While so many things happened in my world and across the globe in 2016 that made me sad, angry and even feeling hopeless (mostly just in November for that last one), overall I would give this year 4/5 stars. It was much slower paced than the year before in terms of traveling and blogging, but I still learned and accomplished a whole heck of a lot.
I made some big decisions and completely followed through on them. I quit a job that I did not love anymore. I paid off the remainder of my credit card debt. I applied for a New Zealand working holiday visa and I leave in just a few days!
The thing that made all the difference.
I kept my promise to myself to focus on my physical and mental health. Some heart-wrenching decisions I made in previous years about what relationships to invest my time and energy into paid off big time. I used to suffer constant feelings of inadequacy at the hands of friends and family. I finally came to the conclusion that they just did not truly know who I am. Nor did they truly and fully care about how their actions and words affect others, damaging the already fragile thread our relationship was hanging from.
The walls I had put up after years of tolerating harmful and sometimes abusive treatment finally began to come down. Focusing on my relationship with myself and the friendships that were not one-sided helped me open up to new friendships and appreciate my existing healthy relationships. I don’t know what I would do without them now.
All About Blogging
I learned so much about blogging in 2016. The one takeaway that I will mention is that it takes an exceptional amount of effort. I truly don’t understand how successful bloggers with full-time jobs keep it up. I tip my hat to all of you!
I actually needed to take a short break from all of my part-time blogging this year. I had such a difficult time balancing full-time work, a social life, and self-care with all that blogging entails. I arrived at the other end of the break feeling refreshed. I had a new vision for my blog and I was ready to go.
Women In Travel Summit
Long before I took that break, I attended my second WITS. This year it was held in Irvine, California and I attended as a blogger instead of a traveler. With all the knowledge I had gained since the 2015 WITS in Boston, I was able to follow more of the blogger track and actually understood what the presenters were talking about. I met, befriended, and gained inspiration from women travel lovers, bloggers, and entrepreneurs from around the world.
Writing For The Budget-Minded Traveler
Earlier this year, I began contributing blog posts to The Budget-Minded Traveler. This alone has been a great learning experience for me. The blog and its style are both well established, which made a great guideline while writing and coming up with new ideas to share.
I used Jackie’s book while planning my trip to Belize and Mexico last year, and I’ve been using her travel advice for years now. So, I was thrilled when she asked me to become a contributor. See all the BMT posts I’ve written so far here, and look forward to more in 2017.
Social Media Management
Everything I’ve learned about social media marketing and engagement came in handy when the restaurant I was working at over the summer needed assistance boosting their online presence. I offered up my skills and the owner gladly put the restaurant’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in my hands for the season. Plus I was paid to do it!
It was pretty easy to apply what I learned from the travel blogging industry to the restaurant and entertainment industry. Just as the restaurant’s following was firing up and I think I found a good rhythm with posts and engagement, the season ended here on the Cape and the restaurant closed. Hopefully whoever takes over the social media next summer will be able to pick up right where I left off.
All About Traveling
Compared to last year, I didn’t do much traveling in 2016. The only new places I visited this year were Irvine (for WITS) and Los Angeles for a quick 24-hour visit back in March. It was after this trip that I decided I was going to move to New Zealand with a working holiday visa. I’ve spent the last 9 months preparing for that big move. Instead of jetting off to new places, I stuck around Massachusetts.
I stayed on my beloved Cape Cod, but I didn’t stay in just one place.
My friends who I rented my apartment from sold their house this past spring. So, from May to September I lived a bit of a gypsy life bouncing from couch to spare bedroom. Everything I needed fit in my car and the rest lived in a closet-sized storage unit. I’m so grateful for everyone who let me hobo it up and invade their space for a little while. I’m very fortunate to have so many generous friends on this island. <3
I stayed in Falmouth for a month, rented a room in Dennis for two months, stayed with a friend in Centerville for a month, and crashed with friends in Hyannis for a few nights here and there. Then finally, I moved back in with my friends that I lived with originally (the ones who sold their house). After searching for a long time, they found their dream home in Sandwich. That’s where I’ve been ever since.
Boston & Salem – the two other places I went this year.
I spent my seventh Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts. The lives of my friends in Salem have changed with a new baby for one pair and a baby on the way for another. So, we spent the night handing out candy to the kids – and kids at heart – instead of downtown ripping shots with the rest of the college students. A far departure from past Halloween’s, but I think it’s my favorite one so far.
I also made it to a Red Sox game over the summer, which I didn’t think I would do this year. One of my oldest childhood friends treated me. We hadn’t hung out in about a year, so it was a fantastic opportunity to catch up and reminisce. Since we had standing-room only tickets, we spent most of the game wandering around Fenway checking out parts of the park I have never actually seen before.
Looking forward to 2017
The only plans I have for 2017 so far are the places where I will be: Boston, MA > Las Vegas, NV > San Francisco/Humboldt County, CA > Nadi, Fiji > Auckland, New Zealand. Once I get to Auckland, I don’t know what I’ll be doing, how I will make money, who I will meet, or what adventures will unfold.
I’m doing a trust fall, and New Zealand will be there to catch me.