My Year In Review – Where I Went And What Happened in 2019

Looking back on the previous year is always a lot of fun, and it’s interesting to see everything laid out in a one year period. I get to see what I did and didn’t do, reflect on everything, etc. So, I am happy to publish my 2019 year in review. I almost didn’t put this…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 24, 2023

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Looking back on the previous year is always a lot of fun, and it’s interesting to see everything laid out in a one year period. I get to see what I did and didn’t do, reflect on everything, etc. So, I am happy to publish my 2019 year in review.

I almost didn’t put this together this year, but I realized that it’s nice to write this each year so that I have a nice memory to look back at later.

You can read my 2018 year in review here. You can find 2017’s here.

2019 was a super interesting year.

We sailed to the Bahamas, bought a van for hurricane season and explored the U.S., then sailed back to the Bahamas (which is where we are now).

We saw beautiful mountains, oceans, beaches, deserts, and everything in between.

2019 was a wonderful year full of travel and great memories. It had its ups and downs, just like for any person, but overall it was an amazing year and I’m grateful for the life that I get to live.

We’re really loving how life is currently going too. We love having our sailboat as it’s a very exciting way to travel, and we also love having our van so that we can still do all of the land travel that we love.

You can read more about our life on a sailboat here – Welcome To Paradise – We’re Living On A Sailboat!

You can find life updates in the last year here:

Also, if you’re not following me on Instagram yet, I definitely recommend doing so. You can see even more photos and stories of the places we are visiting.

Here’s what we did in 2019:


Anchored in the Florida Keys

January – The Florida Keys and Bahamas

2019 started by sailing the Florida Keys to the Bahamas. It was the first time we had left the U.S. with our sailboat.

It was a crazy month because we were doing something brand new to us – bringing our dogs by boat to another country. Bahamas is relatively easy to do this with, though, so it went smoothly!

There was quite a bad storm that arrived right after we sailed to Bimini, Bahamas, so we were “stuck” there for a while. It was a nice spot, though, so we definitely did not complain!


Sailing (well, motoring because there was no wind) in the Bahamas

February – Grand Bahama and Berry Islands

In February, we sailed from Bimini to Grand Bahama, and then to the Berry Islands.

We were only in Grand Bahama for a little less than a week, and then we sailed over the Great Harbour Cay in the Berries. Great Harbour Cay was an amazing spot, with a great boating and local community. We ordered homemade bread that was delivered right to the boat, pizza that was delivered to the boat, there were BBQ nights at the marina, we were invited to someone’s home and had a delicious wahoo soup, and more.

After Great Harbour Cay, we sailed south to Chub Cay. We had a friend coming to visit us, so we stayed put for a little bit and enjoyed the area. We made a lot of friends on Chub while we were there in February, and they all remembered us when we came back in December of 2019, which was fun!


Sharks in the Exumas at the marina

March – New Providence Island, the Exumas, and Eleuthera

After the Berry Islands, we sailed south to Nassau.

One of my favorite spots on New Providence Island was going to the Queen’s Staircase. Pictures don’t do this place justice – we were surprised by how beautiful it was! The area was carved in 1794 out of limestone rock and is crazy looking!

We explored all of the other touristy spots too, restocked up on groceries because it had been a while, and waited for a weather window to sail south.

Then, we sailed to the Exumas! Well, just the northern islands, but it was still a ton of fun. We swam with sharks, snorkeled, kayaked, went to the island of iguanas, and more.

Next, we sailed over to Eleuthera. We had gone on a family vacation to Eleuthera in 2018 so we really wanted to bring our boat there because we loved it so much!


Back in Florida after sailing the Bahamas

April – Florida

In April (it may have been the last week of March), we sailed back to Florida.

Since we had bought our boat the previous year, we had quite a bit of repairs and upgrades that needed to be done (the previous year of sailing was more of a shakedown). We also lost our prop as we were going down the New River in Florida, which was no fun but thankfully did not end in disaster.

We had to rent a house for the month because dogs are not allowed in the boatyard at Lauderdale Marine Center, and the slip that we were in for some of the time was extremely far from any grass (we were surrounded by concrete and the river).


Hauling our boat out of the water for some maintenance

May – Florida and Memphis

The repairs and warranty work took a lot longer than we had expected, which caused us to change our plans for making our way up the east coast. While our Lagoon catamaran has been great, our warranty issues have mainly been outside companies such as B&G (our electronics and navigation, which has been replaced numerous times now).

So, instead, we had to quickly find a spot for hurricane season because we realized we wouldn’t be able to make it far north in time (not with our dogs, at least, which we try to travel more slowly with).

We called quite a few places but since it was such a last moment decision, no one had room for us anywhere on the east coast within several hundred miles.

We called the marina we had spent the previous hurricane season at, in St. Pete, and they had one spot available. So, we sailed over to the east coast of Florida in the first week of June.

Also in May, we decided to buy a van.

