My Best Travels of 2013

In 2013: Highlights from the Year

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Is 13 days into the new year still an acceptable time frame in which to write one’s year-end recap? I sure hope so (and I apologize for yet another hiatus; I was back on the ship all of last week with little to no Internet access). Anyway. If my Facebook community is to be believed, the general consensus is that 2013 sucked big time. Now, I’m not in that camp; while 2013 may not have been my favorite year ever (I do prefer even numbers), there were just as many highs as lows. Plus! I turned 30. How can one not enter their thirties with a bang? Let’s review, shall we?

2013 in Review


It’s funny, I feel like I didn’t really go anywhere this year, even though I know that’s not true in the slightest. I only needed my passport once, but that was for 19 countries spread out over eight weeks as I paroled the waters of the Mediterranean, Atlantic, Baltic and North Sea as the communications coordinator for Enrichment Voyages once more.

St. Petersburg, Russia

On that trip, we hit up: Spain, Monaco, France, Italy, Spain (again), Morocco, Portugal, France (again), Belgium, Holland, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, England, Norway, Latvia, Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and England (again). I’m absolutely gutted I can’t go on this year’s Enrichment Voyage through Europe, but work is keeping me at home (it was really tough being at sea for eight weeks with little-to-no Internet access). Maybe in 2015!

Europe travel

But that wasn’t all. We started the year in Florida for a dear friend’s 30th birthday. I backed out of spending my own 30th in Tanzania the next month and instead spent it in Asheville with SVV and some of my favorites.


I also went to Chicago, where I made some lifelong friendships thanks to being a part of the Travel Mindset influencer team, and headed to—and subsequently became smitten with—Kentucky for a quick magazine assignment.

Garage Bar in Louisville, Kentucky

Early spring saw me in Kansas City for a Hampton Inn campaign, Memphis for a Southern Living assignment and Atlanta for a girls’ trip with my cousin.

Kansas City, Missouri

Then it was a quick trip to New York City for the first visit of the year for a media marketplace and meetings for KEEN, before coming back and turning right around to head out to Europe for two months.

Keukenhof tulips in Holland

I returned in early summer, then went to Miami (work),Β Atlanta (work), Knoxville (work), Alabama (#cousinsweekend2013), Charleston (work and play) and Charlotte (play).

Charleston, South Carolina

To close out summer and welcome fall, I spent a week in NYC with my mom, then met SVV in California for a week to see his family.

Bay Area, California

Rounding out the fall months, when I was more stationary than usual—which is not saying much—I spoke at a writers’ conference in Georgia, watched two great friends get married in Ohio, headed out to Seattle for a visit to Microsoft base camp…

Seattle, Washington

…made it toΒ KnoxvilleΒ for a UT game…

Knoxville's Neyland Stadium

…road tripped it around Asheville for a Southern Living assignment, and spent a glorious, stress-free week in the Florida Keys on an actual vacation for a change.

John Pennekamp State Park

In all, I guess 11 states and 18 countries isn’t that bad for a single calendar year. I have no idea how many miles I flew—much fewer than you’d think as a lot of my travel was done by sea—or drove, but I can tell you I spent a grand total of 137 days in hotel rooms, Airbnb rentals or ship cabins (and that’s not including nights I crashed with friends or family members). In 2014, I will spend more nights in this glorious old Queen Anne we purchased 18 months ago!


2013 was HARD, y’all. I know I didn’t talk much about the trials and tribulations on here—I knew starting a conference from scratch with no funding would be difficult, but the challenges I faced were just mind-blowing and sometimes entirely unnecessary—but let’s just say that less than two months before KEEN happened, my business partner backed out, leaving me with 100 percent of the work load … and 100 percent of the bill. So that was … well, challenging … and frustrating … and hard … but the fact that we—being SVV, me, our ace biz development director Lana and event-planning all-star Kendall—pulled it off with panache (and a good deal of positive feedback) made the end result even more rewarding. We’re still in hiatus mode as we reevaluate for year two, but the plan now is to do a condensed version of the conference in early October.

KEEN team

On the freelance side, I did well. Actually, really well. I made as much in six months as most full-time staff editors make annually as a salary. (Unfortunately, it all went directly back into funding KEEN, but hey, I signed up for that.)

