The 2018 Year in Review is a roundup of my travel highs and lows.
In 2017, one of my biggest regrets was not taking stock of my travel highlights as I had done in years past. The 2018 year in review list, albeit being a few weeks late, has been a humbling self-reflection exercise. 2018 ended up being the most travel-packed year to date. The biggest accomplishment this year? VISITING MY 50TH COUNTRY!!! I hit the ground running in 2018, boarding a plane a day after the new year to Spain for my first international work conference. Then, Tim and I reunited in Stockholm for a ten day escapade around the Baltics to hit my bucket list goal of visiting 50 countries by 30. A turn of events in the summer prompted me to switch gears and by early fall, I became a full-time resident of Northern California. With this year behind me, I am proud of my wholehearted commitment to “Choosing Joy” on a daily basis, which lead me to saying yes to more trips and being less afraid of taking chances. Now onto the recap!
YEAR IN NUMBERS
In 2018, I traveled approximately 38,704 miles or 62,288 kilometers. At the start of the new year, I hopped on a plane bound for Barcelona for my 1st international work conference, feasting on pinchos nonstop with my awesome colleagues. I was able to make a quick pitstop in Madrid to visit 2 friends, Cait and Nata (who I met in Korea and Vietnam respectively), for a local gastronomic tour. At the beginning of February, I booked a last minute trip for to New Orleans with my sisters for our friend Desi’s birthday. As fate would have it, the trip ended up coinciding with Mardi Gras. Go us! Late spring, Tim and I made our way through the Baltics by way of Sweden and survived a blizzard in Estonia before hitting my 50th country—Lithunia! In June, the fiancé and I went out to Oaxaca for the first time for a wedding scouting trip and found our dream destination wedding venue on the first go. Then, I was assigned a short-term work stint in New York City. For 3 weeks, I lived in Times Square and spent my day hitting up the best food spots in the Big Apple. I quit my job in Boston at the end of July but not before taking a weekend road trip to Montreal with some girlfriends. In August, my whole family and I went to 2 weddings, in 2 different countries, in 1 weekend!
THEN SEPTEMBER MARKED MY BIG MOVE OUT WEST! HELLO CALIFORNIA!!!! I was funemployed for 3 long months, but during that time, got to focus on getting back to the blog and getting to know my new neighborhood. Since moving out to the West Coast, I’ve been visited by 9 friends. I finished the year off strong with a mother-daughter trip to Oaxaca to finalize wedding plans and for the holidays, Tim and I traveled 550 miles down California’s famous Highway One from San Jose to San Diego. This was one of 6 road trips I took this year. But I also got clocked in some air mileage, taking 23 flights throughout the year, and adding 4 new countries to the country count. The 21 cities I visited included Barcelona, Madrid, New York, New Orleans, Stockholm, Tallinn, Riga, Vilnius, San Jose, San Francisco, Montreal, Oaxaca, Solvang, Monterey, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Ottawa, Sparta, and Anaheim. As I look back on this incredible year, I am filled with so much gratitude for the people who made these trips what they were. I can’t imagine 2019 could get any better… OH, WAIT…. I AM GETTING MARRIED! 2019, I AM READY FOR YOU!!!!!
THE TOP FIVE MOST POPULAR BLOG POSTS OF 2018
- 48 Hours in San Francisco: What To Do, See, and Eat
- 48 Hours in Montreal: What To See, Do, and Eat
- Top Five Things to Do in Stockholm, Sweden
- Why We Are Getting Married in Oaxaca, Mexico
- Russell Orchards: The Best Place for Apple Picking in Massachusetts
TOP TRAVEL HIGHLIGHTS
HIT MY 50TH COUNTRY
« Apr. 5 » FIFTY COUNTRIES. I never thought I would reach this goal yet here I am today. Hitting fifty countries by the age of 30 has been a massive undertaking that I can’t take full credit for. So, so grateful to my parents who put me on this path at an early age, and who always supported every farfetched travel idea and brought me along for every ride. Hitting fifty countries in Lithuania of all places was surreal (here I am eating the national dish, cepelinai) and I can’t wait to accomplish my next goal: hitting 75 countries before 50.
MOVED TO SAN JOSE
« Sept. 1 » If you had told me at the beginning of 2018 that I would be moving to California, chances are I would have laughed in your face. While this was the original plan when we first moved back home in 2017, we readjusted and pushed for Tim’s move to Boston. But life happens, and I ended up having to make the choice of moving to California, which obviously happened. With little to no connections, establishing myself was hard, but I’ve fallen in love with the constant sunshine and the promise of new places to explore. Plus, no more long distance with Tim and that’s the most important thing to me!
FOUND THE PERFECT WEDDING VENUE
« Jun. 8 » Tim and I had only five days to find a venue when we went on our first scouting trip to Oaxaca. Upon touching down, we became nervous when we learned most of the vendors could only communicate in Spanish. But after two days of back-to-back stress inducing venue appointments, Tim and I stumbled on the newly opened City Centro Oaxaca, a colorful hotel on the outskirts of the historic center. It was everything we wanted—affordable, rooms aplenty, open courtyards, and gorgeous trappings. The discovery of the hotel felt like the universe was conspiring with us.
