December 13 is our ten year wedding anniversary. That means we’ve been exploring the world together for ten years.  I’m only 30, so realizing that 10 years is one-third of my life is crazy.  But, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  In celebration of the anniversary, I thought I’d start a series on my blog in order to reminisce about some of the highlights of our ten years of traveling together.  If you like sentimentality, you will love this.  If you don’t, I’m real sorry.

One thing I’m thankful for is TripAdvisor.  I’ve been using TripAdvisor since June 2010, and it has kept track of so many things for me.  I used to review every sight and hotel we went to when I got home.  (I’ve gotten a little lax on that lately.)  However, it gives these handy maps that lets me see how much of the world we’ve traveled.

121,400 miles- 12 percent of the world traveled

3 continents

17 countries

169 cities

It’s amazing how many places we’ve been and yet still haven’t seen 88 percent of the world.  I feel like Willy Wonka.  “So much time and so little to do. Strike that. Reverse it.”  We still have many more years to explore some of the parts (and continents) we haven’t visited.

Ten years of travel: the highlights

Honeymooning in Italy

This was our honeymoon, and it was on this trip we were bit with the travel bug.  This was our first experience with jet lag, trying to communicate in a foreign country, and just getting out of our comfort zone. There were so many things we didn’t know.  Jared stayed up all night researching Rome and we were able to walk around and explore the city on foot with a guidebook.  We couldn’t believe that you could turn a corner and see ancient ruins just sitting there.  We ate pizza and drank wine.  It was such a great introduction into the world of travel.

A spontaneous trip to Mammoth Cave

On one Friday morning in May, we decided to drive to Mammoth Cave.  We stopped in Elizabethtown for the night, and the next day took a tour of the cave.  The spontaneity of getting up and just going was exciting.  We wanted to travel together, and even though we had hardly any money, we just did it anyways. I can’t even find a picture of this.  This was back when I got photos developed and put them into a scrapbook.  You know, back when we still used paper.

Freezing in Chicago

This was our one-year anniversary trip.  Jared surprised me with a weekend trip to Chicago in January.  We flew on super cheap Southwest Airlines flights, and used coupons for free cocktails en route.  To this day, it was the coldest I’ve ever been.  We got museum passes and walked around the city visiting the sites.  I think what sticks out to me is traveling even when we had very little money and were trying to buy a house.  We still just went!

The cheapest beach trip 

For a brief time, Jared worked for a hotel setting up their AV for meetings.  This meant we got mad discounts on hotels all over the country.  We took major advantage of this and got to stay in Hilton-brand 5 start hotels all over the country for $30-$50 a night.  (As a side note, Embassy Suites and Hampton Inns are the best.  They have the most comfortable beds and hot breakfasts.)  We stayed at an Embassy Suites hotel in Fort Lauderdale for $40 a night.  We didn’t rent a car, because that was too expensive.  We walked, took the bus or the sun trolley everywhere we wanted to go.  We walked to the grocery store and purchased stuff to make breakfast and lunch.  We enjoyed a beautiful beach vacation for super cheap.

Probably our favorite all-around trip

I think this is our favorite trip.  When someone asks me what was my favorite, I think of this trip.  It had everything I love all in one package: history, romance, good weather, good food, wonderful sightseeing, introspective.  We flew into London, took day trips by train to a few different cities, and then we ended the trip in Paris.  Train travel was so much fun.  We loved England.  We loved eating the food and enjoying the romantic ambiance of Paris.  We went to our favorite museum in Paris: Musee de l’Orangerie.  We didn’t know it would become our favorite, but we always end up talking about it when someone asks.  Spending a day in the Cotswolds was a dream.  I wish I could do this exact trip again.  I know if I tried to recreate it, it just wouldn’t be the same.  So it remains a beautiful memory.

Our favorite country

Ecuador always rises to the top as the best country I’ve visited. It was affordable and adventurous. We experienced a variety of so many things in 10 days that it was remarkable.  We hiked around a caldera, went horseback riding, bartered at a market, stayed on a dairy farm, got massages at a natural hot spring, stayed in the Amazon jungle and hiked.  We experienced so much stuff and actually went home with money.  We brought more than we needed and had the best time.  We have been talking about going back since the day we left. We will definitely go back here again.

 

Stay tuned for the next episode of “Ten years of travel.”  Next week, I’ll be highlighting our favorite hikes over the decade.

Nina Thomas

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