2019 is here! Ringing in the new year with 2019 travel resolutions and a new mantra for the year.
Welcome to the last year of my twenties and the last year of being a non-married woman! 2019 will be a departure from a normal travel year for me as I’ll be budgeting most of my time and resources on wedding and family vacations. But on that note, 2019 is also being forecasted as the year of ‘bite-size travel’ and I’m all for it. More microtrips, more backyard travel, more weekend getaways. And fresh off the heels of an epic road trip down California’s stunning coastline, I have learned that sometimes the best adventures are right under our noses.
This year, I’m rebranding my annual “adventure” resolutions into “travel” resolutions because goals don’t have to be adventurous. In fact, many of my travel goals this year are a celebration of inactivity, of playing things safe and protecting my peace. Here’s a checklist of what I completed from last year’s 2018 resolutions with one carryover from the 2017 resolutions list:
- 1. HIT FIFTY COUNTRIES!!!! – Vilnius, Lithuania (Completed March 2018)
SwingAppreciate the Golden Gate from all angles – San Francisco, USA (Completed February 2018)
- 3. Move to the beat of Flamenco – Madrid, Spain (January 2018)
- 4. Survive a tapas crawl – Barcelona, Spain (January 2018)
- 5.. Take a road trip – Route 1, California (Completed December 2018)
Even though I made it to the likes of Estonia, Sweden, and Latvia, there were no ghostly hangouts, no boating excursions, or jumping out of cable cars unfortunately 😂 But I ended up accomplishing so many other travel-related goals I never even vocalized like booking an impromptu flight to New Orleans with my sisters, going on a mother and daughter getaway, and FINALLY MOVING TO THE WEST COAST!!!!! ABOUT TIME!!!! Because of the big move, I got to cross off driving down the Pacific Coast Highway with my husband-to-be. Time has taught me so much that sometimes I need to trust the universe’s greater plans for me, more so than my own. Also planning on hitting up Chichen Itza and the Frida Kahlo Museum this year too!
WORDS TO LIVE BY IN 2019
The intention this year is “Be kind to yourself.” Reflecting on 2018, I realized there were so many instances where I was so preoccupied of letting down others that I ended up hurting myself the most. From not posting on the blog for over four months because of mental health reasons, to a daunting job hunt where I was jobless for three months, to not putting out the second half of my beloved holiday gifts series all because things were just too, too busy… the list of shortcomings felt overwhelming. Whenever I felt like I wasn’t meeting the high expectations I’d set, I would get so down.
Looking back on those moments, it pains me to see how unforgiving I was to the person I should care about most in this world. This year, I am going to strive to be more gentle, more patient, and more loving to myself. I am going to give what I can but set healthy boundaries so that I’m not depleted. I am going to say sorry less, second guess myself less, and be less tolerant to harsh actions towards my personhood. 2019 is about self-care, so that I can be my best self when giving to others, instead of being resentful when I give more than I can offer.
- “Let Go.” (2014)
- “Make It Happen.” (2015)
- “I Am Strong.” (2016)
- “I Can Do Anything, But Not Everything.” (2017)
- “Today, I Choose Joy.” (2018)
HERE ARE THE TRAVEL RESOLUTIONS FOR 2019!
1. DANCE LIKE EVERYONE IS WATCHING
The thing I’m MOST EXCITED for this year is obviously getting married to Tim! The night before our wedding, we’ll be throwing a “calenda” around the historic center of Oaxaca, which is a lively parade marking happy occasions. The calendas are lead by ‘monos de calenda,’ 10-ft tall papier-mâché puppet replicas of the bride and groom and the whole wedding party joins behind them, drinking and dancing with the brightly-colored Oaxaquena traditional dancers. Every now again you’ll see pyrotechnics thrown into the mix. TBD if there will be fireworks. But then again, Leo season calls for fireworks.
WHERE: Oaxaca, Mexico
WHEN: August 2019
2. CELEBRATE FRIENDSHIPS
I am lucky to have friends/friendships near and far, a sentiment reflective in my group of eight bridesmaids from different chapters of my life and living in various corners of the world. From Guam, Boston, Vietnam, and California, we’ll all be coming together in Mexico for a “Final Fiesta” bachelorette extravaganza! It’ll be a daily dose of vitamin sea, dinner parties, and laughing about our colorful lives together. By the end of the bonding session, hopefully we’ll be ready to tackle the demands of a two-day wedding. Bring it on!
