Jade Mountain: Inside St. Lucia’s Most Talked-About Hotel

Angie Away’s 2017 Travel Year in Review

Show of hands: who’s happy to see 2017 in the rearview?

We’ll get to all my travel recapping in a minute, but first, can I just wax poetic for a sec? The world is a bit upside down, and ignoring that seems inauthentic. It feels like there have been more crises and dramas and natural disasters in 2017 than ever before. More deep, deep sadness and just a sense that so many are lost and lonely. I confess I sometimes feel weird sharing the highlights of my blessed life when my inner empath just feels so deeply grieved over the world’s injustices. I hate to see people hurting, and with social media, it certainly feels like there’s more of it.

I guess that’s part of my motivation to keep going and keep sharing the fun and the happy. There’s got to be a reminder in the midst of the muck that good wins in the end.

I’m not sure if 2017 was truly better for me than 2016 or if, in my advancing years, I’m simply accepting the reality and inevitability of life’s ups and downs. Y’all, I’ve had some low moments this year. Health scares and hospital visits and deaths and financial uncertainty and failures and relatives I’d really like to shake until their senses return. Those are not the moments that make the Instagram highlight reel!

But there has been so much good, too. New adventures. Crazy stories. Old friends. Weddings and babies and communities coming together to put people’s lives back together.

Love is all around. Just like Love Actually said.

In the midst of it all, this roller coaster of life is something to buckle up and ride. The fun parts and the bad parts are all together in a messy jumble, and there’s no getting off until it comes to a stop. (And I’m in no hurry!)

The breathtaking highs come with profound lows and the rainbows need their corresponding storms to shine bright. (If you came here for philosophical, end-of-year naval gazing, you are in the right place!) 

Comfortable travel shoe

As you know, I’ve been trying to strike a balance between Angie Away and Angie at Home for a few years, and this year I really hit my stride. I flew half the miles in 2017 than I did in 2016. I partnered with more brands that didn’t require huge travel & time commitments. I fired clients who misbehaved, quit jobs that were sapping more energy than they were worth and hired help. I said no more than I said yes and I made moves to continue evolving as a creator. And I’ll continue to pivot in new directions in 2018. (And I promise not to be so serious – there are laughs ahead, I promise!)

Your comments throughout the year have meant a lot to me, and I’ve been plotting a way to really capture your feedback in a better way. So, get ready for my 1st ever reader survey, coming soon.

 

In the meantime, join me for a quick and sassy recap this year’s travels, stats and misadventures!

jockey-deals

2017 Travel By the Numbers

Flights taken: 20

Miles flown: 17,072

Airports visited: 11

{JAX, MIA, UVF, CAN, LGA, MSY, MCO, ATL, CLT, DCA, DUB}

Reflections from the Road

Hotel nights: 60

Family castles visited: 1

Road trip miles: 2,429

Car ferries: 1

Train adventures: 1 (Amtrak Virginia)

Vehicles rented: 2

Countries visited: 4 | Mexico, St. Lucia, Ireland, Northern Ireland (UK)

States visited: 6 | FL, NY, GA, TN, LA, NC, SC

Angie Away - New Orleans-min

New posts on AngieAway.com: 40

Newsletters published: 5

Articles written for Travelocity’s Inspire Blog: 13

YouTube videos published: 16

Speech on How to be a Social Media Rockstar: 1

Conferences attended: 2 (BlogHer & the Travel Blogger Summit on Study Abroad)

Reflections

Book chapters written: 2

Gift guides published: 1

Drones purchased: 1

New employees hired: 1

Reflections from the Road (Vol. 29 | Vol. 30 | Vol. 31 | Vol. 32): 4

Ladera Resort - Romantic Caribbean Hotel

Game of Thrones cast members encountered in Belfast: 5

Non-GoT celebrities encountered: 7

Water theme parks opened: 1

Universal Volcano Bay Live Stream

Tonight Show tapings: 1

Traumatic runaway horse experiences: 1

Big a$$ fish caught in the Florida Keys: 1

Times I listened to Hamilton: 391

Times I saw Hamilton, the Musical: ZERO (I’m not happy about this)

Reflections from the Road

Hurricane: 1

Total solar eclipse: 1

Flooded parents’ house: 1

Angie Away - Hurricane Irma Flood-min

Houseguests & Hurricane Irma Refugees: 10 (+2 cats & 1 dog)

8-hour foster care classes completed: 5

Pounds lost: 17

Pounds gained: 17

As the top social networks continue to fiddle with their algorithms, my growth continues to spike, plateau and plummet, more or less outside my control. (Kinda like my weight, haha!)

There are times I wish I could just ignore it all… the last thing in the world I want to care about is the number of likes I get on a photo! But every job, even dream jobs like mine, come with parts we’d rather not deal with. And giving a hoot about social media is one of those for me.

Twitter: 21,000 | Facebook: 5,500 | Pinterest: 3,200 | Instagram: 72,000

All this to say: you may never know how much each share, like and thoughtful comment means in my curious little online world. Thank you for your support in 2017!

