THE 2016 TRAVEL ROUNDUP IS MY 100TH POST!!! 💯🎉 AND ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE NEW YEAR!
It feels highly fortuitous that the recap of one of the best years of my life has doubled as a milestone moment for the blog. Even though 2016 was an overall turbulent year for the world, on a personal note, it was a year of great highs. I kicked off 2016 with a trip to Korea and ended the year with a holiday getaway exploring Hanoi and Ninh Binh with Tim. At the beginning of the year I committed to myself to the mantra, “I Am Strong,” and the universe came through and helped me reestablish my sense of self. Looking back on a year of many travel highlights, in the last 365 days, I moved to Vietnam and decided to become a creative professional, which has been possible due to a very supportive boyfriend. As enthused as I am to see 2017 come into being, it’s a bit bittersweet to say goodbye to a year full of blessings and joys. Without further ado, here is The Next Somewhere’s travel roundup 2016. For a comparison of this year versus last year, check out the 2015 travel roundup right here.
YEAR IN NUMBERS
In 2016, I traveled approximately 17,313 miles or 27,862.6 kilometers. At the beginning of January, I left Boston after 5 weeks of visiting my family for the holidays and began the year with a trip to Korea for 1 week to say goodbye to friends. We then jetted off to the Philippines for 3 weeks so I could introduce my family members to Tim and visiting Palawan with my friends Cait, Jeremy, and Carolyn. Tim and I arrived in Ho Chi Minh the first week of February and are a few days shy of our 11 month anniversary living in Vietnam. We’ve been visited by a total of 25 friends in our HCMC apartment, the majority of which we’ve had the pleasure of hosting. In Vietnam, I made an unexpected transition from teaching abroad to becoming a full-time travel writer, which I’ve been doing for the past 4 months now with 3 sponsored stays because of writing opportunities. I’ve also returned to the Philippines 3 times this year: once for a homecoming, once for a birthday surprise (thanks Uncle Peds!,) and once for a Travel Blog Exchange Conference (TBEX). I’ve taken 16 flights throughout the year, visiting 15 destinations including Ho Chi Minh City, Mui Ne, Cu Chi, Ninh Binh, Hanoi, Hoi An, Vung Tau, Can Tho, Manila, Tagaytay, Puerto Princesa, El Nido, Tuguegarao, Sanchez Mira, Daejeon, and Batangas. I traveled to 3 countries, which were Korea, Vietnam, and the Philippines, filling up my passport with a total of 102 stamps and 3 visas. And I ended this year with retiring my current passport and applying for my 5th passport.
THE TOP FIVE MOST POPULAR BLOG POSTS OF 2016
- A Vegetarian Guide to Vietnamese Food
- The Girl’s Guide to Fun: Saigon Edition
- Why I Chose To Move To Vietnam
- Why I Travel
- Backpacking in Southeast Asia
TOP TRAVEL HIGHLIGHTS
MOVING TO VIETNAM
Feb. 3 | Not wanting to go home just yet, Tim and I made a joint decision to move to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. There are plenty of reasons why I moved to Vietnam but I never foresaw just how opportune it would be for me on a professional level and also in my relationship. Tim and I have grown so much as a couple and I am living the dream with a job that allows me to travel, write, be cube-free, and eat delicious things! Plus we have the sweetest landlady, a brand new apartment in a great location, and an amazing group of old and new friends.
BECOMING A FULL-TIME TRAVEL WRITER
Sept. 1 | This I never saw happening in a million years but it’s my newfound reality! Earlier this year, I made the move into the world of writing working in editorial for a digital pop culture magazine. After realizing the job didn’t align with my principles, I made another leap of faith and the day I quit that job, I was contacted by a representative for Vietnam Tourism who had seen my written work. I went on to help relaunch the new official Vietnam Tourism website as their managing editor, which is now my full-time job! I’m also freelancing with other incredible Vietnamese companies, solely in the industries of food and travel, my two great passions.
