Traditionally, this post has been one of my most popular of the year. Traditionally, it has also come out in, well, January, ha. However, 2023 is turning out to be a year of big changes for me and there’s been a lot of uncertainty about how this year will unfold. Unlike in recent times, that’s not entirely because of external factors — I’m also reevaluating what I want and need in a whole new way.
A lot of my year, I hope, will be shaped by setting up new home bases in Bali and Brooklyn. Along with the nesting I’ve been doing in our family home in Oak Bluffs, I am finally doing the work to ground in a way I’ve been craving now for what feels like an achingly long time.
Still, I’m me, ha — this year will be full of adventure. I’m visiting, I believe, two new countries — Morocco, and Taiwan (sorry United Nations, yes, I’m calling Taiwan a country). And, I’m going to go ahead and say Puerto Rico, as a US territory, fulfills my goal of visiting a new state every year (and yes, lots of controversy to educate myself on during that trip as well). But a new passport stamp or a new state line isn’t the only way to get a new experience, of course.
I’m also visiting new places in old favorite destinations, with lots of memory making incoming! Festivals, conferences, retreats, weddings, and work campaigns — I’m blessed with opportunities right now and I’m taking them, while still trying to forever chase that blissed out thing we call “balance.”
It’s always a pretty good giggle — in the pandemic years, it was a knee-slapper — to look back at last year’s post and see how the universe often made a mockery of my plans. And in fact, in 2023 COVID-related disruptions are still shaping my year, somewhat, with two rescheduled-by-omicron retreats finally coming to life. Here’s what’s in store… I think.
January // Retreat + Restart
I once again kicked off the year on the dancefloor of a wedding, this time in McCall, Idaho. It was such a beautiful winter wonderland up there I was a bit sad I didn’t plan a longer trip! Katie has really made me into an Idaho fan.
But, I had to hustle back to the East Coast for Wander Women Catskills, our first retreat of the year. I can’t tell you how much it has meant to me to have these little opportunities with our Upstate New York retreats to show off my backyard alongside some of my best friends. And, I checked off my goal of skiing at least once per season!
Post-retreat, I headed to Albany for a week in my childhood home to continue working towards our goal of getting the house ready to sell. It’s been a slow and methodical journey over the years and hard for me to block off time for this in my schedule, but I am always so grateful when I do. I was able to time it to be in town for a friend’s proposal, which was really meaningful as well.
I planned to jet directly off to Indonesia when I realized that I had timed the visa badly and had to delay my entry a bit as not to have to leave the country before one of my retreats. Oops! So, I made a few stops. I passed briefly though New York City, giving me the chance to run a few errands and give a few hugs, then jetted off to Zurich for a little one night layover date with myself — I went to Alice in Wonderland at the ballet! It’s a little antithetical to my goal of “do less” this year but it was also super fun to do something so frivolous and fun and just for me.
Finally, I ended the month in Tel Aviv, where I spent ten days preparing for the next Wander Women Israel (winery hopping research is hard, but someone has to do it), and just enjoying time in one of my favorite cities on this planet.
February-April // Southeast Asia Spring
I can’t tell you how good it felt to land in Indonesia knowing I had two months there! And largely, I spent it in one place — Canggu, Bali. I spent a few nights in Ubud and a few in Uluwatu, mostly for Wander Women Bali, but for the rest I felt an uncharacteristic lack of desire to move.
Were places like Amed and Gili Trawangan and Komodo calling? Yes, but stillness even more so. That, and house hunting. It’s a tough, tough market here right now and I have had a steep learning curve to understand what’s available and how becoming a foreign homeowner works here. But I miss living in Southeast Asia deeply and something feels full circle about returning to the place I had set my sights on before things went upside down in 2019 with my mom’s cancer diagnosis.
I did have one spectacular fresh adventure in Indonesia on Wander Women Raja Ampat. This is one of the most remote corners of the world and it’s long been a goal of mine to go. To bring nineteen other women along? I don’t even know if I knew to dream that big, not long ago. I’m so happy to have chartering liveaboards as part of my life now!
