A sunrise in South Africa

How We Maximized Our Vacation Time in 2014

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If you’ve ever wondered how we can see the world with just a handful of vacation days, we’ll let you in our secret. 2014 was a big year for us and here is how we did it:

St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans

In January, we started in New Orleans having just returned from a holiday cruise. We took lots of photos in New Orleans, enjoyed a cemetery tour and sampled the amazing food of the Big Easy.

Tombs in a cemetery in New Orleans
On our travels, we’re frequently drawn to the tranquility and beauty of cemeteries, like this one in New Orleans.

In February, I had a business trip to Florida and spent an extra weekend taking in some of fun activities in Orlando for adults. We spent a romantic weekend back in New York City enjoying a Little Italy and Chinatown food tour as well as a Lower Eastside walking tour.

Cheeses and Meats from Italy

A business trip took me to Germany for a week in March and I spent an extra weekend exploring Europe’s forgotten capital: Regensburg, Germany. We also returned to New York City, where we lived for many years, to visit the September 11 Memorial.

Dom St. Peter (St. Peter's Cathedral) in Regensburg, Germany
Dom St. Peter

In April, Laura went home to Texas to visit family and went to the Scarborough Renaissance Festival to party like its 1533. Meanwhile, I went back to Colorado to see my parents and we took a little getaway to visit the Glenwood Springs Pool. At the end of the month, another business trip took me to California where I visited a number of craft breweries in San Diego.

The Glenwood Hot Springs Pool in Colorado

Our first big trip of the year came at the end of May: 10 days in South Africa and Zambia. It’s always been our dream to go on a Big Five Safari and we spent a long time planning this South African safari trip. We did both walking safaris as well as driving safaris. On South Africa’s southern coast, we hoped to scuba diving with the sharks, but weather prevented it, so we ended up enjoying the Creation Winery in the Hermanus wine region and also the Grootbos Nature Reserve.

Bull elephant
Bull elephant

We took a quick side trip from South Africa to Zambia to see Victoria Falls and enjoy the private Islands of Siankaba on the Zambezi River.

Victoria Falls in Zambia
Victoria Falls near peak flow will get you more than a little wet

Our trip to Africa concluded in one of the world’s greatest cities: Cape Town. We took in many Cape Town attractions, including the Constantia and Stellenbosch wine regions and the Cape Peninsula.

View from Table Mountain in Cape Town

On the way over to South Africa, we stopped in London and packed as much sightseeing as possible into an 8 hour Heathrow Layover. It’s amazing how much of London you can see in such a short amount of time.

The black crows of the Tower of London
The black crows of the Tower of London

In the summer, we were able to squeeze in a weekend getaway to Virginia. We took a behind-the-scenes tour at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home as well as enjoyed the wineries along the Monticello Wine Trail and craft breweries in Richmond.

Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello, in Charlottesville, Virginia

July took me to Chicago on business and I extended a weekend to visit Northwest Indiana, sample some of the craft beers on the South Shore Brewery Trail and take in the rebirth of ‘Rust Belt’ community.

Beer vault at Crown Brewery
Crown Brewery’s legendary Beer Vault

Another business trip to Germany gave me a chance to visit Wurzburg, the start to the Romantic Road and the capital of Franconia wine region. Also, this rare summer trip to Germany afforded me the chance to take photos of the Nazi Party Rally Grounds in Nuremberg with blue skies and sunshine (I’ve been here five times before, but always in the winter).

Statue on the Old Bridge in Wurzburg
Statues on the Old Bridge over the Main River

Our second big trip of the year came in October when we traveled to Eastern Europe. Picking up our rental car in Budapest, we drove into Slovakia and visited the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Banska Stiavnica before relaxing in a Communist-era spa at Kupele Sklene Teplice and visiting the quirky and unique wooden churches in Northern Slovakia. We pushed onward into Poland and visited Auschwitz – a place that needs no introduction – before heading back to Budapest and exploring its communist history.

The Hungarian Parliament Building

The end of the year took us on a real vacation – a cruise of the Caribbean with stops in St. Croix, St. Kitts, Dominica, Grenada, and St. Thomas. Getting a dose of warm weather and sunshine was just what we needed!

And that is how we maximized our vacation time in 2014! Our secret is to use holidays and weekends to maximize the number of vacation days, while extending work trips whenever possible. 2014 was a year of great travel, but 2015 promises to be an even more exciting year!

6 thoughts on “How We Maximized Our Vacation Time in 2014”

  1. Wow! What a travel year you guys had!! I have always wanted to do a cemetery tour and that trip to Africa would be a dream come true! Sure enjoyed reading about your travels!

  2. Wow – I love reading about how you made travel possible within limited vacation. And your photos are fantastic! Thank you for the inspiration.

  3. What a clever way to travel more! I also use weekends and holidays to extend vacation, but can’t fulfill my travel dreams as often as i’d wish for several reasons. Happy for you and keep bringing the world closer to all of us who can only dream of doing the same some day!

    1. Thanks Cynthia! One of our big mantras is – There is No Right Way to Travel. Do as much as you can and in whatever fits your life. Hopefully, we can keep providing you a lot of inspiration!

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