Well hello, 2020. Yes, we’re already more than a month in, but I feel like I blinked and 2019 was in the rearview. I was eager to have most of my plans firmed up by the end of January, but life keeps pulling me in a more spontaneous direction — I write this post from San Francisco, where I arrived on a flight booked two days before my arrival, with no departure date in sight. Zoink!
So, while some of the trips in this post are still in progress, I have a pretty good idea of how my year is going to look — a much more detailed view than usual — thanks to my exciting calendar of Wander Women Retreats, some conferences and weddings and new babies I wouldn’t miss, and a few exciting campaigns I’m working on here on Alex in Wanderland.
One thing is for sure — it’s going to be an epic year of adventures, including at least two new countries, one new state, and a bunch of longtime dreams coming true.
January // Caribbean Dream
My big trip of January was my two weeks in the Dominican Republic. One was dedicated to running my Aerial Arts + Adventure Retreat in Cabarete, while another was all about road tripping over the North Coast — part of my vow to myself to make sure every retreat in 2020 involved an adventure not just for my guests but for me, too. It’s how I hope to avoid burnout and always stay connected to that sense of adventure that led me to found Wander Women Retreats in the first place! I’m super excited to keep sharing what an under-the-radar incredible destination Dominican Republic can be for independent travelers.
The rest of the month was purposely low-key. I started the New Year in Southern California, where I’d celebrated the Christmas holiday with my dad in Los Angeles. I spent the remainder of the month bopping between Albany and New York City, where I attended the New York Times Travel Show. I really wanted to squeeze in a trip to the Cayman Islands too, to visit an array of friends there, but alas — I tried to lean into doing less.
February // DIY Writer’s Workshop
In that vein, I reluctantly let go of the idea of finally taking my dream trip to Uruguay in February, centered around a yoga retreat I wanted to attend. It seemed like it would be too hectic, which is ironic from where I sit today, but as I’m trying to tell myself every day as a morning mantra: I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
I instead had the bulk of February mentally set aside as a buckle-down work month — I have so much flying at me this year, I really wanted time to set aside and write my heart out before things heat up. I had planned to do so in Tel Aviv, a city I love and consider my home base of sorts in the Middle East, and where I have a lot of friends and (well, here we go) I’ve been dating someone. However, conflicting work schedules have thrown a wrench in that plan, so I’m trying to go with the flow and remember that I’m location independent and can work from anywhere — including, currently, this makeshift desk in San Francisco! — in between family trips to my grandma’s 90th in Illinois and to visit my sister in Pennsylvania.
I’m working both on an absolute deluge of blog content — I set myself the goal of writing twenty-nine posts — as well as my upcoming ebook on running tours and retreats for influencers. Let’s do this!
March // Back to My Thai Home Away From Home
Wow, am I thrilled to be spending a month back in my old stomping grounds of Thailand. Originally, I’d hoped for it to be more — but again, I’m going with the flow.
I’ll spend the first week of the trip on Koh Phangan, an island I never really felt I got to know properly. I’ll be there to complete my aerial yoga teacher training with ULU Yoga, a dream I’ve wanted to fulfill for ages now! It’s a one week, fifty hour training and I cannot wait to get certified and be able to lead aerial yoga classes on my very own retreats.
Next, I’m headed to Bangkok for a week, where I have all my fingers and toes crossed that my time will align with the arrival of my dear friend Janine’s baby. Otherwise, my time in Bangkok will basically be spent on medical tourism and future retreat research — ha.
Finally, I’ll spend two to three weeks on my old home island Koh Tao, one of which will be dedicated to running my sold out second annual retreat there. I really can’t wait to show one of my favorite places in the world to twelve more amazing women.
I’m not sure how realistic this is but I also have high hopes I can sneak in a four day camping trip I’ve been planning for years, which takes in three different Thai National Parks between Chumphon and Bangkok. I love my Thailand camping trips — and writing guides to them!
April // New Adventures Along the Nile
In April, I’m taking advantage of an incredible opportunity — I’m exploring Sudan for two weeks! First up, by sea. My friend Sarah Richard of Girls That Scuba and I are heading out on a Red Sea liveaboard that we hope to potentially charter in 2021 for a joint Wander Women Retreats and Girls That Scuba collaboration trip!
