Welcome! I’m Stephanie!

I’m a full-time travel blogger, proficient French speaker, avid hiker, and author of The Unknown Enthusiast.

I’ve traveled to 21 countries and 37 US states (and counting!), and have a deep and unquenchable wanderlust.

I’m based in the United States (in Alabama), but spend about 1/3 of the year traveling, whether with Matthew (my husband), with our four girls, with friends, or even just solo.

I’m here to be your travel planning bestie – sharing detailed guides, helpful tips, and personal recommendations.

My Backstory

My love of travel really began when I was 17 years old, and I took my first international trip with my dad and brother. We visited Paris and La Rochelle, a city on the western coast of France.

It was love at first sight.

Baby Stephanie!

It was also a really crazy trip, as it almost didn’t happen due to some last-minute kidney stones.

But that trip really kicked off my intense love of France and my desire to keep traveling. I’d been taking French classes in high school, and that led to taking a ton of French classes at university and almost minoring in French – I was a couple of classes short and decided I’d rather graduate than finish that minor.

I did a study abroad in college, living in Paris for three months and taking a few classes. That three months was such a high point in my life, making close friends, roaming the streets of Paris all day, and visiting other European countries on weekends. I came home absolutely ravenous for more!

Of course, being a super broke college student in the heart of the United States doesn’t lend itself well to international travel, but I was always dreaming about it and the next places I’d go.

I was the type that would spend a free afternoon doing a deep dive on some country I had seen mentioned somewhere, reading up on the best places to go and what to see, essentially planning out a trip that was entirely hypothetical.

The next years were a blur of big life events:

  • 2009: I married my college sweetheart, Matthew
  • 2010: College graduation with a bachelor’s in dietetics – if you aren’t familiar, it’s essentially a degree in nutrition.
  • 2011: I became a mom! I had my first baby girl that spring.
  • 2012: I did a 9 month internship to finish the requirements to become licensed as a Registered Dietitian.
  • 2014-2017: I worked part-time as a dietitian, giving consultations to patients mainly about weight loss and diabetes control.
  • 2013, 2015, and 2017: I had three more baby girls!

During those years (2009 – 2019), Matthew and I went to France together 3 times – for our honeymoon, our 5 year anniversary, and our 10 year anniversary.

Aix-en-Provence for our 10 year anniversary

Always, always the thrum of “when can we go next, where can we go next” was in the back of my mind.

It was a busy 10 years!

I love my life and those baby girls like nothing else, but I also was not feeling completely fulfilled doing a little part-time work and a lot of stay at home mom work.

But it was also really hard to figure out just what I wanted to do. I had a degree and a professional license, I could find work as a dietitian. But… by that time, I was less interested in a lot of the options open to me in that route.

I could have gone back to work at any time, but I just couldn’t figure out really what I wanted to do with my life. Not exactly how you want to feel after spending 5 years and a whole lot of money at college!

Between 2018 and the end of 2020, Matthew and I and the girls really ramped up our domestic travel, logged some serious miles in roadtrips, and got a couple international trips in too.

We took the kids down to the Florida panhandle beaches. We explored Asheville, NC. We did a Boundary Waters canoe trip. We drove out to visit our families in Utah, Texas, Maryland, Kansas, and Minnesota regularly. We went to Disney World. I went with some girlfriends to Paris (again!). Matthew and I visited southern France together.


We got in the habit of spending our time and money on these trips, even if it was mostly domestic travel and often to see family members.

Finally, in early 2021, I parsed out and really let myself consider the idea of making my longtime passion my full-time passion project/hopefully job and launched this website.

And, I have to say, this work just feels like me.

It’s funny because I’ve never really considered myself a writer, and I’ve definitely never considered myself particularly good at taking photos. But, as I’ve learned, if you are interested, you can improve and get better at anything.

I feel like I’m definitely not your typical travel blogger – I’m 35, married, with 4 kids, a mortgage, and Matthew has a salaried job that he can’t do remotely (he’s a high school AP physics teacher).

I am not your stereotypical digital nomad, in their 20’s and unencumbered, where I can just pick up and decide to go live in Bali for a few months or travel around South America for a year. That’s just not happening, at least not right now.

Still, I manage to travel about 30% of the year!

This website to me is as much about doing something that I didn’t think was possible (traveling frequently and running a travel website, after working as a stay-at-home mom for 10 years and definitely having roots in one spot) as much as it is about the travel itself.

It’s been an exercise in figuring out how to make frequent travel work instead of just assuming it won’t. Honestly, I feel more like myself than I have in years.

