365 days in a year, 52 weekends, a lot of time to travel.
Back in 2016, when I first started blogging as a way to document my travels, I started a blog series called #Take12Trips.
It’s a continuation of the only resolution I made in 2016, a promise to commit to doing something new (to me) once a month. Anything counts- it can be dinner at a new place, visiting a new museum or spending the weekend at a cute B&B in the country. It doesn’t need to be an epic trip to a foreign country, just the intention to discover something new.
I’ve got Clare, the blogger behind Need Another Holiday, to thank for inspiring the 12 trip challenge. To keep herself motivated to continue traveling, she challenged herself to take one trip every month in 2015.
Is it really possible for you to take one trip each month even if you work a nine-to-five? I’m saying yes, it certainly is. And I want to inspire the full-time workers and part-time travelers amongst you to make it your mission to #take12trips over the next 12 months, starting as soon as you want. It’s all about making time to enjoy yourself by traveling and by taking the time to plan some stuff you love, but never get round to.
Even back in 2016, as I was starting to travel internationally more on my own, I vowed to explore more of Brooklyn, Queens and Jersey City- three places I only visited occasionally, often going weeks without leaving the island of Manhattan.
I’m hopeful I’ll be able to begin travelling again within Europe later this year, although I know the reality of doing so will be night and day to pre-pandemic adventures. Even with hope, I know so much could change and that it’s likely I’ll spend a good portion of this year in Ireland.
With all of Ireland under a level 5 lockdown (highest level of restrictions, not allowed to leave a 3 km radius of your home) for the foreseeable future, I’ve been working on adding more gratitude and intentionality to my days.
I’m challenging myself to make the most of this time, even when the days are hard to get through, and to remember the little things, because ultimately, nothing comes without difficulty, and the little things are what makes a big trip or long-awaited vacation so fantastic.
January 2021 #Take12Trips: Exploring my childhood hometown in Pennsylvania
When I decided to travel back to the States for a few weeks in December, I’d planned on returning to Dublin in early January.
The universe, of course, had other plans, and I didn’t end up making it back to Ireland until mid-January after several, high stress COVID tests (Ireland’s entry requirement is a 72-hour PCR test taken before arrival time in country, which essentially eliminates an entire day from your result window if you’re travelling transatlantic), and flight cancellations and subsequent reschedules.
The extra time I had at my childhood home with my parents, while unexpected, was a cozy, nostalgic way to begin the year.
I haven’t lived at my parent’s house since I left for college, and while I’ve returned for visits regularly, those trips are usually only a few days long. Time is precious, and if nothing else, I’ll always be grateful for the time with family.
While home, I also enjoyed seeing a new side to the town where I grew up. In the years since I’ve left, it’s undergone a revitalisation- new, small businesses opening (breweries, cafes, delicious restaurants and niche shops), and effort in the form of preserving and beautifying the historic main street.
Moments that were the highlight of my time home:
Languid evenings, lit by candlelight, watching re-runs of Golden Girls and Murder She Wrote.
Brisk morning walks with my mom, up and down the town’s main street.
Sampling doughnuts from a new (to me) cafe, and returning several times over after proclaiming them the ‘best cake doughnuts ever’.
Sunset strolls around the neighbourhood my parents live in, watching the sky fade to grey from vibrant shades of pink, orange and purple.
Regular stops at our local Dunkin’, because no one does iced coffee like them.
Semi-weekly stops in Target and Chipotle, two suburb mainstays that I miss often living abroad.
The novelty of trying holiday coffee specials, the US may over-commercialise many things, but I’m here for it when it comes to different flavours in my coffee.
And likewise, teaching my mom how to make cold brew with cold foam at home.
Nightly snuggles with my family’s weimaraner, simply the best.
Shopping at Trader Joe’s, reeling with glee in the ability to have my favorite things and try new additions that are all over Instagram (hello truffle almonds, holiday vegetable hash, and goat’s milk gouda).
Building a beautiful puzzle with my mom, drawing inspiration from the incredible women featured.
Celebrating my dad taking another journey around the sun with his favourite pie, lemon meringue.
Cooking one of my favorite dinners- vegan sweet potato kale soup- for my parents, who normally have meat with every meal.
Making homemade pizzas, and firing them up in an outdoor oven. A treat any time, but especially on chilly January nights.
Discovering more about my childhood home’s history- I grew up knowing it was historic and often recognized for its role in being part of the Underground Railroad, but on this trip home, I stopped and read the historical society signs on homes and businesses, and looked up a bit more about the town itself.
Also this month, I returned to Dublin. Under current restrictions, all inbound travellers are asked to adhere to a 14 day quarantine. So while, I will undoubtedly explore more of Dublin in the weeks to come whilst the country is under continuing COVID restrictions, I spent the second half of January isolating indoors, only leaving my apartment once daily for a walk.
Many of my favorite moments were simple, although I’d say that’s the magic in them-
Being regaled with stories by an elderly Irish woman, who was my taxi driver from the airport.
The glow of the final rays of a day’s sun, reflected off the canal.
Watching snow swirl in the wind for several hours one morning, an unusual sight for Dublin.
Observing trees bending in a relentless, all-day Saturday storm.
Waking up to the sound of birds chirping and seagulls squawking.
And, because, I hope I’ll enjoy looking back at these recaps one day, a bit of a ‘best of the month’ round-up:
- Best thing I did: Morning walks with my mom, up and down the main street of the historic town they live in.
- Best thing I read: I finished five books in January, my favourite was Maybe You Should Talk to Someone (Lori Gottlieb), because therapy is life changing and should be accessible to anyone and everyone.
- Best thing I watched: I enjoyed viewing Bridgerton and Mulan with my mom, but watching Disney World YouTube videos with her was the most fun, because it’s not something I’d do on my own.
Best thing I listened to: Getting back into a routine post holiday, What A Day (one of my favourite regular pods) helped me start each morning with focus on key news updates quickly and easily.
- Best thing I ate: It’ll sound strange to US followers, but Chipotle. It’s one of my most missed foods, living abroad.
- Best coffee drink: Tie between homemade cold brew with cold foam & the iced white chocolate, raspberry mochas I treated myself to once a week as an afternoon pick-me-up while home.
- Best bed slept in: While there’s no place like home, I love my bed in Dublin, and didn’t leave it for the entirety of the first weekend I was back in Ireland.
- Best place visited: Spring Cafe, a local cafe in the historic town where my parent’s live.
- Best trip (if travelling): My flight from Newark to Dublin, I was on one of United’s new planes and the entertainment selection was the best I’ve ever seen. It was so good, I skipped sleeping- there’s just something about the novelty of watching Mean Girls and The Devil Wears Prada while soaring through the sky.
What are you looking forward to this year? Are you hoping to begin travelling again?