Ever since we started Two Wandering Soles way back in 2014 (shout out if you’ve been following our story since the beginning!), we’ve created annual year-end articles.
Our highlights. Lessons we’ve learned. And ever since 2020, we started throwing some lows, or obstacles, into these roundup as well to give you a better picture of our year as a whole.
Because while there is a lot of sunshine and rainbows, there are rain clouds, too.
I really love writing these roundups. It’s something I look forward to at the end of each year because it’s a good opportunity to reflect.
Often, by the end of writing the roundup, I realize that we’ve done and accomplished much more than I thought when I first started typing.
This year is no different.
2022 was a big year for us in many ways.
We welcomed our daughter, Juniper, into the world at the tail end of 2021, so much of this past year has been adjusting to life as new parents.
If I’m completely honest with you, one of the things I was most nervous about was that having a kid would mean we wouldn’t still be able to do the things we love. I was worried we’d have to press “pause” on the things that made us feel most ourselves.
But we’ve proven our inner critics wrong.
One of the most beautiful parts of 2022 was realizing that we can still go on adventures — big and small — with a little one in tow.
In fact, Juniper has now been to:
- 9 countries
- 4 USA National Parks
- 13 US states
- 19 flights
- 10 airport lounges
- 2 backcountry camping trips
- countless breweries and hikes
Yes, there are certain parts of our lives that look different. Trips that will have to wait. Activities we are taking a little break from for now.
But overall, we are in awe of how adaptable Juniper is and how much she has been able to experience in just one short year.
So without further adieu, here are our top memories and biggest lessons from 2022…
1. Juniper got a passport
I started researching how to get a baby passport just a handful of weeks after I found out I was pregnant. Our baby was the size of a lima bean, yet I was already plotting the adventures we’d take together.
And as it turns out, it’s actually a pretty simple process to get a baby passport. (We’re planning on doing an article about our tips for this process, so stay tuned!)
We took Juniper’s passport photos when she was a mere 3 weeks old, and 5 weeks later, we had the actual passport in hand for her first international trip.
2. We challenged ourselves to take local adventures to build our confidence
In the final weeks of pregnancy, Ben and I spent a lot of time dreaming about what we wanted life to look like when there were three of us.
We agreed that we wanted to continue doing the things we love, and set some big goals for ourselves in our first year as a new family.
Two of those goals were “go on an international trip” and “go backcountry camping”.
After writing that down, I looked at Ben and said, “I think we might be a little naive.” The thought of boarding a plane with a baby or carrying a little one into the backcountry seemed absolutely daunting in that moment.
So we pulled out a trick we like to use when we’re feeling overwhelmed…
In my previous life, I was a high school English teacher and I used this method all the time when planning for my students’ success. It goes like this: think about the end goal (aka the skill they will master), then think of all the little steps in between now and then.
Write those steps out with deadlines. Suddenly that big goal seems so much more doable.
You can apply this method to many parts of your life, and it can make scary goals seem a lot more achievable.
So we drew up a calendar of so-called “challenges” that we created for ourselves:
- Bring Juniper to our favorite local coffee shop.
- Go snowshoeing.
- Take a road trip to a nearby town.
- Stay overnight at a cabin in the woods.
- Go to a hot spring.
- Go on a weekend getaway in Astoria, Oregon
- Go on a hike.
- Meet up with friends in Portland.
Each challenge was slightly more involved than the last. And on each “adventure”, we practiced skills like changing diapers in different environments. I breastfed in various places. Juniper napped on the go.
We got more and more confident and Juniper grew very comfortable in different situations.
Pretty soon, an international trip didn’t seem so difficult. And going backpacking with a baby didn’t terrify me.
It didn’t happen all at once. But slowly, and little by little, we started to find our groove.
3. Juniper took her first flight (& we learned a big lesson!)
At just over 3 months old, Juniper boarded her very first flight… to Cancun, Mexico!
Now, it wasn’t exactly for a fun reason. Ben gets dental care in Mexico, and he had a procedure that required us to be down there for 10 days.
