The Best of 2017 for Kristin Luna

In 2017: Highlights from the Year

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At the end of every calendar year, I think the following 12 months can’t get any better, and yet they always manage to exceed expectations. Well, except for 2016; that will forever be the year that nearly did me in.

Wynnwood Walls in Miami

Still, 2017 started off with very little on the calendar by way of work and wound up being our most fulfilling and lucrative year ever. For 2018, we already have a solid dozen projects booked, so I can’t wait to see what this year holds!

Nashville Murals


This was the first full year that SVV and I worked together full time. To clarify, he always served as my manager of sorts—well, at least from the time I started monetizing this blog about three years after its 2007 inception—but he also always had a “day job.” I was getting to the point where I was making enough between magazine writing, content projects, photography and blogging that I could pay someone a healthy salary, so it just made sense that someone was him. We also had a paid intern this summer (who we would love to bring back next!) and a VA. This year, we’re toying with the idea of bring more part-time subcontractors on to fill some holes.

Working with Your Spouse

It’s worked out better than we could ever imagine, too; having extra help has allowed me to expand my roster of anchor clients—we also have a micro-agency specializing in consulting, strategy, copywriting and other such tasks for the corporate world—and also really up my blog partnerships.

Zappos pet campaign

Speaking of which, we had SO many fun content collaborations last year and I’m truly thankful to get to work with every single one of them. Among them: Google Fiber; Visit Franklin; Tru by Hilton; Oklahoma City; St. George, Utah; American Refractive Surgery Council (for LASIK); Fairmont Hotels; Visit Florida; Zappos; Mars Petcare; Grand Ole Opry; Wrangler; Blount Partnership; Savannah; Twin Creeks, Tennessee; New Orleans. I started a monthly highlights series this past year to share more about my work and track both hits and misses.

Wrangler Campaign

On the editorial side, I’m starting to scale back on my magazine writing for myriad reasons (mostly time and a decline in rates), but still managed to write for National Geographic, PEOPLE, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, Marriott Traveler, AAA Living and AFAR.


I estimated that I spent more than 200 nights in hotel rooms and Airbnbs this year. Dang, that’s a lot! In 2018, I really hope to spend more time in the home we’ve worked so hard to rehab.

A Suite at the Plaza Hotel

The year started off in Washington state with our beloved NVR Guys, then quickly followed with a trip to Grenada, an island nation I absolutely fell in love with and one that you should consider putting on your radar right away.

Underwater Sculpture Park in Grenada

Paddleboarding with your Dog
Paddleboarding in Tennessee

Girls' Trip to Grenada

Next, in February, it was off to Florida for my birthday at Universal Orlando Resort.

Visiting Universal Studios

Visiting Universal Studios
Visiting Universal Studios

It would actually be my first of two Florida jaunts in less than a month, as I headed back in early March when my BFF Lemon and I road-tripped from Georgia to South Carolina for a wedding, then down to Jacksonville, where I got to see my girls Angie and Jade (and team up with Visit Florida on a content project!).

Charleston in the Rain

April saw us taking visitors around Middle Tennessee before hopping a plane to Boston for a Fairmont project, then taking the train to NYC.  We also drove back Charleston to attend the wedding of my college suitemate, as well as up to Myrtle Beach for her bachelorette weekend.

The Plaza Hotel in NYC

From there, we headed to Savannah, where we kicked off the month of May with a content project. That month, I also went to Utah to play in Zion National Park, then back to Orlando for the opening of Volcano Bay.

Visiting Savannah

Volcano Bay at Universal Studios
Hiking in Snow Canyon, Utah

Utah at Sunset

June had me sticking close(r) to home: First, to the Smokies for work, then to Knoxville for a wedding, then back to Middle Tennessee for CMT Awards and Bonnaroo. Then, I went to Knoxville again (this time for work), followed by a yoga retreat at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch.

