My Top 10 Travel Highlights of 2017

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This past year was one of huge changes in the non-travel aspects of my life. First, Elliot and I bought a condo. Then we got married.

As we were house-hunting and wedding-planning in January, I was sure 2017 would be a “light” travel year for me. Because, you know, house-buying and wedding-planning take up lots of time AND money.

But, instead, my year turned out to be just as travel-filled as ever! Between work trips and for-fun trips, I managed to travel somewhere almost every month this year.

Which means, as usual, that it was difficult to narrow down my year-end list to just the top highlights!

But I somehow managed it, and here are my favorite travel experiences from 2017.

My Top 10 Travel Highlights of 2017

10. Exploring Stockholm

Stortorget in Gamla Stan, Stockholm
Stortorget in Gamla Stan

For years I've professed myself a lover of all things Scandinavian, and yet up until 2017 had only visited Iceland and Norway. That changed this summer, when I split a week between Stockholm and Copenhagen. Stockholm quickly charmed me, with its narrow Gamla Stan streets, colorful subway stations, and awesome museums. I had so much fun getting to know Stockholm over the course of 3 days – I know it won't be my last visit!

Stadion metro station in Stockholm
Gamla Stan from City Hall Tower in Stockholm

Read more: An Introduction to Stockholm: A First-Time Visitor's Guide

9. The Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland

Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge in Northern Ireland
Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge

I actually visited Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland once before, back in 2013. But that was just a quick day trip from Dublin. A highlight of my 2017, then, was getting to explore more of the Causeway Coast on a tour with Shamrocker Adventures. I re-visited Giant's Causeway, got to see the famous Dark Hedges, and crossed the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. It's no wonder that Belfast and the Causeway Coast were named the top region in the world to visit in 2018 by Lonely Planet. I may return next year, too!

Giant's Causeway
Black cab at the Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland

Read more: Discovering Ireland with Shamrocker Adventures

8. Visiting Yellowstone National Park for the first time

Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park
Grand Prismatic Spring

Yellowstone was the first designated national park in the world, so it's probably no surprise that I've wanted to visit for ages. I finally had the chance this past summer, when my sister and I did another cross-country road trip. We dedicated two full days to Yellowstone, exploring from the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone to Mammoth Springs to the impressive Geyser Basin. It's an incredible park but also an HUGE one – definitely a place where you need to go in with a plan!

Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Bison in Yellowstone National Park

Read more: Yellowstone National Park: What to Do and See in 2 Days

7. Mini Oregon road trip

Cannon Beach in Oregon
Cannon Beac

In June, Elliot and I flew out to Oregon to visit his sister, who recently moved to Bend. I suggested we make a small road trip out of it, which turned out to be an excellent idea. We visited Portland, the Columbia River Gorge, the Painted Hills, the Willamette Valley wine region, the beaches on Oregon's coast, and of course Bend. There's a lot more to Oregon than most people realize, and I know it's a state I'll be visiting again.

Painted Hills Overlook
Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge

Read more: 21 Photos That Will Make You Want to Plan a Trip to Oregon Right Now

6. Chasing waterfalls in the Finger Lakes

Rainbow Falls at Watkins Glen State Park
Rainbow Falls at Watkins Glen State Park

Another trip Elliot and I took together this year was to the Finger Lakes region of New York for a mini-honeymoon immediately after our wedding in October. While we didn't see any amazing falls colors, we did chase a lot of waterfalls, drank some wine, and ate a lot of tasty food. It's a beautiful part of the US, and made for a perfect romantic getaway!

At Eagle Cliff Falls
At Eagle Cliff Falls

Read more: A Mini-Honeymoon to the Finger Lakes

5. Road tripping in Northern Norway

Gryllefjord, Norway
Gryllefjord, Norway

For the third year in a row, I made a trip to Norway! This year I finally visited Bergen, did the Norway in a Nutshell tour, and headed up north to drive around some of the country's northern islands. This road trip was amazing. I skipped the touristy Lofoten Islands and instead focused on some of the lesser-visited spots in Senja and the Vesterålen Islands. I felt like I was let in on multiple secrets on this trip, and left even more in love with Norway than I was before.

Tungeneset viewpoint on Senja
View of Tromsø from Fjellheisen tramway

Read more: Road Tripping Around Norway's OTHER Northern Islands

4. Beach-hopping in the Seychelles

Anse Source D'Argent on La Digue
Anse Source D'Argent on La Digue

I'm usually not a beach-loving type of traveler, but visiting the Seychelles was about so much more than beaches. (Though, admittedly, the beaches there are absolute stunners.) I had fun beach-hopping, yes, but also enjoyed meeting giant tortoises, holding the heaviest nut in the world, and eating delicious seafood. If you're looking for a tropical destination in 2018 with amazing beaches AND lots of other things to do, look into visiting the Seychelles.

