2016: A Year in Review

But actually, when did it become the end of 2016…. This year totally flew by for me! 2016 was a year filled with personal milestones, professional development and lots & lots of travel. Here is a quick recap of my year in review for 2016!

January

My year started off with quite a bang — literally lots and lots of firecrackers on the streets of Guatemala. It was such a fun way to ring in the new year and soaking in some local culture! I headed back to Chicago after NYE to hit the ground running in my newly promoted position at Greenheart Travel as a program manager.

February 

Month #2 of the year was a pretty quiet one for me. I spent a lot of time nesting at my new condo, snuggling with my cats and trying to stay warm. I took one long weekend trip to Colorado for a family ski trip, which was a nice change in pace. We had beautiful weather while we were out there making it one of my favorite visits to Breckenridge!

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March

March was a really busy month for me — I was out of town every weekend that month! I had trips to Detroit, Irvine, Florida and Madison both for work and for fun. Although it was a very welcome distraction from winter, being away that many consecutive weekends definitely took a toll on me.

April

April started out beautifully — Sam proposed to me! The proposal itself wasn’t a surprise since we had already chosen a wedding date & venue, but it was a sweet & romantic way to begin my spring season. I just kept riding that high all month! Spending a week in Mexico was another highlight of April when me & my fellow Greenheart Travel colleagues took our annual retreat in San Miguel de Allende. Then we took some vacation time to visit Guanajuato and Mexico City. This trip really opened my eyes to all the awesome things that Mexico has to offer, and I look forward to returning in 2017!

May

May is my birthday month, although I am not a big celebrator. In fact, I really don’t like birthdays… Thankfully May this year was pretty low-key, which was a much needed break from a busy spring travel schedule. I went to Denver for a long weekend to celebrate my sister’s graduation, but other than that, I mostly hung out in Chicago enjoying the nice weather. This is also the month when I bought my wedding dress!

June

I had no, I repeat, NO trips in June! It was the only month of the year that I didn’t travel. Summer is my busiest season at work and June is when it really starts ramping up. As such, I didn’t really mind being in Chicago the whole month. I spent my weekends exploring the restaurant and food scene in Chicago, enjoying all kinds of new restaurants across the city. Although my waist line took a hit, I loved eating out in Logan Square, Wicker Park and West Loop.

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July

This was my fullest travel month of the year and I had been planning for it over the course of the year. I went to the TBEX conference in Stockholm, then a work trip to Spain and then personal vacation to Iceland with my friend Angie. I was gone for nearly 3 weeks exploring various countries in Europe, eating all kinds of tasty goodies and enjoying beautiful scenery. I managed to cross off two new destinations from my bucket list — Iceland and Sweden — alongside a work trip to Madrid, Granada and Ibiza in Spain.  July was a month that I’ll never forget!

August

August was a little frantic for me with only 6 weeks until my wedding. I managed to catch up on work and wedding planning after being gone for 3 weeks, but there were a lot of emails sent that month! I also traveled to Santa Fe for my bachelorette party. I spent my weekend in New Mexico being pampered, eating delicious food and looking at Native American art. It was exactly what I wanted out of my bachelorette party!

September

Of course, September was my highlight of the whole year — it was the month I got married!I absolutely loved everything about our wedding at Camp Wandawega. In fact, we had 3 different wedding celebrations so it was a month long affair! Celebrating our actual wedding day for the whole weekend with our closest friends and family was the greatest way to start a marriage I could ever have imagined :) So much love for the people in our lives!

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October

After a month long wedding celebration, we headed off to our honeymoon in Portugal. As the travel junkie that I am, I was actually more excited about our honeymoon than our wedding (although my wedding proved to be far more fun & beautiful than I expected). We started off our trip in Portugal in Lisbon & Sintra, and then road tripped our way up the small nation. We made stops along the coast, in the Douro Wine Valley and in Porto. I loved every second of our honeymoon and came back with a happy belly and beautiful memories.

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November

November was a month filled with a little happiness and a lot of sadness. The Cubs won the World Series!! I loved being in Chicago for that and there was such a happy & optimistic energy across the city. But then only a few days later, the US election happened. I don’t write much about politics on my blog, but in my personal life, I am incredibly political. Throughout this year, I followed the election very closely and consumed a ton of political media. It was one of the few things I could focus on besides wedding planning. Unfortunately, the election did not turn out the way I had hoped so I spent the rest of November in mourning. I don’t have much more to say about that. It was a rough month….

December

Although I’m still reeling over the events of November, I welcomed in December as a much needed change of pace. I liked having Christmas to look forward to, since I wasn’t feeling optimistic about much else. I was happy to spend the holidays at home this year, especially because this winter has had a lot more adverse weather than last year. Traveling has been a bitch! I took one long weekend to ski out in Colorado, but other than that, I mainly stuck around the Midwest for December.

Although 2016 was shitty for a lot of people for a lot of reasons, my 2016 was overall pretty great. I had a lot of accomplishments to be proud of — a promotion at work, getting married to my best friend, traveling to 6 international destinations — and looking back, I will remember it fondly. Admittedly 2016 didn’t end on a high note given the US political climate, but it was a year full of growth, new opportunities and happiness for me personally.

Curious about where I’ll be traveling in 2017? You can bet it’ll be adventurous! Check out my upcoming travel plans here.

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Author: Megan Arz

I am a travel and food obsessed Midwesterner living in Chicago and dreaming of the world. I work as a full-time program manager for Greenheart Travel, but I am also committed to integrating the travel lifestyle into my every day routines. I am passionate about ethical travel, meeting new people, creating unique memories and eating local cuisine!

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