Psst! Yes, in case you’re wondering, we’re planning to create a guide on our experience with dental tourism soon as we have been overwhelmed with people asking for advice on the matter.
I’m going to be honest, in the weeks leading up to this trip was hardcore dreading it. For one, dental trips aren’t particularly fun, even when they’re in Mexico.
But even more, I was dreading the FLIGHT.
What was I going to do if Juniper cried the whole time? How would I breastfeed her in a plane seat? Would her ears give her problems? Would people get mad and judge me? What if I couldn’t calm her down?
I went through all worst-case scenarios in my head and spiraled a lot that week.
And you know what? She did great. She slept for almost all 4 flights (there and back).
People were so kind and not judgmental (at least not outwardly!) when she did fuss for a bit on one of the flights. Plus, airport staff go even more above and beyond when you’re traveling with a little one, so that was a nice surprise.
Juniper has now been on 19 flights, and I can say wholeheartedly from (lots of!) experience that flying with a baby is so much less daunting than it might seem.
If I can pass on one piece of advice to other hesitant parents, it would be this: The flight is one (very small) part of traveling, and it will likely be much better than all the worst-case scenarios you’re dwelling on in your head (I’ve been there!).
Even if your little one is cranky on a flight, pretty much everyone on the plane has headphones and will be paying way less attention than you think.
Don’t let the fear of the flight stop you from taking the trip.
FYI: We will be producing more “travel with baby” content this year, so we’ll work on gathering some of our favorite tips and tricks for flying with a little one! For now, here are some of our favorite baby travel items!
4. We hosted lots of visitors at our home in Bend, Oregon
Over the years, we’ve been so lucky to be hosted by so many of our family and friends. And now that we have a home of our own, it has been fun playing host.
Ben’s sister, Shannon, and my brother, Joey, both came to Bend for the first time. My parents stayed with us several times and Ben’s parents came to visit and went on an Oregon Coast road trip with us.
5. We completed our new campervan (but the deadline had us in tears)
Other than keeping a tiny human alive for the last year, our biggest accomplishment of 2022 was building our latest campervan, Lola.
This was the 3rd campervan we’ve built ourselves. We did many of the same things as we did in our last campervan (Pearl), like insulated with Havelock wool (duh) and installed a Nature’s Head toilet (double duh).
But we also added some brand new features, like a recirculating shower, a “movie theater” (aka projector & screen!), and a badass lithium battery bank with 500Ah from Battleborn Batteries.
I’m going to be real honest here: Building a campervan from scratch with a new baby at home was hard.
Add to that a deadline to move out of the house because you have renters moving in was a terrible decision. And on top of that, having nannies who kept canceling at the last minute, causing us many days of tears and stress.
And the day we moved out of our house and into our van was an absolute shit show. Not an exaggeration in the slightest.
That said, we are so, so happy with how the campervan turned out. I’m honestly obsessed with every single detail and feel so grateful for all the memories we have created in it so far, and for all the memories to come.
We really wanted to do a better job of documenting this build, but because of all the aforementioned obstacles, we kind of failed. This year, we’re hoping to get some more guides and info published to add to our campervan resource collection.
6. We tried to soak up as much “summer in Bend” as we could
Bend, Oregon is amazing all year round. Truly, every season has its draws.
But summer arguably has the most to do, and there’s just a vibe. There are tons of concerts. The hot temps mean everyone in town goes tubing on the Deschutes River. There are weekly festivals. All the hiking trails are open. It’s just freaking amazing, and quite honestly, the season that made us fall in love with this town in the first place.
However, with such a jam-packed second half of the year, we didn’t get much of a Bend summer.
We got to see our favorite artist in concert (Dispatch!) and we got to go tubing once (while Grandma babysat Juniper). We did a couple of hikes and hung out at local parks.
But it went by way too quickly. And before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye (for now!).
7. We got renters in our house
We became homeowners toward the end of 2021, which felt like a pretty big accomplishment for two self-employed travel bloggers in one of the most competitive housing markets in the USA!
Even typing that feels surreal.
After being somewhat nomadic for the previous 8 years, it was a huge step for us. It felt so good to have a place that was ours. A place where we could hang up the artwork we’ve been collecting on our travels, and stop moving every few months.