Amanda in the Seychelles
Amanda in the Seychelles
Amanda in the Seychelles

Read more: 7 Reasons to Add the Seychelles to Your Bucket List

3. Seeing ancient sites in Egypt

The Great Temple of Abu Simbel
The Great Temple of Abu Simbel

My last-minute “splurge trip” in 2017 was a 12-day tour through Egypt. It's been a bucket list destination for me since before I even HAD a bucket list, and the reality of visiting was even better than I could have imagined! I took selfies at the Pyramids of Giza, visited temples like Abu Simbel and Philae and Karnak, and went into King Tut's actual tomb. The ancient sites were 10 times cooler in real life, and Egypt itself is much safer (in the touristy areas, at least), than most people think. If you've been holding off going to Egypt, now is the time to go.

Middle Pyramid in Egypt
Feluccas on the Nile River in Aswan, Egypt

Read more: 7 Things That Surprised Me About Traveling in Egypt

2. Falling in love with the Faroe Islands

Mulafossur Waterfall near the village of Gásadalur
Mulafossur Waterfall near the village of Gásadalur

One of the campaigns I worked on this summer was with Visit Faroe Islands for the country's annual G! Festival, a quirky music festival that takes place each summer on a beach. I also had time to explore the main islands while I was there, and damn… the Faroe Islands are amazing! The landscapes are just as incredible as what you can find in Iceland and Norway, and yet the islands are still generally undiscovered by mass tourism. The Faroe Islands ended up being my favorite new country I visited in 2017. If this spot is on your list, too, make 2018 the year you visit!

Overlooking Bøsdalafossur in the Faroe Islands
Puffins on Mykines in the Faroe Islands

Read more: 6 Reasons to Add the Faroe Islands to Your Bucket List

1. Seeing the total solar eclipse in Idaho

Amanda and Melissa at solar eclipse
Melissa and I in our eclipse glasses

It was difficult to organize the middle of this list with so many amazing travel experiences to choose from. But #1 was a no-brainer. Seeing a total solar eclipse in the USA was by far the coolest thing I did this year! My sister and I planned our summer road trip around the August 21 eclipse, driving all the way out to western Idaho for the big moment. And it was all so worth it. It's difficult to explain what those few minutes of totality really feel like; there were so many emotions running through me, from awe to giddiness to disbelief. If you can catch the next total solar eclipse, I highly recommend it!

2017 solar eclipse in Idaho
I didn't have enough time to get the perfect shot of totality (I was too excited!), but this one is still pretty cool!

So there you have it: my travel highlights from 2017! There were plenty of moments that didn't quite make the list, like re-visiting my favorite part of Utah, mentoring at Bloghouse in Indianapolis, falling in love with South Dakota, introducing Elliot to Chicago (one of my favorite US cities), and going to Florida for the grand opening of Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando.

But I had to end the list somewhere!

Here's hoping your 2017 was just as adventurous, and that you have even more exciting travels in 2018!

What were some of YOUR travel highlights in 2017? Which of mine did you enjoy reading about the most?


"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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11 Comments on “My Top 10 Travel Highlights of 2017

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  1. After reading your post and seeing your pictures about Seychelles, I want to go there more. Indeed, its a peaceful land of paradise on earth,

    The Total Solar Eclipse is my #1 experience as well! All summer long, my husband and I ran a distribution company inside of our home, packing & distributing our glasses for people planning to watch the eclipse. In just a few months, we designed glasses, worked with US manufacturers, packaged millions of glasses. It was hard work, but as we were watching totality in Casper, Wyoming, it made the event all worth it! It was one of the most gratifying experiences of my life.

    Your photos of Faroe Islands are absolutely adorable! Where are the islands located?

    Thanks for your post! Since 2012 I’ve been following your blog & it’s always a treat to see what you’re up to!


      Glad to hear you had a great eclipse experience, too!!

      The Faroe Islands are located in the northern Atlantic, halfway between Norway and Iceland.

    What a fantastic year you’ve had! I remember that you said at the start of the year that you didn’t think you would travel that much, however it seems like a pretty successful and fullfilling travel year! For me this year marks the year that I fell absolutely and head-over-heels in love with Cuba!

      I was definitely convinced in January of this year that I would be mostly sticking closer to home – but thankfully I was wrong! 🙂

    Well, you haven’t done too badly for a year of light travel! 😉 Haha! The Faroe islands are definitely on my list after your trip there, even being from Orkney I have completely overlooked them! And I foreverrrrr want to visit Norway!

      Haha, right?? And the Faroes are so amazing – go sooner rather than later before people “discover” them like they did Iceland!

    That entire list looks super amazing, like I would read one and be like “Wow I need to plan a trip there!” But then I would read the next one and be like “Wait actually I need to plan a trip there first!” And so on lol. I was gonna see the solar eclipse but I ended up moving to Germany, which is admittedly pretty cool but it means I need to hunt down another eclipse to see!

      The good news is that total solar eclipses actually happen pretty regularly! It’s just a matter of actually being in a part of the world where you can see it. 🙂

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