Usually, I do a monthly round-up, but November and December were so hectic and disorganized for me that I’ve combined everything here as my 2018 round up.
2018 has been my most successful year yet. I can’t believe that it’s only been a year since I decided to start making moves in my life.
January 2018 started in New York City, my dream city, the city that I’ve always wanted to visit no matter how cold it is. I checked it off my bucket list with pride.
Then I continued on to Colombia where I explored the country and fell in love with the culture. I thought there could be no other place that I would love as much as Colombia and I desperately wanted to return.
But then I went to Rio de Janeiro and I discovered life there. It was the most magical place for me to be dancing with strangers, hearing songs played anywhere you walked, with the most beautiful landscapes that I had ever seen. It took a hold on me, and regardless of the dangers that existed in Rio, I stayed. I wanted to know what it was like to live in such a beautiful place.
I have been writing this blog since I started traveling. I’ve created it from scratch, and I’ve written the way I’ve always wanted to write because that’s what has made me happy. I loved that my friends and family would read it and commend me for my tone of voice and traveling the way I travel. I wanted to learn how to do everything that has to do with blogging on my own, but I hit a point one day in Brazil when I realized I had no idea what I was doing.
I had heard of a conference before where beginners could go to learn about the business of blogging called TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange), but I had always written it off because I thought I couldn’t afford it.
As I sat in my favorite coffee shop in Brazil, I thought about the feeling of ecstasy that Rio gave me, about my Brazilian lover, about the routine life I was starting to have again and I knew that it had to end.
I saw New York, I saw Colombia, I saw Carnival in Rio De Janeiro-- I had checked three bucket list items off my list, but I still hadn’t started one other thing on my list and it was bothering me. I knew what my priorities were and continuing life in Brazil wasn’t one of them anymore.
In March 2018 though, I made a decision: Continue living a life of bliss in my own comfort zone that I had formed in Brazil, or seek out challenges and failures by learning how to turn my blog into a business. I chose the latter.
I said my goodbyes to Rio and in April 2018, I went back home to San Diego. It was bittersweet, but something I knew I’d have to do.
I started work a week after returning home from 7 months out of the country. Adjusting to life back in the States took some getting used to, but I handled it and made some money. By the time August 2018 rolled around, I had enough money saved up to travel to London and then the Czech Republic where I would attend my first TBEX conference.
I learned so much at the conference and returned with a long to-do list.
What I didn’t tell you all was that I had met a boy and we were dating for a short period of time. When I returned from three weeks in the Czech Republic though, he broke it off. After I had watched every tear-jerking rom-com I could find on Netflix, binge-watched New Girl, and after I had faced the fact that I was going to see this guy still in our circle of friends, I got back up and went to another TBEX conference in upstate New York, September 2018.
It was at this TBEX conference that I met some of my idols: Oneika of Oneika the Traveller, Alyssa from My Life’s a Travel Movie, and Ernest White II from Fly Brother, who I didn’t even know I needed to meet until I met him. I also met with Deb and Dave from The Planet D and we bonded over whiskey neats.
Between the Czech Republic and New York, I had met several others in the business with knowledge and experience to pass on to me.
My next trip was in October 2018.
I had always dreamed of going to Mexico for Dia De Los Muertos
and since I was checking stuff off my bucket list, I figured I shouldn’t let another year go by without experiencing it. While down there, I met up with some travel YouTubers: Jimmy and Tah from Divert Living, Todd from Todd Hata, Dan from The New Travel, Chris from Cruisn Chris, and Laura from Eternal Expat. I picked up a lot just from hanging out with them, but I was also very grateful to see the commemorations of Dia De Los Muertos. It was this trip that determined the rest of the year for me.
After returning from Mexico City in November 2018, I received news from Todd Hata that Anton, from Our Awesome Planet, had approved to send me on a National Geographic photography cruise through the Galapagos. Having never been on a cruise, nor any real press trips, I was ecstatic. Remember, I’m always about saying, “Yes,” whenever possible.
So, just after Thanksgiving, Todd and I went to Ecuador to meet up with our cruise crew to explore the Galapagos where we spent seven to-do days exploring and learning all about what the Galapagos had to offer.
After the trip, I spent Christmas with my family, the first Christmas I had been home for in 4 years.
When I started to write about 2018 for you all, it dawned on me that I landed in Brazil about 11 months ago with the expectation of returning to Colombia. I left Brazil about 8 months ago, sad to leave my new friends behind. I went to the Czech Republic 4 months ago and had my heart broken after opening up to someone for the first time in years.
This all occurred in less than a year.
I skipped the Galapagos last year when I was backpacking South America. If you had asked me a year ago if I planned on returning to the Galapagos, I would have said, “Maybe one day, when I can afford it,” and then I get offered to go on a press trip on a cruise ship? Life, man. Life.
What I’m trying to say is nothing goes as planned, and nothing is going to happen if you don’t make it happen. You can stay in one spot doing what you always do because you want to do what your friends do and stay in a place you know, or you can put yourself out there to fail-- yes, fail-- but also to get yourself up and try again, try again (thank you for those words of wisdom, Aaliyah).
Of course, I miss Brazil, and I would love to return to Colombia again one day, but I have bigger plans for myself, so I put my comfort aside and I made moves. I may not be famous, but I’m definitely closer to where I want to be than if I had stayed in Brazil.
Now that 2019 is here, it’s time to check off some more items on my bucket list. Let’s see what I can do in less than a year.
What about you? Are you prepared to make changes in your life?