I love anniversaries.
This post marks six years since I traded my beautiful life in Brooklyn for an endless road of boarding passes, baggage claims, and big blogging dreams. I still pinch myself over how it’s all turned out.
What an amazing reminder to pause and soak up the fact that looking beyond the day-to-day drama I try to laugh at, the disappointments I can’t control, and the compromises and the sacrifices I make, I am truly living the big, bold, wild, untraditional life that I hoped and dreamed so desperately for when I was growing up in the suburbs of Upstate New York. (Even if back then, I didn’t really know what the heck that meant or looked like.)
When I sit back and look at it all I think damn, I built this life! And it makes me feel like there’s nothing I can’t do.
As always, I am filled with gratitude for this annual exercise of nostalgia and number crunching. This month, I’ll be highlighting my year in travel, blogging, and beyond. Want to catch up on the back story? Find previous annual roundups here, here, here, here, and here. Let’s start with the best part — my year in travel.
My Year in Travels
1. Party in the USA
I kicked off my sixth year of travel with two weeks in California, where I visited a high school bestie in San Francisco and my dad in Los Angeles. After, I flew back to New York for three weeks of glorious home-state time hopping between Manhattan, Brooklyn and Albany, with a festival camping trip in Port Leyden to round out the fun.
Yup, this was it — the week that I really truly fell in love with Canada. A year prior I hadn’t really totally known that Manitoba existed (don’t judge, smug Northern geography buffs!), yet here I was, frolicking through Winnipeg and snorkeling with beluga whales in Churchill and bursting into off-key renditions of “Oh, Canada!” whenever the spirit moved me. Guys, I saw polar bears!
I admit that I really didn’t get my neighbor to the north prior to this trip. I was like, yeah, they might have a hot prime minister but it’s cold up there so no thanks! Manitoba convinced me Canada is irresistible, even for a die-hard beach bum like myself.
3. Back To The States
Following my return from my first trip to Canada, it was more Albany, a quick Boston detour to see my sister, a week visiting family in Decatur and Chicago, and finally, two chilled-out weeks regathering my sanity in Martha’s Vineyard.
I had not been back to Illinois since college — since before I started this blog! — so this was an important and long overdue trip.
How lucky was I to return to Canada again a mere month later! This time, I was visiting Ian’s family in Newfoundland. I’ve yet to write about our dreamy time in St. John’s and Trinity Bay, but — wow. I very uncharacteristically did zero planning for or research of this trip ahead of time, and thus was surprised and delighted by every twist and turn. Having someone else plan a trip for me is one of my greatest luxuries, and so I truly felt spoiled here.
Sadly the trip was cut short by a last-minute video hosting opportunity that popped up when I was in Martha’s Vineyard, detouring me back through New York for a chaotic forty-eight hour whirlwind of flights and a thirteen hour day of shooting. I thus arrived in St. John’s in the midst of my annual borderline mental breakdown over work — which means there’s a lot of not sleeping, crying at my laptop, and frantically letting my thoughts run down dark roads of doom. Oops. Suffice it to say that I have yet to be nominated for a Girlfriend of the Year award!
From St. John’s, we took advantage of the affordable fares and short flight time to hop over to London for two weeks of quality time in the United Kingdom. The trip was mostly centered around visiting some fabulous friends in London, Bristol, Bath, and Liverpool, but Ian and I also made a side trip to Brighton for some precious time alone after a hectic summer of visiting each other’s family and friends.
While I’ve been to England numerous times, this was the first time I ventured outside London and Manchester and really “did tourism.” It was, no surprise, an expensive and busy trip, but we really treasured it — I can’t wait to write more about it soon!
A new country — Wales! We were grateful guests of two of our Koh Tao best friends, Brian and Amy, when we retreated to her family cabin on the coast of Llanfairpwllgwyngyll. Yup, that’s the actual name. It was a quick weekend away, but I loved every second of this glance into the childhood of one of my fellow island entrepreneurs.
7. Back To The Nifty Fifty
After a brief breath-catching stops in upstate and downstate New York, I was back on the grind, visiting my aunts in and attending the inaugural Universal Blog Squad Retreat in Florida, and popping over to California to meet Ian for his far-too-brief birthday weekend in Los Angeles. That was followed by his birthday present, a trip to the niftiest fifty of all.
Perhaps going back to Hawaii again wasn’t the most prudent decision I’ve ever made. After all, I’ve been twice before and spent months there, and we were weighing up other destinations neither of us had visited before. But Hawaii has always been a place that defies logic for me, and my latest three magical weeks there were, true to tradition, a highlight of my year.