Knoxville's Mead Quarry

In July, I was mostly homebound. SVV went to visit his family in California for 10 days, while I tended to the pup (and my cousin’s kids). We did bop on down to the Florida Keys for five days mid-month, but then came home in time to throw my blog an epic 10-year-old birthday party.

Summer at Old Stone Fort

Visiting Key West
Visiting Key West

Islamorada at Sunset

August was jam-packed, beginning with five days in New Orleans, then I flew to meet SVV in NYC for a wedding, then we were home for a few days before heading out to Oklahoma City for the first time. One of the biggest surprises of the year was just how much we became obsessed with OKC; it’s such a dynamic, friendly and fun place to explore!

Visiting Key West
Visiting Key West

In September, we went to Sweden—one of only two international trips we took this year—and it made me fall in love with Scandinavia all over again. When we got back to Tennessee, it was festival season in Nashville: Music City Food & Wine and then Pilgrimage the following weekend.

Traveling to Sweden

October took us all over the state of Tennessee—literally, we hit every major city (Nashville, Memphis, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Clarksville) and several small guys in between—for our big whiskey trail project and also to Georgia (for a Hilton campaign), where we got to see Team Mayhem and Team Vagabond3.

Tennessee Whiskey Trail project

We thought our final work trip would fall in November; we headed to South Walton for actual vacation for four nights en route to Orlando for my final project with Universal for its holiday experience. On the way back, we decided to swing through Crystal River for the night BECAUSE MANATEES. I will definitely be going back to the Florida Springs in the future, as that was just too cool.

AcroYoga in Alys Beach

I thought that was it for 2017, but then! Travel Mindset called and wanted to send us to another awesome Fairmont Hotel for a project at the beginning of December, this time for a Christmas campaign with their D.C. property, to which I said: count us in!

Staying at the Fairmont Washington, D.C.

The year ended with our annual Colorado jaunt, this time a week in Breckenridge courtesy of my mom. What a way to close out a fulfilling year!

Breckenridge for the Holidays


I started off the year by running like mad—and completed the harrowing Jack Daniel’s Oak Barrel Half Marathon in April—and then just … stopped. Or rather, my travels picked up and I had no time to train. That’s going to change this year (as soon as it’s not 8 degrees here in Tennessee!) as I’m slated to run the Fargo half-marathon in May with Lemon.

Running the Oak Barrel Half Marathon

Around the time my travels became crazy, my trainer had knee surgery and then came down with pneumonia so she was out of commission for quite a few months. This means, my weight-lifting this past year really went downhill; I’m hoping to change that starting now and get back on a weekly routine with her. Being a former college athlete, I don’t really need someone to train me, but I have no gym buddies where I live, and having an accountability partner is so clutch (plus, I just really enjoy hanging out with her, too!).

SVV got his own paddleboard (copycat!), so we were able to SUP together many of the warmer weekends we were home in summer and fall. Ella, in particular, was thrilled with this arrangement!

Paddleboarding with your Dog
Paddleboarding in Tennessee

One thing that didn’t suffer, though, was my AcroYoga classes, which I take one day a week, then jam with friends on another. Acro is truly my fitness love—so fun! such a good team-building activity—and a damn good core workout at that.

AcroYoga in Tennessee


Dad is doing much better, 23 months post-stroke. Speech is still hard, but we’re seeing him get more and more words back as the months progress. He also finished his first chapter book since the stroke (a John Lescroart novel) while on our trip. He’ll never fully recover to the point he was pre-stroke as the clot was too big by the time they got into his brain to operate, but he’ll have a comfortable (and hopefully, happy!) life.

Luna Family

Of course, the BIG news for the years was that my sister is pregnant! Charlotte Rose Clarey is joining our nutty clan sometime in March, and I couldn’t be more stoked to have another niece—and one just down the road at that (my two other darling nieces live some 2,500 miles away in California).

Pregnancy Announcement


2017 was a year for friend hangs, and I love that so many projects took me to see so many of my besties! Lemon and I got to see each other a handful of times—in Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, South Carolina again, Tennessee and NYC—and Jade and I almost managed to get back on our every-other-month visitation schedule.