A Little Bit About My Travels and Travel Style

Cinque Terre, Italy

As of fall 2023 (when I’m updating this page), I’ve visited 21 countries and 37 US states. (Technically, I’ve been in more states than that, but I’m not counting states that I’ve only driven through).

I do a combination of solo travel, couple travel, travel with friends, and travel with kids – it’s really a wide variety!

When I travel, I really try to go as deep into that destination as possible, in order to create the best, more detailed guides as possible for you here.

So, when I spent 2 weeks in Spain in April 2023, I focused entirely on the region of Andalucia (southern Spain) instead of jumping around the whole country.

In June, Matthew and I spent two weeks in Slovenia, a country smaller than New Jersey. A lot of people thought – why not visit Croatia and Austria and Italy, since they’re so close? But we really wanted to do a deep dive into Slovenia so we could give the best advice possible about what to do in the country.

In a similar vein, I spent 10 days exploring just a small area on the French Riviera in September 2023 (and this was my 3rd trip there). Again – the more I know about a place, the better the information I can give you!

What This Blog Does For You

Here’s what I aim to provide you with on The Unknown Enthusiast:

My goal is always to write articles chock full of super detailed advice, with tons of personalized information and helpful tips – things we wish we had known before we had visited a destination.

I also always aim to FILL my posts with pictures – pictures really help illustrate what a place is like, and I want you to have a really good sense of what a place is like before you go!

My guides always have your budget in mind. I want travel to be as accessible as possible to everyone, so I only recommend things that are definitely worth doing, and am always looking to recommend only the best value activities and itineraries.

Most of all, I want travel and having new, exciting experiences to feel in reach for you, too. For a long time it didn’t feel possible for me, but I want to give you as many resources and information to help your bucket list destination become your reality.

Where I’ve Been

Countries I’ve Visited:

US States I’ve Visited

  • Alabama: Huntsville, Birmingham, Montgomery, Selma, Orange Beach, Dismals Canyon
  • Arizona: Grand Canyon, Page, Lake Powell
  • California: Los Angeles, San Diego
  • Colorado: Denver, Mesa Verde National Park, Garden of the Gods, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Four Corners Monument
  • Florida: Orlando, Disney World, Pensacola Beach, Navarre Beach, Panama City Beach
  • Georgia: Savannah, Helen, Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Hawaii: Oahu, Maui, Haleakala National Park
  • Idaho: Craters of the Moon, Idaho Falls
  • Illinois: Chicago
  • Indiana: Carmel Christkindlmarkt
  • Iowa: Des Moines
  • Kansas: Lawrence, Kansas City
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana: New Orleans
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota: St. Paul, Minneapolis, Rochester, Stillwater, St. Cloud, Duluth, Boundary Waters
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri: Kansas City
  • Montana: West Yellowstone
  • Nebraska: Omaha
  • Nevada: Las Vegas, Valley of Fire, Cathedral Gorge
  • New Hampshire: Kancamagus Highway, Conway, Flume Gorge, Mount Washington, Dixville Notch
  • New Jersey
  • New York: New York City, Syracuse, Rochester, Niagara Falls
  • North Carolina: Asheville
  • North Dakota: Theodore Roosevelt National Park
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania: Philadelphia, Falling Water
  • South Carolina: Charleston
  • South Dakota: Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park
  • Tennessee: Nashville, Chattanooga, Fall Creek Falls State Park
  • Texas: Houston
  • Utah: Salt Lake City, Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Zion National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, St. George, Snow Canyon State Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Moab, Lower Calf Creek Falls, Natural Bridges National Monument, Valley of the Gods (and many, many more spots)
  • Vermont: Stowe, Woodstock, Nichol’s Ledge, Weston
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin: Green Bay, Eau Claire
  • Wyoming: Yellowstone National Park

Let’s Connect on Social!

Instagram: @theunknownenthusiast

Pinterest: @theunknownenthusiast

Facebook: @theunknownenthusiast

Thanks for joining me on this journey, and I’ll see you at the boarding gate!

My favorite:

Travel Experiences

  • Riding a camel in the Sahara
  • Seeing a volcano erupt in Iceland
  • Strolling the streets of France
  • Hiking Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park
  • Watching sloths climb trees in Costa Rica


  • Popcorn
  • Cadbury Mini Eggs
  • French butter
  • Peaches
  • Street tacos

Spots in France:

  • Nice
  • Colmar
  • Pointe du Hoc, Normandy
  • Menton
  • Aix-en-Provence
  • Paris

Spots in the US:

  • Southern Utah
  • Florida panhandle beaches
  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Northern Minnesota
  • Wherever family is!