We kicked off with a full Hawaii resort vacation on the west coast of Oahu followed by a weekend in Waikiki. Next, we hopped islands to take a vintage campervan for a spin around East Maui followed by a chilled out week in Paia. Finally, I returned to Oahu solo to spend a bit more quality time with my friend Wim and her beautiful family. I love Hawaii so much my heart hurts as I write this — I’m already pumped about the posts I’m finally going to write from this trip.
On the way back to the mainland, I paused in Los Angeles again to celebrate Halloween in style with my dad and my dog. This is one of my favorite holidays, and I found that Angelenos take it as seriously as I do! I can’t wait to come back to celebrate again in my new West Coast Wanderland HQ.
This was a last-minute surprise! When I was invited to preview the Caribbean’s first overwater bungalows, I had to decline due to a conflict with another project — a project that I was starting to dread due to complicated contract negotiations and an insane travel schedule. Imagine my relief when the mystery project fell through and I got to take my sister to Jamaica instead!
This trip took place in late November and well, we’d hoped it would be a victory trip celebrating our first female president and my sister’s first successful presidential election campaign. Instead we escaped bruised and heartbroken to what amounted to a healing retreat for both of us. And dang, was it a place to retreat to — I can’t wait to give you guys a tour around these bungalows.
What I got out of this trip — other than a temporary distraction from one of the greatest shocks and unexpected mourning periods of my life — was an even greater fire burning inside me to return to Jamaica. For years I’ve been dreaming of grabbing a beat-up rental car and doing a serious adventure road trip around the island nation, and getting this ever-so-brief glimpse at Jamaican culture and compassion shot it right to the top of my bucket list.
Before leaving for Jamaica, I’d hopped all over the East Coast door-knocking, fundraising, and phone-banking in preparation for the election. Talk about travel! In one week, I visited three states (New York, Philadelphia and New Hampshire) for voter-related activities. I had actually planned my entire year around being in the US for that moment. I didn’t want to mail in my ballot. I wanted to stand at the voting booth and feel the level under my hand. While it still stings to look back at this time in retrospect, in the moment I was bursting with joy and excitement and cherishing spending what I thought was the brink of history alongside my family of activists, and my sister who I was so proud of for her hard-won role in the Clinton campaign.
Post-Jamaica, I returned to New York and Albany one last time for Thanksgiving with my family before taking off for Thailand.
Oh hey there, old friend. Late November found me returning to the comforting shores of Thailand once again for six months of Southeast Asia living. It was a solemn year for Thailand with the passing of the beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej in October and unseasonable flooding plaguing the country in January and, well, I was feeling quite reflective myself, soaking up the chaos going on both close to home and in the world at large.
The vast majority of my time in Thailand was spent, as usual, posted up in Koh Tao relishing in the luxury of my own bed to return to night after night, but I still managed plenty of city breaks to Bangkok, a spa escape to Koh Samui, a brief return to Lopburi, a luxury cruise up to Ayutthaya, and my most memorable Thai adventure of the year, attending Wonderfruit Festival in Pattaya — which I was so excited about I just couldn’t help but jump ahead and write about already. Wonderfruit was amazing, and majorly sparked my interest in attending more festivals around Southeast Asia.
I believe it was my most relaxed season in Thailand to date in terms of domestic travel — Pattaya was my only new destination! That said, after the whirlwind six months I’d just had (can you believe everything pre-Thailand took place in just half a year?!), it was just what I needed. Plus I had a ton of visitors including two separate visits from college buddies, a childhood friend, one of my former Thailand partners-in-crime back for a visit, and my sister for the holidays. I stayed within Thailand for the full six months, with two big exceptions…
I can’t claim Malaysia as a new country for me, having backpacked there for a few weeks in 2011 — but Penang was a new destination, and a major one at that! I can’t really believe it took me so long to get to this melting pot of cultures. Ian and I spent four days there on a visa run, and made it into a much-needed us-time adventure.
Ah, Bali. I’ve had Bali on the brain — along with the rest of Indonesia — for quite a while. However, I kept putting off a return there, waiting for a perfect moment when I’d suddenly have “more time.” But when the Institute of Code invited me to attend one of their ten day coding retreats, I couldn’t say no — screw the perfect moment! I can’t wait to share more about this retreat, which was such a fantastic way to reinvest in my business and myself, something I feel passionately about an an entrepreneur.
