My Top 5 Travel Experiences of 2015

2015 flew by and took forever all in the same moment. As cliche as it is to look back and see how much you’ve learned, grown, wasted time, etc., I find it very necessary. I even do a year-in-review (coming soon) that analyzes how my year went. It helps me tremendously prepare for the next year.

Although this year was by far the most insane I’ve had yet, I had some pretty epic travel experiences around the world, including moving back to New Zealand at the end of November. I hope your 2015 was full of incredible travel experiences meeting new people and exploring new lands, and I wish you many more journeys in 2016!

Here are my top 5 experiences of 2015 (in no particular order):

Budapest, Hungary


Travel Tuesday is upon us and I wanted to share a special moment with all of you! I personally take time out each day to express my gratitude for my life and everything I have. One of the best ways for me to be reminded of the incredible life I lead is to look over my travel photos and see where I’ve been. This picture popped out from all the rest today because I remember every single thing about that moment. I was so happy to be in Budapest, experiencing that incredible city for the first time. The girls who took this photo were two young ladies on a trip for school. They were studying abroad and were in Budapest for the weekend. I chatted with them about solo travel and their plans to do the same once they’re done with school. I was elated. It was a life-affirming moment on my trip that I will never forget. I knew that my passion and words were going to inspire others to do the same. I saw it in those girls’ eyes when I spoke about my travels and what I’m doing. They were ready to experience it too. I threw out a heart in this pic because I needed to remind myself down the road just how lucky and happy I truly am on the road. And today, I’m really feeling it. What was one of your favorite travel moments? Share with us below! #ttandw #wanderlust #traveltuesday #traveltalk #inspired #grateful #beautyeverywhere #Budapest #Hungary #visitBudapest #famouslandmark #tourist #solotravel #getoutside #exploredreamdiscover #gosolo #globelletravels #dametraveler #europtrip #nomad #travelabroad #travelawesome

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Budapest was like a blind date gone right.  The anticipation thinking it could be horrible, but also brilliant all in the same thought. For once, this blind date delivered. I arrived in Budapest at night and not by the river so I had no idea what I was about to see the next day. I woke up early and walked every alley, every road and bridge in that city. I rented a bike and rode around an island in the middle of a bridge. I was transfixed. It was stunning. And cheap! I couldn’t imagine seeing it 10 years ago when it was cheap as chips! Budapest has the perfect combination of class all within anyone’s budget. The architecture, food, people and location makes this city special.

Split/Dubrovnik, Croatia

Walking the city walls of Old Town in Dubrovnik is one of the best tourist activities I’ve ever done. That little cove is where I was staying, a perfect location away from the craziness within the city walls. Dubrovnik was a special place for me. As touristy as it already was in May, I was lucky enough to beat the huge crowds of the summer season. I remember walking to the top of the city and through this entry way to what looked like a ledge. When I got out there, I noticed tables and umbrellas all pushed together down below. I had found a bar that was hanging on a ledge outside the city walls on the water. The view was incredible, nothing between the bar and the sea to destruct my view. As I sat by myself enjoying the afternoon sun, I glanced over to my left and said to the man sitting next to me “We are so lucky aren’t we?” His reply would be one that started a two hour conversation between me, him, and his wife. We talked about travel, life, gratitude, our homes, running, you name it. And without even blinking an eye! It’s as if we’d known each other all our lives. A few hours later, we said our goodbyes and went on. Well the day I took this photo on top of the city walls, I ran into them again. We ended up getting caught up there in the rain. We chatted again, making sure we all knew that we were supposed to meet each other again. As we walked down back to the ground, we decided to go for Afternoon Tea. I took them to one of the most beautiful places I had found a few days earlier walking around. We sat for hours chatting away and as I knew our time was coming to an end, I asked the wife when her birthday was. I had a feeling we had the same one. And we did. There’s nothing that prepares us for meeting people that you feel so connected with, even if it’s just for a few hours. This is why I travel. And this is why I travel solo…to meet my soulmates around the world. P.S. I still talk to them every week 🙂 #pretty #sun #cloudporn #shore #beautiful #mothernature #love #instacool #Dubrovnik #oldtown #kingslanding #kayaking #getoutside #travel #ttandw #wanderlust #soulmates #tourist #attraction #awesome #lifeisgood

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I know Dubrovnik is extremely touristy these days with the Game of Thrones and all, but it also is home to one of the last walled cities in the world. And it is incredible. I went in May, which I HIGHLY recommend. I had perfect weather and it wasn’t tourist season yet so everything was open, just not booked out. I met an incredible couple there, walked the city walls, hung out and sunbathed on a nearby island that was entirely a national park, listened to live music in-between the cobblestone streets, and had drinks at a hole-in-the-wall bar on the outside of the walled city, high above the water, watching the sailboats glide by. It was magical.

