great time exploring this wonderful little country. I was also excited to add two more UNESCO sites to my list to get me half-way to my goal for the year. It was about this time that I thought maybe, just maybe, I might actually reach this crazy goal I set for myself.

2015 Travel Year in Review- Albania || www.onetripatatime.com
Berat Castle || Ardenica || Kruja Watchtower || Saranda || Along the Llogora Pass || Skenderbeg statue in Kruja || Church at Apollonia || Market in Kruja || Butrint National Park

June

In June I kicked off a very busy month of travel and work with a business trip that took a colleague and myself to four of our company’s offices in England, France, Netherlands, and Germany. To say that we were excited to go is an understatement. We knew what a great opportunity it was to be able to see all these places while traveling for business and we made the most of the opportunity by planning our weekends out as soon as we found out for sure we were going. Being in Europe also gave L and I the chance to see each other and do our favourite thing…go exploring!

We started with Leeds Castle, as we’d first started talking about going two years prior and we hadn’t gone yet despite me being there several times, and then we did a little more sightseeing in London with a chocolate tour and a visit to the Churchill War Rooms. On another weekend we spent the most perfectly leisurely afternoon cruising the river of the Papermill Locks.

2015 Travel Year in Review- England || www.onetripatatime.com
Leeds Castle ||Formal gardens of Leeds Castle || Along Papermill Locks

Our other weekend in June was one we were very excited about as I got to play tour guide to L in Paris! My beloved Paris. Ever since my first trip here in 2005 I have loved all things Paris, and while this visit wasn’t as amazing as all the rest (the heat and crowds really started to get to me), my heart still belongs to Paris.

With only a weekend to explore we packed a lot in and our feet barely lived to tell about it. Oh our poor feet. We went down in to crypts, up the Eiffel Tower, and everywhere in between. Versailles (I know everyone says to go, but we didn’t enjoy our visit), Saint-Chapelle (wow… breathtaking stained glass), Sacré-Coeur (for great views of the city), and of course, the Louvre. I finally saw the Venus de Milo! With so much to see and do in Paris we’ve already started planning our next trip there- we’ll just go in the spring or fall when it is a wee bit less crowded.

2015 Travel Year in Review- France || www.onetripatatime.com
Eiffel Tower || Louvre Museum || Notre-Dame Cathedral

July

This was another great travel month as I was still in Europe on my business trip so L and I took advantage to visit a few sights around Germany. This was also the month that I reached my 2015 travel goal to visit three new countries with Germany being the third new country. I also visited four UNESCO sites this month to bring my total up to 12 for the year! Two of the sites- Lubeck and Museum Island in Berlin- were planned. The Modernism Housing estate in Berlin wasn’t planned but when we were in Berlin and saw how close it was to other places we’d be visiting…well we made a little detour for it. Definitely the least interesting UNESCO site I’ve ever visited though. And then the last one- Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District in Hamburg- well that was absolutely perfect timing as it was added to the UNESCO list the week I was in town!

July was also a great month for visiting places on my 100 Landmarks of the World goal list and saw us visiting two- Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate– which meant I met, then exceeded this goal for the year. I tell you July was awesome on the travel goal front, and really awesome just on the travel front. Berlin was my favourite of it all. I was interested in going but didn’t realise just how much I’d love Berlin. I can’t wait to share some posts about it. Perhaps I’ll catch up to blogging about that trip in 2016.

 

2015 Travel Year in Review- Germany || www.onetripatatime.com
Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp || Lubeck || Bells in cathedral in Lubeck
2015 Travel Year in Review- Germany || www.onetripatatime.com
Reichstag || Berlin Wall || Berliner Dom

August

The end of summer brought with it another road trip- an EPIC road trip as I dubbed it on my Facebook posts- along Hwy 1 in California. L, the kiddo, and I started in San Francisco and in nine days worked our way through Monterrey, Big Sur, San Luis Obispo, Hollywood, and San Diego and we saw A LOT. It was a jam-packed itinerary and by the end of the trip we were saying “Alcatraz? Was that really this trip? It seems so long ago.” We saw that much. We’d all highly recommend that everyone take a road trip along this well-known route. You won’t be disappointed.

2015 Travel Year in Review- United States || www.onetripatatime.com
Alcatraz || Pier 39 || Warner Bros. Studio Tour || Lone Cypress || San Diego Harbour || Bixby Bridge || Getty Villa || Google Statue Park || California Mission

September and October

Phew! After all the travel we’d done so far in the year it was actually a welcome break to take a rest in September and October. I also took a break from blogging during this time to recharge a little, and to get the school year kicked off right with the kiddo. Behind the scenes I did a little blog planning, worked on a new venture- being a travel agent- and did some planning for the remaining trips to come for the year.

November

After no traveling in September and October we more than made up for it in November.

The first trip of the month was a weekend road trip with the kiddo to San Antonio where we visited all of the missions on the Mission Trail (UNESCO site #13 for the year!), strolled the Riverwalk, and then took a Segway Tour. While neither of us fell off the segway, let’s just say the kiddo had a much better time than I did and I won’t be begging him to join me on another one any time soon.

The week of Thanksgiving was very busy as L came to visit and we did a quick weekend get-away to a little town in Texas called Flatonia. This was definitely an example of not having to go too far to find a neat little place to visit. Just pick a cute B&B hotel and head that way and you’ll find something.

The most anticipated trip was our 4 night stay in Phoenix. I thought I’d like Phoenix but didn’t know I’d like it so much. This is actually a city that I could see myself living in and I don’t say that about them all.

We had a great four days where we drove the Apache Trail, toured Taliesin West, Tonto National Monument, Desert Botanical Gardens, Mystery Castle, and took a hike on Waterfall Trail in White Tank Mountain Park. Again, we did so much that we couldn’t believe we packed it all in to four days. And we did it all while cruising around with the roof down in the Mustang convertible we rented…even though the locals probably thought we were nuts because it was a bit chilly.

 

2015 Travel Year in Review- United States || www.onetripatatime.com
Tonto National Monument Park || Taliesin West || City of Scottsdale || White Tank Mountain

December

And before I knew it December had arrived and it was time to head to the UK once more to visit L and explore Edinburgh with him over New Year’s- which is where I’m finishing this post from now.

We started with Dunfermline Abbey, Stirling Castle, the Falkirk Wheel, and then visited Gilmerton Cove, Rosslyn Chapel, and the Royal Yacht Britannia and on the last day of the year we’re set to visit the historic centre of Edinburgh, including a stroll down the Royal Mile, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll actually stay awake late enough this year to ring in the new year at the famous Edinburgh New Year’s celebration called Hogmanay.

2015 Travel Year in Review- Scotland || www.onetripatatime.com
Dunfermline Abbey || Falkirk Wheel || Stirling Castle

All in all 2015 has been the absolute best travel year I’ve ever had. I’ve seen amazing sights, learned about new cultures, achieved some travel goals, and explored several new countries. I was very fortunate to be asked to take two business trips that allowed me to spend about six weeks in Europe this year as that gave me the opportunity to visit all those new places on the weekends. That, combined with some careful planning, and we were able to really make the most of our four weeks vacation time and get the most value for our travel dollars.

We love it when a plan comes together. And we’ve already got our next big trip planned for 2016- Ireland! Now we’ll just have to wait and see how the rest of the year shapes up. Will 2016 find us in the Baltics or Hawaii? Two ideas we’re tossing around. We know we’ll be in Canada again, this time on the East Coast and in the summer so very different from our last trip. And then at the end of the year- where to? Maybe New York? A Caribbean cruise? The possibilities are endless.

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