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2018 Year in Review – Travel Highlights
As 2018 comes to an end, I can’t help but reflect on the adventures and opportunities this year presented. From the lantern lit streets of Hoi An to tropical treetops in Tulum, 2018 was a year full of exploring new and old locations. Please join me as I travel back month-by-month to share some of my favorite travel pictures and stories from 2018.

Admiring Mount Fuji in Japan

Dec 31, 2018 | Global Travel, Travel

2018 Year in Review – Travel Highlights

Written by Megan Marie

As 2018 comes to an end, I can’t help but reflect on the adventures and opportunities this year presented. From the lantern lit streets of Hoi An to tropical treetops in Tulum, 2018 was a year full of exploring new and old locations. Please join me as I travel back month-by-month to share some of my favorite travel pictures and stories from 2018.

Hoi An, Vietnam

January 2018 – Vietnam

If you read my previous post about my Vietnam Trip Highlights, you know how spontaneous that trip was. I snagged an extremely affordable flight deal from LAX to Hanoi in January (at an incredible $429 round trip to be exact!). With little time to plan and a short 9 days in Vietnam, I chose to spend my time exploring the North and Central areas: Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, and Hoi An.

My favorite memories from this trip were exploring the lantern filled streets of Hoi An. I ended up bringing home so many lanterns as memories from this magical place.

Traveling to Vietnam was also the first time I’ve felt truly lonely on a solo trip. Working full-time for the past 3.5 years has made me increasingly exhausted on these long, international trips. Leaving for the airport straight from the office, taking a 20+ hour flight to the other side of the world, and planning a whirlwind 9 day trip only to return to my desk job after another 20+ hour flight cursed with jet lag has begun to take toll on my otherwise enthusiastic travels. During this trip, I vowed to travel with friends or family moving forward. I’m not sure how likely this is… but I will let you know! 😛

The famous lantern-lined streets of Hoi An, Vietnam

Hanoi, Vietnam - A Concrete Jungle
Hoi An Markets
Hoi An at night
Street Food Tour in Hanoi

My favorite memories from this trip were exploring the lantern filled streets of Hoi An.

February – California

My visit to Northern California in February started as a trip to San Francisco for work. I ended up booking a ticket to head out to San Jose ahead of time to stay with a friend for the weekend prior to the work week. We explored the San Francisco area, Santa Cruz and Capitola Beach.

March – Japan

This year’s trip to Japan takes home the gold for the most amazing trip. Japan proved to be an incredibly unique and safe country. I would recommend it to anyone looking to travel to Asia for the first time.

My younger brother, Peter, has a keen interest in Japan and asked if I would plan a trip with him for his Spring Break in March. Peter, Sri, and I ended up traveling for one week to Japan on the most amazing, DIY itinerary.

We started our trip in Tokyo and celebrated Peter’s Birthday at one of the best ramen restaurants – Ippudo. When we discovered that Tokyo Disney Sea is one of the more affordable Disney Parks and ranked as the #1 Theme Park in the world, we booked tickets almost immediately and spent our first full day in Tokyo enjoying the parks.

After our short stint in Tokyo, we hopped on the Shinkansen, or better known as the “Bullet Train”, to Kyoto. However, before arriving in Kyoto, we decided to stay for one night at the Mizuno Hotel. This hotel overlooks Mount Fuji and the surrounding lake and is by far the best, underrated hotel I’ve ever stayed at.

The photos of Mount Fuji were taken on our hotel balcony as we enjoyed the complimentary tea and honey provided. Our stay at the Mizuno Hotel was the highlight of our trip. It was also our first experience staying in traditional Japanese housing, known as a ryokan. This type of housing provides bedding on the floor. Before you are taken-aback at how uncomfortable that may sound, it was surprisingly comfortable and an amazing cultural experience.

After our short stop at Mount Fuji, we headed down to Kyoto – Japan’s former capital and known for its Geishas.

After exploring Kyoto for a few days, we headed back to Tokyo on the Shinkansen and explored some of its most famous districts: Shibuya, Shinjuku, Harajuku, Akihabara, and more.

Sri & I admiring Mount Fuji
Geishas in the Gion District of Kyoto
Santa Cruz, California
Peter admiring Mount Fuji from our hotel balcony
Tokyo at night
Kyoto, Japan

April – Oregon

In late April, Sri and two of our friends from work found cheap tickets on Frontier Airlines to Portland Oregon. We ended up spending about 4 days road-tripping around the beautiful Oregon State.

Hiking Smith Rock State Park in Bend, Oregon
Visiting Tillamook Dairy Farm in Oregon
Multnohmah Falls, Oregon
Visiting the Tulip Festival in Oregon
The best roadtrip crew in Oregon

April – Rhode Island

About a week after returning to Oregon, Frontier Airlines had yet another amazing flight deal. This time to Providence, Rhode Island! I never had the desire to visit Rhode Island because frankly, the little state was never on my radar until I found this flight deal.

I booked tickets with a friend of mine for a short weekend. Instead of exploring the small state’s capital, we headed to Jackie Kennedy’s former town of residence, Newport, RI.

My friend and I booked the cutest Bed & Breakfast called the Marshall Slocum Inn, which was situated within walking distance to the pier and bus stop. During our short time in Newport, we explored a mansion that was filmed in the original Great Gatsby, indulged in afternoon tea at a posh hotel, gossiped over drinks at the Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar, tasted delicious New England wine at an adorable winery, and strolled along the famous Cliff Walk before departing for our flight.

Admiring castles along the Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island
At the Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island
Treating ourselves to New England wine

May – Cinnamon Shore’s in Port Aransas, TX

If you’ve read my previous post about our annual family trip to Cinnamon Shore’s in Port A, you’ll know why this specific vacation rental spot continues to be a place we look forward to visiting every year.