It gave us a chance to start to slow down, like we had been craving.
But it also was scary going from pretty much endless freedom to being much more tied down.
So we came up with a compromise…
When we bought our house, we dreamed of being able to rent it out for part of the year so we could travel but also have a home to come back to.
The best of both worlds.
Bend is such a desirable place to live that finding a renter was incredibly easy. We essentially got to choose who we thought would be the best fit for our house.
So in July, we packed up all our personal stuff and stored them in Juniper’s room. And turned over our keys to the sweetest couple (which made it a little easier to say goodbye to the home we had come to love).
8. We visited Glacier National Park for the first time
After years of dreaming about it (and one sad, mostly failed attempt to visit in October when everything was closed), we finally made it to Glacier National Park.
Now, I’m not great at choosing my favorite anything — be it food or countries or music. But, Glacier is definitely in our top 3 USA National Parks that we’ve visited (along with Grand Tetons and Mount Rainier).
While we didn’t have as much time as we would have liked, as we were kind of in a hurry to get across the country for a very special wedding (more on that later!), we still had an incredible time.
9. We went on 2 backcountry trips (yes, with a baby!)
The highlight of our visit to Glacier National Park was an overnight backcountry camping trip at Cracker Lake. We secured permits earlier in the year, and were beyond excited for this bucket list hike.
Psst! Interested in backcountry camping, but not sure how to get started? Check out our beginner’s guide to backcountry camping on our second website.
That said, we were also a little worried.
We are really confident with backcountry camping and have spent years honing our skills. We even took a Wilderness First Aid Course when I was pregnant to make sure we felt more confident bringing a little one into the wild.
Even so, it still seemed daunting. The hike to Cracker Lake is 6 miles in and 1,600 feet in elevation gain, which isn’t something we’d normally think twice about.
But being that it’s not just the two of us anymore, we did think twice…
We thought it would be a good idea to practice with a shorter, easier hike. So we got a backcountry permit for the Mount Jefferson Wilderness (not far from our home in Bend, Oregon) and did our first overnight trip on a trail that was half the distance of Cracker Lake.
It went amazingly. Juniper slept for most of the hike, and was so interested in everything in our tent. She slept well for most of the night. All in all, we couldn’t imagine it going better.
So we went into Cracker Lake with a confidence we definitely wouldn’t have had without practicing first.
And again, Juniper wowed us. And so did Mother Nature.
Insider Tip: If you want a seriously amazing hike in Glacier (without the crowds of the more popular trails), we highly recommend Cracker Lake. It’s possible to do it as a day hike, but at 12 miles round trip, it’ll be a long jaunt. If you like camping, apply for overnight permits in the annual lottery. There are only 3 campsites here, so it is competitive, but if you can be flexible with your dates you might have a decent chance.
10. We had many “zero days” at campsites
I can say without a doubt, some of my very favorite memories from this year were on the days where we did nothing.
We call these “zero days”.
Often, we find a cool campground and stay for at least a couple of nights. We stock up with food and firewood, and we string up our hammock and literally just do whatever we feel like.
We had a handful of zero days sprinkled throughout the summer and fall. And these sun-soaked days filled with toasted marshmallows and IPAs and swimming holes are my absolute favorite.
I’m already dreaming about all the “zero days” next year has in store.
11. Celebrated 2 family weddings in Minnesota
In August, we had two very important family weddings in Minnesota within one week of each other. Ben’s younger brother got married (and he was the best Best Man!). And my nephew got married the next weekend!
We love weddings (and dancing at weddings!) so August was a fun month for us!
12. Traveled to Mexico without baby (& swam with whale sharks!)
In August we took a 5-day trip to Mexico, sans Juniper.
The main reason for our trip to Mexico was the same as our trip earlier in the year: Ben needed another dental procedure.
This was the 2nd to last bit of work after a 2-year-long saga. (In just a few weeks, he’ll get the last step of the process completed!)
When it comes to dental procedures, Ben has been through some pretty gnarly ones. I’ll spare you the details, but this surgery was very mild compared to previous ones.
