The thing about being a non-nomadic travel blogger is that, by definition, I travel for a pretty small percentage of my time. But my wanderlust runs deep, and I have no shortage of trips in my little life so far that have taught me some beautiful lessons.
Tomorrow I’ll kick off a new TBT-style series in which every other Thursday, I’ll be sharing my favorite trips, travel moments, and lessons learned through travel.
Part of the beauty of traveling is that the memories stay with us forever. Each trip opens our minds. Each memory changes our hearts. Sometimes in small ways, and sometimes in monumental ways.
I’m excited to share my previous and my future travels with you! Here’s a sneak peek about what to expect in the upcoming California series.
One year ago this week, Dan and I packed our bags and headed for the West Coast. Not until adulthood did I feel the compulsion to visit any place west of the Mississippi. I grew up as a hybrid midwesterner-southeasterner, and I believed the East Coast—from the dangling Florida Keys, stretching through Charleston and Cape Cod, all the way to the backcountry of Maine—was about as charming and perfect as America could be.
A summertime trip to Denver for a dear friend’s wedding changed my mind about the West in general. The deciding factor? Dry. Heat.
“Dry” is not a thing where I grew up in Jacksonville Beach and in the stagnant, heavy Georgia air.
You mean to tell me there’s a whole region of the country where you can enjoy mountains and beaches and sunshine without choking on the solid air? Dan had to force me onto the airplane for our return trip from sunny San Francisco to cold, but still somehow humid, Chicago.
Near the end of last February, Dan and I realized that we each had two weeks of vacation to use or lose by the end of March. Within a matter of days, we decided to do a taste-of-California trip, starting in Los Angeles, driving up to Yosemite National Park, and then back toward the coast to San Francisco. A week later, our airline tickets and rental car were booked. And a week after that, we were off.
Those two weeks were a whirlwind of budgets, planning, phone calls, research, reservations, and dreaming about all the mouth-watering food stops we’d make and the adventures we’d have. I usually love the long season of anticipation and planning that leads up to a trip, so I was a little disappointed that we’d be leaving so soon. But I actually enjoyed every single moment of those days, as Dan and I sat cuddled in bed nearly every night, I with my laptop and he with his iPad, swapping stories of deals and ogling over pictures of the sites we’d see.
As you probably know—and if you don’t, I’m so sorry for bursting this bubble for you—California is known for its outrageously high cost of living. It permeates the travel business, too, folks. It was particularly disappointing when we fell in love with San Francisco and realized that we’d literally have to win the lottery to live there.
All this to say, we had to stretch every single dollar of our budget. With some very careful planning, by cutting out many of the luxuries people equate with vacationing, and with the help of several unexpected blessings throughout our trip, we came in slightly under our projected budget of $2,000 for 8 days of travel. I know it sounds like a lot of money for a domestic trip (we spent $2400 for our 8-day honeymoon in Mexico, which included unlimited food and drinks), but we cut almost every corner aside from a few food splurges (and we ate economically the rest of the time to make up for those).
Over the next few installments of TBT posts, I’ll share the highlights of each destination (food! sites! people!) as well as our money-saving tricks along the way. Tomorrow, I’ll share more about how we saved money on the front end as we booked everything just two weeks before departure. Until then, I’ll leave you with a few favorite photos.