Split surprised me the most. The bus ride into Split is not that appealing, but once you enter the city and make it to the water’s edge, you can see why it’s so popular. Split is beautiful. And so are the people. Croatians are stunning. I made friends with the hostel owner who gave me the best recommendations of the trip which lead me to eating fresh fish on the ocean’s shores on the most incredible balcony. I was completely spoiled there. I spent time in the Game of Throne caves where they were holding a serious flower competition, I walked the walls of the old town, I took beautiful photos and I had many day dreams of myself setting up a life there.

Northern California/Bay Area

One of those moments in life where you can appreciate the simplest yet most profound things in life; light. I’ve gone through one of the hardest 5 weeks of my life, full of really high-highs and incredibly low-lows. But light, it’s always there. It’s your beacon, your guide to a better day or hour, where you can appreciate other simple, yet profound acts of life like breathing and being alive. I took this photo and something in me changed. I knew I was in a better place. Life is funny that way- the test and trials, and then…beauty. Hold your loved ones close and let them know how much you love and appreciate them. Death is a giver as much as a taker, as I know I was given this light by the one who was taken.

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I spent six weeks in NorCal + San Francisco this summer. It was the biggest challenge of my life to date. Growing a business on non-existent budget was interesting, but Kelsey and I were crafty. I was able to visit my brother and his family as well as some close friends. I also went out of my comfort zone and joined some meetup groups and got to meet some incredible women in SF. But as much as I LOVE that city, the tree in the Redwood National Forest had my heart, soul and attention.

They were huge. I can’t describe how huge. But also gentle and fragile. I hugged as many as I could. I felt that the light that made it’s way to the densest part of the forest was the most important. It’s like it had something to say to me, or it just wanted to say hi. Either way, I felt its presence, and I was so very grateful for that experience.

I was also introduced to Humboldt Country which many of you know as the weed capital of the U.S.-definitely California anyways. The lifestyle is definitely a different vibe than anything I’ve ever experienced, but I have to say, I loved everyone I met. I stayed with my beautiful cousin and her husband, helping them out with their new son and glassblowing festival they organized. I also did my Day of Trust in Trinidad too! Those memories will always be so near and dear to me.

Oregon Coast

Every time I went out to the Oregon Coast I felt revived. Maybe it’s because it’s rugged, natural beauty cuts through any bullshit you’re experiencing in your everyday life. It demands your attention. And I’m very willing to give it. I traveled the entire coast now from Cali to Washington. I still love Canon Beach the most. Haystack Rock is the most photogenic sunset photobomber in the world.

One of the best weekends of my life was only 90 miles away from my house and with a friend of over 17 years. We walked along Canon Beach to a small market store to buy some beers and snacks to watch the sunset. It was ridiculously perfect. And sometimes in life you just need those moments that are perfect…to show you how lucky we are to see such beauty, to know someone so long that you don’t have to talk, and to feel so grateful for your existence you could explode into a million little unicorns pooping rainbows. I like to look at photos like this one that encompass everything I love about life. The sheer beauty of where I live, but the sheer beauty of how small of an existence we have here on earth. Then just as happy as I am to explore around my home, that damn travel bug bites my ass once again and I can’t help but think of how many perfect moments I will create everywhere I travel. And then I’m off…. #ttandw #love #horizon #perfect #photooftheday #sand #beach #beachlife #beauty #mothernature #sun #instalove #awesome #amazing #sunset #oregoncoast #PNW #westisbest #upperleftusa #traveloregon #travelportland #BofO1K #getoutside #nature #ocean #canonbeach #friendsforever #travelbug #lifeisgood

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I spent a day out at the coast with one of my oldest friends last February watching the sunset eating pretzels and drinking beer. It was a moment in my life that made me realize how beautiful my life is and how grateful I was to experience it.


The first time I went to Amsterdam I was 21 and ready to PARTY. This time around, I was 31 and wanted to visit museums. My god, how times have changed! But I can tell you that Amsterdam hasn’t changed; it’s still stunning, fun and full of culture. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. This trip definitely made me realize that. I had a blast at the Rijksmuseum and eating pizza. All of the pizza.

BONUS: Portland, Oregon

I miss this place so much! I had to add it to the list 🙂

I cannot get enough of the Pearl District in Portland. Great food, shops, and it’s such a photogenic spot! Where’s your favorite place where you live?

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What were your top travel experiences in 2015? What are you plans for 2016?


About the author:

JenHeuette (1 of 6)

Jen Heuett is the creator of Travel + Trust & Wanderlust, an online community to educate, empower and inspire women to travel solo. Her words can also be found on Huffington PostMind Body Green, and Travel Hooligan, her first travel company that inspires young adults to utilize the Working Holiday Visa in Australia and New Zealand. When she’s not traveling the world, she’s enjoying the Pacific Northwest and her mom’s tacos.

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