Since it wasn’t too involved of a trip, we decided to do something we never do:
Book an all-inclusive resort.
In truth, this isn’t our preferred travel style. We like to get off the beaten path. Eat at mom-and-pop restaurants. Mingle with locals. Take public transport. Hike. Adventure.
But, relaxing poolside with cocktails after dental surgery (while Juniper was hanging out with Grandma and Grandpa) sounded too good to resist.
Psst! This is the exact resort we stayed at, and while we have little to compare it to as far as all-inclusive go, we were really impressed!
Even though my inner backpacker screamed, “Oh gosh, what have we turned into?!”, I honestly really enjoyed myself.
Two things that were notable about this trip:
1) This was our first time traveling without Juniper since becoming parents.
Prior to this trip, she had spent the night away from us twice (both for weddings). But going away for a whole 5 days was another story. We went through phases of feeling guilty for leaving her, then happy that she’d have time with my parents, and eventually grateful for some time to ourselves.
Being that Juniper was still breastfeeding, I had to continue pumping throughout the trip which wasn’t the easiest. And whenever we saw other babies on the trip (which felt like all the time!), we got a big surge of missing her.
But overall, it was really good for both her and us.
2) We swam with whale sharks!
This is something we’ve been itching to do ever since we started traveling. The thing is, the whale shark experiences that are “guaranteed” are not ethical (aka they are baited), and the places where you can see them in the wild are very much dependent on their migration.
We have just missed whale sharks numerous times: once while on a liveaboard in Thailand and another time while scuba diving in Honduras. And other times, we’ve been traveling in the place to see them in an off-season.
So being that this was whale shark season in Mexico, we jumped on the opportunity to snorkel with them the day before Ben’s dental surgery. While our actual encounter in the water with them was (very) short, it was really fun being able to finally see them in real life!
13. We took a campervan trip around Scotland
Last year in my third trimester of pregnancy, we got hooked on Outlander and binged the series. While watching the men in kilts traipse around lush hills and windswept cliffs, Ben and I did what we do best… we dreamed about a future trip.
One of the best parts of traveling, in my opinion, is the dreaming phase. And we spent a lot of time there.
I dug deep into the rabbit holes and spent late nights pinning places on my Google Maps to route the perfect Scotland itinerary.
Come September, all our planning and dreaming came to fruition. We rented a campervan and drove around Scotland for 2 weeks, and it was every bit as magical as we imagined it would be.
And Juniper did amazing!
If a road trip around Scotland is something that intrigues you, we have literally everything you need to plan the perfect trip.
Start with the button below where you can navigate through all our Scotland articles.
14. We tried hard to find balance
One thing that we haven’t spoken about very much publicly is how difficult it has been to find a balance this year.
We’ve been trying to juggle all the things:
- Running and growing our business
- Being Juniper’s primary caregivers
- Traveling full-time since July (with lots of commitments)
It has been a lot.
We’ve noticed that it has been harder to keep a consistent workout schedule or meal prep as well as we used to when we’re on the road. And we haven’t been able to put as much time into work as we would like.
So we’ve felt a bit out of whack these last several months.
But our main focus this year was spending time together with Juniper, and creating memories.
While we may have fallen short on most other goals this year, that is one part of our lives where we excelled. And for that, I am grateful.
15. I spoke at a travel blogging conference
I was honored to be asked to be a speaker at the Travel Blogging Summit in Denver this past September.
If you’re not a blogger, this is going to sound really boring, but the topic I spoke on was the importance of updating old articles and exactly how to do so for big traffic gains.
It was really fun to meet other bloggers and go to a conference post-pandemic, which is something that I’ve missed.
Psst! On a related note, if you’re interested instating a money-making travel blog that earns you a real income, you’ll want to check out our Blogging Bootcamp!
16. We went on a fall foliage road trip around New England
For years, I have dreamt of taking a fall road trip around New England. Each year, when the leaves change colors and my Instagram feed is full of colorful foliage, I say next year is the year.
This year was actually the year.
We drove our campervan around Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, exploring the backroads and stopping for pumpkin lattes and cider donuts.