TOOK A SCENIC ROAD TRIP
« Dec. 23 » Part of Tim’s Christmas present this year was taking the wheel for the whole 10-hour ride to Los Angeles by way of California’s Highway One. Highway One, listed as one of the top 12 scenic drives in the world according to Culture Trip, is the most popular portion of the well-known Pacific Coast Highway. This drive was also a travel resolution from 2017. We traveled 550 miles down California’s breathtaking coastline, greeting the sun in Capitola’s Pleasure Point before continuing onwards, cruising past Monterey’s stunning cliffs, Carmel’s raging oceans, and the mighty redwoods of Big Sur.
SPENT A DAY AT DISNEYLAND
« Dec. 28 » The second half of Tim’s Christmas present was an outing to Disneyland. He really outdid himself this year! Being the ambitious people we are, we took advantage of the Park Hopper pass, which allowed us to jump between Disneyland Park and California Adventure. We spent almost 15 hours in the park, arriving there just as it opened and leaving just as it closed. Best. Day. Ever. And we splurged on matching Mickey& Minnie ears, hopefully to give to our future kids one day. A new tradition has been born.
LIVED IN NYC FOR THREE WEEKS
« Jun. 22 – Jul. 8 » One of the reasons why I took a job at Hult Business School when I first returned to the USA was because of their summer staffing rotation in New York, a work responsibility slash incentive. After a year of working at Hult, I was finally given the opportunity to live in NYC to staff their pop-up campus and had a spacious apartment in Midtown, a block away from Hell’s Kitchen and three blocks away from Times Square. I also got to FEAST at some of the best restaurants in town and checked out the award-winning immersive theater performance, Sleep No More, with my best friend.
BOOKED AN IMPROMPTU WEEKEND TRIP
« Feb. 2 – 3 » I’m all for impromptu weekend getaways, but it’s typically hard to convince others to come along for the ride. A sweet deal from the ultra budget Spirit Airlines perfectly aligned with our friend Desi’s 25th birthday and next thing you know, me, my sisters, and five other people all booked a ticket to New Orleans. I loved the spirit of the NOLA; being able to drink on the streets with open-containers and the constant stimulation of lights and people during Mardi Gras. Plus, the food was unbeatable.
SPENT QUALITY TIME WITH MY MOM
« Dec. 1 – 5 » My mom accompanied me on my second, and final trip to Oaxaca, before the wedding. It was just the two of us. I am thankful that my mom’s good health and financial sensibility has allowed her to be at our sides as we gallivant around the world. But more importantly, I feel incredibly lucky to have a mother who is so patient, generous, and easygoing all at once. We squeezed in some sightseeing and retail therapy as we handled finalizing the catering menu, decor, lighting, hair, makeup, photobooth, and securing all the hotel rooms, all in four fast-paced days.
ATTENDED A WORK CONFERENCE IN BARCELONA
« Jan. 3 – 4 » While I’ve been sponsored for travel writing assignments in the past, this was my first experience traveling with colleagues to an international destination for a work retreat. 30 folks from Boston were flown out to Barcelona to meet our counterparts from the four other Hult campuses around the world. It was a huge production, amounting to over 80 attendees and an epic scavenger hunt around Barcelona wearing ridiculous 80s themed costumes. My employer also rented out the entire Mercat Princesa food market for our goodbye dinner, meaning freeflow wine and unlimited tapas.
WHERE TO NEXT?
The 2019 travel resolutions are now live and I’ve already booked my first trip of the year: a family reunion in Asia for two weeks in May! My sister Andrea and her boyfriend Kyle are living in Manila while she’s on her Fulbright fellowship, so I’m making a trip out there to see them. And I recently learned one of my closest friends is pregnant so I’ll be headed to Guam to celebrate her motherhood and ring in a decade of friendship. I can’t forget my brother who is living in Taipei as a Rotary Youth Exchange student, which is why I’m returning to Taiwan. And I’ll be meeting up with my mom and sisters in Taipei for a fullblown family vacation around one of my favorite cities. Then, it’s back to saving up energy and finances for the August nuptials in Oaxaca. I’ve been pretty vocal about the planning details but I’ll be keeping my lips sealed with exact dates and activities to keep things suspenseful for the wedding guests. And to end the year, I’ve got my eyes on a holy pilgrimage to the Middle East to commemorate the last year of my twenties!
Here’s the itinerary for the year so far:
- Mexico 🇲🇽 August 2 – 12
- San Diego, CA 🇺🇸 March 22 – 24
- Manila, Philippines 🇵🇭 May 17 – 19
- Guam 🇬🇺 May 19 – 21
- Taipei, Taiwan 🇹🇼 May 21 – 25
- Boston, MA 🇺🇸 May 25 – 27
- Louisville, KY 🇺🇸 October 4 – 6