Ella on the computer

I don’t know what 2014 will hold on the work front. I do know that I’m slated to launch Thrillist’s Nashville edition, hopefully I’ll get even more fun assignments from Southern Living (those are my favorite kinds), I’m collaborating with a couple other start-ups, and I suppose I’ll continue to dabble in the freelance market, though my interest in staying fully immersed in the (national) magazine world oscillates. (It’s a tough market, y’all; sometimes I’m not sure I’m up for the hustle much longer.)

Oh, and I’m now doing media consulting for those crazy enough to want to jump in the journalism/social media scene and am back to doing part-time trip planning for a travel agency if any of y’all need assistance! Just drop me a line.


I’m still loving being back in the South more than even and able to see my parents on a weekly basis and my Nashville and Memphis cousins every month or two. Now, if we could just get Kari to move back to Nashville from Charlotte, all would be peachy! I have three nieces and nephews out in California who I miss dearly, and I hope we can get them out this way to visit sometime over the next 12 months (I’ll be seeing them all for a day in February when I pass through those parts).

Christmas family photo

Christmas family photo

And I’m still married to the best guy in the world and parent to the cutest puppy you’ll ever meet. That hasn’t changed.

SVV and Kristin

SVV and Ella


One of the biggest game changers of 2014 on the friend front was how my former roomie (and bestie) Katy up and moved to Nashville. We’ve gotten into some debauchery and had some wild times, and I only expect that to amplify in her second year as a Tennessean.


And she brought this guy, who has become a regular fixture in our home, with her.

Cow the Elf

My other BFF Lemon technically got engaged at the tail end of 2012, but has spent much of 2013 planning her epic Texas wedding, which will take place in April. And overall, I’m just lucky (and blessed) to have such a great, eclectic, newfound group of friends in Nashville who keep me sane and entertained.

Ugly Sweater Party


I haven’t blogged about our Victorian in ages, primarily as we have so many half-finished projects going on right now (and have run out of funds and good weather for the time being). We replaced the whole roof (one costly project) after it started leaking last summer, then started the process of replacing all of the siding, which is original from the 1800s (it was time). That was all sorts of fun with that going on over my home office in the two weeks leading up to KEEN. SVV also had a custom-made copper finial built, which he installed with a bucket lift last month, so now we really are living in the fanciest dame in town (or at least on the block).

Queen Anne

And then I came home yesterday after 10 days away to a flooded basement and a broken water heater. Ohhhh, the joys of homeownership.

Hopefully, when spring comes, SVV and I will be able to get our elbows in some more home projects that I can blog about (as well as finish the siding, repaint the whole exterior and put up a fence so I can foster dogs for the local no-kill shelter).


What will 2014 hold?

Travel-wise, I don’t currently have any set plans to use my passport in the first quarter of the year. (Unless, a day in Mexico last week counted? I ate some fish tacos and drank some tequila while watching the BCS game, so perhaps it does.) Rather, those late winter and early spring months will be dominated by wedding travel. I have a wedding in Nashville, one in Austin (maid matron of honor), one in Denver (bridesmaid), one in NYC and—this just in—likely one in LA. Then, there’s the bachelorette parties that I can make it to (others I can’t) in Savannah and Napa. And a couple other Tennessee weddings later in the summer. I thought my 2007 was The Year All My Friends Got Hitched, but it seems 2014 wins that honor.

Ohio Wedding

But we do have one huge trip planned for SVV’s 40th(!!!!!) birthday on July 4. We’ll be going with my family and some friends on an 11-night cruise aboard the Royal Clipper through Italy, Greece, Montenegro, Croatia and Slovenia. Then, we’ll stick around Rome for a couple nights with my parents and head over to my husband’s former stomping grounds in Sicily for a week (he lived there 1997 to 2000 and hasn’t been back since). If you’re interested in a similar cruise, feel free to email me, as I’ve gotten some pretty amazing agent rates through the Clippers (nearly half-off!).

Star Clipper

On the blog front, C&C is in its seventh year. I never assumed I’d still be blogging by this point. I sort of just assumed like everything else in my life, it would eventually fizzle out. And I’m not entirely sure where I go from here. Do I continue with what I’ve been doing, or do y’all want to see something different? Do I keep predominantly sharing my travels, or would you prefer more personal/real-life posts sprinkled in the mix? Really, my 2014 is a blank slate, and someone needs to tell me what to do with my life, so it might as well be all of you who have been with me for so long… πŸ˜‰

Kristin, Scott, Ella

Now your turn: What does the new year hold for you? What are you most excited for in 2014?


