An Epic Year of (Not Much) Travel: 2020 in Review

Pssst: Check out our recaps of 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 to see how this year stacked up!

For years people had warned us that we wouldn’t be able to travel with a baby. Flashback to 2019 and, despite adding a mini traveler to our team in February, we still managed to hit 10 countries and log more than 30,000 miles in the air.

As we entered 2020, our mini traveler had become a veteran globetrotter, and we had some fresh travel hacking strategies to implement that would make epic travel more accessible than ever before (the only ticket we paid for in cash rather than in points in 2020 was a $38 RT ticket to Orlando!).

But, as everyone knows, 2020 was the year everyone’s plans died. While sitting on the tarmac about to head to Buenos Aires, everything changed very quickly as news broke that made us second-guess our decision to leave the country. So we got off the plane and didn’t get on another one for seven months!

During that time, we experienced a lot of non-travel-related life events, most significantly buying a new house on some acreage and starting a micro farm with chickens, goats, kitties, and, come spring, flower and vegetable gardens! While we definitely still have itchy feet, the extra time at home allowed us to develop new interests and find a better balance between loving where we are and dreaming about being somewhere else!

But despite spending most of the year at home, we did manage to squeeze in a few travel adventures. In total, we traveled in 3 countries and 6 states on 2 continentsslept in 11 places, and flew 16,272 miles on 3 airlines.

Obviously, the year didn’t pan out the way we’d planned (we cancelled at least 4 trips, 2 of which were international). But here are some of the highlights:

Lima, Peru

Our first trip of the year was also our first ever excursion into South America. We cashed in some Jet Blue points and spent three days exploring the Peruvian capital of Lima. We were amazed by the incredible food, lovely parks, and fascinating history. Though for many travelers Lima is just a stopover on the way to Machu Picchu, we believe it is a worthy destination in its own right, especially for families.

The highlight of our trip was catching a few waves during our surf lesson in Miraflores.

Orlando, FL

Our next trip was also our first flight since becoming parents that we flew baby-free! We had originally booked the quick overnight trip to align with a rocket launch (something we both have on our bucket lists to witness). Sadly, the launch was scrubbed due to inclement weather. But since we already had flights booked, we decided to go anyway and spent the evening exploring Disney Springs.

Home(stead) 

Then the world came to a screeching halt, and we spent the next seven months at home. Or I should say homes, since we decided to use our forced break to take the plunge and move into a place with a bit more space for our family.

We always knew our first house wasn’t our forever home. But in a turn of events no one saw coming for a couple of itchy-footed globetrotters, we also developed a deep appreciation for homesteading (what can I say, 2020 was an odd year!). I even learned how to sew and make pickles! So, we also really wanted to move somewhere with enough land to grow our own food.

Thankfully, the market in our area was hot, and we had a solid offer on our home within the first 24 hours of listing it! We ended up buying a cute house sitting on a 3.5-acre lot. We are now the proud owners of 7 hens, 2 goats, and 2 barn kitties. We have also started prepping our garden plots for spring. Seeing Claire tromp around the property in her yellow wellies surrounded by farm animals brings us a lot more joy than we ever expected!

Ellijay, GA

Our first trip after many months at home was to Ellijay, GA, about two hours north of our home for Sam’s sister’s wedding. Claire was a flower girl, Sam was a groomsman, and it was a very special weekend with close family.

Rocky Mountain National Park, CO 

We were finally ready to step back onto an airplane in mid-September. We chose Rocky Mountain National Park because it is somewhere we had always talked about visiting, and we liked the idea of spending most of our time outside and away from crowds.

We spent two days hiking, picnicking, and thoroughly enjoying the beautiful fall foliage.

Destin, FL

Every October, we head to Destin, FL, for my family’s annual beach getaway. This year, though some of the family couldn’t make it due to lockdowns and work conflicts, we enjoyed a relaxing couple of days at the beach. Claire was a much bigger fan of the pool and beach this year than she was last year, which made the trip a lot of fun too!

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

We try to spend my birthday in a different country every year (the past five years have been in Uganda, USA, South Africa, Canada, and Slovakia), so with limited options this year, we decided to head to a place that’s basically in our own backyard: Mexico. Despite being so close, we had never made it a priority! But we enjoyed spending a few days hopping between the beach and the pool and eating as many tacos as we could shove down.

Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada  

Though we primarily used Las Vegas as a gateway airport to southern Utah, we made a point of exploring the Valley of Fire in Nevada on our drive out to Hurricane, Utah. The vibrant red rocks and sand were truly incredible. We did the Rainbow Vista hike, which took about an hour (with a toddler who stopped every three seconds to collect rocks or play in the sand), and we enjoyed every minute.

Zion National Park, Utah

Sine we had such a good experience at Rocky Mountain National Park earlier this year, we decided to check another park off our bucket list: Zion National Park. The scenery was some of the most beautiful we’ve ever experienced, and we had the added bonus of seeing it all blanketed in snow! Definitely a highlight of our year.

Hoover Dam, Arizona

On our way back to Las Vegas for our flight home, we popped into Arizona and visited Hoover Dam (on both the Arizona and Nevada sides). We were amazed by the incredible engineering that went into creating the iconic dam.

And that was our year! For the first time ever, we are entering the new year with no planned trips. If last year taught us anything, it’s that no one can predict the future! While we are hoping to continue traveling as much as possible, we are also excited to dig into some projects here at home. Who knows what adventures lay ahead?

Happy New year!

 

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