Why did we get a van? In the previous hurricane season (in 2018), we mainly stayed on our boat. We traveled away from it a bit, but for 2019’s hurricane season we wanted to do something different. We talked to so many sailors, and we quickly learned that many take a few months away from their boat each year during hurricane season, and now we completely get it.

To have the best of both worlds (in our minds, for us), mountains and beaches, we quickly realized that having a 4×4 van along with the boat is exactly what we want. ⁣⁣We’ll mainly be living/cruising on the boat, but we also have a van so that we can still do all the hiking, biking, and rock climbing that we crave as well.

When we sold our motorhome before our boat purchase, we already agreed at that point that we’d get a van to travel in when we’re off the boat. So, yes, this was all in the original plan.

While waiting on a repair on the boat to begin, we decided to do a shakedown road trip to Wes’s parents in Memphis too.

It was a pretty crazy month!


Hiking in New Hampshire

June – Sail to St. Pete

After we sailed over to St. Pete, I then flew to New Hampshire for a weekend filled with yoga, rock climbing, hiking, and yummy food. It was a fun-filled several days where I didn’t work and simply just relaxed.

When I got back, we tucked the boat away so that we could live and travel in the van for a few months. Since it’s hurricane season, our sailing was limited anyway so it’s a perfect time to take a break from the boat and go explore in the van.


Hiking a 14er in Colorado

July and August- Colorado and Utah

For the summer in our van, we decided that we wanted to take it kind of easy and explore one of our favorite areas – Utah and Colorado. We also decided that we wanted to hike as many 14ers (mountains over 14,000 feet) that we could squeeze in, as well as mountain bike as much as we could.

We started out by hiking Mount Elbert, which is an “easier” 14er. But at 14,439 feet it was a tiring hike after living at sea level on the boat for so long, haha! We also hiked several other 14ers – Missouri Mountain, Quandary, Lincoln, Cameron, Democrat, Sherman, Bross Trail, and one or two others but they are escaping me at the moment and I did a horrible job of tracking what we did this past summer.

We found so many amazing backcountry spots all summer long, and our 4×4 van made it possible to go to some of the craziest beautiful places.

Between July through September while we were in the van, we also spent a ton of time visiting my sister in Fruita, Colorado, which was great! A question I receive often about traveling full-time is if it’s lonely. Traveling/living in the van was so great over the summer- we visited some amazing places and spent lots of time with family and friends.


Exploring Utah

September – Utah and Colorado

We were trying to wait for it to cool down before we went to Utah, but it seemed to take forever so we just went anyway. It was 100 degrees pretty much every day we were in Utah – but it’s one of our favorite states so we sucked it up and enjoyed it!

We did the Burr Trail, Robbers Roost, Moab, Montezuma Canyon, Goblin Valley, Zion National Park, Bryce National Park, Capital Reef National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and so much more.

We also spent several days in Estes Park, Colorado, and Wes was a groomsman in his friend’s wedding. It was a beautiful wedding and a nice break from the heat in Utah.


Van life at Wes’ family’s property in Missouri

October – Annapolis and back to SV Paradise

In October, we raced across the country over to Annapolis to attend the sailboat show. We stopped along the way at many friends and family’s driveways too (Fruita, Longmont, Columbia, St. Louis, Bentonville, and others) because we knew it would be a long time before we saw many of our favorite people again.

We were going to head north in the van and explore Maine and Canada afterward, but realized that we missed the boat too much. So, we decided to end our van summer a little early and head back to the boat.

We knew we had a lot to do to get the boat ready, and while we were gone some things had decided to break (that is just #boatlife for ya). Due to that, we spent around the next month getting the boat prepped to leave Florida.


Loggerhead Key in the Dry Tortugas

November – St. Pete

In November, I quickly flew to Chicago at the last moment to see family due to a family emergency. It was a sad visit so I won’t say too much about it.

We were also still driving the van around town to complete errands, and we finally put the van away in storage in mid-November.

We then did an overnight sail to the Dry Tortugas. We explored there for a few nights, then sailed to Key West.


Sailing from Bimini to Chub Cay

December – Bahamas

While in Key West, we waited for our next weather window to cross over to the Bahamas.

We sailed to Bimini from the Florida Keys. Our goal was to be in the southern Exumas by Christmas because we had family visiting. Due to that, we sailed through the Bahamas very quickly – hopping from Bimini to the Berries, to the Exumas all within a week or two. It was all mainly areas that we had sailed to earlier in the year, so we were excited to head somewhere new.

In December, we had Wes’s brother and his family on SV Paradise for Christmas. Yes, we had 7 people and 2 dogs on our sailboat for 8 days! And, it was a great time. Having visitors on the boat is always great because it can be quite some time before we see a familiar face again.

And, that is my whole 2019 wrap up!

It’s nice putting these together because it forces me to remember some of the smaller moments that happened throughout the year that I probably would have otherwise would have forgotten about.


What’s the plan for 2020?

