My Year In Travels – Where I Went in 2017 – Hiking, Biking, RVing, Sailing, and More

2017 was an amazing year. We traveled to many new areas in the RV, went on a 10-day sailing trip, climbed several mountains, went on many bike rides, saw killer whales in their natural habitat, rode the third longest tram in the world, went on a brewery trail (yep, it exists!), and more. We traveled…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 26, 2023

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2017 was an amazing year. We traveled to many new areas in the RV, went on a 10-day sailing trip, climbed several mountains, went on many bike rides, saw killer whales in their natural habitat, rode the third longest tram in the world, went on a brewery trail (yep, it exists!), and more.

We traveled to 18 states, too many cities to even keep track of, stayed in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and sailed in the British Virgin Islands. We saw beautiful mountains, oceans, beaches, deserts, and everything in between.

We visited several new places, and we revisited many of our favorites as well. Some people think we’re crazy for visiting the same place more than once, but we are always doing new things, and I think it’s impossible to see and do everything if you only visit a place once. Plus, if you enjoyed your visit once, why not enjoy it some more?

2017 was an amazing year, full of great travel, building friendships and relationships, and more. I couldn’t have asked for a better year.

Here’s where we RVed in 2017. Credit: https://visitedstatesmap.com

Quick list of my favorite things from 2017:

    • Favorite hike – We went on many great hikes in 2017. My favorite was probably Mount Peale, which sits at around 12,720 feet. It wasn’t the tallest hike we did in 2017, but it did have the most amazing views. You could see pretty much everything – forests, mountain ranges, lakes, red rock, canyons, and more, all from the peak of this mountain.
    • Favorite new-to-us national park that we visited this year – We’ve been to many national parks and visited quite a few new ones in just 2017. My two new favorites are Yosemite National Park and Glacier National Park. While there were a LOT of crowds at each of them, they were both amazingly beautiful!
    • Favorite RV campground – We are always searching for great RV parks to stay at. We make sure that there’s hiking and biking where we’re staying, that it’s great for dogs, and more. We went to many great spots this year, but my favorite view was at Pacific Shores MotorCoach Resort in Newport, Oregon (look at “April’s” picture below as well as the lighthouse picture at the end). Catching the sunset right from our front RV window, along with the beautiful lighthouse, was the best view I think I’ve ever seen.
    • Favorite food – We went to a small restaurant in Visalia, California as we were leaving Sequoia National Park. I’ve been dreaming of their sweet fried chicken ever since we left. Seriously the best thing I ate all year!
    • Favorite non-RV trip – The sailing trip, of course! I talk about this more in-depth below in “June.”
    • Favorite experience – This is hard, but we were able to experience killer whales hunting gray whales. While it was sad, and everyone was rooting for the gray whales (they had a calf with them), it is the circle of life. This experience circulated around the world as it’s incredibly rare to witness this. Watch my video below.

 

If you’re not following my Instagram account yet, I definitely recommend doing so.

Here’s where we traveled to in 2017.

 

January – Memphis area and Tucson

We spent the 2016 holidays back home with family (St. Louis, Chicago, and Memphis), and ended the year moochdocking (camping for free in someone’s driveway) at Wes’s parents house. They have full hookups and are always a wonderful time, so we stayed for a few days in January as well.

In the first week of January, we hightailed it to Tucson, Arizona in order to spend the winter somewhere warm (we had icicles forming on the RV while in Memphis, so we decided it was time to go). We stopped a few places along the way, but Tucson was where we spent most of January.

We did a lot of mountain biking and hiking, I got my hair colored pink ombre, we built a bike trailer for the dogs, hung out with our friends Bob and Janice, ate some delicious meals with our friend Tony and his wife, and just relaxed.

 

February – Tucson and St. Louis

In February, we were still sitting in Tucson waiting for the rest of the country to warm up. It was nice to just relax in one place because RVing can get tiring if you’re moving a lot!

While in Tucson, we hiked Picacho Peak (our first route with cables), we made some RV friends (hey ThinkSaveRetire and MigratoryLife!), climbed to the top of Wasson Peak in Tucson, went to the Tucson Botanical Garden, Sabino Canyon, and more.

Our dog, Sailor, had to get around 10 tumors removed this month (she’s healthy now!), so we stayed put while she healed.

Towards the end of February, I went “home” to St. Louis to go bridesmaid dress shopping for a friend’s wedding I was in.

This month, we decided on our route for the rest of 2017, and that’s always a ton of fun. We didn’t strictly follow it for the whole year, but we did come pretty close!