Photography Tips for the Dark Hedges

Favorite New Destination: Northern Ireland

The holidays have taken over so I really haven’t had a chance to share all the tales of our visit to Northern Ireland, but here’s the gist: I’m obsessed. Rick and I had such an adventure road-tripping all over the Emerald Isle, but Belfast and Northern Ireland really wowed the heck out of us from Day 1. It’s not really fair for any other destination, because we spent our 2nd anniversary with Jon Snow, Sansa Stark, Brienne of Tarth, Bran Stark and Ser Jorah Mormont. What other destination could compare after such a treat?!

Add in the beauty of the Causeway Coastal Route, the Dark Hedges, the Giant’s Causeway, Dunluce Castle and a warm welcome from the Bushmills Inn and the Fitzwilliam Hotel Belfast, and we were well and truly spoiled by Northern Ireland.

Best Costumed Adventure: Adare, Ireland

I never, ever in a million years would’ve guessed that my hot, tough, strong and manly husband would someday become a willing party to my worldwide costumed adventuring. And yet, here we are, dressed as Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen in front of Fanningstown Castle.

He (Rick, not Jon) is really the best, isn’t he? I cannot begin to tell you all the ways I hit the jackpot with this one. King of the North, indeed! The Orth remembers!

Jaunting Car Killarney National Park

Scariest Travel Moment: Killarney, Ireland

In 2018, I am done with horsing around. Pun intended, but also, for real.

To recap: let’s just say I when I hopped in the jaunting car at the gates of Killarney National Park, I did not foresee our horse losing her ever-loving mind, throwing the driver and nearly killing us and everyone in her path of destruction.

Everything turned out well in the end. Our poor driver was not gravely injured, nor was the horse. But I’m done with jaunting cars.

Volcano Bay - The Jet Sisters - Angie Away - Universal Orlando

Most Visited Destination: Orlando (again!)

Is anyone surprised? Between blogging projects, influencer campaigns, PR clients, water park launches, conferences, meetings with my business partner and speaking gigs, I made the 2-hour drive to Orlando several times a month in 2017.

As always, Universal Orlando was a big part of this year’s fun. I was there to open the newest attraction, Race Through New York starring Jimmy Fallon; was part of the live stream for the glorious grand opening of Volcano Bay; experienced the most magical holiday celebration at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and introduced a whole new group of my fellow bloggers to the destination.

And one of the best visits of the year wasn’t for work at all. My Compassion child turned 18 and was able to visit the U.S., so I got to take her (and her brother and sister-in-law) to Universal and share a whole day of wonder. She’s never been out of Bolivia before, so it was really a special day for all of us.

Home Sweet Home: Adventures around Florida

As much as I sometimes miss my life in New York City, living the Florida life is working out great. (Um, except for all the hurricanes. WTF.) In 2017, of course I spent tons of time in Orlando, but I also explored Captiva Island, the Space Coast, Hawks Cay, St. Augustine and Ginnie Springs. Before the year is up, I’ll be checking out both Chipley and Destin. Living in a top vacation destination keeps me busy!

At home in Jacksonville, we’re never short on things to do. This year, we volunteered for the Tebow Foundation’s annual Night to Shine, rocked out to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, saw our first Cirque du Soleil show and tried not to throw punches of our own at a Jacksonville Ice Men game.

We also did grown-up things like installing a pool, building a deck and renovating my home office. The pool, while an enormous pain in the butt to install, has become a gathering place for our family and friends. We have people over all the time, and it’s been a sweet addition to our home life.

Angie Away - New Orleans 2-min

Best Girlfriend Getaway: New Orleans

Ahhhh, the annual blonde blogging bestie escape! We partnered with Visit New Orleans to explore the city and even though most of the photos I took were of food, we actually did a whole lot more than eat. Alex and Kristin both visited us in Florida, and Alex got to be one of the first guests to enjoy the pool. I am so grateful to have these two in my life! Where shall we go in 2018?

Things to do at Jade Mountain St. Lucia

Most Romantic Trip: St. Lucia

Even though American Airlines cancelled our flight and we missed a whole day of the trip, St. Lucia proved to be every bit as romantic as advertised. Rick and I needed to recalibrate after a few busy months that’s exactly what we did. And speaking of calibrating, Rick and the DJI Mavic drone are now an integral part of the Angie Away team. Keep an eye out for more drone videos in 2018!

Southern Road Trip

Best Road Trip: Atlanta to Nashville to Asheville

Rachel and I spent a week on the road in a cute lil red Jeep. Highlights? Tasty eats and SUP paddleboarding in Sandy Springs; waterfalls and getting lost in Chattanooga; the most magnificent solar eclipse in Nashville; hiking in the Smoky Mountains; and wrapping it all up with a visit to the Biltmore in Asheville. Like every other road trip we’ve ever been on, we didn’t spend nearly enough time in any one destination, and subsequently have resolved to visit all these places again in the near future.

Comfortable shoes for travel

My next edition of Reflections from the Road is coming on January 1, so keep an eye out. That’s where we’ll talk about all the fun I’ve got on deck for 2018.

Tell me something good about your 2017 travels. That would be a fabulous way to kick off 2018 =)

COME AWAY WITH ME!
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  • December 30, 2017

    i liked it
    thanks for sharing

  • January 05, 2018

    To your first point, have you downloaded “Dear Hate” by Maren Morris? If not, DO IT. The hook “love’s gonna conquer all” just sticks in my head permanently.

    Hope to see you (SOON) in 2018, friend!

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