For 2020, we have all sorts of very loose plans.

Our year tends to go very differently from how we think it’ll go each year, so we’re just seeing how life goes. We may go south, we may go north, we may go to the moon – who knows?

Okay, no moon travel, but you get what I mean!

We have an idea of what we will be doing, but I don’t want to spoil it just yet. Stay tuned!

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!


Here are my 2020 goals:

  • Get at least three months ahead on Making Sense of Cents posts. I fell majorly behind in 2019 as I took an unexpected break from a lot of things in life, haha. Being ahead in blog posts makes life much more enjoyable because I can focus on other things knowing that the majority of my writing work is already done. This is one of my major 2020 goals!
  • Work less than 40 hours per week. For the most part, I am working less than 40 hours per week. However, there are some weeks when I spend all day and night on my laptop, not even sure where the day went. Due to that, I would like to continue to work on a better work/life balance.
  • Be more present. My main goal in 2020 (just like with 2019) is to be more present. I’m excited for the year of travel and sailing we have ahead of us, and I want to enjoy it as much as we can. I’ve been so focused on the business the last several years, that I want this year to be focused on life outside of the business. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE running Making Sense of Cents, and that’s what makes it so hard to break away and be more present outside of work.
  • Read 5 books. I have only read one book in the last several years that wasn’t work or sailing/boat related. I would like to get back to reading books that have nothing to do with trying to learn something, haha.

What are your life, business, and travel plans for 2020? What was your favorite part of 2019?

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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. SteveGood

    A nice trip you travel in the past year 2019 and also a very good plan for the year 2020

  2. Sorry to hear about November but otherwise it sounds like you had an awesome year of adventure and fun. Look forward to the 2020 review!

  3. Fariez Nurkholiq

    That’s a long list of travelling destination despite I have to say sorry for your November. Anyway, I can recommend you to go to Bali or Rajaampat in Indonesia. In 2021 may be 😉

  4. OMG, you guys have traveled a lot in 2019. It was a mellow year for us: Greece & a handful of weekends at a close-by spa. We need to up our game in 2020 🙂

    1. Greece sounds amazing! I’ve never been.

  5. Alyssa Padgett

    Always love reading these. Also very jealous of all your time on beaches! The photos slay me. So beautiful.

    1. Thank you Alyssa! I’m loving all of your videos and pictures of your new RV! And, your baby is ADORABLE!

  6. Nikki

    Hi Michelle, I want to start a blog soon but I’m confused about affiliate marketing! I don’t know exactly in what part of the post to place the affiliate links! I was reading this last blog post that you wrote but I couldn’t find or didn’t see any affiliate links attached to it! Can you show me where you placed your affiliate links on this last post that you wrote?? Sorry … I’m confused lol

    1. Hey Nikki!

      Have you taken my affiliate marketing course? You can find it here –, it’ll help you learn all about it.

      In regards to your question, Are you referring to this review when you say “last blog post?”

  7. Nils Kufalk

    Wow, that makes me really jealous, you have traveled more in one year than I have in my entire life. What beautiful places you have been…

  8. George

    What a great 2019 you had, you’ve inspired a lot of us to try and follow in your foot steps thats for sure! Heres to an even better 2020.

  9. Angela Squires

    Sounds like you’ve had an amazing year. We’re on the hunt for a campervan so we can take our dog on some adventures. Good luck for 2020!

  10. Miro hội thảo

    Congratulation for your succesfull year. Good luck for 2020

  11. Are you allowed to sail into international waters or sail to Australia?

    1. Can you clarify what you mean by “allowed?”

      Our boat can sail all over the world. We have dogs that like walks, though, so we don’t plan on doing long ocean crossings with them.

  12. Right now we are living in Italy, but man this life would be a dream when we return to the U.S. in three years! However we’ll likely settle to be close to family for once and let our young daughter grow some roots. I’m sorry about your sad month. I lost one of my dogs in April, and I’m still trying to adjust to life without him.

    Anyway I’m an avid reader, and while I enjoy lots of “book club” style books, for you I recommend the Seven Sisters Series by Lucinda Riley. They’re big books but light reads. Most important, they’re entertaining *and* well-written. I’m only through the first three, but they each combine a contemporary story with a historical fiction story as six adopted sisters attempt to track down their biological heritage — so it’s like getting two books in one. Basically they suck you right in until you put them down.

    Enjoy your time in the Bahamas!

  13. Steffani Baker

    Michelle, you’re such an inspiration! I’m currently working to grow my online business to have a similar lifestyle to this. While I’m not sure we could live this way full time, I’d like travel to be an option for us throughout the year, especially with 4 pets. Thank you for sharing your journey, and the reality of working online. I think many followers think it’s an easy way to make lots of money and live however you want.

    I’m so sorry to hear your November was a sad one. Sending good energy your way.

    Cheers to the next adventures, maybe I’ll see you in the Bahamas this year – my senior pups would love a doggy play date!