We all went through the shrapnel that was 2016. It was gory. It was dark. It was rough. Not many of us made it out alive. But for those of us who did manage to crawl out on our bellies to see the light of day that was 2017 were rewarded with a much better year. Want proof? Here’s why 2017 was the best. Well, the best for me, at least.
1. I traveled solo to London, Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Stockholm
When I married Kev in 2015, I knew we wouldn’t be doing all of our traveling together. After all, his job had roots and mine, well, didn’t. I guess it surprised us both that it took 1.5 years to finally go on a solo adventure without him. But I needed to venture on my own and I decided to do so in London, Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Stockholm.
And wow, did I love it.
Don’t get me wrong, I missed Kevin. I missed him when I was cold and needed someone to warm my feet. I missed him when I needed a hot chocolate temperature tester. I missed him as my go-to photographer. (Kidding, I also missed him for other reasons. Like his cute butt. Have you seen it? It really is the best man-butt.)
But traveling solo reminded me that I love standing on my own two feet. I love exploring old cities and wandering down every single alley that I feel like. I even secretly love getting myself out of a tough spot, like when I got some strange stomach virus in Budapest that left me completely incapacitated for two days.
2. I spoke as a panelist at my first MAJOR convention
Before my solo trip to Europe, I had received an email asking if I wanted to be on a panel for a social media conference. Not just any social media conference–Social Media Marketing World, the largest social media conference in the world!
I had been asked to speak on a panel about how to drive Twitter followers to my content. At the time, I had been working for a couple of other companies as a social media manager. Lucky for me, this gave me plenty of experience to talk on the subject.
In addition to speaking at this event, I made some pretty good connections. But the best part was meeting Internet Wizard, Zach King! My excitement was borderline insane.
3. I stayed at the Hotel Del Coronado like a fancy person
Out of all of the places I’ve traveled and all the places I’m dying to see, one of my favorite cities in the world is only a 2 hour drive from where I currently live. That favorite place is: San Diego.
San Diego is like LA, but with a better attitude, less traffic and a much more charming vibe. Travel to San Diego and tell me you don’t love it, I dare you.
My mother-in-law was doing construction on her house and it was driving her crazy. My father-in-law decided to do the right thing and send her on a week-long trip to the famous and historical Hotel Del Coronado. And who would she bring along on this super-duper fancy stay?
I’ve visited the Hotel Del Coronado before. Back when I had a 9-to-5 job with massage benefits, my husband and I drove down just to spend the day at the Del spa. But staying for a week, meandering around Coronado Island and showing my mother-in-law around the San Diego Zoo was just fabulous (and an incredible way to bond)!
4. I hiked Rainbow Mountain, marveled at Machu Picchu and explored the rain forest for my birthday
For the longest time, I’ve been wanting to cross South America off my list of continents to visit. Lucky for me, I partnered with Mint which provided me with the opportunity to travel to South America for my birthday. 13 days in Peru and 1 day in Colombia.
But what I never thought would happen was my cruising down the Amazon River, seeing sloths, holding a baby gator and catching piranhas. I never felt more like an explorer than I did those two days in the remote part of the jungle.
5. I made friends with some incredible travel bloggers and travel influencers
This year, I took the time to reach outside of Instagram and actually make friends with my colleagues IRL. Do you know what it’s like talking to someone everyday online and having no idea what they look like? (Of course you do. You too are on the internet and social media).
It started with Angie of The Lovely Escapist. I was inspired by her Instagram enough to ask her to teach me about photography. Imagine our surprise when we became friends instantly.
Meanwhile, Layla of LA Travel Girl had seen my
obsessive growing crystal habit and reached out to talk metaphysics. From there I met Anna of Anna Everywhere and Jackie of Get Lost With Jackie. And I met even more travel experts when I went to the DR (scroll to number 7).
Travel blogging can often be a lonely profession as you travel alone and work from home alone. But meeting these women to help inspire me (and keep me sane) makes my job that much better!
6. Kevin and I celebrated our 2-year wedding anniversary
2 years may not seem like much, but making it past 2 years is actually quite an accomplishment.
Statistically speaking, divorce is incredibly common within the first two years of marriage. Why? Because it’s a major adjustment period.
You THINK your love will get you through anything. But then you realize you’re not okay with sharing a bank account. Or that you have to actually clean since one of you likes a clean house while one of you never cared about being the biggest slob. Or that you actually need to keep working out to keep your body sexy and keep the spark alive. (Just a few hypotheticals. Nothing to read into, here.)
