Compared to 2017, when I traveled eight out of twelve months, 2018 was my slowest travel year in a decade – yes, even when I still had my corporate job in London ten years ago I traveled more than I did this year. The big difference is that now I can go on a trip for however long I want, no time restrictions because I need to get back to work. This year was the first one in a long time in which I didn’t visit a single new country, and so far, I have only made it to TWO of the ten countries I listed in my 2016 travel wishlist three years ago!
You will notice that I spent a lot of time in New York City in the past twelve months – deliberately so. You may remember that at the end of last year, I didn’t really feel like I’d fully arrived in New York, even though I’ve spent more time in NYC in the last five years than anywhere else in the world, and I was finally a legal resident. 2018 was going to be the year I’d finally make New York my full-time home, instead of just swinging by every few months for a while. I even put myself on a self-induced travel ban for six months this year (spoiler alert: I only lasted three).
But even though compared to the last eight years I didn’t travel much in 2018, I never got itchy feet. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about sitting still so much, but I think I needed it after all the traveling I’d done in 2017. And I’ve still got so much of NYC to explore that I never get bored – and if I need my ‘foreign culture fix’, all I need to do is hop on a subway and head to a neighborhood like Jackson Heights (Little India), Flushing (Chinatown) or Brighton Beach (Little Odessa) and I am transported into a completely different culture.
2018 was also my slowest year of blogging since starting Globetrottergirls in 2010, but after a few months of beating myself up about the lack of writing I was doing this year, I accepted that it was okay to take a break from it. After all, this was the only thing I’d done for roughly seven years – longer than any other thing I’ve ever done, any job I held down. It was an incredible relief for me this year to have a more stable income rather than never knowing how much money I’d be making from the blog. As I said last year though, the blog isn’t going to disappear, and I still have so many stories to share, including from my latest trips.
Let me take you on a visual journey through 2018 with some of my favorite photos of the year – I was trying to go with one for each month, but it was too hard to narrow down the over 2,000 pictures I took this year to only a dozen, which is why I created a collage for each month instead.
In January I stayed in New York and got my new business off the ground. I think I led 25 Brooklyn Tours in 31 days, in often sub-zero Fahrenheit temperatures. I don’t think there’s a better way to beat a cold weather phobia than walking around in freezing temperatures for five hours every day.
After two months in chilly New York, I was ready for a break and hopped on a plane to Austin, one of my favorite cities in the U.S. Temperatures in the high 60s / low 70s felt glorious, and I tried to visit as many of my favorite spots around the city as possible, and of course try a few new places. Upon returning to New York, a couple of extremely bad things happened, and I am still not sure how much of it I can reveal without compromising my personal safety.
In March I found out that I had gotten into the New York Marathon thanks to the drawing. Anyone can enter, and I was one of 16,211 lucky runners who were picked out of 98,247 applicants who tried to get into the NYC Marathon through the lottery. I also found a place to live that I loved (and still love!), something I hadn’t had any luck with in 2017. Because of the things that happened in February, I was forced to cancel my winter escape plans, but I used the time to further grow my tour business and enjoyed a couple of crazy blizzards – New York snowstorms are still novel experiences for me.
April was all about work – I led 35 tours in 30 days, and there wasn’t much time left to do anything else. The reason for this insane work schedule? April was the tax deadline in the U.S., and it was the first time I had to pay taxes in America. I wanted to make sure I had enough money in my savings account to cover my tax bill.
April also marked the 8th birthday of Globetrottergirls.
After a work-focused April, I made it a point to work less in May and to enjoy spring in New York instead. May, when New York looks the most colorful with tulips, daffodils and other spring flowers, is one of the months I love most in NYC. This year it was a tough month, however, since two very special souls left New York: my favorite person and my favorite dog. New York wasn’t going to be the same anymore without them.
In June I went on a spontaneous trip to Germany, triggered by the rough months I’d had leading up to the first warm month in New York. In addition to seeing my family and some close friends, I went on a road trip through northern Germany with my favorite travel buddy. I returned to New York in time for Pride and was lucky enough to experience the event from one of the coolest floats in the parade.
For July, I had only one goal: enjoy the summer in NYC! This was going to be my only full summer months in New York this year, and so I wanted to make the most of it. I went to the beach and to Fire Island, ate copious amounts of ice cream, went to art galleries and open air concerts, and enjoyed some the city’s finest rooftops.
In August, I went on a road trip through Tennessee and North Carolina with my friend Katie. We started in Nashville, a city I’d been wanting to visit for a long time, where we listened to live music and ate and drank our way around the city, before heading towards the Great Smoky Mountains. We based ourselves in Asheville for a few days, went on hikes and scenic drives, and circled back to Nashville via Chattanooga, where we did not only find a surprisingly large coffee shop and craft beer scene, but also some of the best hikes of the trip.
I got to return to Austin in September – for the second time this year. The main reason for my visit was a conference I was speaking at, but I added a few days before and after the conference to my trip, allowing me to soak up some of Texas’ September heat and show some friends around the city who had never been there.
I was supposed to return to Southern California in October, but with a big trip on the horizon (in November), I decided that it would be more responsible to spend the entire month in New York, working as much as possible, to be able to treat myself to some nice hotels on my first real vacation this year. I couldn’t sit still entirely though, and went on a short getaway to Vermont and New Hampshire to see the fall colors, which are known to be the most vibrant in New England. October was also the last month before the marathon, so I trained almost daily to be in top shape on race day.
After finishing my first (and what I thought was going to be also my last) marathon, I was more than ready for a vacation. I road tripped around Costa Rica for three weeks, introducing someone who’d never been to Costa Rica to all my favorite spots, and discovering a few new ones together. It was the perfect time to leave New York, where the ugly November weather (read: rainy and grey days) had just taken over.
Side note: I must have caught the ‘Marathon Bug’ when I tortured myself 26.6 miles through the five boroughs, because I have since signed up for another marathon.
I didn’t spend much time in New York this Holiday Season – just enough to squeeze in a visit to Dyker Heights to see the famous Christmas lights there – but instead, I packed my suitcase again shortly after getting back to Costa Rica. This time around, I was London-bound to visit a couple of very special people, and then I surprised my family in Germany for Christmas. I am in Europe for a month, and I am grateful that I am able to spend the Holidays with my family this year, after a somewhat lonely Christmas in NYC last year.So here’s to more travel in 2019-