It’s the last day of the year, and while the TrekSimple team are quietly chilling at our respective homes in Florida and North Carolina, we are ending the year with a profile of a friend who has cracked the code on the eternal question, “What to do on New Year’s?” The answer? Get the heck out of town, preferably to an international destination, with your best buds.
Krissy Kennedy is one of the most fun, smart and caring people I know. I was fortunate to become friends with her during our year in the Leadership Florida Connect program, in which we traveled around the state to learn about different communities and the state in general, and made some incredible friends along the way. Krissy and I have a similar philosophy on travel, which is why we roomed together for most of the year of our leadership program and while visiting friends in other parts of the state. We still room together at the Leadership Florida Annual Meeting, typically held in fabulous places like The Breakers in Palm Beach. We do this to save money while maximizing opportunities for tomfoolery and assorted shenanigans. I have not yet jumped on one of Krissy’s international or out-of-state trips, but maybe this will happen soon. Come on, 2021.
Another very important thing I must note about Krissy is that her husband, Scott, is the co-owner of Smoke BBQ restaurant, with locations in Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton. It’s one of my top 5 favorite restaurants in South Florida, and not just because Krissy is my friend. If you’re in the area, do yourself a favor and go. And now, on with the profile.
Tell us about yourself.
Krissy Kennedy, married to Scott Kennedy, no kids. Hubby and I rescue Pugs, and they are our kids! I am 41 years old, and I love to plan and take trips. I am a CPA with Deloitte and my husband is co-owner of Smoke BBQ restaurant. I was born and raised in Sarasota, Florida, to a beautician and a truck driver. I always dreamed of being a world traveler, but didn’t know if or how that dream would become a reality. My hubby took on a position in public accounting that required 100 percent travel, both domestic and international, for two years. I was able to travel to meet him occasionally as part of a spousal travel benefit, and this launched my travel addiction. I am very lucky that I have a great group of friends and family that love to travel with me. Now, Scott can’t always travel as much as I do, with the restaurant.
What are your goals when you travel?
I want to experience the local culture, including the people, food, drink, history and architecture. I also like a heavy dose of fun and relaxation. I used to be on a mission to try to only visit new places that I hadn’t been to before, but since I hit my goal to visit 40 countries before I turned 40, I am open to revisiting places that I have already been to. There is still so much of the world that I want to see, so new places are still high on my priority list.
What do you love most about travel?
I love seeing how different the world is. When we can learn about those differences and embrace them, it helps us understand others.
How long have you been doing New Year’s trips?
Hubby and I had a great New Year’s trip to London in 2008-2009, but the trips with friends started in 2015.
Everyone is welcome! The group size has ranged from two to eight over the years. Typically, the group is just girls and often includes my sister and friends from South Florida. Our largest group was for Iceland and that trip included my sister, her friend, some of our South Florida friends, a friend that moved out to Denver, and one of my friends from Canada.
Where have you gone?
Amsterdam, Iceland, Vienna, Edinburgh, and Bahamas
How do you decide where to go?
There was no reasoning to Amsterdam, that was just a great hotel/flight price. We did find a fun NYE party in Amsterdam! But then Iceland, Vienna and Scotland were chosen for their NYE activities. In Iceland, there is a huge fireworks display on NYE, plus we got to see the Northern Lights twice on NYE. In Vienna, we went to the NYE Ball at the Hofburg Palace. Then, in Scotland, we did the three days of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay: the Torchlight Procession on December 30, the NYE Street Party, and Loony Dook. Loony Dook is a New Year’s Day tradition where people, often in costume, parade through the streets of South Queensferry (north of Edinburgh, Scotland) and run into the freezing waters of the Firth of Forth.
What’s the craziest thing that’s happened on one of these trips?
That was definitely being the front picture of the BBC News coverage of Loony Dook! Since 2019 was the year of the pig, three of us did it dressed in pink swimsuits with pig ears, noses and curly tails. We were a hit with the photographers!
How long do you go?
The trips have ranged from five to 11 nights. The shorter trips have only included one city. The longer trips include multiple cities. Before Vienna, we spent a few nights in Budapest, and for Edinburgh, we did a few nights in Glasgow before, and a few nights in London after.
About how much have these trips cost?
If we book flights in advance, usually between June and August, we have paid about $700 to $900 for New Year’s international flights. We try to stay at AirBnb apartments to save on hotel costs. Plus, having a kitchen allows us to make our own breakfast, cocktails and snacks. We usually have a couple of nice dinners out, because we all love good food. Really the trips aren’t generally expensive, especially since it is New Year’s. I will say that everything in Iceland was expensive, but that is always the case in Iceland, not just for New Year’s. The travelers in our group have a range of incomes, so New Year’s trips are not all out luxury, but we aren’t staying in hostels either. The key is to plan and book early for the best deals.
How have your plans changed this year with COVID?
We aren’t taking a friends’ trip for New Year’s. Hubby and I are headed to Vegas for New Year’s, but then we have a friends’ trip the last week of January to the Maldives. With limited flights and travel restrictions, international travel was much more difficult to plan right now.
How do you plan these trips?
I usually plan the trip that I want, taking into account the costs, travel dates, and requests or suggestions from those committed to the trip. I let everyone in on my itinerary and they opt-in for what they want to participate in. I don’t need everyone to do everything I do. That is the best part about group travel, we can all do our own thing or the group thing as we like. My itineraries are usually very detailed and well planned, but don’t take that as every minute is planned in advance. I leave lots of time for shopping, resting, drinking, eating, shenanigans, etc. I just like to know that I will get to see and do everything I want in the most efficient manner. The itinerary groups places and activities that are located close together, have similar opening dates and hours, etc.
Any travel hacks you’d like to share with us?
I pack a Publix insulated wine bag and a grocery bag to carry our goods back to the apartment after grocery shopping. The wine bag is always a big hit at the liquor store or wine store. The attendants are always impressed that we travel with our own wine bag. Also, with so much European travel, we purchased electronics (hairdryer, flat iron, multi-usb chargers, etc.) with European plugs so we don’t have to bring converters and adaptors.
Anything you MUST do when you travel?
Have the local food and drink.
Anything you WON’T do when you travel?
I don’t think so.
There you have it – a little sense of the mix of jealousy and happiness I have every year watching Krissy’s New Year’s trips pop up on Facebook. I hope her story inspires you to travel and plan for adventures in 2021. Happy New Year!