Even though I had predicted that 2011 would be a big travel year for me, I had no idea just how great it would turn out to be. I traveled away from home far more times than I anticipated this year, and had some amazing adventures both on the other side of the world, and in my own backyard.
Here, then, are some of my favorite travel photos from 2011 to sum up my adventures this year.
During the coldest part of Ohio's winter, I escaped for a week to Hawaii to visit a friend going to school in Honolulu. I spent my week checking out Oahu's best beaches, snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, visiting Pearl Harbor, stalking out some LOST filming sites, and much, much more. It was a great winter getaway.
In March, I made my very first trip to Chicago for a long weekend with my best friend from college. We ate some deep-dish pizza, checked out Chicago's tallest towers, and saw some great improv, among other things. It ended up being the first of 3 trips to the Windy City in 2011.
I stuck closer to home in April, exploring more of what Ohio had to offer. This included visiting Mill Creek Park in Youngstown, which is especially pretty in the spring/summer.
After taking part in the Blog4NZ campaign in late March and finding myself the proud winner of a semi-sponsored trip around New Zealand, I decided to head South in May for two weeks in my favorite country. This time around, I focused on doing/seeing things I haven't done before in NZ, which included exploring the Kapiti Coast, enjoying French-infused Akaroa, taking the TranzAlpine train across the South Island, braving the tallest bungy jump in the country, hiking on a glacier, visiting misty Doubtful Sound, and much more. Every time I visit New Zealand, I swear I fall more and more in love with it.
Only a few weeks after returning from New Zealand, I again boarded a plane — this time bound for Seattle and Vancouver, where I attended the TBEX travel bloggers conference. I didn't have nearly enough time to properly experience Vancouver, but what I did see of it was fantastic.
I was pretty well broke in July, so I once again stuck close to home. But being in Ohio during the summer months isn't all bad. I took weekend trips to places like Yellow Springs, a hippe enclave near Dayton.
August was the month of the road trip for me. My sister and I took off for 3 weeks to explore more of what our country had to offer, and traveled more than 6,500 miles across more than a dozen states. We visited big, famous sites like the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas, and also some lesser-visited spots like Sedona, Monument Valley, and the Cadillac Ranch. We had a ton of adventures, and made plenty of memories that we'll never forget. I'm so glad we did this, and would recommend it to anyone.
I rounded out my 2011 travel with another trip to Chicago at the beginning of October for a wedding with my whole family. Along with checking out Grant Park, celebrating Oktoberfest at Navy Pier, and admiring the Chicago Cultural Center, we also took an architecture boat tour up the Chicago River, something I've wanted to do ever since my first visit in March.
Yes, 2011 was a pretty fantastic, travel-filled year for me, and I'm so thankful for all the adventures I was able to have. Here's hoping 2012 is even better!
Amanda Williams is the award-winning blogger behind A Dangerous Business Travel Blog. She has traveled to more than 60 countries on 6 continents from her home base in Ohio, specializing in experiential and thoughtful travel through the US, Europe, and rest of the world. Amanda only shares tips based on her personal experiences and places she's actually traveled!