2018 Traverse Blog Travel Recap

I just returned from an 8 day sailing adventure in Croatia with Intrepid travel, where I learned some valuable lessons on what to pack and what not to pack. This is the ultimate packing guide for a sailing adventure abroad, complete with items for everyday use, tips for maximizing your packing efforts and things to avoid bringing. 

With 2018 coming to a close, it is time for my annual Traverse Blog travel recap post! Ever since starting my 12 trips in 12 months initiative in 2015, it has been a fun exercise to write this travel summary because it reminds me of all the amazing travel opportunities I’ve had over the past year. I am so incredibly lucky to have so many chances to travel in a given year, and this post helps remind me to feel grateful for this privilege.

2018 has been another travel-filled year for me and I broke my record this year with 22 trips in one year. That is nearly 2 per month! There are times when I run myself ragged with all this travel, but it is one of the things that I love most in the world, so even when I am run down, I am filled with joy and gratitude for all the travel in my life!

Here is a summary of the 22 trips I completed in 2018.


The year started with one of my biggest trips over the last 12 months—Finland! We went to Finland to visit two friends who were living there and discovered that we loved traveling to winter destinations. From the relaxing sauna culture to the dreamy winter vibes in Lapland, Finland was an incredible way to start the year. Less than two weeks after returning from Finland, Sam and I were off again! We headed to Dallas, Texas to visit my in-laws who live there. I had been to Dallas once before, but this time around I made an effort to try some new things in the city, discovering all sorts of surprising foodie spots in Dallas!


Sticking to domestic destinations for the spring of 2018, San Diego was my next trip. I went to San Diego to visit a friend of mine who had recently moved there, having an absolute blast exploring some of her local favorites. I spent 5 days exploring everything that San Diego had to offer, discovering 5 amazing tacos to love! Later in February, I flew to Colorado for my annual family ski trip in Breckenridge which is always one of my most-laid back trips of the year. I’ve been out there so many times now that I can count on these weekends to be relaxing and adventurous all at once!


Over the first weekend in March, I spent a much needed girls weekend in Savannah traveling with my best friend Maryam. We didn’t go into the trip with too many plans, which left us totally open to discover interesting things in Savannah, Georgia. A highlight from that trip was definitely the racial history tour we took which opened my eyes to chapters of American history that I knew very little about. Less than a week after getting back from Savannah, I was off to Florida for another family trip. Similar to Colorado, Florida is one of those destinations that I’ve visited many times so I can fully relax and decompress without the pressure of feeling like I have to pack my travel schedule.


Every year in April, Greenheart Travel does their annual staff retreat and this year we headed to Galveston Texas. It was a relaxing two days at the beach, and I wound up extending my trip for a long weekend because I wanted to explore Houston with my cousin who moved there! In Texas and my next trip, I had a few weeks at home to catch up on life with Sam and my beautiful furbabies before I took off for Detroit. Detroit was the first stop on my 2 week solo roadtrip through southern Canada, where I fell in love with even more restaurants in this up-and-coming city!


My big adventure in May was my 2 week solo roadtrip through southern Canada. I haven’t written much about this trip yet, but I hope to soon. The idea behind this roadtrip came after looking up flights to Quebec City for the Women in Travel Summit and seeing some outrageous flight costs. I mapped out what it would cost to do a roadtrip and noticed all sorts of Canadian destinations that I wanted to visit along the way. After going back and forth about it for a few weeks, I decided to pull the trigger and plan the trip! I drove nearly 2300 miles all by myself, stopping at cities like Toronto (where I ate some seriously delicious food!), Ottawa and Montreal in addition to my final destination of Quebec City. I thought doing a solo roadtrip would get lonely or be challenging, but I actually loved my experience!


After my roadtrip, I didn’t travel again until mid-June which was a great break. I really needed a few weeks at home to enjoy summer in Chicago, spend time with Sam and just generally catch up on life. As much as I love traveling, I also love living in a city as dynamic and interesting as Chicago, because it feels like I’m traveling and discovering new things in my own city. There were plenty of new restaurants to try in my Logan Square neighborhood, and I also did a segway tour which was surprisingly fun! For June, my trips included a long weekend in Cleveland for a family wedding and a roadtrip to Grand Rapids with my dear friend Chase. I haven’t written too much about either of these trips (can you tell I’m a little behind on my editorial calendar!) but hopefully you’ll be seeing content from those shortly!