I ended this stint in the Island of the Gods with Nyepi, the Balinese New Year. It was a beautiful local festival and fascinating cultural experience. Actually, I’ll be celebrating several of them this year… and I’ll take all the fresh energy infusions I can get!
March brought my first new passport stamp of the year. I’m calling Taiwan my 51st country, geopolitical drama aside, though frankly it wasn’t super high on my list before this trip. Still, my bestie and frequent Wander Women cohost Brenna is a Taiwan regular hosting aerial teacher trainings, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit her there. It’s rare I go somewhere with almost zero expectations or plans, so I can’t wait to share my first impressions.
In April, I’m almost pinching myself — I went back to The Land of Smiles.
Honestly, since the moment I booked the ticket I was already panicking that I don’t have enough time in Thailand, the country I called home base for so many years. We finally ran our much-fretted over Wander Women Thailand and Wander Women Koh Tao retreats, which I can now say I am so glad we postponed into a less COVID-anxious time to travel in Thailand. And I celebrated my third New Year of 2023 with Songkran — Sawasdee Pi Mai!
Coming back to Koh Tao is coming “home” for both me and for Wander Women Retreats, which was born on the island, and so that makes these trips really special. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I haven’t been back since 2020! Normally, when I revisit countries I’ve been to a million times, I like to make the effort to at least go to a new destination within them but honestly… I’m not sure that I will! After so many years of feeling so ungrounded, I just want to relish in the sensation of feeling “home.”
May // Island Escapes
In May, I’ll be returning back to the Western Hemisphere for a huge honor — speaking at the Women In Travel Summit in San Juan, Puerto Rico! I’m speaking on running retreats as well as leading a yoga class focused on refilling your cup for entrepreneurs.
You may recall that I was on the keynote panel of the Portland, Maine edition a few years back and was so deeply impressed with the values and integrity of this really powerful event for education and networking. When TravelCon announced it was closing its doors, I told everyone — go to WITS next!
By the way, this link is an affiliate one with a $125 discount — or you can use the code ALEX125 if you’d like to join us. I also have three mentoring spots available for a 50% discount off of what I offer when I do them virtually. Let’s hang!
I’m thrilled to be taking some time to actually enjoy my first trip to Puerto Rico, as well! I haven’t had much time to research, so please inundate me with advice in the comments.
It is very important to me to support Puerto Rican-owned businesses on this trip, and women-owned businesses everywhere, ha, so I’m thrilled that pre-conference, I’ll be staying at the boutique hotel La Botanica in San Juan. Post-conference, I’ll be unwinding at their sister hotel La Finca in Vieques and taking advantage of the onsite yoga classes, Ayurvedic vegan meals, and holistic wellness treatments. Yes please!
Before and after Puerto Rico I’ll be in Albany doing another childhood home cleanout and enjoying Tulip Fest, one of my favorite Upstate events of the year.
June // Brooklyn Baby
I’ll be spending the bulk of June in Brooklyn, baby! I’m moving into the home that I lovingly call “The Commune” and often stay at in Bed Stuy, for a trial period. It’s a four story intact brownstone that generally has about eight people living in it, many artists, many my dear friends!
I’ll share more about this in another post but it’s a place that has long felt like a soft landing from the chaos of my travels, and when a room opened up and I was offered the opportunity to take it, it felt like the unique opportunity I’ve been needing to set up a base in New York. As much as I love Albany and the people in it, I know my future isn’t there, and it’s just plain impractical to return to from a logistical standpoint.
A very recent addition to this post that I wouldn’t have been able to imagine had I written this in January is a weekend with my dad! The beginning of this year was tough in many ways and there’s been a lot of transitions happening behind the scenes, work wise (WITS attendees, be ready for some truth bombs about this!). I realized I was desperate for an emotional recharge and after looking at various retreats, I realized what would really give me a soul boost would be some quality time with my super loving dad.
With him in LA and me in NY, we’re thinking meeting somewhere in the middle! New Mexico (I’ve never been, and it seems spiritually energizing!) or South Dakota (also never been, and feel like it would be fun to go to Mount Rushmore with my presidential history geek dad — he can name every first lady and vice president backwards!) Let me know what you would do!
