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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2017 Has Arrived

It seems like it wasn't that long ago that I was writing this blog post to welcome 2016. How has the year gone by so fast? I guess it flies when you're having fun, which much of 2016 was for us, despite it being a dumpster fire for a lot of peeps and, at times, for us. It ended on a high note, which is more than we can ever hope for.

happy new year

We got up to a lot this year and I thought I'd share some highlights, travel and fun at home:

I took a solo road trip to Vegas in March to go to the Travel Goods show, which I came away from with a whole slew of funky new products and a new appreciation for solo travel.

In May, my mom and the dog and I took a road trip to Montana, which was mostly a press trip, but also a good trip for both of us to get away from the stresses that were back home. 

In July, I was back in Vegas with Eric for our annual trip for the NBA Summer League. Our friends didn't come with us this year, so we did a lot more sightseeing and visiting family. Here we are "flying" Wayne Newton's plane at Shenandoah, which I would highly recommend.

In August, we had our annual Harry Potter party (usually held in July). We finally perfected the fun with sortings (as you see Bellatrix doing here), wand choosing, trivia and, of course, some delicious wizarding sweets and treats. If you're wondering, I'm dressed as Ron Weasley, my BFF and I thought us going as a couple, she was Hermione, was hilarious. You can see some other pics here, along with those from a few other Potter activities we engaged in, like the midnight release of Cursed Child, which was more fun than the book, and a fundraiser we went to with the Harry Potter Alliance. And you know I jumped at the chance to go to a premier party for the new Fantastic Beasts movie, which was, in fact, fantastic

In October we headed to the Big Easy. This was a first for both of us, as neither had been to New Orleans before. We were only there a week, but we got a lot packed into the trip and seemed to get some of their better weather for a majority of the trip. 

It was my birthday in early December, so I threw myself a party. Since we keep Hogwarts up from end of July until Jan 1, and the Fantastic Beasts movie came out in November, I mashed the two together and dressed the house a bit like the Forbidden Forest and added fantastic beasts! To complete the theme, I asked people to come dressed as their own fantastic beast or a wizard/witch. Here I am as an owl!

Less than a week after my birthday party, we were at the airport again. This time, we headed to Anaheim, where we hit up Disneyland, California Adventure and Universal Studios to visit the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade. I'll admit, it wasn't quite as good as the one in Orlando, but it was a bit different, which still made it fun. Also, Grinchmas was happening, and the Festival of Holidays was in full swing at California Adventure. 

We got into town in early afternoon and took this opportunity to drive straight to Burbank to check out the Warner Bros Studio Tour. It was amazing! I would highly recommend it, especially while the Fantastic Beasts/Harry Potter exhibit is there.

photo taken by my husband's aunt, Beth Pappas - I'll be headed back to this awesome coffee shop in Vegas

I've achieved a few things this year, including being included on a few great blogging lists: 
  • I was added to the list of Best Budget Travel Blogs to Read in 2016 by CreditDonkey.
  • Survey Bee included me in the Best Money Savings Blogs of 2016
  • I made it onto the USA Today's 10Best Budget Travel Blogs of 2016 list, thanks to many of you!
  • Just recently, I have gotten a big boost in traffic from an article I contributed to. A reader from Forbes asked me what my best suggestions for budget destinations were for 2017 and combined my tips with 13 other experts (her words, not mine).
  • I started a new writing job for a business-to-client magazine, contributing to their travel articles. I don't have a copy of the first article yet, but soon, and when I have it, you know I'll share it! If you remember, last year I was hoping to get this goal accomplished, and I asked the Voodoo spirits to help me out to accomplish it by spring, which appears to have manifested quite a bit more quickly than expected.
This year I hope to keep up with my writing off-blog, as well as on the blog. I am planning to work more on my social media game and work on marketing with this new (to me) magazine. 

photo credit
We've decided to put our plans to visit Toronto on the back burner for the time being, but we are still planning our Halloween travel plans for 2018 and have just booked ourselves into a timeshare in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands for fall. If I'm lucky, I might get to work with their tourism board, as they are trying to gain more visitors to their little island, and you know I'll be telling you about all the awesome I find there.

I'll be headed back to the Travel Goods Show in Vegas in April. Since it was pushed back, I already had plans to go in February (when it was originally scheduled) with my Mom for her birthday, so I'll be going a total of three times this year, including our regularly scheduled getaway for the NBA Summer League. I hope I win big on at least one of those trips. We may add another trip in there somewhere, but so far that's what we have going on this year. 

Keep up with my achievements, extra tips and guest postings by following me on Facebook and Twitter or signing up for my newsletter (it goes out just twice per month). Get a little more inspiration by joining me on Pinterest and Instagram. I look forward to bringing you more travel tips, overviews and reviews in the new year. {If there's something in particular you'd like to see more of (packing, a specific destination, car rentals, etc...) please, please, please leave a comment about it. I want to bring you valuable info that you can use.} 

Does anyone have awesome travel plans they're excited about? (Or trips they already took in 2016?) Also, Happy New Year!

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