July was a pretty quiet month for me this year, with only one trip to nearby Milwaukee. I led a girl’s day trip to Milwaukee on behalf of Wanderful, a women’s travel organization that I am part of in Chicago. We had a blast wandering in the Third Ward and Walker’s Point, exploring breweries, local eateries and street art. I learned some valuable lessons about traveling in your hometown after seeing the city through the eyes of other travelers.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin is a city full of delicious food, beautiful architecture and unique sights to explore. This 24 hour travel guide gives you the perfect itinerary to see the best of Milwaukee in one day.


August started off with two back-to-back trips to Kansas City and Ann Arbor Michigan. I spent 5 days in Kansas City, but this time I ventured over to the Kansas side of the city. Kansas City continues to be one of my favorite cities in the Midwest and I’ll be driving through again on my way home from my Semester at Sea training in Colorado to visit my friend Jess! Following Kansas City, came my biggest trip of 2018– two weeks in Croatia with Intrepid Travel! Sam and I left in late August for a sailing adventure along the Croatia coast, visiting several islands and cities. I fell in love with Zagreb, Croatia, had an absolute blast sailing wth Intrepid Travel and visited super interesting spots like the Blue Cave!


After two weeks in Croatia, September was a fairly quiet month for travel. The fall weather in Chicago was absolutely stunning this year, so I wasn’t the least bit sad to be at home for a few weeks. My main trip in September was to Austin for TravelCon by Nomadic Matt. I added on a few extra days to the conference to see my in-laws who came down from Dallas. During my freetime in Austin, I managed to squeeze in some serious culinary adventures!


October was a month full of transition. I quit my job at Greenheart Travel in preparation for my new job with Semester at Sea, which was a bittersweet feeling. I genuinely enjoyed my time working at Greenheart Travel and I am so grateful for all the close friends that I made. It was the place where I solidified my passion for travel and working in the travel space. While I was feeling sad about leaving, I was also feeling incredibly excited for the new opportunities ahead. To celebrate Sam’s 30th birthday, I did something special in October– I planned a secret trip for him! He didn’t know the destination and I even packed for him, so that when we arrived at the airport, I could reveal the location which was Mexico City! We spent 3 days exploring CDMX, eating amazing food, and spending some quality time together.


November rolled around so quickly this year. It really snuck up on me, but November is the month that my 2019 reality started coming into focus. I was going to be leaving aboard a ship once again, traveling the world for 4 months. Until this point, it hadn’t really felt real but then I got in my car to make the long drive out to Colorado for my 6 weeks of onboarding training at Semester at Sea. That’s when it really hit me and I started to get nervous, excited, anxious and thrilled all at once. I was happy to have the solo roadtrip drive so I could settle my feelings down and process all the transition. Before leaving for Fort Collins, I made a quick weekend stop in Madison, WI to visit some longtime friends one last time before leaving for SAS. And just like every year, I visited my extended family for Thanksgiving in Waverly, Illinois which always proves to be a very special and memorable weekend. I have to give a special shout out to our turkey day hosts, Martha and Steve, who throw simply the best Thanksgiving I could ever ask for — with what I am convinced is the world’s best stuffing and pecan pie! 


With only 4 weeks to go until leaving for Semester at Sea, December went by in a blur. I spent the first two weeks finishing up my training in Fort Collins and then spending a long weekend in Breckenridge for some alone time with my family. It was a nice way to recap and finalize my last 6 weeks in Colorado and I am so grateful for the opportunity to live out here for a little while. I have a feeling this won’t be the last that Colorado sees of me… Sam and I had a fast-paced last 10 days in Chicago with lots of packing, cat snuggles and Christmas cooking before taking off for California on December 27th. We are ringing in the New Year in Joshua Tree and Palm Springs, and then we get on the MV World Odyssey ship on January 2nd.

Here is the full list of all 22 places that I visited in 2018!

  1. January — Helsinki, Finland
  1. January — Dallas, Texas
  1. February — San Diego, California
  1. February — Breckenridge, Colorado
  1. March — Savannah, Georgia
  1. March — Breckenridge, Colorado
  1. March — Naples, Florida
  1. April — Galveston & Houston, Texas
  1. April — Detroit, Michigan
  1. May — Canadian Road Trip
  1. June — Cleveland, Ohio
  1. June — Grand Rapids, Michigan  
  1. July — Kansas City, Kansas & Missouri
  1. August — Ann Arbor, Michigan
  1. August — Croatia Sailing Adventure with Intrepid Travel
  1. September — Austin, Texas
  1. October — Naples, Florida
  1. October — Mexico City, Mexico
  1. November — Fort Collins, Colorado
  1. November — Springfield, Illinois
  1. December — Breckenridge, Colorado
  2. December — San Diego, California

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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