At the end of 2016, I was slightly burnt out from my biggest year of travel to date. I'm not one of those travel bloggers whose goal is to travel year-round without having a home base. I like having a career (that affords me the opportunity to travel), being able to spend time with my family and friends on a regular basis, and having stability. My goal this year was to find a better balance between my home life and travel schedule. With only 10 days standing between 2018 and me, I can honestly say that I feel like I succeeded in my effort.
In 2017, I traveled to Seattle and Vancouver, Guatemala (six weeks), Miami (twice), South Africa (four weeks), Kenya (four weeks), Charlottesville (one week), London, Philadelphia, Ghana (10 days) and Las Vegas. While that may be a lot or a little to you, it was just right for me. I went somewhere each month this year but was still home enough to feel like I wasn't packing and unpacking every week.
I learned a lot about myself this year, mostly that it's okay to stay in my lane. Will Drink For Travel is almost four years old and with so many travel blogs out there, it can be difficult to find and keep my own voice. That sounds cliché, but it's true. I also learned many of the following important lessons throughout my travels:
1. Be flexible.
I was supposed to spend eight weeks in Kenya but because of their elections and concerns for safety, I was forced to cut my trip short. This meant I had to condense all of my travel plans into a few short weekends. I had to pick what I thought was most important for me to see. I chose to go to the beach (duh) in Mombasa. It was one of the most beautiful beaches I've seen and served as a reminder that I have to sometimes make priorities and stick to them.
2. Revisiting old places can be great.
This year I visited a few familiar places, including Miami, London, and South Africa. I've always had mixed feelings about visiting places multiple times. With so many places in the world I haven't seen, I always feel like I can visit a new place instead. But this year, I found myself longing for Miami, on assignment in South Africa, and wanting to see my beloved Baltimore Ravens play in London. While I had been to each of these places before, my trips this year were different than previous times and I found myself falling in love with each even more. It was a great reminder that revisiting places can provide new experiences.
3. It's okay to want to stay home.
Last year, I was in Zambia for around nine months in total and while it was amazing, it also took a toll on my personal life. I was missing birthdays, graduations, and many of other life's happenings. I made a concerted effort to balance my time this year with a better mix of home and travel. I've probably spent somewhere close to 5 months out of the country this year and I've fared much better with a balanced life.
4. Savor the moments.
As a travel blogger, I want to capture as much as I can. But in many cases, I've found that I was missing what was happening around me. There are a few places I went this year like Miami and Las Vegas where I didn't really want to create any blog content. I wanted to enjoy my time with my friend and my mom. I've learned to know when to turn blogger mode on and off in order to be present and in the moment.
5. Be open.
As I said last year, this will always be on my list of lessons. I find that the more open I am, the more I'm able to receive from the world in return, which can be both good and bad. But in my experience, I've found it to be mostly good. I'm so ready for whatever life has to offer!
I'm looking forward to 2018 and everything that will come my way. Cheers to a fresh start and a chance to see more of the world!