In our third year of 50 in 5, May 2019 – May 2020, we visited 12 new states (with return trips in NC and TN) as well as Washington, D.C., before a global pandemic halted our travel plans. Let’s get into it! Here’s a recap of our adventures in year three:
What are your top 3 memories from this year of travel?
Hannah: Seeing Preservation Hall Jazz Band in New Orleans was a top life memory, so it’s also my best memory of this year of travel. My other favorite memories are eating deep dish pizza in Chicago and getting to share one of our trips with my stepdaughter, Emma!
Brandon: I think our entire overnight stay in Arkansas was my favorite… cooking dinner, the campfire, craft beer, fishing, and running from perceived wolves (we heard a howl nearby and ran so fast we broke both of our chairs). Number two would be the entire NYC experience, specifically seeing “Dear Evan Hansen.” Seeing a show in an actual Broadway theater was very cool. I also really enjoyed visiting Annapolis, Maryland, and the boat ride we took there. It was just a good day. And honorary number four would be listening to live music on Frenchmen Street in New Orleans.
What was a challenge you encountered?
Hannah: I nearly bit off more than I can chew when I planned our fall road trip. Almost 3,000 miles through 10 states with a different hotel/Airbnb each night was no joke, and we were so exhausted at the end of the trip. We drove straight home overnight from Chicago because neither of us wanted to stop and stay in yet another hotel. My favorite photo from our trip is below… captured driving down I-40 in the lane next to us!
Brandon: GPS functionality in Chicago was the worst for sure. (Note: The buildings in Chicago block the signal, so you’re driving blind a lot of the time while you’re in downtown.) Also, trying not to throw up after drinking a Hand Grenade in New Orleans was a challenge.
What surprised you?
Brandon: The GPS not working in Chicago! I was also surprised by the sheer amount of music in New Orleans.
Hannah: When we went to New York City in January, I couldn’t have imagined it would be our last trip until the fall.
Where would you most like to return and why?
Hannah: New York City! I feel like I could visit a hundred times and never run out of new things to do. And I’ve always loved Washington, D.C., so I look forward to returning.
Brandon: I would go back to New Orleans (in a winter month) for the sole purpose of exploring the history of the city… and more music.
What was your favorite meal of the year?
Brandon: I’m going to go with Central BBQ in Memphis.
Hannah: Lou Malnati’s in Chicago, LOL. I think of it often. (I laughed because this is an understatement. Poor Brandon has heard me talk about the deep dish pizza in Chicago constantly.)
What are you most looking forward to in year 4?
First, a note. We did this interview more than three years after ‘year 3’ ended. But we answered like we were doing it in May 2020! So, we both answered based on the travels we had planned. Everything ended up changing.
Hannah: The Southwest in general. I can’t wait!
Brandon: The Hot Air Balloon Festival in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is going to be awesome.
By the numbers
In year three, we spent 17 nights away from home. We stayed six nights in standard hotel chains, once in a boutique hotel, and in five unique Airbnbs. We took four flights and rented one car.
We threw away two broken camping chairs. One trip was spent with friends, and one with family. We saw two Broadway shows and ate two deep dish pizzas. We visited seven museums and one graveyard. I complained about the heat in New Orleans too many times to count.