Yesterday marked a very special anniversary for me: Two years of remote self-employment, two years blogging away here at Meihoukai in Wanderland, and two years of living nomadically.
It’s been a trip, in every sense of the word. From attempting drysuit diving in the frigid waters of Iceland to becoming a Divemaster in the warm seas of Indonesia, from throwing back $15 cocktails at a private VIP room in glitzy Vegas to surviving on $15 a day in the remote hill towns of the Philippines, from catching a wave in Oahu to catching a trapeze bar in Thailand, I’ve barely stopped to catch my breath. As always, just feel free to slap me straight across the face should I ever utter the phrase, “I’m bored.”
Like last year, I thought it would be fun to commemorate this day with a little look back over my shoulder.
My Year in Travels
My monthly roundup posts cover the highlights and lowlights of my journeys, and you guys glimpse all my best pictures in my Photo of the Week posts, so this is more general journey through my year than a tops-and-flops-and-best-pictures thing.
1. Home Sweet Home
After the devastating breakup that rocked the end of my first year of travel, I really needed time stateside to heal within arms’ length of loved ones. That’s not to say I was sitting around staring nostalgically at my passport — I made trips to Philadelphia to zip my friend Wim into her wedding dress, to Colorado to drink champagne with 700 other travel bloggers, to Martha’s Vineyard to unknowingly help my mom buy a house, to Myrtle Beach to party shamelessly with my girlfriends, and to Niagara Falls to have lunch in Canada with my older sister. In the meantime, I enjoyed getting to know both Albany and New York City again through the fresh eyes of a traveler.
For the second year in a row, my mom injected a little luxury in my life in the form of a beautiful family vacation planned by me, and funded by her. Iceland was my dream destination and I lobbied hard, much to the skepticism of my mom and sister. But after packing more action into eight days than I ever thought possible, we all left completely enamored with this Nordic island nation.
Icelandair has free stopovers in Iceland on all round trip flights, so in planning I realized it would only be around a $200 difference for me to make London my final destination and Reykjavik a stopover. Yes please! After three days in Manchester I hopped down to London for another seven, all the while crashing with various dear friends. Honestly, I would probably never have returned to England if not for the people I love there and the loophole that I found, but I’m glad I did — I discovered a few sides of London that have me looking forward to my next inevitable visit.
It’s hard for me to find words to sum up my six weeks on this beautiful island chain. Hawaii, the place I went to because I had friends and family to stay with and frankly didn’t know what else to do with myself, became a place of almost spiritual significance to me. In Hawaii I found a place that I could very well see myself calling home someday. I left with a renewed love of travel and life, excited once again about the road ahead of me.
5. Holidays at Home
It was important for me to celebrate the holidays at home after spending them abroad last year. I loved celebrating my birthday with friends, going over the top for Halloween with my fellow overenthusiastic Americans, and spending Thanksgiving and Christmas in my childhood home. Of course, I was feeling a little restless between all those designated special days, so I jetted of to Vegas for a girls’ weekend and to peek into the Grand Canyon, and then to Florida to run my first 5K, swim with manatees, and hang out with my beloved aunts.
My return to Thailand kicked off my major journey of the year — a five month stint back exploring my favorite corner of the world, Southeast Asia. I promised myself that by returning to this region for the fourth time I would explore new countries and new corners, and though I started my trip with a few weeks in my old home base of Koh Tao I devoted much of my ten weeks in the country to exploring new destinations.
After getting my Southeast Asia legs back in Thailand, I was ready for fresh new adventures in the Philippines. My three weeks here were challenging and occasionally frustrating, but I was awed by the natural beauty and wild variety that this country has to offer. The Philippines is definitely off the backpacker’s banana pancake trail of Southeast Asia, making it all the more rewarding to take on.