After, by land. I’m rounding up a few of my favorite blogger friends for a week of traversing Sudan’s own stretch of the Nile. Did you know Sudan has more pyramids than Egypt? Me neither! I can’t wait to report on all the other mind-blowing moments sure to result from this trip.
I’m still waffling on what to do when Sudan wraps. I’m leaning towards one of my two dream trips: finally spending a few weeks exploring the Middle Eastern gem of Jordan, which it’s an absolute travesty I haven’t been to yet, or hitting up the trio of Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, three Gulf countries I’m itching to visit. Either one will be an exciting adventure — so I’ll see where the wind takes me.
May – June // From Israel to Idaho and Beyond
I’ll kick off May back stateside for a few big events: taking the stage at TravelCon in New Orleans, hitting up the Gwen Stefani concert with my childhood best friend Kristin in Las Vegas, an even honoring my mom’s work for Capital Women in Albany, and a bachelorette party for one of my college besties, Liz, possibly in Upstate New York. Phew!
If you want to join me at TravelCon, by the way, use the code “SPEAKER50” for $50 off.
Then I’ll be crossing the Atlantic again to spend a full month in Israel, including my Aerial Arts + Yoga Retreat and my Adventure + Yoga Retreat (for which there are just three spots left!) I’ll be checking a few new Israel adventures off my own bucket list during this trip too — including showing my dad around. From my very first trip to Israel I just knew my dad would adore Tel Aviv’s incredible architecture and Jerusalem’s awe-inspiring history. I’m so thrilled that I’m actually going to get to show him both.
Heading back stateside, I’m hitting up two states I’m beyond excited to visit. I’ve been mentioning wanting to visit my girl Katie in Idaho in these annual posts for years now, and it’s finally happening! I’m spending a few days visiting her in Boise before taking off on a campaign with Visit Idaho — I can’t wait to scratch a new state off my map of the USA.
I’ll finish out the month by hopping next door to Montana for a close family friend’s wedding in Red Lodge. I’ve been to Montana several times as a teen but all in my pre-blogging days — so I’m excited for this epic occasion to add Montana to my destinations page.
July // East Coast Energy
I’m planning to spend the first week of July in Martha’s Vineyard with my family, per tradition. I’m sad to say I’m barely spending any time there the year, but, well, Martha’s Vineyard isn’t going anywhere and I know I have a lifetime of happy memories ahead in our house there. I do want to prioritize it next year, though.
Next, I’ll be back up to Albany for which I hope will be a full week of making progress on my transition out of my childhood home there. I’ve also bought tickets for a big group of my mom’s friends and I to go to the Alanis Morisette concert at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, which I’m wildly looking forward to (methinks I need to go to see Jagged Little Pill on Broadway to stay on theme, no?)
Then I’m heading to the Sunshine State. I’ll be celebrating Women’s Dive Day in Key Largo with a boatful of badass ladies for my Sustainability Dive + Yoga Retreat! I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be getting my full coral propagation certification as part of this retreat — I try to take at least one diving course per year and this is such an important one. I’m still deciding what my pre- or post- retreat “me time” will be. There’s so much on my bucket list in Southern Florida, it shouldn’t be too hard to pick one! One thing is for sure — I’ll be stopping in Miami for some family time with my cousin Eric.
August // The Middle East Beckons
August will be all about the Middle East, again. I’ll be running not one, not two, but three back to back retreats — woo hoo! From my Diving + Yoga Retreat in the Red Sea to my Yoga + Ancient Adventures Retreat in Mainland Egypt (just four spots left!) to my Yoga + Adventure Retreat in Lebanon (just one spot left!), it’s going to be an epic month indeed. There’s something special I’m looking forward to about each of this trips — in Sinai, melting into the most chilled-out beach town in the Middle East, in Egypt, going back and doing thing my way, and in Lebanon, seeing so much of the country I missed on my first all-to-brief trip.
I’m hoping to get centered for this huge stretch of exertion with a meditative trip to Mount Sinai in Egypt, a new destination for me, before all the madness kicks off.
September // Festival Decompression
Let’s just say that I sure hope I get tickets to Burning Man, considering I planned my whole calendar of retreats around attending again, ha. Manifest it and it will come, right fellow festival hippies? This would be my fourth burn and my third trip to Black Rock City, and I truly hope it comes together because I really think I could use a dose of playa dust this year.
I’m also hoping to make it to Life Is Beautiful, a burner-esque festival I’ve long had my eye on in Downtown Las Vegas. I’ll wait until the lineup is announced to make my final decision but, I think it would be an epic one to attend.
