2015 was our first full year in Amsterdam. We traveled a bit, but not nearly as much as we hoped considering travel was one of the main reasons we moved to Europe. We were still getting used to living in Europe, and while we knew we wanted to travel more, we had to get our feed under us first. I first saw the #take12trips challenge on The Travel Hack and was truly inspired, and I think she was inspired by the original author on Need Another Holiday back in 2013. Wherever it came from, it seemed like a great idea if we wanted to keep exploring Europe.
Then came 2016 and we made our resolution, our goal, our challenge: We would take 12 trips throughout the year. It was unclear exactly how we’d do it or where we’d go, but we made it our number 1 priority. #take12trips – Challenge Accepted!
Did we make it?!
Luckily we are given 26 vacation days each year which definitely helped with planning longer trips, but we also decided we would need to take single-day and weekend trips as well. It was a great mix! On the shorter trips we learned whether or not we wanted to go back to that destination (or just needed a Parisian fix), then on the longer trips we tried to live like locals and explored a bit more. All in all, we took 23 flights, 12 train trips, and spent 76 days traveling…and we did it! Even we were surprised at how many trips we actually took because it was more than just 12!
Because we did about one trip a month, we’ll review the year in the easy way…month-by-month!
January (5 days) | Berlin, Germany
For a while, it seemed Berlin was all I kept hearing about. People loved it. Some even moved there because they loved it so much. I’m not sure that going in January was the best way for me to get a feel for the city because I just didn’t see what everyone saw in it. But I’ll give it another shot…in a warmer month! We did make a video of our trip where we experience some really emotional places in Berlin.
February (1 day) | The Hague, the Netherlands
This was our first day trip of the year! We decided to visit The Hague, the political capital of the Netherlands. But we were determined to not do all the political stuff, instead we wanted to see the beach, some art, and even a great view! What surprised us most was some of the streets in the old town…they felt a bit like Paris! Our video shows a different side of The Hague away from the embassies and politics.
March (11 days) | Amalfi Coast, Italy
We spent our anniversary on the Amalfi Coast in Italy! It was a surprise trip from Sean and I certainly wasn’t disappointed! We stayed in Sorrento for a few days and even hung out on the island of Ischia. It’s a little-known island in the Bay of Naples where Italians like to holiday. Of course we squeezed in a trip to Capri and went to visit Pompeii while we were in the area. I can’t wait to go back to Italy!
April (3 days + 2 days) | Paris, France & Giethoorn, the Netherlands
In April, we got a visit from Sean’s mom! Because it was cheaper for her to fly into Paris, we figured we would take the opportunity to meet her there and have a weekend away. I mean, it’s Paris. We’ll take any excuse to go! Who am I kidding? I don’t need an excuse! We got to show her some touristy places for her first time in Europe and we enjoyed seeing Paris a little differently than we did the last time around.
At the end of the month we really wanted to see Giethoorn in the springtime. It’s a tiny town with an idyllic section of walking and bike paths along small canals. Postcard-perfect is the best way to describe it! The trees weren’t in bloom yet, so I’d recommend late May for a visit, but it was still a beautiful place to stroll and take a boat tour.
May (9 days) | Barcelona, Spain + Mediterranean Cruise
Barcelona seems to be on everyone’s list! The promise of sunshine, great food and wine, and fun is enough to entice anyone. Unfortunately, while we were there it rained. A lot. I mean days of rain. I went on a cruise for a couple of those days…a Backstreet Boys cruise. Yep! I was on a cruise ship with a couple thousand women, a few men, and the Backstreet Boys. My favorite cruise port-of-call was Cannes, France, and I can’t wait to go back!
June (3 days) | Basel, Switzerland
At first we weren’t really sure what to get into in June. The weather is almost perfect in most of Europe but it can also be quite crowded and touristy. We decided on a quick 3-day weekend trip to Basel. It was mainly to visit a family friend and to relax so we didn’t get into too much. Next time I want to spend more time in the region and explore…there’s so much culture to experience there!
July (9 days + 1 day) | Stockholm, Sweden + Rotterdam, Netherlands
TBEX in Stockholm. Yes. OMG, yes. The Travel Bloggers Exchange conference is amazing for a few reasons. The hosting city is a sponsor so you are given the opportunity to explore with complimentary transit and tourist passes, and there are a few other opportunities as well. We went on a food tour and I hopped on a roof to see the city from above. I fell in love with Stockholm. July is the PERFECT time to visit, I just wish I could buy a house on one of the islands in the lagoon. Later in the month we visited Rotterdam to see a friend who lives there. She played tour guide for the day and we even made a video!
August (5 days) | Virginia, United States
Technically I did travel in August. I went to the United States for my best friend’s wedding. But it was a whirlwind 3-day trip (not including the two travel days) and I focused my attention only on her and my family while I was there. August is a beautiful time to be in the Shenandoah Valley and on the Skyline Drive, and I made sure I did get to see some of the amazing views I’ve missed since moving to a flat country!
September (12 days) | United States
So…I was back in the States again. This time Sean joined me as it was a trip we planned way back in February to visit friends and family. We really did try to pack it all in. The downside was I was sick for most of the trip. I spent days in bed or on a couch. Not sure what was wrong with me, but thank goodness I was in the land of Dayquil and Nyquil. I still rested but didn’t have to feel like death the whole time.
October (3 days) | Paris, France
By now I was itching to travel in Europe again. My friend and fellow blogger Edna was back in Paris and I wanted to be back there too. Hopping on a train to Paris is super easy from Amsterdam. If you want a cheap ticket, you have to buy a month or more in advance, but actually getting on the train is super easy and my favorite way to travel in Europe! I spent the weekend going solo for a bit, then hanging out with Edna and getting a taste of how to shop like a Parisian on a food tour was such a relaxing time.
November (5 days + 1 day) | London, England & Delft, the Netherlands
We doubled up again this month! Sean went to London for work the first week of the month, and I went for the World Travel Market the second week of the month. We also took a day trip to Delft at the end of the month. Busy times! London was great as usual. There were some WTM events and some meetups as well, where I got to see some old friends and also made some new ones! I was able to stay with friends in the city, which was great!
December (6 days) | Prague, Czech Republic
Prague at Christmas! This was so exciting for me. It was the first time we’ve traveled for Christmas and I wasn’t sure how it would go. The Christmas markets gave off heavenly scents of mulled wine and grilled meat along with having the twinkly lights and greenery that lets you know it’s Christmas time in Europe. Prague is simply beautiful and I hope to go back with everything is in bloom too!
There it is! We exceeded 12 trips and made 14 trips in 2016. This makes me wonder if we can do it again in 2017 and I say we can! We did all this while working full-time in Amsterdam. We are grateful for our vacation days and we TAKE THEM! Living in Europe gives an excellent opportunity to explore for pretty cheap. Can’t wait to see what 2017 holds!