BECAME A HOST OF A FOOD SERIES
Dec. 11 | Piggybacking on my new career path, discovering the Christina’s social accommodation brand was another moment that I felt like the universe was on my side. Christina’s invited me to host a new food web series called “Street Feast,” with locals introducing me to their favorite food haunts around Saigon. The show is going to launch the beginning of January! Also, I have to give a shout-out to talented individual I deeply admire, Sonny Side of the Best Ever Food Review Show for being the man behind the lens. #staytuned
ATTENDED A TBEX CONFERENCE
Oct. 17 | I’ll admit, the TBEX Asia ’16 conference was by far the scariest thing I did this year and I was very intimidated by the whole experience. But it made the list because not only did I confront my fears of large social affairs, but by investing in the blog, I invested in myself. I got to meet some fabulous new people such as Cherie from The Flight of the Travel Bee, and Ruchika from Second Breakfast, and Lynn from The Travelynn, but the absolute highlight was being able to spend time with the fun-loving, extremely hardworking duo behind Bobo and Chichi, aka Megan and Scott. TBEX Asia was also held in Manila so it was a double-win! Mixing business with pleasure! 😉
INTRODUCING TIM TO “MY” PHILIPPINES
Jan. 22 | You know it’s serious when you bring your significant other home for the first time… and by home, I mean THE homeland. For three weeks, I traveled around the Philippines with Tim to introduce him to my culture and my family. We attended my cousin’s wedding and journeyed to the rural town of Sanchez Mira in the northernmost part of the country where both my mom and dad were raised.
PARTICIPATED IN THE HCMC COLOR RUN
Apr. 16 | I don’t know why I didn’t hop on this color run bandwagon sooner but I cannot think of a more fun social activity! The stresses of moving to a new country were totally forgotten that day. We were more focused on celebrating our new friends, our new city, and the glorious weather. Plus all the colored powder fed my color-obsessed soul! It was the first time that we really felt at home in Saigon.
COOKED FOR 80 PEOPLE
Aug. 24 | So one of my resolutions of 2016 was to learn how cook more… and better. That resolution was put to the test when my friend Sian asked me to participate in a community dinner at this city hangout called Saigon Outcast, which required me to prep and cook meals for 80 people. It was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done but my pasta alla carbonara was pretty dope and I felt so accomplished after I successfully plated and served all those dishes!
RANG IN THE NEW YEAR IN NORTHERN VIETNAM
Dec. 31 | After months of trying to replenish funds and reestablish some stability, Tim and I are only coming around now to seeing Vietnam in its entirety. For our holiday vacation, we decided to check out the capital of Hanoi and take a day trip to Ninh Binh, basically the land-based equivalent of Halong Bay. After climbing up Hang Mua, we were rewarded with a startling view of the dramatic terrain. Ending the year on top of the world! ⬆️🌏
THE NEXT MOVE…
THE BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: WE’RE MOVING BACK TO THE STATES FOR GOOD IN JUNE!
After being abroad for the past few years in Korea and Vietnam, I’ve hit a glorious moment where I am ready to come back to the USA. l’ll have been gone for almost three years by the time I finish up in June so it feels like it’s time for a new chapter. As of now, I’m planning to move to San Jose, California with Tim to get a taste of the West Coast BUT we’re not counting out Boston just yet!
And I basically have a full agenda in the lead up to June!
January 21 – 26: Taiwan for Lunar New Year with Tim
January 27 – February 4: Myanmar for Lunar New Year with my cousin Fel
April 20 – 28: Sapa Trek and Ha Long Bay Cruise, Vietnam
First week of June: Stopover in Korea to spend time with Tim’s family
… then homeeeeeeeee! The countdown has officially begun!
AND CHECK OUT THESE OTHER “YEARS IN REVIEW!”
- Paige of For The Love of Wanderlust, “2016 Travel Roundup“
- Lindsay of The Neverending Wanderlust, “Top Moments of 2016 – A Year in Review“
- Adam and Kate of Full-Time Canada, “From Call Centre to Tofino: 2016 Year in Review“
- Matt of Break Your Boundaries, “Introspection: Year In Review Photo Journal“
- Shelley and Agri of Travel-Stained, “2016: The Year We Learned How To Travel With a Baby“
Thank you for all the love and support this year! Do you have your own year in review? Post it in the comments below and I’ll add it to the list! xoxo Izzy