My Ultimate Travel Wishlist

Nothing like the first day of September to remind you that the warmer days will soon be behind us. I am a huge fan of fall, but I can’t help my mind from constantly thinking where I could be instead as the temperatures begin to drop.

For the last three years, my boyfriend and I have gone on one wonderful trip each year, which we always started planning in late fall. It has become our little tradition to go on one “big” trip a year, and with immense saving (i.e. barely spending money on anything else) we were able to pull it off.

But, now that I’ve graduated from college and I don’t have as much holding me back from doing things like short weekend trips, I can hopefully make room for a few more in my budget and schedule in the next few years.

I am very lucky to be going to Phoenix, Arizona in Mid-October with a couple of my best friends to go to the Lost Lake musical festival. I’ve never been in the southwest, so any recommendations on food, things to do, etc. are greatly appreciated.

But, without further ado, here are a few destinations I’d love to visit in 2018/2019 (I realize there are a lot of National Parks, but that’s just what I like):

  • The Hawaiian Islands
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Hawaiian beach. Photo credit: Travel Channel

This one is a serious contender for my big trip for summer 2018. I have always wanted to go to Hawaii, but the price of airfare always pushed me away from going. It is still pretty dang expensive, but with enough planning I think anything is possible. I do worry about just how touristy the beaches are, but it still is so gorgeous that I can’t see that ruining my trip, even if it is.

  • Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
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Banff National Park. Photo credit: Travel Channel.

Banff has definitely gained some popularity in the last few years with bloggers and YouTubers, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this place is insanely beautiful (at least in photos). The only part of Canada I ever got the pleasure to see was Niagara Falls, not that there’s anything wrong with it, but it’s time to explore something else.

  • Boston, Massachusetts¬†
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Beautiful Boston, MA. Photo credit: Thrillist.

In 2016, I took a road trip to Bar Harbor, Maine from where I live in the suburbs of Chicago, and we got so close to Boston, but didn’t go. I still wish we did, so of course it had to make my list. I mean, who doesn’t want to do a dramatic reenactment of the Boston Tea Party?

  • Los Angeles, California
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Overlooking Los Angeles. Photo credit: AARP 

A few friends of mine who have been to LA swear by it, but I have always been slightly wary because food and things to do there seem so expensive. The good thing is that flying into LAX is usually fairly cheap from Chicago, so to make this one a decent weekend trip is probably completely doable.

  • Southern Italy + Croatia
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Naples, Italy. Photo credit: LT Travel Connection

This would be a big trip. The furthest from the United States I’ve ever been in the Dominican Republic, and honestly, I’m not great with flying. So, being in an airplane for over five hours kind of gives me the creeps, but I would stand it to be in a beautiful location like Southern Italy and the lovely coast of Croatia.

  • Glacier National Park, Montana
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Glacier Nat’l Park. Photo credit: Roadtrippers

During my trip a few months ago, our Amtrak route took us right through Glacier National Park and I was absolutely struck with its beauty. It’s tough to look out at something, want to get out and explore it by foot, but you’re stuck on a train that has no plans to stop anytime soon. I will definitely be going back here for a real trip, hopefully soon.

  • Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
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Random woman overlooking Yellowstone. Photo credit: Travel Wyoming

Yellowstone in the United States first national park, which is already reason enough for me to go. I have seen so many gorgeous photos of trips to Yellowstone that I am basically drooling at this point and need to go. To see one of those geysers in person would really be something.


 

Those are just a few places that I would really like to see in the next two years. It may seem a little bit crazy, and it probably is, but a girl can dream. It’s important to know that travel is also one of my top life priorities, so while some people go out and drink every weekend, I save that money and use it towards my travel fund.

I am excited to see where these feet take me over the next couple of years. If I have any advice, it’s to get out and see your country, wherever you may live. For years, the majority of travel I did was either extremely touristy within the U.S., or I went to all-inclusive vacation spots, so I never fully got to experience the beauty that we have within this country.

What places are you wishing to go to over the next few years?

Thanks for reading and happy unofficial fall,

Emily.

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Travel Diary 2016: Chicago to Acadia National Park.

*I wrote this blog back in January and never uploaded it*

As it snows outside my window, I am immediately filled with travel memories.. to times of warmer weather and adventuring; to one time in particular that happened about six months ago.

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Suburbs of Chicago are freezing in January.

This time last year, I was sitting with my boyfriend Tom planning where in the world we should go for a summer trip. We danced around with the idea of visiting Seattle. We¬†got so far as to planning an entire trip on roadtrippers.com¬†called “West Coast Roadtrip” (original, I know): it was the real deal. But, that trip came to a close when we realized just how far Washington was via driving (28 hours, 2,060 miles to be exact).

