Sweet tea and buttermilk biscuits. Pep rallies and college football. Blue skies and humid nights. Monogrammed towels and camouflaged jackets. Southern drawls and lunchtime gossip. Pickup trucks and mud-encrusted motorbikes. Pulled pork barbecue and pecan pie.
My Southern upbringing forms a special part of who I am, and no matter where I travel in the world, I will always have a home across a swath of the southeastern United States. Because to me…
♥︎ Home is the sandy shores of the panhandle of Florida, where I spent my childhood summers.
♥︎ Home is the family-friendly corner of southeast Alabama, where I was born and raised.
♥︎ Home is the heart of Georgia, where I celebrated holidays with family.
♥︎ Home is the upcountry of South Carolina, where I went to university and discovered who I am.
♥︎ Home is the growing metropolis of Orlando, where I’ve spent most of my married years.
Even though these places across The South will always feel like home, it’s the multitude of relationships that were made in each location that allows me to carry my true home in my heart no matter where I go.
Late nights and paseos around the block. Medieval buildings and contemporary art. Loud chatter and strong opinions. Bull fighting and nude beaches. Stork nests and open plazas. Flamenco music and salty tapas.
After years of studying the Spanish language and a life-changing study abroad semester in Santiago, Chile, I packed my bags in 2008 and moved to Spain. For two years, Madrid was home, and oh, what a fantastic city to be young, footloose and fancy-free! When I wasn’t teaching English to third graders, I was off exploring the beautiful country of Spain or jet-setting to other destinations around Europe with my friends. (This is the time when I became a true independent traveler . . . we didn’t even have smart phones back then!) Because of this special season in my life when I soaked up the color and customs across the Iberian Peninsula, Spain stole my heart forever.
Fresh air and green fields. Turquoise waters and the tinkle of cow bells. Clean streets and timely transport. Colorful festivals and multiple languages. Merry yodels and those snow-capped peaks.
As we followed our dreams to live abroad as a married couple, Justin and I moved to Zurich, Switzerland in the summer of 2015 with his company. Although expat life in Zurich isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, we now understand why Switzerland is often at the top of world ranking lists. And we now know something very important about ourselves: the mountains make our souls come alive. The postcard-perfect country of Switzerland and her Alpine peaks will always call to the core of my very being.
We recently welcomed our daughter into the world. Now, we are learning how to travel as a family (plus with our fluffy puppy #BasiltheKooiker in tow), and I am excited to discover the world in a new way. Traveling with kids is certainly a challenge, but we think it’s totally worth it. I can’t wait for us to add new destinations to My List of Travels and revisit some of my favorites with our little one.
After leaving my office job in the summer of 2014, I started Global Heartbeat as a travel blog to feature stories of people and places from around the world. Initially, it was meant to serve as my online creative outlet to write about what was on my mind and heart in addition to being a testament to my travel experiences. But over the years, I realized that I wanted to do more than just inspire others to travel . . . I wanted to help others travel well.
So, the start of 2018 is marked by the creation of Global Heartbeat Travel – with a new website that will continue to showcase great travel experiences around the world and feature my very own travel planning services. With my customized travel itineraries, I offer independent travelers a tailor-made trip that fits perfectly.
Through Global Heartbeat Travel, I am looking forward to creating a lifetime of memorable travel adventures with my family – and with you! Thanks for joining me on this sensational journey!