Inside and outside the classroom, the three weeks I ended up spending in Canggu and Uluwatu were among the the most joyful moments of my year — for the first time in a long time, I found myself unburdening from the debilitating stress of several family situations and the crushing disappointment of the US elections, and remembering the lighter, happier version of myself that I much prefer the company of. I felt spontaneous and free, staying out all night dancing, making instantaneous BFFs and even changing my flight so I could spend a few more days hanging out with my new crew.
My time in Bali was so special it kind of threw me for a loop, and left me strongly considering a change of scenery for a while…
12. Home Sweet Home
Since touching back in the US from Thailand, I’ve hit up New York, Florida, and Tennessee, where I celebrated my sixth travelversary in style at a festival.
You’ve already read about much of my Florida adventures, which took me from a wedding in Sarasota to a theme park opening in Orlando to downtime in Tampa and onto what might just by my new favorite Sunshine State destination, St. Pete. Next week, I’ll dig into my time in Tennessee, which included a bachelorette party in Nashville and a return to Manchester for Bonnaroo.
My Year in Numbers
Countries Visited: 8. This is pretty much my statistical average now (7.6, to be exact!)
New Countries Visited: 2. Just Wales and Jamaica, which bring my total count of countries visited to 35. Still, this is the lowest number of new countries I’ve visited in a year since I started this blog — and believe it or not, I have no idea right now what #36 will be! I definitely have a habit for returning to the same beloved destinations over and over — and over and over again — so maybe this is a good wake-up call that there’s a whole wild world out there to explore, and I better get movin’ if I’m hoping to see even a significant fraction of it.
States Visited: 9. New Hampshire was just a day trip… and not a single one was new. This means my total number of states visited is still 21, though I am writing this from state #22 in year seven!
Plane Rides Taken: 33. I count origin to destination as a flight regardless of layovers – for example, New York to Bangkok is counted as one even if I have a layover in Hong Kong. Of those, eleven were paid for my work (I was either on a campaign or on a press trip), twenty were paid for out of pocket (I mostly got great deals, thankfully) and a measly two were paid for with frequent flyer miles (I did some great work reboosting my reserves for next year, at least!)
This is the most flights I’ve ever taken in one year, mostly due to the fact that I pretty much refuse to take the twelve hour bus between Bangkok and Koh Tao anymore — I did it just once this year. Now that I’ve gotten savvy to the overnight ferry connections and $30 flights from the mainland, I just can’t go back to bussing! As usual, I also took many buses, trains, cars and ferries throughout the year.
One goal for year seven? To finally get into carbon offset programs to ease my guilt on all this air travel — I’ll be offsetting each and every flight I take in the coming twelve months!
Beds Slept In: I changed accommodation 88 times to sleep in a total of 63 different beds. Wow. Of those, 26 were hotels or guesthouses, 23 were crashing with friends or family, 4 were villas, 3 were airbnbs, 2 were tents at festivals, 2 were campsites with an RV, 1 was a cruise ship cabin, 1 was a hostel, and 1 was my long-term apartment in Thailand. That does not include nights in transit on overnight busses, ferries and flights — of which there were several.
This is kind of nutso bananas. I’m going to work on this.
Dives: Are you ready for this guys? It’s sad — I did just 10 dives in my sixth year of travel, spread out over Hawaii, Jamaica, and Thailand (at least I hit somewhere new.) I was very much looking forward to a few days of diving in Amed, Indonesia that got cancelled at the last minute due to total travel meltdown at the end of my trip.
Getting this number up is a huge priority for year seven, and thankfully I already have a cavern course, a Central Florida road trip, a coral restoration course, and hopefully a liveaboard in Thailand on the docket for the upcoming year!
Conferences Attended: 0 again! Hoping to change this number — I miss my networking slumber parties.
Weddings Attended: 2. One of my college crew got hitched in Brooklyn in the fall, and one of my high school crew said yes in Sarasota! And well, one that I crashed in Thailand 😉 Year seven has three in the lineup — so far. I love weddings.
Festivals Attended: 4. Liberty, Wonderfruit, Tao Festival, and Bonnaroo. And I’ve already got a crazy fun one on the line for year seven… I can’t wait to announce it!