We spent the nights in state park campgrounds and at Harvest Hosts (wineries, farms and breweries where you can spend the night). We had campfires. We went on hikes. We ate lobster rolls.
If this trip has been on your bucket list as well, my unwavering advice is DO IT. New England in the fall is magic.
Psst! If you’re curious about Harvest Hosts, you can read our totally honest review here.
17. We got to spend time with my parents
One of the best parts about our fall foliage road trip was being able to do it in tandem with my parents. They bought a campervan last year, so they were on board for caravanning around New England with us.
It was really special for them to have time with Juniper and for us all to be able to go on hikes, explore breweries, and hang out around the campfire together.
We will forever be grateful for this special trip!
18. We dressed up for Juniper’s first Halloween
We’re obsessed with Halloween.
In fact, we love everything about the month of October. The crisp autumn air. Pumpkin everything. Soups. Cozy clothes. Colorful leaves. Not sweating in the summer heat. Halloween movies. And, of course, dressing up!
Our typical go-to costumes are things that are punny or random. And if possible, we like the DIY them mostly using things we have at home or can find at a thrift store. Oh, and they always go together.
Here’s what I mean…
Last year when I was (very) pregnant, I dressed as Violet from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (you know, after she swells up!), and Ben was Augustus (the German boy who couldn’t stop eating candy!). The year before, I was a farmer and Ben was my “aspara-guy” (cue the groans). The year before, I was a bag of trash and Ben was a raccoon.
You get the picture.
Now that there are 3 of us, we want to incorporate Juniper into our costumes for as long as she’s cool dressing up with her nerdy parents.
I started brainstorming costumes in February. (No joke.)
We narrowed down our huge list to dress as a flower (Katie), a beekeeper (Ben), and a bumble bee (Juniper).
Well, nobody saw our costumes because we spent the day hanging out in a campground where we were literally the only people. But it was actually perfect.
We had a campfire and cooked chili and watched Practical Magic with bourbon-spiked apple cider.
Like I said, perfect.
Add to this that we went to Salem, Massachusetts a few days prior to Halloween because I (naively) thought, “Oh, what a fun place to visit around Halloween.”
Don’t do it. It was absolute madness, with thick crowds and long lines everywhere. It felt like Disney World, but without the rides.
So, like I said, our quiet, chill, not-a-person-in-sight day on actual Halloween was exactly what we needed.
19. We started to feel burned out
We started noticing that we were feeling burnt out shortly after our trip to Scotland. We were about to embark on a 1.5-month-long New England road trip and, the thought of planning our route — something we normally love doing — seemed like work.
Now, we had the most incredible time road-tripping through the east coast, but we couldn’t help feeling the desire to slow down.
And also, to get work done.
It might sound strange but we actually crave work. Being travel bloggers is honestly our dream job, and we feel so privileged that we get to do this for a living. But traveling full-time and not having childcare started to catch up to us and we started feeling really behind on work-related projects.
So the combination of needing time to work and the desire to slow down a bit led us to a late-night search on Airbnb. We had 12 days we didn’t have accounted for, so we looked for those dates in a several-hundred-mile radius, and boom.
We found the perfect place and booked it immediately.
(Keep reading for details…)
20. We slowed down in Montreal
After a glass of wine and a month of feeling pretty burnt out, we didn’t need much more convincing to book 12 days at a perfect Airbnb just outside Montreal.
It checked all our boxes:
- It was remote, so we wouldn’t feel pressured to go out and do things during the day. We were renting this place to get work done, remember? That said, the closest village was just 10 minutes away, so we could get groceries and other essentials.
- There was a hot tub. And the signal of our baby monitor reached, so we could do daily nap time soaks. Need I say more?!
- There were 3 bedrooms. One for us. One for Juniper. And one to spare!
- It had a huge kitchen for meal prepping so we could eat well (and healthy) during our whole stay.
- There was a big table for working, high-speed Internet, a comfy couch, a fireplace, and a soaking tub. I mean, dreams really do come true!