For past year-end reviews, see my recaps here:Β 2008,Β 2009,Β 2010,Β 2011,Β 2012,Β 2013,Β 2014,Β 2015, 2016 andΒ 2017.

  • January 14, 2014

    You are just one highly motivated busy gal. I like to read about what’s happening in your life and travels.

    2014 is starting off with a three month journey through South Africa, leave tomorrow. Then back to Grand Canyon for six months of work so I can afford to play again.

    • January 15, 2014

      I’m so happy for you! (Also, marginally jealous.) That’s going to be a fantastic trip, and I can’t wait to read all about it on your blog.

  • January 14, 2014

    wow what a busy year! your house looks great and i love the idea of fostering the dogs! How nice of you

  • January 14, 2014

    It sounds like you deserve a more low-key year after the last one! I like seeing your travels AND real-life/personal posts, which I think you already do a good job of mixing in.

    I will likely be moving this year, even though we’ve only had our house for 2.5 years – we’ve decided we want to leave the ‘burbs and move into an historic urban neighborhood! So that’s exciting and the big goal for the year. I’ve also got a few trips planned – back to Charleston and Asheville for long weekends, finally going to DC (it’s only 6-7 hours from me and I’ve never been!), and Oregon for our longer vacation.

    • January 15, 2014

      That sounds lovely! As an owner of a very old house, I do love me some historic buildings =)

  • January 14, 2014

    Love the year-end recap. It also must be nice to have the previous recaps as a digital yearbook.

    I enjoy the travel posts and the mixture you have going. πŸ™‚

    • January 15, 2014

      And I enjoyed that 2013 was the year we finally got to meet!!

      • January 15, 2014

        How could I forget to mention that?!? Yes, cheers to new ‘blog-turned-real-life’ friends in 2013!

  • January 14, 2014

    Last year surely seems to have been busy! do you actually enjoy all those countries even for a few days each?!? and I felt I was running around! πŸ˜‰

    Wish you the best for 2014! I’m sure you’ll just have more fun and more exciting experiences to share!
    Our 2014 will be spent on the road between South American (where we arrived 3 weeks ago) and back to Europe. A Lovers’ adventure and back visiting great places in beautiful countries. A lot of fun too!

    Enjoy the road!

    • January 15, 2014

      Almost everywhere I visited in 2013 was somewhere I’d been before for a longer period of time. (For example, I had spent at least six months living in Scotland, Denmark and Holland in my student days.) So it wasn’t that bad, as I knew the terrain and could just visit the highlights or things I’d never managed to do on past visits.

      That’s the downside of traveling by ship, I suppose, but at least we got a few days in each port vs. a normal cruise where you’re in in the morning and out in the afternoon.

      Have a blast in South America! That’s one continent where I’ve done very little exploring.

  • January 14, 2014

    Just keep C&C alive with any kind of writing please. No whinging from me as long as I have this space to come back to for the usual fun / interesting reads and visuals. πŸ™‚

    • January 15, 2014

      I adore you! Thanks for always being so encouraging!

  • January 14, 2014

    Love this recap – what a crazy, awesome year! I am looking forward to a little less travel to far-flung, exotic places (which I still love of course), hopefully, and more returning to familiar places I love so much – London, Kiawah, Paris, Italy…

    • January 15, 2014

      Exactly! We are so on the same page. The less time in a plane, the better. And bonus if I can drive there =)

  • January 14, 2014

    Love the recap too! I like both the travel posts, personal posts, business posts …. whatever comes up in your life! Just keep posting : ). I originally came to your blog via travel blogs, but as I follow I love learning about your entrepreneurial adventures & your lovely family with all of the white dogs as well!

    • January 15, 2014

      Thank you so much! I’m glad our pack of rabid dogs has a fan base πŸ˜‰

  • January 14, 2014

    This year will be the year we take our trip to New York. I have always wanted to go ever sense I was a little kid. I am pretty excited about it. My husband and I will be going with my 4 year old son and my mother. It sound like you have a good Year planned too!

    • January 15, 2014

      NYC with a 4 year old sounds like a lot of fun! There’s so much to do in the city, and a lot of it is very kid friendly. Have a blast!

  • January 14, 2014

    Girlll you are busy!! Man! Super jealous that you’re heading out on the Clipper this year, I can’t wait to read all about it.

