When I wrote this post for 2016, I was able to say with some certainty that I had taken almost 10,000 photos that year.

Looking back on 2017, I have no idea how I might even calculate that! I am very confident I shot over 9,000 photos on my iPhone alone, but I also shot on my new Sony Alpha NEX-6 a lot… so it’s safe to say I definitely took over 10,000 photos again this year!

It’s hard to distill 10,000+ photos to a handful that really capture the essence of this year, but I did my best. They show many of the places I traveled to, as well as the places I called home.

On New Year’s Day each year, Mr. Valise and I have a tradition of going out to the coast just before sunset. We go for a walk, talk about our year, and watch the sun go down to mark of the end of the previous year. We also always shoot some amazing photos! (See 2015 and 2016.)

In early February, I spent a few days in Houston, Texas attending a NASA Social event. I also did some videography during my trip for another company, when meant spending an entire day zipping around the city filming the top sites and street art. This pic came from that trip! (Expect my Houston stories on how you can have the same fun, in January!)

In March, Marissa and I went on my first cruise, through the Caribbean. In Cartagena, Colombia, I got this photo of two explorers on a bicycle. It was one of my favorite port stops on that trip. Learn more about how to explore colonial Cartagena in this post.

Another photo from Cartagena, this time of me, a colorful wall, and my favorite valise-colored skirt! Marissa and I had fun doing photo shoots during our exploration – but that’s most of the fun of a quick trip to Cartagena anyway!

In April, I had two trips back-to-back: to Milwaukee for the Women in Travel Summit, followed by a trip to Los Angeles for my 30th birthday. This photo was taken at sunrise yoga in the Milwaukee Art Museum. Seriously, it was one of the coolest venues I’ve ever done yoga in! The MAM has more on their website here.

Here’s a photo from the rest of that back-to-back trip: the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Mr. Valise and I flew down to Los Angeles and spent a full day exploring the Wizarding World. It was definitely one of my most magical days! If you want to visit the Wizarding World in Hollywood, here’s my guide.

By early May, I was back on another cruise ship – this time in Southeast Alaska with UnCruise Adventures. Marissa and I spent a week aboard the Safari Endeavour, traveling slowly and learning more about my home state. This photo, taken on one of our last days, is my “Instagram-friendly” capture of how good it felt to be home.

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At the end of May, I went back to Alaska, with Mr. Valise in tow. We spent the long weekend in my old stomping grounds: Eagle River and Anchorage. We also went to Seward and Alyeska, and basically just explored everywhere I used to travel in Alaska while I was growing up. It was nice to show him “where I’m from,” and I updated my 10-day Alaska itinerary after our trip.

In May, I also took a trip to the Bay Area, which started the long process of transitioning into my full-time role as Managing Editor at Go Overseas. During that trip, I stayed in Oakland and spent time exploring the city by foot. I fell in love with this photo of Lake Merritt – I took this not far from where I now live!

After another trip to Berkeley in June, I spent a week in Chicago in July. I was in town for two reasons: to see friends from London, and to celebrate another London friend’s bachelorette weekend. While searching for delicious deep dish pizza (mentioned in my best meals of the year post), I grabbed this alley shot with the Chicago Public Library in the distance. I love the contrast and colors!

Later in July, Mr. Valise and I took a day trip from Seattle to Leavenworth to do a photoshoot and research for an article I wrote about tiny houses. These five little homes sit on the edge of a lake – and they’re available for rent!

Though I didn’t share the photo until October, this was my prized photo of the solar eclipse in August. Arguably one of the most important events of the year for everyone, it was especially important to me as I’ve become increasingly focused on my new site, Space Tourism Guide in 2017.

Before leaving Seattle, I had a few last-minute assignments to complete for Lonely Planet, and one included visiting Kerry Park to get “the money shot” of the Seattle skyline. This photo was taken shortly after sunrise in August, and it still makes me homesick!

I took a long break from posting to Instagram in August for two reasons. First, it was the first month I was working full-time (remotely), and second, because we relocated to the Bay Area in August, and that was *highly* stressful for me. By the first weekend in September, I was back on the road – and back in Chicago. For my friend’s wedding, I made sure to grab a Chicago dog and a shot at Navy Pier. Very Chicago.

Upon arriving and settling into life in the Bay Area, I started to try and branch out to find new friends. For several weekends in September and October, I went to photo meetups around San Francisco. That included this one at Sutro Baths (read my post about the history of Sutro Baths). This is a group of photographers at sunset, and I just love the light. It also kinda made me feel like a real photographer to capture the light and color this way.

In early November, I took a beekeeping class (one of my 40 Before 40 goals!). I loved learning more about bees and spending time with them at their hives. If you don’t respect bees and want to help them survive, I recommend taking a class to learn more about how important they are for our planet.

While I took another trip in November to Huntington Beach for Mr. Valise’s 30th birthday, I can only pick one more photo to sum up the year – and it has to be this one hiking near Tahoe in early December. As part of our company retreat, the Go Overseas team spent two days in Tahoe ending with a hike to Eagle Lake in Desolation Wilderness. Cue Instagram photo shoots!

All jokes aside, it’s crazy how far life has come in 2017. I went from being freshly back in Seattle to traveling/cruising around the world to relocating and settling into life in the Bay Area. These changes have all been (on the whole) for the good, and 2018 is an exciting prospect for me. I have a lot more stability than I’ve had for the past five years, but I also have plenty of trips planned and work that excites me.

Here’s to the new year! ? I hope you and your family have a healthy and happy New Year too!



I literally had a squizz through my 2017 Instagram photos just now ahaha. You’ve taken such beautiful photos! Looks like you saw some amazing sights last year. The castle is amazing! I look forward to seeing more in 2018! 🙂 xx


Thanks for reading! Glad I could inspire you to look back through your year too!


I love this idea for a blog post! It looks like you had a fantastic year! I’ve been touring Colombia and Cartagena is still on my list of cities to visit. One day soon. 🙂

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