 

March – Cottonwood, Jerome, Sedona, Page, Vegas, and Death Valley

In March, we left the warmth of Tucson, but we didn’t go far. We went north to Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, Arizona, which is a great place for RVs. We stayed for about a week and did a lot of mountain biking and hiking. We went to Jerome, Sedona, and some other areas while we were there too. Cottonwood is a neat little town (so are Jerome and Sedona), and we made a friend named Glenn that we hung out with nearly every night at R.I.O.T.

After Cottonwood, we headed further north to Page, Arizona. We went to Lake Powell and stayed at the campground in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. It had full hookups, tons of space, lots of places to walk the dogs, and more. I’m sad we only stayed for a few days!

While we were in Page, we went to Horseshoe Bend (pictured above), Antelope Slot Canyon, and a few other places. Definitely a must if you are in the area!

Afterwards, our plan was to go to Zion National Park (we had been before but we were trying to kill time waiting for Sequoia National Park and Yosemite National Park to warm up), but EVERYTHING was completely full. Seriously, there wasn’t even a single day open for like a whole month. So, we skipped Zion and drove to Las Vegas.

We went mountain biking, went to Red Rock Canyon, Death Valley National Park, saw a Cirque du Soleil show, and more while we were in Vegas. We drove out to Racetrack Playa, did some off-roading, and more! We had a friend stay with us while we were in Vegas (hey Sherman!), my mom, and even a family member from South Korea of mine was there.

 

April – Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite, Santa Cruz, Big Sur, and more.

After Vegas, we drove to Sequoia National Park. We stayed right outside the park and made friends with Kermit and Trinity. If you can’t tell yet, there’s lots of people to hang out with. I often am asked if RV life is lonely, and that just isn’t true at all. As you can tell, we see people all the time, and there’s people I’m leaving out too because this blog post is already getting extremely long (sorry!).

We went to Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park, saw General Grant and all of the other humongous trees, did some mountain biking and hiking, and more.

We eventually made our way to Yosemite National Park, hiked Yosemite Falls (only about six miles long but has an elevation gain of 3159 feet), and spent about a week there until some crazy rain was coming. We wanted to be gone before the roads could possibly be damaged, leaving us stuck.

We made our way to Santa Cruz, California after that, where we stuck around for about three weeks exploring the area, along with Big Sur, Monterrey, and more. Wes also took an 8-day sailing course and met Bruce (his sailing instructor who took us on the whale watching experience).

Our days were filled with sailing, walks to the beach, mountain biking, and more. I really love that area!

 

May – Bend, Newport, and Silverton, Oregon

In May, we headed towards Bend, Oregon. We made some stops in California along the way (such as Redding), but Oregon was our mission for the month of May. We had to be in Portland by June so that we could fly out for the sailing trip, meaning we had to stay on track.

In Bend, we went to numerous breweries (they have a TON), mountain biked a lot, and really enjoyed the little town of Bend.

We then went to Newport, Oregon, home of beautiful beach views. We stayed right on the beach and explored the tide pools every day with the dogs. There were numerous starfish, sea lions, and more. There’s not a ton to do in Newport, but it was a wonderful stop that was relaxing and had great views.

We then went to Silverton, Oregon. We explored Silver Falls State Park, had the best marionberry pie ever (best pie of 2017, for sure), saw a ton of beautiful waterfalls, and hiked and biked a lot.

 

June – Portland and the Caribbean

We were flying out of Portland for the sailing trip, so we parked ourselves in Portland, and flew my sister (Alexis from FITnancials) in to watch our dogs at an Airbnb that we rented for her and the dogs. While in Portland, I had dinner with Kathleen and Monica.

Because of RVing, we made a friend around two years ago. Like us, he RVs full-time, but unlike us, he used to live on a sailboat. After months of talking about it, we finally decided that we would go on a sailing trip together. Me and Wes knew that sailing would eventually be our next adventure, so this seemed like a fun vacation to help us decide if we would really enjoy it.

So, in June of 2017, we took a 10-day sailing charter in the British Virgin Islands with our RV friend, Liz, Jake, Nicole, and Scott.

This ended up being one of the best trips I’ve ever taken.

We’ve been to the Virgin Islands numerous times, but we had never been to the British Virgin Islands, and this was our first sailing trip.