We spent 12 magical days at this perfect Airbnb, getting as much work done as possible (while still taking care of a baby!). We didn’t leave the house except to get groceries and to spend one day (Ben’s birthday) exploring Montreal.
Psst! Sound like the perfect spot? Here’s the listing on Airbnb!
21. We traveled around Europe on a dream Christmas Market trip
Snowflakes falling, lights twinkling, carols being sung. There are few things more magical than Christmas Markets in Europe.
This was my 4th time doing a European Christmas Market trip, and I don’t think I could ever tire of them. In fact, I’ve already got a big ol’ list of routes I want to take in the future!
A 3-week trip through 5 countries was the big milestone trip we had our minds set on all year long.
And it was every bit as wonderful as we had dreamed. Even better, actually.
Highlights of our trip:
- Meeting up with my brother (who recently moved to the UK) and his girlfriend in Trier, Germany.
- Staying on a farm in the middle of the French countryside.
- Exploring the charming town of Garmisch, Germany (that we totally fell in love with!).
- Tobogganing in the Austrian countryside and hiking to a mountain hut that served local comfort foods.
In the essence of transparency, I do want to say that while this trip was truly one of my favorite trips ever, there were a few obstacles too…
- One of our suitcases didn’t arrive right away. I was kind of freaking out because we were moving to a different location the next day, and well, I didn’t have any clothes packed. But everything worked out when it arrived later that night.
- French rail strikes made one day of travel that was supposed to take 2 hours turn into 6+ hours. This meant we arrived to our destination after our rental car company had closed for the day, thus forfeiting the vehicle we had hired. In a true miracle, our sweet Airbnb host came to save the day and drove an hour and a half to pick us up.
- Our food tour in Innsbruck was canceled at the last minute because our guide got Covid. Things like this used to really disappoint me, but the last couple of years have taught me to roll with it a little easier.
22. Spending the holidays with family
One thing that we will never take for granted is being able to spend the holidays with family.
After 8 years of living somewhat nomadically, it wasn’t often that we were able to be “home” in Minnesota for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
In fact, over the last near-decade, we’ve spent these holidays in South Korea, Thailand, New Zealand and Vietnam. And while we had fun celebrating on our own, our hearts always ached a little because we were far from our families.
Then 2020 made holiday gatherings difficult, and in 2021 we couldn’t travel because Juniper was just 3 weeks old.
So this year, we’re simply oozing with gratitude that we get to celebrate this season with people we love.
Over the course of 2022, we’ve really prioritized spending as much time as possible in Minnesota, as that’s where most of our family and friends are. It has been fun to be able to see Juniper meet all the people who are so important to us.
Some other random highlights of 2022 (in no particular order!)
- Flying next to Mount Rainier in a hot air balloon!
- Exploring Acadia National Park this fall
- Being a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding in July
- Working with a few US tourism boards throughout the year
- Visiting Ashland, Oregon with my mom
- Bringing Juniper up to my brother’s cabin (in northern Minnesota) for the first time
- Visiting a college friend in Michigan who we haven’t seen in years
- Spending time with a friend in Leavenworth, Washington this summer
- Snowshoeing to our favorite mountain hut with Juniper
- Being able to go snowboarding twice (which was 2 more times than we thought we’d be able to go with a baby!)
- Taking Juniper to Cougar Hot Springs
- Spending a few days exploring Boston this fall
That was a lot more than I was planning to type for my little 2022 roundup. But once I started thinking about all that has happened this year, the words just kept coming.
If you’re still here reading ’til the end, thank you. Truly, we are so honored that you’re here and grateful for your support.
Whether this year was one of your best or one that you are looking forward to wishing adieu, we hope you find joy in this fresh beginning. May your 2023 be full of laughter, adventures and memories.
Wanna see how this year compares to years past?
We’ve done these round-up articles each year since 2014, so you can dig in deep!
- 21 Memories from 2021
- Highs & Lows of 2020 (you didn’t expect 2020 to be only a highlight reel, now did you?!)
- 19 Highlights of 2019
- 18 Memories from 2018
- 17 Highlights from 2017
- 16 Stories from 2016
- 15 Memories from 2015
- 14 Lessons Learned in 2014