Saturday, May 19, 2018

10 Must Take Trips for the Summer

They say youth is wasted on the young, but I like to think I'm doing okay with it. Traveling, especially, makes me feel like I'm seizing my time and squeezing every drop of culture, kindness, and fun out of my life.

Here's a round up of my five favorite trips from years past, and a five that are on the top of my list for the years to come - hopefully you'll find some joy in these places, too.

1. Exumas, Bahamas

A classic Caribbean vacation to kick off the list. I have taken countless trips to the Abacos, but my visit to the Exumas stood out. Run with the pigs, swim with the sharks, feed the iguanas. Animals aren't your thing? Dip into the warm blue water to check out grottos and downed planes, snorkel over hundreds of colorful sea critters, or hop on a paddle board and take a lap around your island. It's not cheap and it's not luxurious, but it's freedom, sunshine, and a great spot to take your next Instagram.

2. London, England

A historic city packed with sprawling museums (with free admission!!!), gorgeous parks, and enough pubs to visit a new one every day of your life - what more can you ask of it? Socialize with locals at the latest pop up, settle in for a proper afternoon tea, and get cultured at some of the best museums in the world. The list of things to do is limitless and ever changing. It's worth a week or a year of your time. Hotels aren't cheap, but a city like this is worth every penny.

3. Oregon, USA

Find quirky thrift shops, dense forests, great doughnuts, and friendly locals in Oregon. Portland is chock full of young locals, interesting bars, great bookstores, and gorgeous flowers. Looking for a more direct look at nature? Hop in a car and drive out of the city for great hiking, big waterfalls, lush woods, and a rocky coastline. There's no shortage of beauty - and some budget friendly accommodation.

4. Israel

I couldn't limit this country to any one city, because there's too much beauty and history. Party in Tel Aviv, stroll the history-laden streets of Jerusalem, float in the Dead Sea, ride a jet ski in the Red Sea, and hike Masada. You'll be stuffed to the brim with tahini, wine, and persimmons. The people are friendly, the sun is warm, and the stories are plentiful. I went with a family friend from Israel and would definitely recommend finding someone who knows the area - I've heard great things about the tour groups that take you around. There's just too much you could miss without someone who knows the history.

5. Galway, Ireland

I say Galway, but what everyone really should do is rent a van, pile your loved ones into it, and take off through the green Irish fields looking for adventures. Galway holds many happy memories for me so it always takes the cake for an Irish visit. Drink with locals, frolic in the pastures, ride ponies on the moors, climb the rugged coast, kiss the Blarney stone, tour the Guinness factory, and lap up the beauty of such an amazing country. You'll never run low on happy faces and good memories.

6. Bali, Indonesia

This has been at the top of my list since 2013, and I am ready to make it a reality! Plane tickets can be pricey, but once you set foot on the rich soil of Indonesia, it's easy to stretch a few dollars. Rent a villa with a private infinity pool, feed monkeys in the jungle, pray in a Balinese temple, and gorge yourself on chicken satay and inexpensive massages. It's guaranteed to be a true R&R vacation.

7. Lagos, Portugal

A rocky coast, a little town, a blazing sunset.... Is this storybook or what? I'm still waiting for a TV show set in Lagos to premiere so I can see this beautiful place anytime I want. The city is quiet (during winter anyway), perfect for a restful escape - but not a lazy one! You can spend morning, noon, and night hiking the cliffs by the coast or down on the sand soaking up the sun during summers. Plenty to do and plenty to eat without wandering far or working too hard.

8. Marrakech, Morocco
Rich hues, unique culture, and the sounds of a country filled with craftsman. Visiting Morocco always seemed like it would take me a world away from home: a different era, a different culture altogether. From the tapestries to the lanterns the country is filled with skilled craftsman creating beautiful works. I've long desired to hop from Casablanca to Marrakech to Chefchaouen. Hopefully I get the chance!

9. New Zealand (via a long winding road trip)

While it's probably best to visit New Zealand during it's summer in December and January, I'm sure it would be stunning no matter the month. Watching The Hobbit and Narnia unfold on such a lush, magical backdrop has always kept New Zealand on my list. The richness of the land and the beauty of it's people are unlike anything I've ever seen. I've been dreaming of visiting for years, but by all means go and send me a postcard in the meantime!

10. Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

Thailand is always at the top of the backpacking destinations. It's cheap, beautiful, and busy. My dream is one big girl's trip where we party all night at the beach, swim all day in the ocean, and dive into buckets of Thai food every chance we get. While a bit far for us North American folk, it's pretty accessible and cost effective worldwide. Once in this diverse country, you can stretch your money and get the most bang for your buck.


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