Well, it's almost my birthday! I can't wait. I will be spending the weekend in Austin with some of my girls. I would have loved to go to the Caribbean, but I am attempting to save some coins for my Summer '16 trip and Austin is a great city to visit, so why not?
I have been thinking about how the past year has gone, and I am satisfied. There are some years that people are ready to dismiss and forget they ever existed, but I don't feel that way about 26. Maybe 23, but not 26. Now, I'll be real and admit I have had some extremely low points over the course of the past twelve months, but I must say that overall my 26th year was stellar and insightful. I have gone on some pretty dope adventures and with each trip I have learned something special.
So, in no particular order, here are 12 things I have learned over the past 12 months that I hope to carry into my 27th year.
- I am not too bougie for hostels. I love gold, sequins, sparkle, and shine, but not necessarily when I am abroad. As time passed on with each trip, I realized I don't need as many luxuries as I think I do when traveling. I need a bed, a clean bathroom, and air conditioning. A pool would be great, too! I try to spend my time away from my lodging site when on a trip so that I can see as much as I can, and I am usually exhausted upon return. I have also met some great folks while in the hostels in Colombia and Belize and they added to my experience. It's comforting to be in an environment with like-minded travelers that just want to have a great time.
- I would rather repeat outfits than repeat countries. You can guarantee if I go a beach, you will see my pink and green swimsuits, and probably my favorite pink midi skirt too. Once upon a time, every time I was planning a trip, I would make that an excuse to blow money fast on a new wardrobe. Between moving with only 20% of my clothes and being a member of #TeamCarryOn, I am becoming increasingly skilled at mixing up my outfits. Nobody cares what I am wearing, and as long as I'm comfortable, I'll keep rocking the same sweaters.
- Closed mouths don't get fed. Especially when your phone is in airplane mode. If you are lost, ask for help. If you want suggestions on where locals go, ask. If you want to be treated politely, smile! I have had to rely on family, friends, and strangers this year, but it all turned out to be for the best. I would also say, do not assume the hotel staff are out to get you. I have gotten extra "luxuries" (insert: robe), higher floors, etc just by asking. Once again though, you must be POLITE.
- #TeamCarryOn for life. I used to stress that I would be over the 50-pound limit when traveling back-and-forth from Miami to Philadelphia / Atlanta. I never wore all of the outfits I packed and did not pack strategically (i.e. color schemes). As time continued, I realized I truly hated waiting for my bags once I landed. Being a member of #TeamCarryOn has been so freeing and switching from a hard-bodied suitcase to a duffel bags makes my traveling even more satisfying.
- I am more spontaneous and fearless than I imagined myself to be when it comes to life outside of work. When I am at work, if I do not have my planner and my gold notebook, also known as "my wife", within my vicinity, I will freak. I need to know my plan for the day and have my to-do list at hand in case I need to add something. When I travel? I don't book my lodging until the week prior and I hate having an itinerary! I have appreciated letting go and seeing where the wind takes me.
I am totally content being in my own company. I am in love with solo travel. I have to promise people I have friends, but there is just something getting away, unplugging, and sitting with God's creations does something for me.
- My Spanish isn't half bad. But my French... I admit that I am a bit worried that I have not kept up with my French nearly as much as I did my Spanish. This entire year I have gone somewhere where I could interpret and understand what is around me. I guess I should work on being tri-lingual?
- Dallas isn't so bad after all. It is also time for me to get active again. I am finally managing my time better with my job, but I miss being a part of the community. I have been looking up some nonprofit and professional organizations to get involved in. I also have started doing things outside of my normal comfort zone like going to art museums and events in the city's parks. I need to appreciate my home as much as I do the world.
- I have been an inspiration others to start traveling. This sounds bizarre to me, but it is true, and a blessing. I never got to do international programs in high school. I could not afford People to People. I missed out on studying abroad. I did not grow up rich, but I am out here gaining miles!! I remember stalking so many social media accounts and blogs of travelers, so the fact that I can help spike another person's wanderlust truly means a lot to me.
- Even though there's a lot of evil going on in the world, there are still some pretty kick-ass folks lingering around. I think about all the acts of senseless violence happening domestically and internationally and it makes my heart hurt. I feel like I am getting kicked in the stomach when I read about the mass shootings or rapes against women of color. I get plenty of warnings from my family, friends, and coworkers about my upcoming plans and to avoid certain places, but then I go anyway, and am amazed. I travel alone a lot, but I never meet a stranger anywhere I go. A smile can truly take you far and I am glad that there are folks inhabiting countries with great energy.
- Living a life of travel does not mean that I am rich. I am far from it! I think people forget that I am an educator and I'm not bartending in Dallas. It is a matter of chasing the fare, not the destination. I also refuse to blow my money on a hotel room [frequently] when I will hardly be there. I also have been going where the US Dollar is strong, therefore I get more for my money. If it costs me $300 to fly to Philadelphia or $300 to fly to Mexico, where do you think I will end up? ;-)
- I am addicted to this life and I don't intend on quitting. Nor terrorism, fear from close friends, or anything else can stop me from chasing my dreams except my wallet. I have so much left to see and I refuse to live a life of fear.
Do you self-reflect around your birthday or another certain time of the year? I hope that it has been as introspective for you as it was for me. Cheers to 27!