Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Life Lessons from my Summer of Travel

Summer 2015 has been extraordinary, exhausting, exhilarating, exceptional... Probably a whole bunch of other E words. Basically, I haven't been home for a full calendar week since May, and that streak won't end until the middle of August. That's right, I have a couple more adventures to come. But I since I have some time off this week, I wanted to reflect on the lessons I've learned so far from each adventure!

1. Blogger Trip - Chicago, IL

  • Going on a trip with 7 people you've never met can be a little intimidating, but absolutely wonderful!
  • When everyone else is buying giant bags of popcorn, just trust that they know what they're talking about and get a couple bags yourself. 
  • If you can afford the upgrade to "club access" - do it. It's worth it. 
  • Flights are never guaranteed. Pack extra underwear. 

2. Blogger Trip - Door County, WI

  • Always ask locals where they like to eat - they'll send you to amazing places like Fish Creek Market!
  • When you are zip lining, don't push back and away from the platform. 
  • Don't be afraid to ask for what you want - you might get to ride go-karts and do paintball

3. Gymnastics Camp - Lincoln, NE

  • Always bring sunscreen if you're going to sit by the pool all day
  • Gym moms are pretty much the most fun people on the planet
  • There is a lot more to Lincoln, NE than one might actually realize - give it a chance! 

4. ISTE 2015 - Philadelphia, PA

  • I don't care if you're there for a work conference, make sure you take time to appreciate the amazing history of being in a place like Philadelphia! 
  • Cheesesteaks are kind of overrated. And don't believe them when they say you "have" to have it with Whiz. 
  • Networking is just as important as going to sessions. Those are the relationships that will benefit you for years to come. 

5. Family Vacation - Washington DC

  • Don't feel guilty about not bringing the baby along - you'll miss him, but museums and miles and miles of walking are not going to be fun for either of you
  • Let your kids have their own shopping money in a fixed amount ahead of time - it removes the stress of having to factor in the extra added cost as you go
  • When you fly Delta, they still give you snacks. This is not true of every airline. It is, however, true of Southwest. 

6. Code.Org Training - Chicago, IL

  • Chicago weather is just as hot and humid as Iowa, even if it feels like you're in a completely different place. Be prepared to sweat the minute you go outside.
  • The Sheraton Chicago is a top notch place to stay, and you can see the fireworks from one side of the hotel. 
  • There are tons of fun things to discover walking along the river. It's not San Antonio, but it's still beautiful - especially at night!

7. ASCD Leader to Leader Conference - Washington DC

  • Go big or go home - this actually applies to every trip. You're not going to be there forever, and who knows when you'll get to go back. You're tired? Rest when you get home. Take advantage of every opportunity! Try new things.
  • Going outside your comfort zone and making new friends is one of the best parts of travel. Especially if you're going on your own and don't really know anyone. Not very often do I leave a conference/trip actually missing the people I met while there (thinking of them fondly, sure, but missing them?), but this was definitely one of those trips!
  • Everyone should see the monuments at night at least once. On the weekends the metro runs until 3am (although you don't have to do it that late!) - take advantage of it. 
  • There is always something new (and free) to see in this city, I swear. 
  • Do not fly Southwest if you are a family, unless you plan on checking in super early. You pick your own seat on a first come, first served basis - if you're at the back it's definitely going to be tough to find seats together! 


  1. What a fabulous list of suggestions! I especially loved the Chicago blogger trip list because - well-- we were roomies and yes---it did turn out to be wonderful. We started out not knowing each other and then the magic happened and we were all instant friends. Thanks for the fun list! Your summer was jam packed. :-)

  2. This is awesome! I'm so glad I got to go on two of these vacations with you! :) I feel like something needs to be added about starting our own fire too ;)

  3. I know everyone says they have a busy summer but you really have. Your family knows how to take full advantage of opportunities, which I love.