Here are some of the places we went on the sailing charter:

  • Road Town, Tortola – This is where our sailing charter began and ended.
  • Virgin Gorda – We went to the Baths, which I had wanted to visit for a while, and they were amazing. We also anchored in Savannah Bay for two nights. There was a lot of climbing on rocks, beautiful water, and more. We visited the North Sound of Virgin Gorda and went to Bitter End Yacht Club (we moored there) and Saba Rock.
  • Anegada – Everyone on our charter was looking forward to visiting this island. Anegada has beautiful, secluded beaches, like Loblolly Beach, which we spent a day at. We visited some of the great snorkeling areas and saw a stingray, and we even saw flamingos! We stayed here for two nights, and it was amazing! This was our longest sail, and we even had a dolphin swimming with us as we sailed.
  • Sandy Spit – This island is tiny, with not much on it, but it is surrounded by beautiful blue water. We anchored here for the night and went to Foxy’s for drinks and hiked to the Bubbly Pool.
  • Norman Island – We moored at Norman Island so we could go to Willy T’s, which is a floating party bar where you can jump off the top of the boat and into the water.
  • The Indians – We went snorkeling at The Indians and were able to experience some of the best snorkeling I have ever done. There were tons of fish, and we even saw a large barracuda and a puffer fish!
  • Beef Island – We tried to visit Cooper Island but all of the moorings were taken. So, we sailed over to Beef Island for the night and anchored by ourselves.
  • Cooper Island – We woke up early to sail back to Cooper Island. This was a beautiful place to spend our last day on the charter. Even though it was the slow season, the mooring balls filled up by noon, and many sailors were “parking lot stalking” and waiting for sailboats to leave. Get there early if you go! While we visited, we saw a sea turtle and dolphins.

We were on a Sunsail 51 – 4 Cabin Monohull Yacht, and some people might think that’s crazy for seven adults.

Read further at Our 10-Day Sailing Charter Around The British Virgin Islands.

I also highly recommend reading my friend Liz’s recap from the trip, because she is amazing at telling travel stories, and you’ll hear more about ME! 🙂 Here’s what Liz had to say about the boat “Annie Daydreaming had 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms. They were all very small. Ever slept in a coffin? Ever crapped in a refrigerator box? (I hope not, but you do you).”

 

July – Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and Glacier National Park, Montana

After we got back from the sailing trip, we started heading towards Glacier National Park. Since it was a holiday weekend, we stopped in Idaho for a few days. The RV campground we stopped at happened to be right on a paved trail that went all through Idaho, so it was a surprisingly great spot to stop for both us and the dogs!

We then went to Glacier and stayed in West Glacier. We did lots of hikes, such as the Avalanche Lake hike (highly recommend if you are in the area), met up with Dan and Lindsay (fellow RVers), and more. Glacier is an amazing place, and I really want to go back one day and spend much more time there.

August – Las Vegas, Zion National Park, Bryce National Park

In August, we were in Las Vegas because I had a bachelorette party to attend, and shortly after Wes had a bachelor party to also attend (we were in the same wedding party as our friends – Tori and Josh – were marrying each other!).

The bachelorette party was a ton of fun, and it was great seeing all of my friends! It had been awhile since I had last seen all of my friends from back home, so a girls’ trip was definitely in order.

Although it was hot, it was bearable. At times, the air did feel like fire since it was a constant 110+ degrees outside the whole month, haha. We did take some trips to escape the heat, to Zion National Park and Bryce National Park. We also went to Seven Magic Mountains, rented a boat on Lake Mead (that’s our dog the captain pictured above), and more.

 

September – Vegas, Death Valley, Moab, Breckenridge

Wes’ friend Derek came to visit us in the RV while we were in Vegas. They went on Jeep trips and explored Death Valley (pictured above), Bryce Canyon National Park, hiking Angel’s Landing at Zion National Park, and more. We also went to Valley of Fire State Park together.

After the bachelor party was over, we left the heat and went to Moab, Utah. We hiked Mount Peale (my favorite hike of 2017!), hiked to Corona Arch, biked a ton, and more. Moab is definitely one of my most favorite places, and I’ll never get sick of visiting (people tell us we go there too much – but I don’t think “too much” of Moab actually exists).

After Moab, we went to Breckenridge, Colorado. We summited Horseshoe Mountain with our friends Jenny and Sean, which sits at 13,905 feet. We also hiked on the Colorado Trail (it went through the campground we were staying at), hiked McCullough Gulch Trail with our friends Sam and Libby, and more.

 

October – Columbia, St. Louis, Dallas

We finally went home in October, and it had been around a year since we had last seen a lot of people that we love. We first stopped in Columbia, Missouri, to visit our friends Derek and Adrienne. We went on a hike to Graham Cave, rode our bikes, and laughed over many beers.

Our friends got married in October, and it was fun being in a wedding with my husband. It was a beautiful wedding, and I’m so glad we could be a part of it.

