Ok, so it’s a good thing the years keep getting bigger in number because my opportunities and experiences keep getting better. The end of the year is the best time for me to reflect on what I’ve worked for each year, and look back on the opportunities that make me feel the most thankful and happy.
Up, up, up AND away in Myanmar, Spain AND Turkey
The first 31 years of my life I had lived without stepping foot into a hot air balloon and just like that, I got the chance to take not one, not two, but three incredible rides. Each overlooking a different landscape, iconic and unique locations, it is hard to pick which one I loved the most so I’ve included them all. In Myanmar it was a sunrise ride over thousands of temples and pagodas in Bagan. In Turkey it was floating atop fairy chimney rock formations in Cappadocia and in Spain it was gliding above the rural countryside outside of Barcelona.
Ride a Water Buffalo in Vietnam
My Trip to Vietnam was spectacular, an unexpected gem found in my busy travel schedule. I think I could have easily listed each and every event on this trip as some of my favorites from the year but the highlight had to be the surprise water buffalo rides we had in Hoi An. Our tour was one of the best afternoons we had spent, educational, enriching and exciting.
Travel with Family in Europe
Spending time with family each year becomes a blessing and this year I had the chance to spend several weeks with my mother and sister on an Italian excursion that was beyond measure the best time I have spent in that country. The day they headed back for the states my brother flew to Rome where he and I set off on his post graduation Euro Trip. Each country offered so many fun surprises made all the more special by sharing with family.
Giving back in Cambodia
This was my third time volunteering for Save Elephant Foundation but this time I traveled to Cambodia instead of Thailand. The project is a protected land located outside of Siem Reap, where I spent time volunteering with the Cambodian Wildlife Sanctuary fostering a project where domesticated Elephants have space to return to the wild.
Satisfied my Inner Beach Bum
When I looked back this year I realized I was a bit of a sun chaser, spending most of my time in sunny spots, toes in the sand. I came to the conclusion that for me beaches are like my children, I just can’t pick a favorite!
Witnessed National Treasures in Arizona
I finally took the time to take a little American road trip and drove through New Mexico and Arizona. I had the most fun exploring some of the US I haven’t seen before and went mule riding and hiking around the south rim of the Grand Canyon.
Survived some travel terrors in Cambodia
I pride myself on being a responsible, solo woman traveler, but that doesn’t mean I am immune to a few bad events. I think it’s important to travel to places to break stereotypes of cultures and communities, to find out for yourself and make your own assessments of a place or people. Most of the time, it has been my experience that most of it is just negative conjecture. This year I my purse, along with my passport, ended up begin stolen right from my shoulder only days before I had to leave Cambodia for Dubai. After several trips to the police station, immigration office, US Embassy and then months of issues and paperwork after the fact, it ended up being just another travel story. No one was hurt and the one thing I took away from the experience is that because of the actions of one horrible person I was introduced to a dozen more who were willing to help a perfect stranger when she was in need. It confirmed for me that “Travel Angels” do exist and among stress and sadness you can find hope and beauty.
Nailing Nomadic Life
I’ve been living out of a suitcase, traveling around this wonderful earth for a few years now and this year proved to be simultaneously difficult and rewarding. While most of my friends and family are putting down roots, buying houses and having children, I’ve forged ahead with my plan to try and see as much as I can for as long as I am able and after this year it’s clear I’m on a path that works perfectly for me.
Learned to surf in Portugal
Portugal was a last minute decision and happened to be one of the better choices I made this year. The people warm, the food wonderful, the weather and surf were spectacular. This country is for sure one where I’ll will direct some more attention in the future.
Booked a spontaneous trip to St. Kitts
I’ve made some last minute travel decisions in my day, changing itineraries or buying tickets later than I should but this was one of my better travel triumphs. One of my best childhood friends had been living in St. Kitts and had decided to make a huge life change which involved moving back to the US. She explained everything in an email at the beginning of the week, including that if we wanted to see her while she lived there it would be the best time to go. A few emails and flight searches later I booked a flight with my miles to head down for a long weekend to hang out in paradise with one of my favorite people.
Stayed quiet in Bali
I never thought it would happen once, let alone TWICE! I returned for the second time to Bali Silent Retreat for some much needed zen time with yoga and meditation. It was just as powerful as the first time I had been and was a great way to start the year on a fresh note.
Realized traveling alone is both difficult and rewarding
This year I spent the majority of my time traveling solo. It was nice having some friends and family meet up with me along the way but being by myself has continued to give me some perspective. I’ve had moments where I felt really alone then times where I was proud to accomplish something difficult on my own. Being a solo traveler reminds me how important relationships can be while at the same time consistently challenging myself.
Culinary chops in Spain
I spent a month in Spain, several weeks living and working in Barcelona where I ate some of the most amazing foods. While there I sat in on a few cooking classes with Barcelona Slow Travel and learned the secrets to making the most delectable Paella.
Took a Tour of Turkey
I usually take way too much of my own free time planning and researching where I’ll be staying, what food I want to try and where I want to explore with each country I visit. This year however, I decided to relinquish some of my control freak tendencies and went on a three week planned trip around Turkey. All I had to do was pay, get insured and show up for all the insanity. It was a bus full of fun, adventure seeking people and some of the people I met on that tour will be life long travel buddies.
Starting in Southeast Asia, migrating westward back to America by air, land and sea. Stepping foot in sixteen countries, making countless new friends, spending late nights and early mornings juggling writing, consulting, non profit work while researching, photographing, learning and living 2015 was in no way short of lots of hard work with some out of this world rewards. I’m thankful that I’ve fostered great relationships in both my personal and professional life to make a year like 2015 come to fruition. Looking forward to all the amazing endeavors that await in 2016!