My Year in Feels
There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars. — Jack Kerouac
You know what? It was a tough year, in a lot of ways. As I alluded to throughout this post, there were a lot of deep heartbreaks and heavy situations that weighed on me. But in a way it was a year in which I felt, for one of the very first times in my life, that I was a grown up. Because while it felt like the world was just falling apart around me at times, I didn’t crumble to pieces. I didn’t lose sight of myself. I just took deep breaths and put one foot in front of the other and walked through the fire. While I still haven’t quite mastered the recipe for dealing with life’s great disappointments, I certainly have reached a state of awareness that any temporary sadness or anxiety I feel is just that — temporary. Life goes on.
It was also a great year, in a lot of ways. The United Kingdom, Hawaii and Bali were my big trips, and each one was so special and filled with joy. The rest of the year was brimming with highlights too, of course, even if most of them felt very familiar. Yet I am excited to report that I’m ending the year with a feeling I haven’t felt so intensely in a long time.
I feel restless.
That seems crazy after reading that big travel recap, right? Yet I almost feel too adult, like I’ve been making relatively safe, responsible choices lately in my travel destinations. In writing this post, I went back and reread every single annual recap I’ve published and noticed some patterns. The first four were an increasing fever pitch of crazy, until I finally kind of freaked out and really dedicated myself to spending a major portion of my time with a home base in Thailand again. Then my fifth recap, and this one, the sixth, both read much calmer as I found footing with some routine and balance in my life.
Well, now I feel that the pendulum is ready to swing in the other direction. Wanderlust has gripped me once again.
One issue? This year I really accepted that I’ve really exhausted much of my drive to explore Southeast Asia. This year I went to just one new destination in Thailand, otherwise I was revisiting what is very, very familiar territory to me at this point. I’ve been working on a really comprehensive bucket list to inspire me to start being more proactive in my travels — rather than just kind of blowing where the wind takes me — and most of it is no longer in the Eastern hemisphere! Instead I am feeling deeply drawn back to Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and even Africa, an itch I’ve yet to scratch.
Ah, and this is where I struggle.
As much as I’d like to think I live a life untethered, I feel deeply rooted in my community in Koh Tao and extremely reticent to sever a single tie there. I have an apartment and a motorcycle to get back to, I have friends having babies that I want to meet, I have gym memberships and favorite restaurants and very delicately strung string lights shaped like flamingos in my kitchen. And, yet…
Major changes are coming to my little island life. A plot of land on which several of my best friends own businesses (one of which is managed by my boyfriend) is being sold in early 2018, and with it will go the heart and soul of my default home base for the last several years. It will be the end of an era on Koh Tao, and for quite a while now I’ve accepted that this is, in fact, my cue to also consider my own next move.
Part of me feels this primal urge to cling to every last moment I have on this island that has truly drawn the roadmap of my life in so many ways. I feel like, dang, this could be my last season on Koh Tao, I better just go enjoy it.
And yet another part of me is feeling so restless to hit my life with an adrenaline shot of adventure, I don’t even know if I can stand to wait another six months. I realize that Thailand doesn’t necessarily fulfill me in the same way it has and that I truly do feel very, very ready for my next adventure. Is it Indonesia? Is it Nicaragua? Is it hitting the open road with no itinerary in hand once again?
I smile as I write that I truly do not know. While I feel an overwhelming mix of emotions and know there are many more ahead regarding this looming unknown, there are a few things I do know that I know for sure.
One? Back when I was kicking around in the ‘burbs, checking guidebooks out of the library and spinning the globe and daydreaming about this big life I didn’t know how to have, I could never, ever have imagined how good life would truly be in this moment and how content I would feel with my choices. I am comforted by that memory and the eternal hope that life will surprise me with how fantastic it is, all over again.
Two? No matter what twists and turns this next road I’m getting ready to go down takes me on, I’ll never be alone — because I’ll be sharing every step with you.
Next up, my year in blogging…
Update: Travel Blog Success was merged with Superstar Blogging by Nomadic Matt. It’s an equally impressive course that I plan to take and review eventually — click here to take it yourself!
Great news for all you fellow aspiring bloggers out there! This week is Travel Blog Success’s Summer Sale!
I rarely stop yacking about how Travel Blog Success helped me make Alex in Wanderland what it is today — a financially successful and creatively fulfilling travel blog that’s kept me on the road for five years. It’s the first thing I recommend to those who write to me for blogging advice, and was instrumental in getting me to where I am now! Our secret member’s Facebook group gives me daily inspiration, feedback, and hearty laughs. Yes, the warmest community in travel blogging is on sale now!
And one more thing — spots are still available for September slots of my Featured Blogger. Come hang out in my sidebar (plus other perks!) Get in touch for more details.
