The Good in 2017

I think that we can all agree that 2017 has been…. a year. I’m only peripherally aware of how the year has played out for countries other than the US since there has been just so much to focus on at home. Even though I had to keep my travel to a minimum, a lot has gone on throughout the year that added value and joy to my 2017. I met some blogger friends, received some crazy awesome compliments, and bought myself a new toy! So… what was good in 2017?


No, not mine. The year started out with two weddings – one I knew about and the other I didn’t. My cousin got married in February and he’s the first of the 15 grandchildren to get hitched. It was a nice wedding and a great overall weekend. I count myself very lucky that, as the oldest grandchild I’ve been left alone on the subject. Or maybe they’ve lost hope for me? Either way…

However before that wedding, in the very beginning of January one of good friends from Koreatime got surprise married. I was super excited for her and so glad that she did it the way she did – it felt very her.

Worked out at the airport.

On the way to Florida for my cousin’s wedding, I had a layover in Baltimore where the very first Roam Fitness is located. It was fun and a little odd to be working out so close to my gate, but it was a cool place to try out (and write about)!

Boston Organizer.

In early spring, I signed on as a Local Organizer for the Boston chapter of Wanderful. I’m on a great team of three Boston organizers and a network of 40+ organizers for our 29 global chapters. It’s been a lot of fun meeting other ladies who love to travel and watch this cool startup grow.

A coworker said something really nice.

I sent a blog draft to a coworker to read over when he had a chance. All of a sudden he sorta blurt-laughed at his desk and I asked what was so funny. He said, “I’m reading that thing you sent me and I can literally hear your voice speaking these words!” Which, as someone who writes how she speaks (that’s how I keep my “voice” so consistent throughout posts) – that is one of the nicest pieces of feedback I could receive on my writing.

I went to WITS!

I went to Milwaukee for the annual Women in Travel Summit (by Wanderful). I learned a lot, met a ton of great people, realized I needed to make a few edits thanks to Jamie of Hashtag Legal, took in an impactful keynote by Oneika Raymond, and…

Met some fellow Female Travel Bloggers at WITS!

Pretty intuitive that I might meet some female bloggers at a women’s’ conference… but this refers to a specific blogging group I belong to called Female Travel Bloggers. It’s been a fantastic, supportive community and I had the chance to connect with a few of them and grab lunch at the Milwaukee Public Market and a distillery tour at Great Lakes Distillery. 

More reading:  The Pre-Trip Mental Checklist

Fangirled (at WITS) over a compliment from…

Ashley from Travel Lushes. She happened to be setting up to film some testimonials by conference attendees and asked me if I wanted to be interviewed. I like being filmed, so I agreed. I didn’t connect the dots that she was that Ashley until I asked her what her blog was–and I felt so dumb. I adore her Instagram and was totally embarrassed I didn’t put it together. After the take she said she was all set and…. that….. I’m good on camera. We only needed on take because I naturally didn’t add filler words and I made good eye contact. I was friggn tickled.

Watch the video she created for WITS 2017 – its incredible!

ALSO, just as I was putting the finishing touches on this post, my friend Steph from Joy and Journey said something similar. Very inspired (honored and humbled too!) by these ladies to maybe start trying out videos in 2018! 


I occasionally submit to be a journalist resource/reference through HARO, and was featured on a Weight-Watchers Canada article. My advice was shared along with a bit by Sidewalk (an app that offers free guided neighborhood walking tours). We then connected and I uploaded a Boston walk (and have 2 more that I need to get done!) and they did a feature piece on me! They’ve been super fun to work with. Its a free app with interesting walks so download and give it a go next time you visit somewhere new! (#notspon lol)

I won a raffle!

I won a free personal training session and decided to stick with it. It’s not cheap but its the one thing I splurge on for myself. I lucked out hard because I got a trainer that I both like and have a lot of confidence in.

Family vacation.

It had been well over a decade since we had taken an actual family vacation. Between school schedules, jobs, internships, me being out of the country for four years- it just wasn’t possible. We were finally able to get all six of us to take the same chunk of days off, so we went to the Finger Lakes region in upstate New York and then New York City.


I took a quick trip up to Toronto to see some friends and go to a concert. While I do pop up north a few times each year, each trip feels like a quick visit. Even though this trip was just as brief as the others, I particularly value the trips where I just do normal life things with my friends. We spent a lot of time together doing super average stuff while in Korea, so even though they’re far, its really nice to just hang and not need to do anything special.

Sony a6000!

I invested in a Sony a6000 that I quickly became obsessed with. All I want to do is learn and get better and take cool pictures of things. Here are a few of my favorites so far:

More reading:  Visiting the Devil's Pool at Victoria Falls - Tips and Stories

FINALLY had my first Canadian cottage experience

A solid chink of my friends are Canadian and every last one of them talk about “cottages.” But every time I tried to liken it to summer homes or lake houses, it missed the mark. Well this year my friends offered to let me come stay with them for a few days during their rental period-  and I totally get how its different (but there is 0% chance that I’ll be able to articulate it properly).

Went to Zambia/Botswana

I had known about this trip months in advance, but knew I wasn’t going to be able to afford it. At the eleventh hour (about 5 weeks before the trip) I knee-jerk decided to put it on my credit card. I had enough points and cash to cover 1/2 the trip, but the rest remains on my card. However, though I ‘m still in a wee bit of debt from the trip- I wholeheartedly do not regret going. The group was fantastic, the service project was a real learning experience, and the touristy things we did were really exhilarating (um… being 10ft from lions and swimming the the Devil’s Pool). If you have an opportunity, check out Unearth the World‘s project options!


I was asked to work on the planning team for Wanderful‘s first ever Wanderfest. We’ve got the Women in Travel Summit for travel pros, but there was a desire to add a global event for women in the community who might not be travel-industry professionals. I helped on the promotional side of things and had a total blast at the event!


Megafan. They had gone on hiatus when I was in Korea and I was pretty devastated that they had “taken a break” (which, for most bands is a soft way to announce the end) before I was able to see them live. I had the chance to see them three times during 2017, once in Toronto and twice in Boston.

I bought a new domain!

That’s right! I’ve just rebranded and I’m super excited about my new identity – I think you’ll agree that its a little more “on-brand” than my current blog name. All links and pins will still work (I’m keeping thebudgetbackpack domain indefinitely). So keep an eye out on social media – my picture will stay the same!

  • What are a few great things that happened to you in 2017 (travel or otherwise)?
  • Did you accomplish any goals you had set for yourself at the beginning of the year?
  • If I could only go to one country in 2018 – where should I go and why?
Posted in Africa, Milwukee, Personal - null, Story, Travel, Uncategorized, USA and tagged , , , , , , .

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