    • January 16, 2014

      Have you ever been? We did a Caribbean trip on the Clipper a little over a year ago, and it was awesome! They even had a dive instructor on board, which was fun.

  • January 14, 2014
    Briel K.

    You do more in a year than I’ve done in my life! haha That’s how I managed to read so many books last year since you wondered. πŸ˜‰

    I always enjoy the travel posts, as well as the book posts, but I would like more personal/real-life ones as well! Variety is good. Looking forward to seeing more of your beautiful house! πŸ™‚

    For 2014 I’m most excited to visit Bali for three weeks in June!

    • January 16, 2014

      Honestly, my personal/real life when not traveling is SO boring, there’s not really anything to say! It would be all, “today, I slept in till 8am. Then I cuddled with Ella some. Then I made coffee. Then I knocked out a story or seven. Then I made up a song I sang to Ella, and she rolled her eyes and turned over in her bed. Then I waited for SVV to come home from work so happy hour could begin! The end.” πŸ˜‰

  • January 15, 2014

    You can write about anything you want to write about and I’ll read it! We get to see each other so little, this makes up for all the conversations I wish we were having in person over cocktails πŸ˜‰

    • January 16, 2014

      I hope 2014 promises more face time with YOU!

  • January 15, 2014

    Whoa! You were busy! Personally, as much as I love the travel posts (they were what initially drew me – and, c’mon, they’re travel!) I’ve also really liked seeing what you’ve been doing with your place πŸ™‚

    • January 16, 2014

      Our house has been a bit on hold due to funds (we spent our entire house fund producing the conference!) but once we make headway in some thrifty projects this spring, I promise to blog them! =)

  • January 15, 2014

    It’s surprising how much we manage to cram into a year when you look at it like this. I trust you’ll have a fantastic 2014!

  • January 15, 2014

    Whenever I start to think I don’t have enough time to do something, or I’m too busy, or I’m overwhelmed, I think to myself: Kristin Luna has the same number of hours in the day that you do. I’m not kidding.

    As a loyal reader and a friend, I love reading a mix of both your travels and your personal life. I hope we have another meeting in 2014!

    • January 16, 2014

      Bonnaroo? June? πŸ˜‰

      (And thank you for the sweet words and always being so supportive!)

  • January 15, 2014

    I think you should keep blogging πŸ™‚ I always look forward to your blog posts for the week and I get all giddy when I see it pop up on my Feedly (does that make me sound creepy to you!? My apologies!). I’d love to continue hearing about your travels, sprinkled with your personal life… pretty much what you’ve been doing all this time! All the best for 2014, Kristin!!

    • January 16, 2014

      Not creepy, just flattered! Thank you so much for being so encouraging!

  • January 15, 2014

    You had quite the year! So sorry to hear that your business partner backed out, but it sounds like KEEN came off beautifully. Well done!

    I like the mix you’ve got going, and am always up for more personal and real-life posts. (Because I am a nosy parker, of course!)

    Hmmm…2014? Quite a big travel year (for me; probably not compared to others), about half for work and half for weddings. Either way, great times to be had! I hope you make it to Chicago again in 2014; I was glad that 2013 was the year we finally met in person!

    • January 16, 2014

      Are any of those weddings in Nashville, mayhaps? πŸ˜‰

      • January 16, 2014

        I wish! But at least two of the three are in my old stomping grounds of Baltimore/DC. πŸ™‚ The third is in Chicago. Amazing to be part of a wedding that I don’t have to travel for! I’d forgotten what that’s like….

        • January 16, 2014

          I actually have ONE of my SIX weddings this spring in Nashville, and I’m all, “thank God, that’s one less plane ticket I have to purchase!” Heh.

  • January 15, 2014

    What a year! πŸ™‚ Cheers to a better 2014!!!

  • January 16, 2014

    Juno took the words right off my keyboard!! What an incredible year you had! I wasn’t a huge fan of 2013, like most, but am super excited for all of the possibilities this year holds!

    • January 16, 2014

      What was it about 2013, do you think? Maybe the fact that, historically, the number “13” is unlucky had something to do with it?

  • January 16, 2014

    Wow what a year for you. I don’t think I ever said this but your photos of Scotland made me change my mind about the country. I had absolutely no desire to go at all and then I saw how beautiful it was.