October // New York State of Mind
I’m pretty thrilled to be spending at the very least, the first half of October in New York State. I’ll kick things off down in New York City for one of my college best friend’s weddings in Brooklyn before heading back to The Finger Lakes for an influencer campaign, and hopefully to Rochester to visit my sister Margaret. Finally, I’ll be back to my hometown for a retreat in nearby Grafton that we hope to announce this week!
While it’s far too up in the air to announce officially, I’m considering spending the second half of the month at a yoga teacher training in Arizona.
November + December // Deliciously TBD
Who knows? My new retreat manager and I are deep in talks about one last retreat we may put on the calendar in these months — but I have to admit I’m loving having two whole months right now with not a single thing on them, and I think it’s holding me back from making a commitment.
. . .
There’s no denying that I had a brutally tough 2019 — and in a lot of ways, I think my coping mechanism is movement. This year is absolutely packed — and yet I’m still trying to figure out how to sneak in more, like trips to London and Norway to see friends, to California to see my dad, and to Sri Lanka or India just because.
What can I say. The world beckons. And I go.
Which of my trips are you most excited to hear about in 2020? Any tips for any of these upcoming destinations? Do you have anything exciting planned? Let’s hear all about it in the comments!
2020 has been off to a pretty awful start with a surprise cancer diagnosis for my mom, but I am looking forward to getting a once in a lifetime chance to do research on lemurs in Madagascar this summer. So trying to stay positive about what’s to come
Oh Anne, I’m so very sorry. I know where you are. Glad you have something to look forward to, it’s important. Sending you love.
Can’t wait to read about it ALL especially the Sudan part! I would vote Jordan – Middle East trio will be there lovely longtime (although a liveaboard in Oman with add on to land Oman ++ is a retreat idea for the future!).
Fingers crossed for your burn tickets!!!!
Aw, thanks for the crossed fingers! And yes, that’s what’s on my mind with Oman — definite future retreat destination! I think you might be right though, might be best to leave that trip for when I have more time. Jordan I think I could see very thoroughly in two weeks.
Loved this post! It looks like an absolutely packed year ahead but it sound like it’s going to be an amazing one. You deserve it- enjoy! 🙂
Thank you Joella <3 I really appreciate that -- and yes, writing this all out made me panic a little, ha. It's packed indeed!
Wow, looks like you got a lot of amazing things planned this year! Looking forward most to your coverage of Idaho an Montana, as an epic US roadtrip including these states has been one of my dreams for a while! Also, you make me want to go to Lebanon really really badly. More content on that would help to hold me over until I can go 😉
I will most likely stay in Europe using ground travel again this year. I have tried to avoid flying as much as possible the last couple of years, limiting myself to less than one flight per year. Of course, living in the middle of Europe helps, with many exciting places reachable by train (though last year another dream trip came true of taking the train all through Russia to China!).
Have you ever considered choosing your destinations in a way so that you don‘t need to fly as much, staying places longer maybe? Since sustainability and the environment are so important to you I would assume so 😉 I‘d be interested to hear your opinion on this topic as well.
Lot‘s of Love, Laura
Laura, I had the same thought! But again, I am lucky to be living in Europe and also – I’m nowhere near as good as your less than 1 flight per year. Well well done! I do carbon offset but obviously way better to avoid altogether. I’m actually getting very frustrated with the endless number of hen parties/bdays/weddings abroad & their unnecessary carbon cost. I’ve certainly become much more choosy.
Alex, knowing you & your eco ways, I’m sure you’ve given this topic a lot of thought. Extremely tricky, especially with your new retreat business but I also wonder if you’re considering grouping more destinations together & staying in places longer in the future to reduce emissions?
Becky and Laura, definitely something I muse on often as well! I used to fly significantly less and travel overland for months and months at a time. Although I can’t say I wasn’t doing it for environmental reasons — more just that I had little money, lots of time, and enjoyed traveling that way.
I would certainly love to get back to that for many reasons, both sustainability and self-preservation — it’s exhausting to constantly be on a plane and taking long-haul flights. My retreat calendar was much more scattered than I would have preferred this year as I wasn’t really able to make many commitments prior to my mother’s passing in October. At that point I really threw myself into work, and in order to make timely announcements for 2020, had to make some sacrifices due to availability, other events I had committed to, etc. In the future, for example, I would group all my Middle East retreats into one time period rather than fly to the region twice in one year.