July-August // American Dream
I’m kicking off July with an epic week hosting my Thailand besties in none other than my home in Martha’s Vineyard. After years of not really using my share in the house to its full potential, I’m trying to be way more intentional about spending more time feeling grounded in this home and being an active part of its care and future! I’ll also be back for a family week in August. This is one of the places in the world I feel most peaceful, and I need to prioritize that.
By the way — we have three weeks left in our rental allotment of the house, this year! Want to spend a week in my very own slice of heaven? Check out availability and details on our Airbnb listing, but shoot me an email for a big discount for direct booking rates.
After, I’m spending Women’s Dive Day on our third annual celebratory weekend in Florida for Wander Women Fort Lauderdale! This is easily my silliest retreat to date and… I can’t wait!
I might sneak in a quick research trip to another potential future retreat destination after but, I’m also trying to do less this year, so maybe not. There’s still a couple of spaces; join us!
After, I’ll be spending a few weeks kicking around in Brooklyn before heading off, I hope, to Burning Man. I was thinking of taking a year off after two incredible burns in 2022, but then I saw that the theme was Animalia and, well… I don’t think I can miss that! So Black Rock City is once again making it only my list of destinations for the year, fingers crossed.
I’m also beyond thrilled to be attending, I think, Life Is Beautiful this year. I’ve had this festival in downtown Los Vegas, which incorporates music, art, food and comedy, on my list for years and I think this is finally my year to make it happen. Stay tuned! (I’m also dying to see the new New York-themed Cirque du Soleil show in Vegas, ha — so that would be a bonus.)
September – October // Egypt Encore
Well of course… we’re headed back to Egypt! Our fall trips here for Wander Women Retreats have become a familiar staple of my year. I don’t know how long we’re going to keep doing so in this exact form, as I’m accepting a lot of change into my life lately and trying to be more graceful about seeing the ends of things, but I do know I really missed Dahab last year when Shannon was running Wander Women Red Sea again after she ran it last year.
I am coming back super refreshed and excited about the fact that we aligned this retreat to include Chill O’posite Festival, which I’ve been wanting to go to for years! So, if you’ve ever wanted to go to a festival with me… now is your chance! (It’s also open to non-certified folks for the first time too, after the success of Wander Women Koh Tao — sometimes, it’s great to be proven wrong as a business owner.)
And yes, my former Egypt girlies, that all star reunion trip is in the planning stages still! Hopefully, I’ll be sneaking in a little getaway to an emerging Egypt destination before or after the retreat.
And as we still have Morocco on the docket for 2024 as well, I’m hoping to make a research trip happen here, most likely around this time. North Africa, I’m on my way…
November // Beach-y Birthday
So, for years I’ve been planning a big trip to the West Coast of Mexico for Day of the Dead in Oaxaca followed by my birthday at a beach villa surrounded by friends in Puerto Escondido. For years, it’s been untenable due to weddings, bachelorette parties, and beyond scheduled closely around this time.
Day of the Dead is incredibly meaningful to me and I find it a powerful way to connect with my loved ones who have passed; and no one loves a big birthday bash like me! I’ve been totally convinced 2023 was my year but… again, if I end up buying a property here in Bali, I might invite friends to check out my new island home instead.
December // Caribbean + Christmas
I’ll kick off December revisiting another island I briefly called home — Grand Cayman. My friend Heather, who longtime readers know well as one of my most prolific travel buddies for many years, is tying the naut (had to!) with a beach wedding on Grand Cayman, and I’m making it my goal to finally set foot on one of the sister islands this time, too. I love the way Cayman has glowed up over the years and I’m thrilled to be staying at the bougie boutique Botanica in Grand Cayman! If anyone knows of anything similarly exciting on the sister islands — hit ya girl up!
After, I’m off to The Bahamas for a much-anticipated campaign with Staniel Cay, home of the Bahamas’ famous swimming pigs! And I might just take advantage of a mandatory stopover in Nassau (the Caribbean can be tricky to hop around) to see some big sharkies beforehand too.
