Reflections from the Road | Vol. 21

Happy New Year, my dears, and Happy 4-year Anniversary to Angie Away! Can you believe it was New Year’s Eve 2010 that I boarded my flight to Fiji to kick off this whole adventure? Forty-eight months, 600+ posts, dozens of freelance articles, TV appearances & speaking engagements and hundreds of thousands of miles later, I’m still here, traveling and writing about all the ups and downs that come with this crazy life.

… about those ups and downs. While occasionally I write about travel mishaps, by and large, traveling is a positive experience and I’m glass half-full kind of gal. I realize that this may cause folks to think that this life is all shiny and wonderful all the time. I assure you – it isn’t all fun & flights & fancy hotels.

The truth is, 2014 has been a challenging year. I really try not to navel-gaze too much (on Angie Away – heaven knows I do it way too much in my own head) or to capitalize on tragedy to get attention (believe it or not, negativity often translates to pageviews), so that’s why I only get sentimental in my quarterly Reflections from the Road posts. But needless to say, I’ve appreciated you all so much as I navigated some tricky waters this year, so thank you for always sticking with me – even if you didn’t know I was just treading water.

Travel isn't always perfect.

Travel isn’t always perfect.

Since my last update, I’ve been flying and cruising all over the place, touching down in 4 countries, 4 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, and sailing both the Aegean & the Atlantic on ships.

Here’s a recap of the highs, lows, lessons and next steps for Angie Away.

So excited to be at the White House Travel Blogger Summit!

So excited to be at the White House Travel Blogger Summit!

Highs

The White House Travel Blogger Summit.  Such a highlight and a great honor for me this year! About 100 travel bloggers & digital influencers were invited to the summit focusing on study abroad and global citizenship. I met one of my Travel Channel heroes and had a fun sleepover at the Hostelling International with Mickela and Kelly, and Turkish Airlines hosted a gorgeous dinner for all the participants at the Newseum. It was a banner day, totally unforgettable and from 30,000 feet, I think it’s a real feather in the cap for the travel blogging industry as whole.

The White House ... my future home?

The White House … my future home?

Speaking at TBEX Athens. TBEX, or Travel Blog Exchange, is a conference for the traveling, writing & blogging community. I attended the very first TBEX in Chicago in 2009 as a publicist, a year before I decided to quit my job and attempt the whole travel blogging thing myself. Having observed the growth of TBEX and travel blogging as an industry, it was a real honor for me to share with my peers in Athens. Sure, the projector froze my presentation right as I was starting, but it was a worthwhile experience nonetheless. And even more than speaking, TBEX is the best way to catch up with lots of old friends – and to meet tons of new ones – in one concentrated location.

Good morning from Ephesus, Turkey!

Cruising the Aegean Sea on the Louis Olympia. I hadn’t been back to Greece since my epic visit back in 2011, so when I found out I could take a post-TBEX cruise on the Louis Olympia, I was all about it. The itinerary was exhausting, but since I’d been to some of the ports – Mykonos, Santorini – I knew exactly what I wanted to see. Or in my case… eat!

In Mykonos, we made a beeline for my favorite restaurant, Katerina’s, and had the best meal in Greece, as always. In Santorini, lead by the intrepid Green Global Travel duo, we found the best spot to capture the Aegean sunset and then chomped on cheap and delicious gyros before heading back to the ship. We also stopped at Ephesus in Turkey and the Greek Island of Rhodes, two fascinating places that may require a return visit. Many, many posts to come from that whirlwind nautical adventure.

Jet skiing on Grand Bahama Island

Jet skiing on Grand Bahama Island

Cruising The Bahamas with Carnival. I’ve only just returned from 4 days on the Carnival Sensation, so I am still processing photos and preparing to write about my experiences. What can I say now? The Bahamas are still so lovely and I miss them terribly. Fingers crossed I can find a way to work with the islands in 2015.

Lauren loved Jacksonville!

Lauren loved Jacksonville!

LJ comes to JAX! My dear friend Lauren came to visit back in October and it was such a treat to catch up with her & show her around my hometown. We dressed up for a costume casino party, ate at some of my favorite Jacksonville restaurants and went to the Riverside Arts Market one sunny Saturday. We also visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort and though it nearly killed us to drive down, explore both parks and then drive back to Jacksonville in the same day, it was still so much fun. I’m excited to visit her in March when I fly to Dallas for a speaking engagement.

Catching up with two of my favorites in Hoboken

Catching up with two of my favorites in Hoboken

NYC. I had a million reasons to visit New York City in October – changing leaves, a precious baby, birthdays, Aladdin, karaoke… and of course there were many tasty restaurants (and Mister Softee trucks) to revisit. It was such a pleasant trip but way too short.

Birthday! Aside from that whole debacle with Kim Kardashian’s booty, my birthday was really lovely. It was wonderful to hear from so many of you on my special day, so thank you for all the wishes!

Nicole Miller dress... what do you think?

Nicole Miller dress… what do you think?