WHERE: Tulum, Mexico
WHEN: August 2019
3. LET SOMEONE ELSE TAKE THE REINS
Heading back to Asia in May to visit my younger brother and sister (and her boyfriend) who are both based abroad at the moment. I am going to take the backseat to planning and let my siblings show off everything they love about their surrogate homes. While I’ve been to Taipei and Manila before, I’ve never had locals to guide me around so I’m ready for a deeper dive and to see these places through their eyes.
WHERE: Taipei, Taiwan and Manila, Philippines
WHEN: May 2019
4. EAT AT ONE OF THE WORLD’S TOP 50 RESTAURANTS
Mexico is considered one of the great gastronomic hotspots with its complex regional cuisines and world-class restaurants. Mexico City is home to TWO of the world’s Top 50 restaurants, Pujol (no. 13) and Quintonil (no. 11). I first learned of Pujol through a Chef’s Table episode but both restaurants are closely connected to one another. Chef Jorge Vallejo, who owns Quintonil, used to work at Pujol under Chef Enrique Olvera. Each restaurant features contemporary twists on traditional recipes, elevating the classics. Enrique Olvera’s “Mole Madre, Mole Nuevo” is his signature dish, featuring only two ladlefuls of mole sauce. Quintonil is lauded for their extremely low carbon footprint; most of the ingredients featured on their menu are from a garden only 30-meters away.
WHERE: Mexico City, Mexico
WHEN: August 2019
5. HANGOUT WITH MYSELF ON A SOLO TRIP
In all the solo traveling I’ve done, never have I been truly alone. Before the wedding, I want to recenter and reflect on my years of singledom. Just me, myself, and I. Especially in a year where I need all the zen I can get, being fully relaxed and alone with my thoughts is the best gift I could give myself. If anyone has ideas on destinations that are very restorative and healing, or are good for low-stress activities, I am taking recommendations!
6. EXPLORE CLOSE TO HOME
Instead of traveling farther, I want to familiarize myself more with my new home. Living in California has afforded me the opportunity to see places I’ve only heard about in movies: Santa Cruz, Monterey, La Jolla, Sonoma Valley. I want to maximize a long weekend and drive out with Tim to Lake Tahoe late fall to reconnect with the great outdoors. And maybe do some of this low-key fancy “forest bathing” that everyone in Japan is raving about.
WHERE: Lake Tahoe, California
WHEN: September 2019
7. GETAWAY WITH ONE OF MY GIRLFRIENDS
The final stop of our California Highway 1 road trip was San Diego but we barely scratched the surface of the laid-back beach city. The vibes there were so good and pure that I’m dedicating a trip solely to exploring San Diego with one of my favorite girlfriends, Mary. Mary is one of those people who radiates universal goodness. Right now, I’m fantasizing about all the leisurely walks we’ll be taking around Balboa Park and along the bluffs of La Jolla Cove.
WHERE: San Diego, California
WHEN: March 2019
8. SCOUT SOME WORLD WONDERS
One of the more demanding, ambitious bucket list items is to visit all the new seven wonders of the world. I’ve seen three so far and hoping to cross off two more locations by the end of the year. I’m aiming to watch the sunrise at Chichen Itza while I’m in Mexico in August and I’ve also set my sights on a Middle East sojourn this year through the likes of Israel, Lebanon, and Jordan. A city carved entirely from stone remained a legend for millenia before it was rediscovered in 1812. It is believed that only 15% of the entire ancient capital have been unearthed; a network of tunnels spanning miles and miles still lay waiting to be uncovered beneath the sand.
WHERE: Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico and Petra, Jordan
WHEN: August and December 2019
9. CHASE THE SUNLIGHT
After my trip to Myanmar, I am on a new mission to capture more atmospheric environments through my lens. I’ve been fascinated with the city of Beirut for a while now and this desire to travel there has only gotten stronger in the midst of an American political regime that has vilified the Middle East. The pictures I’ve seen of Beirut resonate with my favorite lyrics of all time, from Leonard Cohen: “There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in.”
WHERE: Beirut, Lebanon
WHEN: December 2019
10. GO ON A HOLY PILGRIMAGE
To mark the end of my twenties, one of my biggest goals is to make a pilgrimage to Israel and attend the celebrated Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve in Bethlehem. I read that bookings for this church service are secured a year in advance (brb, doing that now)! Many of you don’t know this but as as devout Christian whose favorite holiday is Christmas, being in Israel during this time of year would be a huge spiritual milestone for me. On a less sacred note, I can’t wait to eat shakshuka every day.
WHERE: Jerusalem, Israel
WHEN: December 2019