South Carolina Road Trip

Pilgrimage in Nashville
Pilgrimage in Nashville

I saw the Mayhems and Moxie several times—three times in their neck of the woods in Georgia and also once in mine in Tennessee. There’s never a dull moment with this kid around!

AcroYoga with Kids
Nashville Murals

And I stayed with Angie Away at her new house in JAX; Angie, Alex and I took a trip to New Orleans together; and Alex also spent nearly two weeks in Tennessee with me for Bonnaroo, during which her lovely mother and her fiancé also joined us. It was a packed house, as another three friends from Tennessee stayed with us, in addition to an extra canine body. The best way to spend Bonnaroo, in my mind!

Bonnaroo and How to Survive

Of course, there’s my Nashville squad, too, and I squeeze in as many happy hours and dinners with them when I’m home and their schedules allow. I also run a media networking group that just hit four years, so I know that at least once a month I’ll get face time with that crew.

Friends in Nashville
Friends in Nashville


We continue to plug along at our house (mostly SVV), but to be honest, we’ve had so many other projects that have taken precedence, including a house he’s fixing up for my parents that’s in bad shape and the new commercial property we just bought in our backyard. So many house projects, so little time!

Renovating a Victorian House

This past year, we did manage to finish our master bathroom (which the TODAY Show then featured!), stock up on some awesome MCM furniture, finish our fence all the way around (the only missing part is the electronic gate), build a kick-ass garden (again, all SVV) and add a few new pieces to the inside (like a custom-built island and table).

Renovating a Victorian House

Biggest Wins

Drone Shot from South Walton

Biggest Headaches

  • The never-ending fight with Expedia that resulted in my family losing $10,000.
  • SVV bonking his noggin and having to get stitches while in Charleston.
  • A major destination’s PR firm stole dozens of my images, played dumb when we called them out on it, and we are still contemplating a small-claims suit.

2017 by the Numbers

  • Blog posts written: 102
  • Countries visited: 3
  • States visited: 12
  • Flights taken: 33
  • Trips to Florida: 6
  • Weddings attended: 5
  • Books read: 14 (pathetic! I blame the news and social media)

Running in the Smokies

What were your major highlights of the past 12 months? And what would you love to see more of from C&C in the coming year?

For past year-end reviews, see my recaps here: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008.
  • January 2, 2018
    Mister Sister

    2017 was so much better than 2016!!!!!

  • January 2, 2018

    Such a amazing year! Your bathroom looks amazing! Also would never think of visiting OK but now may look into it!

    • January 3, 2018

      Seriously, get yourself to OKC before the masses do, ha! They have a HUGE new convention center opening in a few years, and as a result, there are so many new hotels and restaurants going in. AND it’s still super cheap, too!

      And thank you re: the bathroom! I still need to do one final recap post, but I’m still tinkering at the final little accents (pictures, trinkets for the shelves).

  • January 3, 2018

    What an amazing and inspiring year you’ve had, Kristin!

    I’ve loved following your evolution to developing multiple income streams successfully and this line here -“I’m starting to scale back on my magazine writing for myriad reasons (mostly time and a decline in rates)” really mimics my own journey in 2017 as well.

    We will never stop freelancing or writing for magazines and various publications, but we should always look at the bigger picture. I wished more freelancers thought this way.

    Here’s to an amazing 2018 for you guys!

    • January 7, 2018

      Thank you, friend! The freelancing caveats are “if it isn’t going to be a mind-numbing assignment,” “if the money is worth it” and/or “if it’s for an editor I love.” I like how all of us magazine veterans are aiming to do less magazine worth and more fulfilling projects!

  • January 3, 2018

    So happy 2018 is here! Loved following along on all of your trips this year and hope we can reconnect IRL again one day! My travel highlight of 2017 was the yoga beer retreat for sure. Professionally, proud I got the nerve to start cold pitching editors and landed several freelance assignments. I want to do more freelance writing in 2018 but want to expand my content marketing services even more.