Last year, I talked about how marriage is hard. Fucking hard. And it continues to be. But the funny thing about marriage is that every single one has its own rhythm. Once each couple finds the rhythm and starts to go with the flow of it, the rest all starts to kind of fall into place.
We still fight. We still have our own issues we need to work on. But I love Kevin more than I’ve ever loved anything or anyone in my life. And the flow that we’ve found makes it that much easier to show him my love.
7. I dyed my hair purple
Now this might not seem like a thing, but as a woman shackled by the supposed “perfect picture of a female” as deemed by our patriarchal society, it kinda was.
I had always wanted to dye my hair purple. In fact, I dyed the under layer of my hair purple in college.
Then, as the final quarter of the year started to settle in, I realized I no longer had a job that required perfect, blonde hair (or any shade of “normal” for that matter). I wanted to stand out in a way that showed my individuality. I could finally follow in the footsteps of Katy Perry, Kelly Osborne and Nicole Ricci and dye my hair fairy purple!
So I did.
And I’ve gotten a lot of attention for it. Some good, some bad. The good: LOTS of old ladies are obsessed with it. The bad: being profiled at the Miami airport for smuggling weed because my hair fit some type of profile. If only they knew I haven’t smoked weed since 2006, right before I saw the compelling drama, Snakes on a Plane. Quite the movie of our time.
But I still love my purple locks and will continue to dye it for another couple of months until I get sick of only being able to wear black and white to match with my head.
8. I went on the most amazing work trip to the Dominican Republic
As a new blogger, it’s tough competing with travelers who can afford multiple trips a month. Their travels create a successful online presence and they get lots of work for it. Another example of how it takes money to make money. And another reason why I can’t stand social media and had a break down because of it.
Normally, I work with individual hotels or brands on trips I’m already planning on. But this trip was different. I was taking my FIRST work trip with a bunch of really great female entrepreneurs. We traveled through the unexplored Southwest Dominican Republic and wandered the streets of Santo Domingo. Apart from the humidity, I loved it!
Not only did I explore the unchartered territory of the Southwest Dominican Republic, but I met some INCREDIBLE women. I met Meagan (travel writer and sex columnist), travel bloggers Jessie, Taylor, Hannah and Wendy. Meeting these ladies was such an inspiring and fun experience!
9. I stayed at the Royal Hawaiian (again, like a fancy person)
Over 20 years ago, my family and I traveled to Hawaii. There, my Mom saw a family with their adult children and those children’s children. My Mom hoped that one day, we would all travel to Hawaii as adults and enjoy a different kind of travel. One that didn’t involve Gameboys and fast food.
So this year, my parents treated us to a luxury experience in Oahu. It started with leis at the airport and being driven to the Sheraton Waikiki in a limo. When we arrived, we found a huge suite with a mini Christmas tree and presents under it. Though Christmas was two weeks away, it had never felt more festive.
My parents were staying at the Royal Hawaiian next door and also had a suite. With a spare bedroom, one of us kids and our significant others would take turns sleeping in the spare bedroom.
On our second to last night, my parents treated us to a fabulous, in-room dinner. Catered from the restaurant below, it was one of the fanciest and ritziest things I’ve ever experienced in my life. There was 7 courses, a sommelier and 2 managers came up to say hello. My family drank champagne and vodka and continued to dance in the room all night long.
Best. Family Trip. Ever.
10. The Clumsy Traveler Brand Grew Exponentially
In the blogging world, it’s sometimes hard to quantify growth.
But thanks to all of YOU out there, you have helped this dream business of mine grow into something I could only fathom when I put my head to my pillow. I’ve worked with luxury brands and hotels I’ve wanted to visit for so long. I’ve made connections in unexpected places.
Most importantly, I turned my little passion into a business! One that still could use some serious growth, but a business nonetheless. And that, above all else, has surprised me and put more faith in myself than anything I’ve ever done.
So 2017 is ending and 2018 is just around the corner…
I look back on these moments not to brag or inspire. I look back on them to remember. This crazy world throws so many curve balls at us. Political climates grow hostile, a natural disaster occurs or someone we admire passes away. It’s easy to forget how good we have it when the world around us feels like its crumbling.
But amidst the terror and fear, aside from the discomfort and bizarre, 2017 really has been wonderful. I’m hoping 2018 will top it, some how, some way.