Finally, back to New York, I presume, for Christmas in all its magic — but, I’m leaving room for something unexpected to happen here, too! That being said, one thing that put a smile on my face last year at the Christmas markets in Europe was the way that everywhere I went and was asked where I was from, when I replied New York, people’s faces lit up and they told me it’s where they always wanted to go for their Christmas trips! It reminded me how lucky I am to feel at home in a city that people dream of traveling their whole lives. So, I am craving a New York Christmas (well, of course I’d spend actual Christmas Day at my sister’s in Philadelphia!)
The next day, I plan to be on a plane headed somewhere warming to body and soul.
And ain’t that a beautiful year.
. . .
Guys I’m giddy to publish this post! I asked you guys for a lot of advice and you always deliver — can’t wait to read your insights on these destinations. I’m also eager to hear what you’re most excited about and what I should jump into covering right away.
Feels good to be writing. Does it feel good to be reading, still? Stay tuned for more!
Hope your 2023 is going magically so far — what do you have coming up?
I still like reading! I am ALL about LONG FORM these days.
Heck yes to the Egypt reunion trip! I’ve loved your Bali house-hunting IG stories and it has me dreaming of dreamy bungalows in beautiful places. Can’t wait to continue following your adventures 🙂
Really been wanting to do a day of the dead trip too, I think it would offer a lot of insight and perspective since losing my mom! Hopefully someday
I’ve followed your blog for a proper chunk of time now, so long that it makes me feel nostalgic and wistful and incredibly old when I think back to when I first came across it. (I thought it wouldn’t be a blog for me because you’d only visited a few countries back then, mostly just Asian ones, what a silly parameter to judge a blog by 😅). I don’t keep any social media because the FOMO hits me hard and I think I’m happier without it, so I really appreciate your blog, that’s my way of following you. Of course it’s so much more time consuming than an Instagram post and you’re moving away from it but I hope you never give it up completely. Thank you for all these years of stories!
I still love reading your blog after 10+ years! Glad you’re feeling so good and have an exciting year planned 🙂
I would love to be able to travel but sadly I can’t for many reasons so I enjoy your posts
I too am a long-time follower and love reading your in-depth posts. As far as New Mexico v. South Dakota I have some insight on both. I lived in NM for a few years (traveled the state in my job on the rural book mobile extensively) and am from and currently live in Minnesota, so I am fairly familiar with South Dakota. My vote would be for New Mexico. Aside from Mount Rushmore, Wall Drug (a kitchy and horrible tourist trap), the Badlands, Custer State Park, Crazy Horse Memorial, and the Corn Palace there is not a whole lot else to see or do, in my opinion. New Mexico on the other hand is easier to get to flying into Albuquerque with Santa Fe an hour away and so much to do. Having said that, if you do go to South Dakota, it is not somewhere you want to go to in the winter, so June would be a good time, but full of tourists. Just my two cents. Any questions feel free to reach out.
Nice round up and some great venues coming up. You are magnificent.
What an amazing year, Alex! So excited to follow along on your adventures (and what’s that about an Egypt reunion?!) For your trip with your dad, I vote for Mt. Rushmore, since I bet your dad would love it (and I love that he’s such a history buff and, like me, knows his vice presidents and First Ladies backwards!)
Hi Alex! I vote South Dakota. My dad’s side of the family are all in the Black Hills and I love going out there. If your dad likes nature there are some great hikes, waterfalls, and Sylvan Lake. My non-outdoorsy parents and I hiked to the top of Black Elk Peak (the highest peak between the Rockies and the Pyrenees!) which was beautiful and not too difficult. If your dad is more of a city person there are some cute, quirky towns in the Black Hills. Either way, definitely drive through Spearfish Canyon and Needles Highway. If you make it to the middle of the state I would recommend stopping in Chamberlain to see the Dignity of Earth and Sky statue. There are some really unique places in the Black Hills like Evan’s Plunge (old school pool/water park built on a natural hot spring), the Mammoth Site (dinosaurs used to roam South Dakota!), the Termesphere (https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/termesphere-gallery-2), and much more!
Looking forward to following the year ahead and love seeing that Heather is getting married
Another fan of long form here, too! Looking forward to hearing about all these trips.