We did lots of biking while we were home, as the RV park we stay at is right on the Katy Trail (a 200+ mile trail). We rode 60 miles on it one day (which is an easy day for Wes but my longest riding day ever!).

We also spent time with Wes’s brother and his family (which includes my editor- Ariel!).

Our time in St. Louis was short, as we had to go to Dallas, Texas for FinCon (a financial blogger/media conference).

 

November – San Marcos, Hot Springs National Park, Mississippi, Alabama

After FinCon, we drove south to San Marcos, Texas (near Austin), to visit my sister and her boyfriend, Alexis and JD. We went to Jacob’s Well, did some mountain biking, and checked out their new city.

Afterwards, we hightailed it out of there as we had to get our RV back to Alabama for some warranty repairs because the time period expired in which we could get it down. We made a stop at Hot Springs National Park for a few days. Our friends from the sailing trip, Liz and Jake, surprised us one day and parked next to us (without us knowing until we got back), which was a fun #RVlife surprise.

Eventually, we made our way to Wes’ parents house, who have full hookups in their driveway, an RVers dream come true. We moochdocked there for about a week and then made our way to start getting repairs done on our RV at Tiffin Motorhomes. We spent about 2-3 weeks there (there was a LONG wait), and then went back to Wes’ parents for another little stay.

 

December – Albuquerque, Tucson

We wanted to be back in a warmer climate because we knew we would have to leave the RV for a trip, so we decided on going back to Tucson and spending our winter there again. We have a great spot that backs up to some amazing mountain biking, so we have really come to love Tucson.

On the way there, we stopped in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as my mom had just moved in with her friend, Sunshine, there. We did the Sandia Peak Tram (third longest tram in the world and super amazing!), went to Petroglyph National Monument, and she made us some delicious Korean meals.

We then spent the rest of December in Tucson.

Here are some more of my other favorite pictures from 2017 (keep reading below):

 

So, what’s in store for 2018?

2018 will be another great travel year. Our plans are still up in the air, but as this publishes we will be on Eleuthera- an island in the Bahamas. We brought our whole family here, rented out a huge Airbnb on the beach, and we are spending Christmas a little late, but very happy.

We will be “parked” in the RV in Arizona, while the rest of the country warms up (no, we did not bring our RV to the Bahamas – I know someone will ask that :P).

We have some other trips planned out of Arizona while we are parked here, which include going to Europe for a few weeks and a sailing trip.

After we’re done hopping around Arizona where the temperature is wonderful in the winter, we are debating between heading up to Alaska for the summer or purchasing a sailboat. Or, we may do both.

As you can tell, we’re not sure what we are going to do in 2018 just yet. That’s the great thing about full-time traveling – it doesn’t really matter too much because I know we will have a great time regardless!

What are your travel plans for 2018?


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Wow you are living the dream life and it’s nice and generous of you to bring your whole family to the Bahamas trip.

  2. Christine

    This has probably been my favorite post even!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE seeing all your adventures and how happy y’all are! And it gives me lots of motivation to plan our trips! We just moved to Texas and plan to explore some the National Parks that are “close by” while we are here! I think Big Bend is on the list first because it will be warmest this time of year! Also, please please please go to Alaska so I can live vicariously through you! I am trying to convince my husband to put in for Alaska when we’re done in Texas (he’s in the military) because I would LOVE to live there for a few years! Good luck and I wish you a wonderful 2018!!!

  3. Patty

    When I’m as successful or even close to as successful as you, I want to do exactly what you’re doing! All those gorgeous places and learning to sail! It looks like so much fun and my husband, and I love being near water. John likes to mostly fish, but it’s always beautiful out there. We’ve been to Monterey, and Santa Cruz because his sister lives in Los Altos California. It is beautiful! Hope you get to do lots of fun stuff in 2018! Oh, and thanks for all the great vacay ideas. We are in the process of planning one now!

  4. Sounds like you had a wonderful year full of adventures πŸ™‚

    I’ve got a year in review post scheduled with some of my highlights and pics of my travels from 2017, but I love this idea – this will be such a nice post for you and Wes to look back on in a few months time to remember the year!

    Enjoy the Bahamas!

  5. Wow. Almost anybody would have been happy with the adventures you had in any one of these months. Doing all of that in a year is amazing. Thanks for sharing. Seeing you live like this inspires the rest of us to see what’s really possible. My philosophy of life and how I want to live mine has been transformed. Thanks for making that possible.

    1. Thank you! It’s been a great year!

  6. Wow all the photos look amazingly beautiful!

    I’m glad you two had a great year of travelling and having lots of fun. I look forward to your travel updates in 2018!