Wow you are living the life aren’t you, I do so like coming here and reading about your travels and places I most likely will never get to visit
You’re very sweet Jo-Anne! Happy to share my journey with you!
It’s insane to look back on everywhere you’ve been! Even with the downs, you have such a full life of people who love you and love your story – including me!
I am excited to see where your next chapter takes you… I hear Jacksonville is a nice base for nomads 😉
How lucky am I that EVERY year seems to have one or more adventures with Angie. Year six had two, and seven has two on the docket already! <3 See you soon, chica!
Damn, I cannot believe that it’s been a whole year since I saw your 5th travel anniversary post pop-up. It’s sort of frightening how quickly time passes and reading what someone else has been up to for a year makes me realise how little I’ve done myself since last July! So a slightly inspirational post for me.
You’re an Ambassadiver or what not, aren’t you? You should pick the most spectacular dive sites you can imagine, and do your trip planning nearby, what could be more perfect? I can’t wait to read number 7 🙂
Oh man, I thought the same! I feel like I was JUST sitting at my dad’s desk penning my last anniversary post! Oh, how time flies. And YES I am an Ambassadiver and should really be embarrassed by the lack of diving I did this year (we did have a six month lapse between contracts, which explains some of it.) I’m pretty excited about some of the diving adventures that are shaping up for year seven though already!
Wow it’s crazy to see how far you’ve come! I started following along with your adventures almost 4 years ago. I love that you’re looking into offsetting the footprint that your travels leave. You’ve always inspired me to be as responsible of a traveler as I can be.
Ah, thank you Leah! I was kind of bummed by my last reader survey in which I was surprised that a ton of readers said that sustainable travel wasn’t a huge priority for them. I was like uh well I’m just going to keep on writing about it regardless, ha ha. So it’s always nice to hear someone is enjoying it!
I so love coming here and reading about your journey. I’ve been following you along the ride for the last two years. I venture occasionally to other blogs to explore, but always find myself back here. If you ever find yourself back in San Francisco, I’d love to show you around!
Shelby, thank you so much! What an enormous compliment… thank you for coming along with me! And I will definitely try to fit in a reader meetup if I head back to San Fran!
That’s quite the whirlwind of a year! I’m just curious… Could you speak further about the reef restoration course? Now that I have my Divemaster, I’ve been looking for a way to put it to good use. Miami may be in the cards for me and my partner in the fall and there are reef restoration projects there that I’d like to get involved in.
Hey Katie! To be totally honest… I don’t know that much about it yet, ha ha. I bought a bunch of raffle tickets for a charity fundraiser for Earth Day on Koh Tao and I won the opportunity to take the course! I didn’t get the chance to complete it before I left Thailand so I look forward to tackling it as soon as I get back. Of course, there will be a review!
Happy travelversary! I can’t imagine 6 years on the go, it sounds exhausting!
Indeed — but also exhilarating!
Love your blog and annual roundups, Alex! How exciting to not know where your adventures will take you next. Another Koh Tao could be on the other side of the world just waiting for you to discover it 🙂 I was in a similar place as you last year – leaving a place abroad where I used to live that I loved deeply. As hard as it was to go the timing was right. I read a quote by Rumi the month I was packing up that helped me a lot through the transition: “Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?” I hope it helps you, too, in your journey!
“Let life live through you.” I love it! Thank you so much for sharing that Carolyn — I have a feeling I’ll be back to read it over and over again.
Thank you for sharing that quote! It’s beautiful, and it’s exactly what I needed to read at this point in my life.
Damn, this one hit me in the feels! Thanks, as always, for doing what you do 🙂
And thank you for reading Holly! <3
What a beautiful recap on your year – especially the reflection at the end. Going through different chapters in life can be challenging, but is all part of a (worthwhile!) adventure. Best of luck in what comes next.
Thanks Noelle. I’m pretty pumped to see what comes next.
Ah wanderlust… the all-consuming, never-ending feeling. Your year was amazing and it’s been so fun to tag along (and continue to – in super excited for your Newfoundland posts!). I love your reflection section in particular. It sounds like you’re really understanding yourself. And as far as travel ideas go, South Africa is beautiful in June 😉
I like the sound of that! And yes — I was almost embarrassed to post this because of how much of the year I have yet to write about. Oops. But I promise promise promise — it is coming!
I love this recap!! It’s so nice each year to look back and think “wow, I cannot believe how much I fit into one year!!”. I had done a “1st year review” of our experiences moving to Germany, and it is so fun to look back on now that we’ve been here for almost 3 years. So many odd first impressions of Germany which is now so normal to me! x michelle
Yes, I write these recaps as much for myself as anyone else! It is so precious to look back years later and remember what headspace I was in. It’s like a time capsule!
