Travel Plans for the Second Half of 2014

Grand Canyon path

Can you believe 2014 is almost halfway over? Time flies, right?

I have managed to squeeze in quite a bit of travel into the last six months, visiting Boston, Atlanta, Southern California (albeit for work), Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon and Washington, D.C. (again, for work). And I have some even more exciting travel plans for the next six months, which include finally heading out of the country again!

Minnesota: July 18-20

Next up is a trip home to Minnesota for my high school reunion. I graduated from White Bear Lake High School in 1994, so you do the math! While our ten-year reunion was pre-Facebook and I hadn’t done a good job of keeping up with people since I had left for college, I feel more connected to people this time around – thanks in large part to Facebook. I’ve been able to find things in common as adults with classmates who I was never even close to in high school. I’m excited to see who shows up and I think I’ll enjoy it more than the last one.

Toronto: August 8-10


Toronto skyline
Photo courtesy of Benson Kua via Flickr.

I visited Toronto for the first time last June for TBEX, but that didn’t leave me much time to actually see any of the city. This time around, I’ll be attending the semi-finals at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament, doing a bike tour of the city with Toronto Bicycle Tours, visiting the Hockey Hall of Fame and checking out the Taste of the Danforth festival in Toronto’s Greek Town. Other suggestions for what I should check out? Let me know!

Bulgaria: August 30-September 7


Rila Monastery
Photo courtesy of Amanda Williams of

I’ll be celebrating my birthday by visiting a new country – Bulgaria! This whole region – Romania, Bulgaria and the Balkans – was on my radar for my career break trip, but squeezing them in would have been too rushed. So I am so excited to finally head back to Europe and to Bulgaria! I’ll only have eight days, but I plan to make the most of them, with a tentative plan to visit Sofia, Blagoevgrad, Rila Monastery, Plovdiv and Veliko Tarnovo.

Mali and Burkina Faso: November 22-December 6


Folona groundbreaking
Groundbreaking for the buildOn/Passports with Purpose school in Folona, Mali.

This may be the trip I am most excited and nervous about at the same time! While I visited Egypt in 2008, I have never been to sub-Saharan Africa, so this will be brand new territory for me. I will start my trip in Mali, visiting the villages of Menie and Folona in the southeastern part of the country to see the schools that buildOn built with the funds we raised through Passports with Purpose last December. I will spend a night in each village and visit with buildOn staff in the nearby city of Bougoni. I’ll also stop in the capital, Bamako, and possibly head up to Segou and Djenne, depending on the current security situation.

Then, I will move on to Burkina Faso for a week on my own. I’ll stop in Bobo-Dioulasso first and then make my way to the capital, Ouagadougou, before heading back to Chicago. I’m not quite sure yet what I’ll see and do in Burkina Faso, but I’m excited to figure it out!

Do you have any recommendations for me for Toronto, Bulgaria, Mali or Burkina Faso? Please share below!


8 thoughts on “Travel Plans for the Second Half of 2014”

  1. Hey! I just came across your website today. In Toronto, I would recommend taking some time to go to the Toronto Islands. You can rent bikes to bike around, and the view of the Toronto skyline is amazing!

    1. Thanks for the tip! Unfortunately my weekend is already pretty packed with plans, but I’ll definitely keep that in mind for future trips!

  2. Katie you should definitely meet Jason from Tour Guys. He knows Toronto inside out and has a really cool tour that explores our awesome street art in the city.

  3. I’ll arrive in Bulgaria in September 8! Almost the same itinerary: Sofia, Rila, Plovdiv, Veliko Tarnovo and Varna (also Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania). But I really want to hear about your trip to Mali! 🙂

  4. Great list of places to visit. I think Bulgaria and that whole region is fascinating. I’d love to visit it as well, but I’ll just have to live vicariously though you this time. 🙂 Have fun!

  5. Sounds exciting! I’m so interested to hear about your trip to Bulgaria, and Mali and Burkina Faso sound really intriguing since I know nothing about them!

  6. Hi Katie– I’d love to connect you with a wonderful friend of ours in Bulgaria. We met on a hiking trip in Italy and have stayed in touch ever since.

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