Cinnamon Shore is a home away from home. Seeing that sits along the Gulf Coast and is not too far from home, I can see why it’s a hidden treasure for our family and other South Texas residents.

Enjoying the Sun & Sea at Cinnamon Shore in Port Aransas, Texas

Admiring Petra's Treasury

At the Grand Cenote in Tulum, Mexico

Exploring Cenotes in Tulum

June – Tulum

For Sri’s birthday this year, I wanted to take him on an international trip somewhere close to home. We chose the coveted and highly recommended Tulum, Mexico. My previous post and Tulum Travel Guide outlines our detailed itinerary and shares a few pictures that will have you booking a ticket to Tulum as we speak!

We stayed at Kasa Tulum in a developing, vacation neighborhood. The accommodation was incredibly cheap for the quality of your stay. We booked the Penthouse Suite, which was complete with our own private rooftop pool, barbecue pit, hammocks, living room, full kitchen, and more.

Views from the Tulum Ruins
At Azulik Resort in Tulum
Made a new friend at the Tulum Ruins
Enjoying delicious Acai bowls at Matcha Mama in Tulum

July – London & Seville, Spain

For those of you who know me personally, I have a deep attachment and longing for London. I spent 6 months studying abroad there and fell in love with the city. Since then, I try to visit once every year or two with my favorite travel companion, Ingrid.

Ingrid and I both studied abroad in London together along with our friend Stephanie, who resides in London now because she met and married a Brit. Ingrid and I visited Stephanie in July for a week and ended up squeezing in a mini-trip to Seville, Spain.

This July trip blurb deserves an entire post so bear with me as I try to keep things short and sweet. During our trip to Seville, I completely fell in love with this beautiful and romantic Spanish city. I never saw anything like it! I previously traveled to Madrid and Barcelona and appreciate Spanish culture but traveling to Seville was something out of a fairy-tale.

We sauntered around the city admiring the Spanish and Arab architecture. Because Seville is situated in the South of Spain, it boasts Arab and Spanish architecture in the buildings. I was inspired to visit this gorgeous Spanish city after reading blog posts from two of my favorite travel bloggers: Rosie the Londoner and Gal Meets Glam. I linked their Seville posts to their names. If my photos don’t convince you to take a trip to Seville, Gal Meets Glam and Rosie Londoner’s definitely will!

We stayed at a gorgeous boutique hotel called, Hotel Casa 1800 Seville. Hotel Casa 1800 is actually a resorted mansion-palace that preserved most of its original architectural elements making it absolutely stunning. It is nestled in the historic center of Seville, right next to the Cathedral and Giralda Tower (seen above). The hotel boasts its own private rooftop pool with panoramic views of Seville and the Cathedral and offers complimentary bottled water, afternoon tea, and breakfast.

Sunset on our rooftop in Seville, Spain
Strolling around Seville, Spain
Beautiful hotel interiors in Seville, Spain
The gorgeous alleyways in Seville, Spain
Parliament in London, England

Parliament in London, England

Admiring Petra's Treasury

Early mornings on the Brooklyn Bridge

A City That Never Sleeps

August – Kentucky

August brought about yet another spontaneous Frontier Airlines trip, but this time to Ohio and & Kentucky. My good friend Katie invited me to the pre-opening “Family & Friends” event at Castle & Key Distillery I wrote about my experience in a previous post here.

September – New York City

Over labor day and for my birthday, Sri and I flew up to New York City again. We grew to love this city together and have a few friends that we continue to visit in the city.

During our short stay in the city, we chose to stay at the SoHo Grand Hotel and ended up seeing The Lion King on Broadway for the first time!

Sunset in Soho
Castle & Key Distillery - Kentucky
Castle & Key Distillery - Kentucky
Castle & Key Distillery - Kentucky
Castle & Key Distillery - Kentucky

October – Utah

I think we can now dub 2018 as the year of Frontier Airlines flights! With that, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to tell you that I found, yet again, another cheap flight to Salt Lake City, Utah in the middle of October. I coordinated a trip to go fall leaf peeping and hiking with my best friend from college, Marie, and my sister.


Admiring Petra's Treasury

Fall foliage in Utah

We stayed at a cozy AirBnb on the outskirts of Salt Lake City with quick and easy access to the mountains. We spent most of the weekend in Big Cottonwood Canyon exploring the gorgeous landscapes Utah has to offer.

We ended up doing little in Salt Lake City itself, with the exception of an off-Broadway improve comedy show at the OBT in Salt Lake. Otherwise, we spent most of our time doing beginner and intermediate hikes around Big Cottonwood Canyon and ended up stumbling upon Oktoberfest nestled in the mountains.

Utah ended up being another state that was not at the top of my list but now has a special place in my heart.

December – Pennsylvania

I traveled to Pennsylvania to with my mom via (guess who?!) Frontier Airlines to visit my grandpa for his 85th birthday. We flew into Philadelphia and traveled to Eastern Pennsylvania for a few family reunions.

The last time we were in Pennsylvania was in July last year. You can read more about our summer trip to Gettysburg here.

A Year End Summary of 2018

If you made it this far down into the post, you probably noticed a few trends in 2018: spontaneous Frontier Airlines flights (thank you, Frontier!), exotic destinations, and traveling with friends and family. I can’t imagine 2019 being any different and hope it brings more of the same!

So far, I have a trip booked in January to Ecuador to visit and old friend and a trip to Thailand in February. This will be my first time to either country and to the continent of South America! I cannot wait to share this with you.

Now enough about me – what does 2019 have in store for you?

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