Nicaragua yes! We had grand plans to spend a month in Costa Rica but when we realised how expensive it was went for two in Nicaragua instead and did not regret it!
I hear ya about expense of the UK, just fresh off the back off NC500 road trip in the Highlands of Scotland and it hurt the purse strings a little.
Ah, I’m jealous — my month in Nicaragua was a highlight of my travels, can’t wait to get back. Wow, I still have so much to see! And yes to the UK prices. Even staying with friends for more nights than not, we were pretty amazed how quickly pounds slipped through our fingers.
another really interesting round-up. As usual! 🙂
“I could never, ever have imagined how good life would truly be in this moment and how content I would feel with my choices. I am comforted by that memory and the eternal hope that life will surprise me with how fantastic it is, all over again.”
You have created something wonderful. Your life. How amazing. And although you have realised how challenging life can be with the relationships we form with others. If we can always manage to keep ourselves in our lives – then we will never be lonely! (Just have to become a bit more creative when you bring kids into the mix!;-))
Ha, indeed I bet! That is many many years off for me, if it happens at all 🙂 Right now I’m still just wrangling taking care of myself!
Oh how I love these special yearly posts! Please let us know how you get on with carbon offsetting – something I’ve been wanting to do for years but shamefully haven’t yet actioned. Also, I’d love to know more about the coral restoration course. WOW. I so need to be hopeful about our planet.
Also VERY impatient for your England coverage and Newfoundland which is high on my Canada bucket list — so touched this was the year you fell for my homeland!
Ah, so much good content coming up… head hanging in shame that it’s taken so long, but guess I’ll have to make it worth the wait 😉 I too have been overwhelmed by the carbon offset situation — BUT I’M GOING TO GET THERE, GOSH DARN IT!
you are truly inspiring, and you should be so happy and proud of the life you have built. I’ve always had dreams of being a nomad and traveling the world, but I’m a little too connected to my security blanket of a job/income, family, and home. I still take amazing trips, but it certainly isn’t the same!
I know Koh Tao has a special place in your heart and is a home for you, but I would love to see you pick a new home base and explore other areas! Instead of doing a 6 week trip through South or Central America, I would love to see you have a home base in a certain city and explore from there 🙂
Whatever year 7 brings you, I love reading about your travels and adventures and have no doubt that you will be having an amazing time wherever you land!!
As you can see from this post, I totally understand your feeling of being too connected to your routine — even in my crazy life, I’ve managed to find a routine to cling to and am struggling to let go of my own little security blankets! I suppose humans crave routine, even when we try to resist it.
Your adventures are so amazing and the photography is just stunning. Can’t wait to keep following your adventures and see what’s in store for you next. If you’re ever back in NYC and want to find a fun crazy adventure, let me know!
Aw, thanks Rachel! I am saddened that I spend so little time in New York these days. I used to put aside huge chunks of time each year to be there but I’ve kind of traded my New York time for more Thailand time. Always a trade off.
Love love love reading these posts! I’ve been sort of silent following for over two years now, and I feel like I’ve been able to journey with you to this point in a small way. Thanks as always for your wonderful writing and insights, I’m excited to see what’s next for you! Also as a side note, I’m about to move cross country to LA, and I’ve loved reading about how you’ve discovered the city.
Aw, that’s what I love about blogging Anna — feeling like I have you along with me on the journey. And yay for LA! I actually have one more LA post in the pipeline…
That part at the end was some of your best writing ever! This was an awesome post, I really got the feeling you have reached some sort of realization about life or something. I’m excited to know where you’re headed next! I would love to hear about the Middle East or Africa 😀 Or literally anywhere else of course haha
It’s definitely been exciting to write this post and to start brainstorming about what’s coming next! I have some exciting ideas…
So I’m spending the summer in Canggu and I seriously don’t want to leave. Even after a month of being based here I feel more at home in this place than I have in a long while. And as a person who has spent so many years abroad that’s saying something. I know I’ll be heading back to Beijing at the end of the summer but I can totally understand what it is that draws you to Indonesia. It’s not perfect but there’s just something about this place! Anyway, amazing to read about your year I travel. And I wish you the best on your year to come 🙂
I FEEL YOU! Canggu really captured me in a way very few have that made me feel this almost panicked sense of “I need to move here!” It really is a special place!