Charleston. When one of your most stylish and beautiful friends gets married on a gorgeous plantation at sunset, what do you do? Stress about what to wear, that’s what! Rather than purchasing yet another dress that I’d likely only wear once, I decided to give Rent the Runway a try for (ex-NYC roommate and former Weber Shandwick colleague) Erica’s big day. I chose a lacy red Nicole Miller and received so many compliments, I’ll definitely use RTR in the future. Oh, and of course Erica was a stunner!

Lows

Two busted paws

Two busted paws

Leia’s paw & my pinky. My fella’s dog cut her paw while horsing around in the backyard so I took her to the vet for stitches. She was so excited to meet all the other pups in the office, she nearly ripped me in half. Fortunately, aside from some aches and pains, the only real injury I sustained was a sprained (broken?) pinky. Have you ever tried typing with a sprained pinky? It’s less than ideal. Which leads me to…

NaNoWriMo. I had grand plans to write 50,000 words for my book in November. I think I ended up with about 5,000. Between the broken pinky and a bunch of last-minute projects that came in, I just didn’t get around to it. And now I feel like a big fat failure. Very disappointed!

Triston. All other lows and complaints pale in comparison to this sad announcement. Tragically, my newest family member passed away a few weeks ago from SIDS at just 5 months old. Triston’s grieving parents made the decision to donate his organs & tissues and as a result, 14 babies were blessed with life. That’s 14 families who were able to spend another Christmas, and maybe even a lifetime, with their children. What a legacy to leave behind after such a short time on earth!

Starfish on Grand Bahama Island

Starfish on Grand Bahama Island

Lessons

Saying no. Many people are good at just doing what they want and never feeling obligated to do otherwise, but I have always had a hard time saying no when I feel like I should/have to do something. I get so concerned with hurting feelings or missing opportunities that I can’t just say, “No, I don’t want to do that.” I’m working on the mental mechanics of saying no. Any tips?

People can change. With prayer, faith and time, even the hardest heart can change. The past few months have been so encouraging as I’ve seen a few of my favorite people growing in ways I never could’ve imagined.  Thank God for second chances & new beginnings!

Next Steps

We can make our plans but God determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9

Alex in Wanderland. My favorite lil’ blonde blogger is coming to visit me in Florida next week! Expect lots of selfies & shenanigans as she becomes an honorary Orth for a few days.

Seeking interns. I’m planning to bring on a few interns in 2015, but I feel like I need a few interns to help me start the process. If you’re interested, keep an eye on the blog for an announcement. It could be next week, next month or ya know, when I’m 80. I’m working on it.

Projects & Plans. It’s 8 a.m. on Jan. 1 and I’m already working. It’s going to be a busy year!

Travel. I’ve been compiling a list of potential travels for 2015, and every time I do I get rather overwhelmed. So I’ve decided to play it by ear and see what comes up. Something exciting always does…

2015 resolutions. Having just now looked back at my 2014 list, I think I’ll recycle the ones I missed like seeing Britney in Vegas & doing something awesome with sharks. I hit many of my goals and left some totally untouched. If I’ve learned anything in the past few years, it’s that the to-do list will always be there waiting for me.

Christmas at the White House

Christmas at the White House

Thank you for reading & joining me for 4 fabulous years of traveling, wandering and figuring it all out. It looks like 2015 is going to be filled with travel & surprises, so let’s get on with it, shall we?

Did you “like” this post? It only takes one click to tell a friend all about it via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, StumbleUpon or Google+, and I’ve made it SO EASY with all the little buttons at the top of this post. Sharing helps me stay on the road and to continue providing interesting content, so thank you for your help in keeping Angie… away!

COME AWAY WITH ME!
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  • January 01, 2015

    Sounds like an amazing year for you! I actually included “saying no” in my list of 2014 reflections in a blog post recently. I find it gets easier the more you ask yourself, “How will saying yes benefit me?” If your answer is that you won’t benefit from it, it’s probably worth saying no to, and even though you might tell yourself differently, there’s nothing wrong with that. 🙂

    Audrey | http://www.keygypsy.com

  • January 02, 2015

    You had quite a year! happy new year! can’t wait to see posts from you and alex when she visits 🙂

  • January 02, 2015

    I love this post — and not just because I’m in it! Congrats on all the amazing highs. You amaze me!

  • January 03, 2015

    I’ve already told Alex, but you gals best Snapchat me from this epic reunion! FOMO x 1,000. But at least I’ll see her in Nashville this summer and you in Orlando (RIGHT?), so there’s always that to look forward to.. =)

    And I was so deeply saddened to read about Triston on your Facebook, but I do love the positive spin you’re putting on the outcome. xo

  • January 10, 2015

    Hi Angie! Looks like you had a fabulous year of travel, despite the setbacks. My year was very much the same in a lot of ways–probably not quite as successful but very full of travel and very full of ups and downs! Looking forward to getting to know you better in our chat on Tuesday! 🙂

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