Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.Anthony Bourdain
Traveling locally is so rewarding and made me love where I live even more. Lancaster is a hidden gem for me. It’s filled with local shops, music, art, theatre, and so much more. From Lancaster Central Market to the amazing hiking trails in the county, we did a ton of exploring in January and all year round. We tend to put blinders on when it comes to where we live, but we’ve made an extra effort to discover new things, especially this year. It was beyond rewarding and I can’t recommend it enough.
Staying home can be just as fulfilling as traveling. February is my birth month it always has me itching to travel…somewhere warm. So far, it’s happened once in my 33 years. This year we stayed home and did no traveling for the entire month. Sometimes, you just need to spend time at home to appreciate traveling more. Spending time with my pets, quality time with my boyfriend, and just relaxing are all important to me. My favorite part of coming home from travel is seeing my pets and I loved that I got to do that every single day that month.
March was pretty special for me. I traveled to Columbus, Ohio for the Arnold Bodybuilding Competition. I met my coach, Kiki, who I’d been working with for over 3 years for the first time. It was also the first time I’d gotten to connect with other bikini bodybuilding competitors and since I was going through my first prep it really motivated me mentally. That was a weekend of fitness fueled by determination. This month was all about finding ways to be comfortable pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. People forget there’s so many ways to travel and they tend to stick with one type. That’s not my style and I love seeing the world in different ways. For me, it’s a more fulfilling way to travel.
Physically traveling isn’t the only way to travel. April was a big reading month for me since I wanted a distraction from all things prep and I couldn’t travel. I dove head first into so many great books got inspired by books enough to make some hilarious bookmarks, and went to town creating fun social posts. What genres you ask? All of them. I read a bunch of fantasy, fiction, historical fiction, rom com, psychological thrillers, and even non-fiction. Basically I traveled to alternative universes, back in time, to completely different realms, and into the mind of narrators. It was a fun, wild ride and my brain loved the travel experiences even if my body didn’t move from the couch during these experiences.
Leaving before your intended return date is okay. I competed in my first ever bikini bodybuilding competition May 7th. We drove to Akron, OH and I honestly had one of the best experiences of my life. It was surreal. However, our pet sitter was a bit of a nightmare and we made the decision to grab a quick bite to eat and immediately drive home instead of leaving the next morning. The pets will always come first for us. They are our babes. While it sucked to not be able to explore like we planned, we knew we made the right decision. I’m here to tell you, in case no one else has, that this is perfectly okay to do. Prioritize what’s important. Vacation isn’t always the important thing in life.
Try new types of events close to home so you can try similar things while you travel without worrying if you’ll like them. We took the dogs to beer gardens, went to a food truck rally, an author meet & greet, and so much more. Dog friendly travel destinations are always on my radar, so it’s fun to trial bringing them places to see how they like it. We also got a ton of ideas for new things to try while walking them around like pottery making and cooking classes. Being able to trial a few things at home before spending more money on it while traveling is always a win to me. Plus if we like it, we can look forward to it even more when we plan to do it again.
Traveling to places just to make your dogs happy is a 110% valid reason to travel. There’s a Canine Country Club near us that has an indoor and outdoor pool just for dogs and it’s open to the public with an appointment. Atlas is obsessed with swimming and chasing toys in the outdoor pool and Mickey is obsessed with avoiding the pool and lounging on the chairs like a baked potato. Seeing their ridiculously happy faces makes me pretty much explode with happiness. Yes, I drive 30 minutes just to take my boys to the pool they love. Yes, I consider that a mini travel experience for them. If you heard the excited noises they make in the car when they realize they get a pool day, you’d also know it’s worth it.
August was a month of several revelations and travels. Renaissance Faires are a ton of fun and cruises are absolutely not my preferred method of travel. We went to our local Ren Faire and couldn’t have had more fun. Walking around to explore the shops, seeing the shows, and playing games was such an incredible day. I didn’t think I would like them as much as I did, so it was a pleasant surprise.
Cruises… not so much. When I get seasick I get horrible migraines. I’ve only been on two cruises but I’ve lost half a day on the first day of each one to headaches. I’ll be posting a full review at some point but I learned a few things about myself on the last one. The destinations are incredible, but I want more time there than the cruises allow. People treat the staff horribly and it fills me with rage. The relaxation is top-notch, but the activities on board get repetitive and I get bored with the ship easily. The food is…okay. Food is one of my favorite parts of travel so this kind of clinched my views on cruises for me.
Going back to the same places time and again doesn’t mean you’ll be bored. It gives you the chance to explore even more and discover incredible new things to see and do. September happened to be the month we went to Albuquerque and Watkins Glen, both places we’ve visited many times. Each time we go, we make it a point to do/see our favorite things and try something new whether it’s a new place to eat, a new hiking trail, or seeing a different part of town. I love both destinations so much and genuinely enjoy going back.
I genuinely want to plan a Halloween-focused trip. I’ve posted so many blogs about Halloween destinations and I’ve never really been to many. That needs to change. We love Halloween and always hand out candy, dress up, and go to events and this year was no different. The only difference is this year I want to plan to travel to one or several of the destinations I’ve written about! Full throttle spooky season is in the works!
Road trips with friends are amazing. We’d been talking about visiting Jim Thorpe for a while and made the road trip with our dogs to check out the town and take the iconic train ride. Turns out taking your dogs on a train ride is a fantastic way to spend the day alongside great friends. I love mini road trips. They are always a good way to infuse an inexpensive and quick adventure into your weekend. They also give you the peace of mind knowing you’re not super far away and that you get to sleep in your own bed. Mini road trips might be a super underrated way to travel, but I’m here for it.
All-inclusive travel is incredible and is one of the most relaxing ways to travel. I had never tried al all-inclusive resort before and honestly thought I wouldn’t love them a lot. I was wrong. We stayed at Bahia Principe Tulum in Mexico and it was one of my favorite trips of all time. The resort was out-of-this-world amazing and I fell in love with Mexico immediately. While I wouldn’t want every vacation to be on a resort, I genuinely loved this vacation and finally got to relax. Plus, we had some of the best adventures of my life that I’ll never be able to beat and that’s something I’ll never forget.