That said, I have no plans to ever give up flying. I offset my flights and we include carbon offsetting information for all our retreat guests, but ultimately I recognize air travel is integral to my business — and to fulfilling my personal goals and interests. It’s a tough one!
Laura, I have a Lebanon post (about my 2019 trip) coming up next month — stay tuned! And glad to hear you’re looking forward to Idaho and Montana — I have so much of the US still to cover!
Alex you are a f*cking champ and I love your energy and gumption to grab life and go for it. You’re nailing it with the retreats and I still want to join you one day in Koh Tao (pleaaaassse). Your success inspires me all the time and I look forward to seeing your 2020 manifest into an amazing adventure for you xx Liz
Girl, this gave me a huge smile. PLEASE come diving with meeee <3 (And I'm totally coming for ya in New Zealand, one of these days!)
Well done on the coral propagation Alex! The state of coral reefs has been seriously troubling me for several years. What is the current situation? Do the grim predictions still stand true? Is coral propagation a viable scalable solution?
Also you are officially the first person I “know” who is travelling to Sudan you adventurer you! I’m only familiar with the very sad side of the country – there was a period of time where I was reading & watching everything about the Darfur genocide I could get my hands on. Too awful for this world 🙁 I’m assuming as with other war-torn countries, there are maybe some areas that were unaffected or less affected & that is where you’re headed? And it seems like the Darfur region is more stable these days, thank god. Really looking forward to your coverage of this complicated destination!
I am sooo pumped about the coral trip — I’m going to be sitting in the front row with my notebook, ha. I’m really excited about this trip and others I have in mind where I’m learning aside everyone from the experts! I’ve had some of the same questions as you, as the mainstream media often makes it feel like we’re so far gone when it comes to coral reefs, that there’s basically no coming back. Coral Restoration Foundation is the largest coral propagation organization in the world and they are realistic but optimistic about their success and are rapidly expanding into the Caribbean. I’m really excited to see where they go with their work — and to be a part of it! They have some serious smarties working for them.
As for Sudan, I have to confess I’m extremely uneducated about the conflict — I look forward to deeply immersing and learning all that I can while I’m there. I’m grateful to diving for inspiring me to go off the beaten path to this emerging destination that I’m sure is eager for responsible tourism.
I’m so tempted to join the Lebanon trip, but not sure I can swing the money this year. I figure if it’s meant to be and the slot is still available when I get my tax returns, maybe there’s a chance 🙂
There’s still one spot left! I’ll cross my fingers for you 🙂 Would be so much fun to have ya!
Looking forward to reading about all your travels this year! Hoping to see more completely new destinations make their way onto your already packed schedule 🙂 would LOVE to read your take on destinations Norway, Sri Lanka, and India! And can’t wait to see what you decide on between Jordan and Oman/Qatar/UAE. Safe travels!
Well, I packed my Lebanon guidebook, so I think I might be leaning that way 😉 If so, Oman/Qatar/UAE is a must for 2021!
YES WE ARE DOING A NOV/DEC RETREAT.
also tanzania in oct????
LOL. Pls see above.
Looking forward to reading more
I’ll be here every step of the way!
2020 sounds like an amazing year for you! I’m excited to hear about all the above adventures (and if I have any sway, definitely go for the yoga retreat in Arizona 🙂 )
It’s definitely calling to me right now — two weeks in one place, with yoga every day sounds delightful!
Yes I am commenting for the 3rd time on this post Alex. That’s how good it is!
Forgot to mention … Your overflowing love for Israel is one of my favourite parts of your blog right now. It is so infectious and the more I read from you, the more frustrated I am that I can’t go RIGHT. NOW. Also — you’re dating an Israeli?! Mazel Tov! Can’t wait to hear more x
Ha, I love it! Actually, I have some exciting Israel blog content coming up first week of March — so stay tuned. And toda 🙂
It feels odd but I barely have travel plans for 2020. Usually I have loads and this year is all about trying to build up my acro career.
Girl, that sounds amazing! I am seriously crossing my fingers I get to see a performance someday — wishing I was in New York right now and could head to House of Yes!
Hi Alex! I’m hoping to go to Disneyland one more time this year and possible Banff in Canada, never been!
Fingers crossed for you your 2020 travel plans come true <3