Love this post, Alex! I always look forward to your travelversary posts, though 🙂 The last few paragraphs are especially beautiful and poignant.
Such a shame to hear about the land being sold on Koh Tao, but it could be the catalyst for exciting life changes and/or adventures! And I’m also dying to explore the Middle East and more of Africa, so I feel you on that front.
PS, thanks for reminding me of your ‘walk through the fire’ post. I just reread it, and it’s still one of my absolute favourites!
Indeed, I feel some exciting changes are coming. Change is always scary, even when you have a life of it! I’ve loved feeling anchored by my bit of routine the last few years, but I do feel I’m in need of a challenge. Looks like this will be a big one.
It’s so impressive how you set yourself a target – was it last year or the year before? – to travel less and to take it slow, which I think you’ve really managed to do while still travelling to new places 🙂
Yes! The last two years I really did a good job of hitting that goal. Now I’m ready to wander like crazy again 😉
You’re my favorite travel blogger and I don’t read a lot of blogs in general, but I truly enjoy your posts so much. Obviously everyone is on their own journey and only you can find that for yourself. As a reader, though, I would say that I look forward most to posts about new places. I can’t wait to read about your England trip. You’re such a good writer and new material is so exciting so I mean that as a compliment! I also have found with the current US political climate that branching out to meet and understand as many different people at home and abroad as possible has become so important to me. I hope wherever next year takes you, you keep writing!
Thank you Kate! I appreciate you reading! Definitely looking so forward to publishing my England posts (although I’ve definitely covered London over the years, ha). I know that for long-time readers, it can get repetitive to read about the same places over and over. That’s always a tough thing to weigh up when you are a blogger and deciding where to go — it’s something that just has to be factored in, and every blogger will decide differently how to weigh it.
Gah, I feel this so much. There’s a huge part of me that wants to stay grounded more—see my dog, spend time in my house, hang out with my Tennessee friends and of course my family—and yet, the second I’m at home for more than 24 hours, I’m constantly trying to figure out how I can do a little bit of travel-hacking ninjery to plan my next epic journey. Maybe living a life conflicted is part of the adventure we seek?
I think you might just be right… I think I’ll always be ever-so-slightly tortured by my choices, regardless of which way the travel and home life pendulum is swinging at the moment! I want it all… and I know you do too 😉
Really hope you make it out of the US/Canada next year.
I think that’s pretty much a given, considering I’ve left the US every year since, I believe, 2008.
I mean as far as new places go.
I’ve got some pretty exciting plans in the works — I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!
I love looking back over you year and seeing how much you have achieved 🙂 I just ended two years living in Malaysia as it felt too comfortable and am now 3 months into a trip around Africa! You should definitely consider it as your next destination!
That sounds amazing! And now I’m off to read your blog 🙂
Sounds like an incredible year! Can’t wait to see where you go next 🙂
Thanks Kacy! I’m just bubbling over with ideas!
Really connected with what I read here, funnily enough, just before going to bed in Manitoba! I feel like I would have said so much of this too of my year. I feel the wanderlust too, I feel the Canada love too, I grew a lot this year too. As always, love reading your annual recaps and reflections!
It’s strangely reassuring to hear someone else who I know is also on the road quite a bit say they are gripped by wanderlust. There’s a difference between big adventures and just moving from place to place. Here’s hoping someday we can sit down and dig into it over drinks rather than a quick hello on The Playa! <3
I love reading about where you’ve been in the last year Alex. Whew!
However, as a British expat living in Germany, I’m very much interested in reading about what you got up to in my home-country!
I’m originally from Manchester. I know! 😀
I’ve been pretty much all over Britain and Bristol, Bath, and Brighton are wonderfully lovely. Liverpool? No comment! Well, I’m biased being a Manc n’ all! And as for London, I was there just the other week. Hurrah!
Yay! I’m excited to hear so many of YOU are excited about my England posts (and embarrassed I have yet to post them!)
Congratulations Alex! This is so exciting!
Thanks Mao! Lots of changes coming soon…
When you have attachment to a special place, it’s hard to let go. Goodbye is the hardest.
JUst go back to Koh Tao as often as you can before the big changes come.
Love your blog for a long time now. Thanks Alex.
Thank you for reading Julia! Always am so grateful for those that read and respond frequently <3
Feeling very emotional reading this post. Found out about you and your blog while writing about Mount Rinjani. You were blogging for 6-7 years, and we’re just on our second year. There must be a really really good reason to keep going. Following you from now x
Honored to have you along for the ride, Rachel. Here’s to blogging and travel and the ways it brings us all together!
