I said it last year and I'll say it again, I would live out of a suitcase if it meant I could see the world. Well, for now, I'd settle for the United States. But I'm keeping my suitcase handy and packed as 2013 is promising to be an amazing year full of new adventures. It started out with finding out I will be an Aunt to two as of September, Dad signing a contract to stay put in Indianapolis, starting a new job in a completely new work environment, and making some big life and relationship changes. Whew. But with all the chaos and craziness I haven't lost sight of my goal for my 20's - to experience.
At the end of January I departed for JFK followed by Ghana where I took a 6 hour bus ride to Togo (in West Africa). I knew starting off a new year with a trip that big would set the tone for an adventurous year. After barely surviving third world country food poisoning followed by 22 hours of travel back I thought for a brief moment I might be writing off this whole travel idea for a bit. But you know me - I had the itch again by the time I departed three weeks later to Indiana to spend a weekend with my sweet friend Meagan and her family. Isn't there something so sweet about being part of a friends life for a bit? Meeting their friends, sharing their home, and being part of their family even if just for a few days?
With Africa in Jan and Indiana in February I thought why not keep the travel alive? I spend the end of March in Raleigh, NC with my sweet baby niece, Noa, my bro-in-law, and my sister/best friend Rae. It was a weekend of cool weather, incredible food, fun fellowship, catching up, chasing that crazy niece of mine, and celebrating the gift of the cross (Easter, of course). I cried in the airport before I departed for home - man I just love weekends away with the people I love. My solution? Just keep finagling my way into more trips.
I forfeited presents under the tree for Christmas this past year and had all of them lumped into a Southwest gift card. When I sat down in November and wrote out my thoughts about 2013 I found that I kept coming back to the same idea - I value experiences and people over things. I wanted to keep that going and so I said 'no more' to clothes and cookware for Christmas and I traded them for the chance to travel.
When Southwest threw a heck of a sale in February I cashed in some of those GCs and booked a cheap flight to Austin, TX which will be my April trip. I will spend my first weekend in the great, big state of Texas and some quality time with one of my best friends who moved there a year ago. I can't wait to see where Friday Night Lights was filmed, eat the ridiculously awesome food I keep hearing about, visit Jen Hatmaker's church, and love on my sweet Auburn. Welcome April - I think we're going to get along just fine. Especially since you also include a visit from my presh Mom AND a weekend of building a custom walk in closet with her (oooo da lolly - what up Container Store, prepare to be owned).
Loyalty it turns out does pay off because by the end of last year I had racked up enough points for 1.5 trips on Southwest this year (I promise this blog is not a paid plug for them, I'm just a happy customer). I used some for half of my trip to Austin but the round trip I hoarded until a week ago when I booked a flight to Salt Lake City, UT to spend a long weekend with my long time (as in, 5th grade to now) friend Sean and his family! Sean has been a loyal and incredible friend over the years and our friendship has survived first my leaving Tampa for Indiana (followed eventually by my return) and now his move to SLC. Looking forward to some actual face time in stead of just Facetime, ya dig? I have never been to UT so I get the added bonus of being one state closer to seeing them all.
Good grief I'm giddy in my chair as I share about this. I'm so excited about this year! But don't worry, I'm not tapping out in May. June my baby sister Ruthie gets married up in NC so I'll be returning to the fabulous city of Raleigh for some family time, bridesmaid duties, and ya know - awesomeness.
July brings with it a summer wedding in Chicago for my long time friend and former Floridian - Mer! Eeee! Can't wait to celebrate her big day with her AND manage to see my fellow Purdue Alums both at the wedding and while I'm in the windy city. May have to hangout a few days and catch up and explore that big, beautiful city. It's been too long, Chicago, it's been too long.
August is open so any of you with a private jet - feel free to invite me somewhere exotic.
September it's back on the go as one of my Tampa besties will be getting hitched in at a vineyard in the ATL. I may forgo my love of Southwest's party seating for a road trip for this one but hey, travel is travel - am I right?
I'm not ready to reveal my fall flight schedule since I'm still plotting and scrimping points to see what I can make happen. But I thought I'd share, since I've been a bit MIA, that I'm not avoiding the blog because I have nothing going on. Quite the opposite really, I've been so busy living my life lately, I haven't had enough time for writing about it. But fear not, I am here. I'm am living and thriving in my new job and in the fabulous city of Tampa (well, for three weekends a month at least).
Share with me what your travel/summer plans may be - you know I'm always up for some inspiration!