  7. We are leading a three month RV caravan tour to Mexico for the next three months. I think you would enjoy something like that!

    http://www.travelwithkevinandruth.com/2018/01/meeting-our-mexico-rv-caravan-group.html

  8. Katie

    Great post!!! Would love to see these more often!

  9. Incredible year Michelle! I’ve seen orcas in the wild a few times but never hunting like that, what an amazing experience that must’ve been!

  10. Wow, what an incredible year of adventures you had. I’m glad to see you enjoying the great outdoors so much and spreading the world on how beautiful and valuable our national parks are πŸ˜‰ I hope you also have a great 2018!

  11. Those are some AMAZING videos/photos! Congratulations on having such an awesome 2017!

    I also feel you on the love for fried chicken. I know I haven’t tried the chicken from the small restaurant in Visalia, California, but I can imagine how good it was. I think I know what I am having for dinner tonight…

  12. So awesome! Where did you guys go in Idaho? We just moved there and are excited to partake in the outdoor activities this spring and summer!

    1. We loved Coeur d’Alene!!!

    2. I can’t remember the town name but it was along the paved path that runs through the state.

  13. What a year!! And what a great post! So cool that you will have that to always look back on. We LOVED meeting you guys in Glacier and can’t wait till our paths cross again. If you need sailing buddies- we’re here for ya πŸ˜‰ Happy New Year and safe travels!!

  14. I love this post. Michelle, we are planning on doing exactly what y’all are doing. Question: what would you recommend if I’m really concerned about my dogs barking too much and disturbing rv neighbors when we go to restaurants, shows etc? Is your Tiffin pretty soundproof? πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

    1. Our dogs don’t bark much so it’s not something we worry about. Do you dogs bark a lot?

      1. They do unfortunately. They are small breeds, shihtzu and maltipom, and our home life is generally very small town quiet. They look out the window and bark when anyone walks or bikes by. Go nuts when they UPS guy comes. I think In order to prepare for rv life I need to get them out more and sort of desensitize them, and go Cesar Milan on their little spoiled hineys for barking at guests and UPS!

        1. Linda Sue

          It’s so tough to stop them from ‘doing their job’ of alerting everyone stuff is happening, stuff is happening! Small dogs are said to have the important job to alert the big dogs. In their world, it’s not a job to be sneezed at. You can try the Mama Dog technique where you say, “Shhhhhhhh!” and gently hold their mouth shut but you have to be totally consistent, never forget and let them just bark. It’s tough!

  15. Seems like you’re living your best life. Lots of traveling and stuff. My god!
    I hope you keep traveling and enjoying in 2018 as well! πŸ™‚

  16. WoW that’s amazing year:D

  17. I am so inspired by these pics. I can’t wait until the day my husband and I make it to the States to visit. For over 25 years I have dreamed of a USA road trip. I love the thought of RV life, though New Zealand is a bit small to sustain it long term. However it is definitely a place you should visit one day! I think you would love our national parks, especially the Abel Tasman.

    1. Yes, I’d definitely love to visit one day!

  18. 2017 was epic for you. 18 states in one year was an amazing feat! I’m looking forward to your 2018 travels.

  19. So glad to hear about your fun travels in 2017, Michelle. Hope to see some fun YouTube videos from you in the near future. Keep up the good work! πŸ™‚

  20. Erica

    What’s the name of the small restaurant in Visalia, California where you had your favorite food? I’d like to book mark it πŸ™‚

    1. I believe it’s called The Cafe πŸ™‚

  21. I need to bookmark some of these destinations! Looking forward to pictures from your 2018 travels.

  22. The good news is you had a blessed year of continued prosperity, achieved your financial goals, and enjoyed yourself. That right there is a beautiful feeling knowing you’re not confined to an office, get to enjoy going out & about as you please, and still earn more than enough to save for your potential retirement. Notice I said “potential retirement,” because with blogging and side hustles, it can become so positively addicting that one doesn’t want to retire.It’s a stress free and no pressure life where you can earnestly devote 1000% of your dedicated entrepreneurial strengths in doing something you truly love doing. Perhaps we’ll hear about Michelle someday being the next Warren Buffett of blogging? πŸ™‚

  23. There are families out here. It’s a little rare (just like how it’s rare to see younger people), but it does exist!

  24. Your story is very inspiring Michelle, congrats to you, I’m glad your hard work is paying dividends! Enjoy!

  25. You still need to add Ohio to your list. πŸ™‚

    I love that you took your family on vacation. What an amazing gift to be able to give!