Alex, I’m a rare commenter (I’m sorry!) but I’ve been reading your blog pretty much since you started it. I remember reading about your first season on Koh Tao and also your time on Honduras while you worked as an underwater videographer. Since I started reading way back then, I’ve come to your site almost daily and read (I believe)!every blog post. Your writing, photography and story-telling have always been great, but have gotten better and better throughout the years. Your blog is now a wonderful archive of informative posts for locations around the world, and although this might sound weird because we’ve obviously never met, I’m so proud of you for the life you’ve built for yourself! Thank you for taking us along this journey with you. It has been a great ride so far and I can’t wait to see where it takes you next! Keep writing, keep traveling, and keep dreaming. 🙂
Aw, Kelly, thank you so much for this sweet comment! I read it several times over and smiled bigger every time. You are just too sweet! Thank you so much for coming along on this ride with me… and for noticing the improvements since those early days of writing and photographing 😉 Practice makes perfect as they say, and while I’m definitely not perfect I have had tons of practice! Onward and upward!
Great post Alex! Had read one of your earlier posts about your first 11 countries and loved it. I think there was the bit about how successful people can live unconventional lives. It really struck a cord. Have been following off and on since then. And to see that you’ve completed 7 years is really great. Congrats on the anniversary!
Thank you Abby! I am definitely loving this unconventional, winding road I’m on right now! <3
Wherever the next year takes you I look forward to reading all about it!
I started reading your blog about two years ago, and I have been following closely since. I really enjoy the yearly recaps as well. If you ever make it to Washington DC in your travels please plan a reader meet up!!
I will keep that in mind Alex! Thank you so much for coming along for the ride — some super exciting plans are starting to shape up for year seven! I can’t wait!
As always, great end of the year review, Alex.
Can’t help but notice you never really explored Africa, the beautiful black island. You should! And I will recommend Nigeria (my country), South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Morocco…the list is endless! I do hope you would have Africa in your 7th year review 🙂 Cheers and happy wanderlusting!!!
I would love to see the same… Africa has been calling to me!
Congrats on six years! What an incredible journey. I’m looking forward to reading more about your UK adventures and seeing where the next year takes you.
Thanks Amy! Can’t wait to post those! <3
Spectacular Alex. I wish you to visit all the countries of the world!
Here’s hoping, Chris! Cheers!
Congratulations on 6 years!! And you’re absolutely right 1. there’s nothing you can’t do! 2. Life will continue to surprise you with amazing things and 3. your readers will always keep you company! Thanks for blogging and for sharing your adventures with us 🙂
You are too sweet — thank you for coming along for the ride! Here’s to many more years of virtually traveling together!
We got back into diving this year in Indonesia, and started with the Liberty Wreck in Tulamben! Totally recommend it. We did not dive in Amed, only snorkeled but wow! What a place. You are in for a trip if you get to plan that trip again.
Yes, I desperately want to go diving in Amed! Maybe this will be my year!
Wow, what an amazing trip!
I love the fact that you followed your dream and just went traveling. Too many people spent too much time dreaming instead of acting!
Thanks for the inspiration
That is true — I feel lucky that I just kind of jumped in headfirst without asking too many questions 😉 I was pretty brave six years ago… ah, the innocence of youth!
wow thats amazing
Thanks so much for reading!
Oh Alex, your ‘what’s next’ is just full of nostalgia and hope – I love it. I know those feelings too well! I guess it’s good that nothing lasts forever so that we can keep on experiencing new and hopefully bigger and better things xxx
PS. it’s been awhile since I’ve been on Alex in Wanderland and I’m so glad to be back!
Hey! It’s good to see you again 🙂 I missed your always thoughtful comments, like this one!
Oh thank you 🙂 By the way…I remember you wrote a post about going back to a place where you’d been with your ex-boyfriend before and how it was filled with so much happiness but also pain…maybe the Cayman Islands or something? I just thought about it because I’m probably going to Switzerland at the end of the year and I lived there in 2011. I haven’t been back since. I was 22 and so carefree then and now I’m 28 with so many responsibilities and more baggage I suppose. I’m already scared at how I’m going to feel when I’m back in all those wonderful places that shaped who I am today…it just reminded me of that post you wrote xx
Yes that was the Cayman Islands, good memory! I know how you feel, it’s hard to go back to places that have been super meaningful for you, whether good or bad. Memories are precious.