2017 Travel Round Up

2017 was an interesting year of travel for House Ballisty. We started the year by saying this would NOT be a year of travel. Instead, we were going to focus our time and money on home improvements like new landscaping, new exterior paint, etc. but what happened? We got all the house stuff done but… we traveled quite a bit, too. It’s all good. I can pretty much never say no when the opportunity strikes!

The first half of the year, too, was when I continued my break from Instagram and its ugly side – I never cared for the likes or the followers so the algorithm changes had zero impact on me but I was just really over how opportunistic people are with their fake follower purchases and such. Oh, you went from 5,000 followers to 20,000 without any sort of major feature or frequent posting? Wow… that really screams “authenticity” to me! But I digress 😂

In May, however, I decided to come back to Instagram with a “zero f@cks” attitude and I’m pretty happy.

Let’s see how we fared… {no pun intended!}


Trips taken: two

Las Vegas. We went to CES for the first time! It was an overload of people, information and technology. Of course, we hit up Shake Shack.

Austin, Texas. Met with my client at 🍎  to continue work on an exciting project. Definitely partook in some mural hunting and I found one that particularly resonated with me given I was still in mourning from November’s election result. I also got my badge at the campus – which was super exciting. I’m officially official!

Love will win in Austin, Texas


Trips taken: one

Austin, Texas. Again at 🍎  for a business trip. Austin is an amazing city. Great food, super nice people. Only thing I can’t stand is the traffic from downtown to the Northwest area where the campus is. Next time I have to fly out there I think I’m going to stay closer to the campus.


Trips taken: zero

I bought a new washer & dryer 😂


Trips taken: one

Austin, Texas. Eddie had a conference to go to in Austin so I used my “remote working” budget from work to tag along. I also met up with my 🍎  client again for a quick hello. Eddie’s conference was super cool and they had this fun event at night that spouses could join. He learned a ton and one of our bosses was there too so it was great bonding with him for a night.


Trips taken: one

Tokyo, Japan. This is a trip we had purchased on Black Friday the year prior and framed it as a trip for my birthday. Since we’ve been a few times, I really wanted to not have an itinerary other than visiting Tokyo Disney Land. It was an incredible trip. We went to our favorite sushi place and chatted with the owner while he prepared the most amazing sushi you will ever eat, rode bikes in a park, hung out at the Thai Festival and had some bomb pad thai, wandered around plenty and of course, had yakitori in the alleyways. It rained hard one day there but the rest of the trip was absolutely gorgeous. I love Japan so much!

This was also the month I came back to Instagram with my pic below.

Welcome back, indeed.

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Trips taken: zero

We bought new doors and windows for our house 🔨

We also had a fun day trip in Napa where we met up with our friends who were visiting. They were in the beginning stages of planning their move to California so we had fun chatting about that whilst sipping delicious Mumm sparkling wine.


Trips taken: two

Washington D.C. Eddie had another conference in D.C. wherein he was actually presenting on a topic. Super exciting for his career and I was able to sneak in and watch his presentation. Of course a lot of it went over my head since it’s so technically brainy but I’m so so proud of him.

We also hung out with our friends from the aforementioned June Napa sparkling wine tasting trip: lots of scotch tastings, dinners out including an amazing meal at the Michelin-starred Blue Duck Tavern.

Mendocino, CA. We went camping for 4 days in Mendocino and it was absolutely lovely. Read more about it here.


Trips taken: one

Lake Tahoe, CA. Well we planned this trip with the best of intentions to go camping but things were starting to get a little crazy for us all so we decided on a little weekend getaway instead. We tried to have a lovely hike at Fallen Leaf Lake but got absolutely trounced on with rain (and hail!) so we called it quits and visited the Lake again. We had an amazing dinner at Ciera Steakhouse. Nice getaway from the hustle & bustle of work.


Trips taken: two

Washington state. ABOVE & BEYOND. I mean, what more can I say? They held their 250th episode of their podcast at seriously, the most beautiful outdoor venue on earth, with supporting acts like Yotto, Jason Ross, and Luttrell. It was absolutely incredible and unforgettable. I still get goosebumps when I think about it. Do yourself a favor and listen to the set here:

Italy. We travelled to Naples, the Amalfi coast including Positano (see below), Florence and Rome.  Perfect weather! We had so much fun in Italy last year, we found a super amazing fare (hello, $450 round trip per person!) so we thought: WHY NOT and we hopped on a jet to Italia. We ate so much pasta, gelato, Florentine steak, pizza, pastries, etc but who cares?! We walked a ton and it was totally la dolce vita during those weeks. Bellissimo!