    • January 16, 2014

      That makes my day! Actually, I had little desire to go to Scotland myself, and then somehow wound up there studying abroad in 2003 with low expectations, and it quickly became one of my favorite countries in the world. I feel like it’s very much an underrated destination (maybe the tourism board needs to change that!).

  • January 16, 2014

    What a great 2013 you had! Chicago is definitely on our list for the near future! Your house is absolutely beautiful and so is your little doggy. Have a wonderful time in Greece with your family. Sounds like it is going to be a great time!

    As of now, we are heading back to Thailand in February, then to Turkey, Iran, Israel, And Palestine…..and perhaps Croatia and surrounding countries (haven’t decided yet) we are currently in Bali, soaking up the sun, and rain…. Hahaha

    • January 20, 2014

      If you ever make it to Nashville on your way to Chicago, you have a room at our house πŸ˜‰

  • January 16, 2014

    Best post–and not just because my cat’s on here! Thanks for including me in so many of your adventures, you crazy girl.


    • January 20, 2014

      2014: the Year of Cow & Ella.

  • January 18, 2014

    Great review, seems like a really amazing year to me. 18 countries, not bad at all. I’ve never come even close to that and this year probably won’t be different, it’s difficult to find the time. Anyway great post, hope 2014 will be even better!

    • January 20, 2014

      Well, that’s mainly because I worked on a ship! Would be hard for me to make it all those places by plane, train or automobile, ha πŸ˜‰

  • January 18, 2014

    A great year indeed for you! My 2013 wasn’t bad at all, did a few trips and finally made it to Morocco (about time)! No plans for 2014 as of yet, but I do think it will be better than last year…I hope! And it wasn’t bad either …

    • January 20, 2014

      Oooh I love Morocco! Such fantastic culture. And you spent a good deal of time in the US, it seems =)

  • January 19, 2014

    These are some extraordinary pictures. Great photography.

  • January 19, 2014

    What a year you had! Sorry to hear about your KEEN partner backing out! That was not cool πŸ™
    I loved reading about your stint at the M/V Explorer. I would love to take the kids with me on a cruise, one day!

    • January 20, 2014

      Not cool at all.

      If you ever are seriously interested in the Enrichment Voyages, just let me know–I can get you a pretty sweet deal below the published rates!

      • January 22, 2014

        I will, Kristin!! I’ll give the little boy some sweet time to grow up a bit and we’ll go! πŸ™‚

  • January 20, 2014

    Fantastic recap. If you’re ever in San Diego again, let’s catch up!

    • January 20, 2014

      Ahhh, I thought you lived in ATL! I love San Diego–fantastic food!

  • January 22, 2014

    Love this recap – gives me my dose of vicarious living! Cannot wait to see what 2014 brings – always a job reading your words and hearing about your experiences!

  • January 24, 2014

    wow i cant believe im reading another yearly cap. i think this is my 4th or 5th one? ive been here for a while huh? it seems to all go so fast. i agree w you, 2013 was a lot slower for you (and really slow for me too – maybe we are on similar/parallel wavelengths ha). however, slow for you is still fast for the average american : ) i think 2013 was a lot more personal for you – lots of personal domestic trips, friends, lots of family, lots of american (ze south) destinations&activities, still not a bad life! : ) kinda funny when i realize this but i think thats why i am connected to this blog- we love love love traveling but our home base will always be america bc thats where our friends and family are!!!! 2014 seems like it’s going to be fun esp the europe leg again. can never go wrong when u rinse &repeat europe. as for 2014 and new types of posts on this blog- i think you are perfectly fine. keep blogging about your life and anything you want even if it means transitioning to more domestic posts. i enjoy reading those too. the abroad ones have been established so ‘been there done that’. it’s funny how you say you slow down…i say that too!!!! but i think we both secretly know we will always be “abroad” somehow and someway ha : )…never gonna be a year where you dont leave. no matter what happens the traveling bug is in your DNA and blood

  • January 31, 2014

    What a year! And I’m a glad to hear Keen Summit will be back for a round 2. I wanted to attend in 2013, but the dates coincided with a trip to Peru and…well…Machu Picchu won out. πŸ™‚ Glad to hear the conference was a success and I hope to attend the next one in October!

  • February 1, 2014

    I always feel like a slacker when people younger than me have done so much! <3 Great year!

  • May 2, 2014

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