    • January 7, 2018

      And I REALLY want to do that yoga beer retreat after reading your recap of it!

  • January 3, 2018

    I’m glad to hear your dad continues to improve–I’ve been thinking about y’all. And I still can’t believe we were both in Gothenburg about a week apart from each other. What a small world!

    • January 7, 2018

      Than you, Ris! And I can’t believe it either—we were SO close!

  • January 4, 2018

    Wow! What a fantastic year!! I’m kind of exhausted just reading it! It did remind me of some posts I meant to read, but never got the chance. I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for you and I hope to see you some this year!

  • January 4, 2018

    Well done Kristin!

    You’ve had such a great year! I love what you’ve done with your homes, and the success that you’ve amassed, whilst at the same time diversifying and spreading the love around in various ways that you love and excel at.

    I find you and SVV working together as a team, really nice. I’d love to see more of that & of course, gorgeous Ella. I love dogs (Sigh!), but hubby doesn’t, so we have two adorable lovely cats instead!

    My highlights last year? I travelled to 8 beautiful countries – 3 of which were new – Croatia, Slovenia & Sweden. I did a project with the BBC, and went to a private event hosting Prince William and Kate Middleton. That was brilliant! I await my wedding invitation for Prince Harry & Meghan Markle. Ahem!

    I also obtained the opportunity of a life-time to be a partner and the CEO of a private language school, but I had to decline it, as I quickly realised (thank goodness), that my creative ideas were at odds with the other more conservative partners. Ah well!

    I spent more time with family both in the UK & in Germany, and it made me realise that without them, I’d truly be lost. My brother wrote a children’s book, which was taken up by a London publisher, and he’s already written books 2 & 3! And my husband did the music mixing and production of a film that was the winner of the Jury Prize at Diversity in Cannes & the winner Best Short Film at the 2017 New York Short Film Festival! I’m awfully proud.

  • January 4, 2018
    Erica Murdoch

    Love the summary. For me my year has been all about study- Associate Degree in Writing and Editing- learning and sharing and meeting some inspirational folk. Starting a blog- reading your tips , Kristen!Watching my kids develop, my daughter graduate with a Bachelor of Architecture and my younger daughter finishing high school. Trips to Sydney, Newcastle and Singapore. Hosting visitors from the UK late in 2017. But my high point was seeing my favourite band of my youth, Midnight Oil, twice in concert in November. I’m still buzzing, their live shows are so incredible for a group of guys in their sixties. And now there’s a trip in a month to the US! Life is exciting! And more study later this year!

    • January 7, 2018

      That’s so awesome, Erica! Congrats on your degree and all those fun trips you’ve taken. Where are you headed in the US?

      • January 7, 2018
        Erica Murdoch

        NYC for 8 days, back to the West Coast for road trip up the PCH, a few days in SFO, Palm Springs for the Modernism Festival and a couple of days in L.A to finish.

  • January 4, 2018
    Erica Murdoch

    P.S Love your house!

  • January 4, 2018

    After reading this, I feel like I need a nap. So many adventures and travel and places for you in 2017.

    I hope 2018 is just as wonderful and that you manage to make your way to Richmond, Virginia for all the beer, food & street art things!

    • January 7, 2018

      Ha! I always think the next year will slow down and then it just winds up speeding up instead.

      Fingers crossed for Richmond!!!

  • January 6, 2018

    What a year! 200 nights in hotel rooms… Wow! Your photos look beautiful though, and you’ve seen and experienced so much this year! It’s good that you and SVV get to share most of the experiences; I guess it’s always nice to have a partner-in-crime. Good to hear your family is doing well as well 🙂

    My year was great! I’m so happy I managed to squeeze two larger trips in. I’m quite content with my 55 days spent travelling. I work full-time, so I’m impressed 🙂

    • January 7, 2018

      I know, it’s a LOT! I’m hoping to spend less in hotels this year and more in my own home 😉

      55 is impressive and about 10 times what the average American travels!

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