Trips taken: one

Las Vegas, Nevada. I travelled to Las Vegas for a conference relating to my career and it was incredible. I learned so much and I can’t believe how lucky I am that my boss supports anything I need to do to excel in my work. I stayed way off the strip and it was actually pretty nice. Of course, I had to make the pilgrimage to Shake Shack one night! Very successful business trip.


Trips taken: two

Las Vegas, Nevada. X2!

Eddie had two more conferences in Vegas so I used my remote working budget for one trip and took vacation time for the second trip. It was super fun, but I think I’ve had enough of Vegas for a while. Went to an amazing Greek restaurant, hit up Shake Shack (c’mon, it’s like, mandatory), saw the Michael Jackson Cirque show — which I cannot recommend enough if you grew up listening to his music like me — and cried almost the entire show, saw the Bellagio fountains and visited the Conservatory (again, mandatory), played Pai Gow and video poker, won a little bit of money (whoo hooo!), and have decided getting Early Bird check-in via Southwest is non-negotiable now.

Bellagio conservatory


Trips taken: three

Las Vegas, Nevada. This was the continuation/conclusion of our November trip. Hey, I was on a plane in December so it counts!

Singapore. Another amazing fare scored via our online resources and travel hacking. Decided on a long weekend trip, taking the United non-stop from LAX to SIN which is currently the longest flight in the world operated by a US carrier. We survived! This was an incredible trip. Super hot and humid but that’s okay. We ate tons of good food, saw some incredible sights, stayed at the new Andaz Singapore and we were upgraded to a suite… score!

Living life in full color 💙💚💛❤️

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London, Paris, Frankfurt! We were surprised with paid time off by our work and so we jetted away to Europe for Christmas and New Years. This year we wanted to do something magical for the holiday season and we wanted to be just the two of us, so it worked out quite perfectly. We had a lovely Christmas dinner with my mom ahead of the trip and then saw Eddie’s mom a few days before we flew out and it was great.

This trip was super fun. We flew from SFO to London and stayed at the Andaz Liverpool Street — and what a fabulous hotel it is. We got a suite upgrade applied and all it needed was a little kitchenette and I could seriously live there. It is built at the site of a super old, former hospital in East London. Very charming and we were able to have our Christmas dinner together at the hotel there. They had a wonderful set menu planned with the most perfect Christmas pudding for dessert. I’m still dreaming of it. We wandered around everywhere, snow fell one morning and it was absolutely magical! I took Eddie to all the required sights and we found a cute pub for a pint to break away from the crowds and bit of rain that hit us. We capped off our visit with dinner at the most delicious Indian restaurant – I’ve seriously never eaten Indian food this good.

After London, we hopped on the Eurostar and were whisked away to Paris! Who doesn’t love Paris, right? We’ve been together 3 times now, and I’ve been two more times on top of that, so I think I’ve definitely had my fill of Paris. The food was incredible and we were able to secure a reservation at the Michelin starred Garance — which we have eaten at before and were lucky enough to meet the owners not only there but in a previous trip we met them in TOKYO of all places! It was super fun. The menu was perfect for the holiday season and it was accompanied by the most delicious wine pairings. I have a blog post topic queued up for this place so keep your eye out for it soon. We wandered around Pigalle, Montmartre, St. Germain and by the river Seine too. Ate ham & cheese crepes, steak frites, drank tons of wine… you know, all the things you have to do when you’re in Paris!

After Paris, we jumped on a plane for a 55 minute flight to Frankfurt, Germany. We were staying 1 night here as a positioning city for our flight home, and managed to have a proper New Years Eve here. They have a wonderfully charming little town square area next to the river and it was just gorgeous walking around as the sun was setting. We went to this super cute restaurant that was packed with people for dinner, then walked through the city back to our hotel for the fireworks shows… that lasted til about 4am! Literally everyone was shooting off huge fireworks and crackers, m80s and cherry bombs, etc. I feel like they are allowed to shoot off way more than we are back home, but that’s fine with me – those suckers are LOUD!

Where are you heading in 2018? We already have some business and pleasure trips lined up so I’d love to hear from you!

Bon voyage!

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