The Year Of Travel: What To Do, See And Eat In 14 International Cities

To travel is to discover yourself in many different places.

You unearth thought-provoking history and create unforgettable memories.

You get to see and experience everything fully.

There’s just something about traveling that makes us all come alive, like we’re breathing for the very first time against a new horizon.

That’s why I wanted more of it this year.

At the end of 2014, I made a promise to myself for the following year.

I set out to see the world I so desperately craved more of.

I decided right then and there I was going to travel at least once every month of 2015.

Then, I bought my first flight immediately.

Now, that’s quite a promise to make to yourself in your 20s.

It’s quite a promise if you’re someone who's just started a full-time career in the real world, is limited by funds and still needs time to breathe.

I’m all of these things, so it was as daunting as it was exciting to set this goal almost a year ago.

There was no trust fund.

There was no sabbatical.

There was no doppelgänger to run my errands or my life.

I was going to figure it out somehow because that’s what you do when you're really passionate about something.

I was more passionate about wanting to live out of a suitcase than I was about wanting to sleep in on a Sunday.

So, throughout this year, I’ve seen a lot, eaten too much, slept not at all, accumulated miles, laughed a ton, cried over turbulence and learned to appreciate the first night back in my own bed.

Now that the year is coming to an end, I only have one trip left.

But here are all the places I can already recommend:

1. Atlanta, Georgia

Must see: Piedmont Park

Must do: Sweetwater Brewery

Must eat: Aria

2. New York, New York

Must do: Statue of Liberty tour

Must see: Brooklyn Bridge

Must eat: Traif

3. Austin, Texas

Must do: Attend SXSW

Must see: The city via Rocket Electrics

Must eat: Any of the 4,000 food trucks

4. Washington DC

Must do: DC Museums

Must see: National Mall

Must eat: Rose’s Luxury

5. Madrid, Spain

Must do: Row a boat at Parque del Buen Retiro

Must see: Plazas via a self-guided tour

Must eat: Mercado San Miguel

6. Barcelona, Spain

Must do: Day trip to Montserrat

Must see: Every Gaudí building (especially de la Sagrada Família)

Must eat: 7 Portes

7. Lisbon, Portugal

Must do: Tram 28 up to Alfama

Must see: Fado in Chiado show

Must eat: Pastéis de Belém

8. Tampa, Florida

Must do: Busch Gardens

Must see: Gulf of Mexico via a boat tour

Must eat: Ciro’s Speakeasy and Supper Club

9. Orlando, Florida

Must do: Walt Disney World

Must see: Hogwarts

Must eat: Around the world at Epcot

10. Chicago, Illinois

Must do: Architecture boat tour

Must see: Skydeck

Must eat: Mott Street

11. Nashville, Tennessee

Must do: Pedal Tavern along Broadway

Must see: An act at Bluebird Cafe

Must eat: Loveless Cafe

12. Los Angeles, California

Must do: Spend the day in Santa Monica

Must see: The view from the Griffith Observatory

Must eat: Sugarfish

13. Newport, Rhode Island

Must do: Walk along Cliff Walk

Must see: Newport mansions

Must eat: The Mooring

14. New Orleans, Louisiana

Must do: Wander the French Quarter

Must see: Jazz on Frenchman Street

Must eat: Café Du Monde

Throughout this whole year, I kept talking about how exhausted I was from traveling, how much I needed sleep, how I couldn’t believe I did this to myself, how catching up on email on Mondays was too rough and how the TSA would soon get the best of me.

Yet, now that the year is coming to an end, I wouldn’t have done it any differently.

I’m thrilled to have had the chance to see so many new places, meet so many new people and experience life from multiple vantage points.

What I lost in sleep, I gained in memories.

What I spent in money, I gained in experience.

What vacation days I used, I gained some of the best days of my life.

What I gave up will never compare to what I gained and how I grew.

You should see these cities, too.

I wouldn’t have done 2015 any other way, and 2016 has a lot to live up to.