So, we did what any people who had absolutely no idea where to go would do.. we pulled up Google maps. We really had this attraction to the New England region, especially the seaside. After a bunch of searching, searching again and searching one more time, we decided on visiting Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Once we had the destination, it was all about where to go. We had to worry about what car to take (we ended up taking my very small, very cute Hyundai Accent), how much gas would cost, what cities we would stop at for the night and make sure we got to Acadia in just a few days. It took a while, but we had everything completely planned and by the time June hit, we were ready to go.

From the suburbs of Chicago, we embarked to our first destination: the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. There are a few things I learned while driving to Niagara: 1. The highway in Canada was essentially one very long, boring road. 2. Nobody is as excited as you are to go to Tim Horton’s. 3. Crossing into Canada from the U.S. will take a little while.

We did eventually get to Niagara after an all-day drive. It was absolutely beautiful and I now understand the hype. We stayed for the night we got there, plus the whole next day and left the following morning. We did basically every touristy thing you can do and had a great time.

We did something called Cave of the Winds where you get to take an elevator down to the base of the falls and walk around. There is a part of it where you are standing right next to the waterfall and the water slams you. It was great.

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After standing under Niagara on Cave of the Winds

Of course, we also did the Maid of the Mist. I would definitely recommend doing Cave of the Winds OVER Maid of the Mist, since the majority of the time on the “Maid” was spent trying not to freeze to death and attempting to see through the very thick mist (it doesn’t have it’s name for NOTHIN’). Both were amazing though.

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On the Maid of the Mist

After our day and a quarter of exploring Niagara (and 10 m we were onto our next destination. This one was really just a “we need to sleep somewhere” stop: Keene, New Hampshire. It turned out to be a pleasant stay. On the way to Keene, we made a lunch stop in Syracuse, NY, which I was a big fan of! We ate at a place called Funk N’ Waffles (it was on Diners, Drive-in’s and Dives) where they had a turkey dinner waffle. It sounds gross, but I promise it was amazing.

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Jive TURKEY (Not Tuerkey) from Funk N’ Waffles

Later that day, driving into New Hampshire was when our roadtrip views started to get beautiful. Upstate New York was started the hills, and from there we were driving through essentially small mountain ranges in Vermont. Vermont is the prettiest, most natural looking place I have ever been in the U.S. If you ever have to drive through it for any reason.. do it.  I am still wishing that I could drive through that area again.

In Vermont, we came across a small shop on the side of the road that sold honey and maple syrup, so naturally we got both.. and I have never had anything as good as either of those in my whole life. 10/10 recommend driving to Vermont just for some maple syrup.

We did eventually get to Keene, NH, where we stayed the night. My favorite moment from Keene was when we went to get some Panera for dinner and they had a lobster roll on the menu. As midwesterners, we were shocked, and told the Panera employee who couldn’t believe we didn’t have it on the menu in Chicago. Basically, this was when our trip started to feel very New Englandy.

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Side of the road in Vermont

The next morning we packed back into the car and headed towards our real destination, our cozy AirBNB in Lamoine, ME (right outside of Bar Harbor). We drove a lot on this trip, so much that it started to just seem natural to sit in a car for 9 hours a day. When we entered Maine, I really wanted to see the ocean, we pulled off at a random, small beach community and walked down to touch the water. It was a crappy, rainy, cloudy day.. but it was incredible to me.

We were planning to stop in Portland, ME for lunch and spending a few ¬†hours looking around, but we got hungry before that and ended up in the town of Kennebunkport. It was pouring rain, we were a little bit hangry and sick of driving, but we had lunch at a small little restaurant. Tom got his first lobster roll there, which he thought was the best one ever, but he hadn’t tried any others yet in Maine.

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Our lovely Airbnb.

Later that afternoon, we finally got to our AirBNB. It was a long, long road to get there, but we did and it felt incredible. That night we drove into the town of Bar Harbor and had dinner at an Irish pub at sunset overlooking the bay. It was there that we found Bar Harbor Tom:

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The next week was filled with a ton of adventure, from exploring downtown Bar Harbor, to taking a trolly all the way to the top of Cadillac Mountain, we truly got the (probably touristy) Maine experience. I’ll let this picture slide show take you through what we experienced:

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Here is a video from Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park. This place was so amazing:

This was our first big adventure together. It was honestly fantastic and much better than we even hoped. If you ever get the chance to get out to Bar Harbor, I highly suggest it.

Our trip took place from the middle to end of June. The weather was in the 60’s-70’s, so it’s nice, but don’t expect this to be a beach vacation.

Let me know where your favorite place to travel is in the comments.


 

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