Happy 2017, guys!
I haven’t been making “resolutions” for the past few years because I figured my problems would work themselves out on their own (lol), but there’s something about 2017 that made me want to write up some goals for the new year. Plus, 17 has always been my lucky number – maybe 2017 will be my lucky year?
If you haven’t read my 2016 Year In Review, there’s the link. Let’s see what’s in store for 2017 :)
What I learned in 2016: One of the biggest realizations that I had last year was that bloggers schedule their posts, sometimes months in advance. Whaaaat?! I was so overwhelmed with the “production” aspect of making new posts – drafting ideas, writing them out, editing photos, promoting on Instagram/Facebook/etc that I became a super procrastinator because there was so much to do.
Writing posts and scheduling them a month or two in advance is something that I plan to do this year. I learned that it’s okay to take it easy and do things in smaller batches: start drafting ideas and brainstorming posts one day, editing photos on another day, and then piece it together for the final version. Not every day is going to be a “blogging day,” and I’m okay with that – it’s better to take it one step at a time and be slower than not do anything at all!
1. Blog More Often!
I can’t really call myself a travel blogger if I only made 10 blog posts in 2016, right? (to be honest, I’m surprised I even wrote that many!). One of my top blog goals for the new year is to blog more often! I’m hoping to publish at least two posts a month and get my total number of posts to 50.
2. Finish Writing About my 2016 Adventures
In my 2016 Year In Review, I visited 8 new countries… and barely wrote about them. Oops.
Since I’m not traveling as much this year (I think? We’ll see!), I plan to use the extra free time to finish up all the countries that I visited – especially Japan, Brazil, and New Zealand, since I have the best ideas for them. ;)
3. Guest Posts & Collaborations
Another mini blog goal is to team up with other bloggers and write guest posts – I’m aiming for at least 5 posts this year. If I can swing it, I’d also love to start pitching my articles to travel websites and newspapers as well. Let’s see how this goes!
4. Improve the Blog Layout
Ever since this blog became “official” – changed from WordPress to self-hosting to Bluehost, updated to a snazzy theme, etc – it’s had the same layout and color scheme. I think the header took like 10 minutes to make and it wasn’t even that great (my blog name in cursive words and waves in the background). Two months ago I asked the fabulous Mona to create a new header for this blog, and … voila! Isn’t it beautiful?
Now that the main part of the layout has been done, there are just a few things to finish:
– Add color to the rest of the layout
– Overall extra pages and add more category pages (ex – Haul posts, Country/City Guides)
– Update sidebar photo -believe it or not, that’s 2013 and I don’t look like that anymore :P
Burj Al Arab, Dubai, UAE
What I learned in 2016: In the beginning of 2016, I planned to visit exactly two countries: Egypt in January and Japan in April. After my breakup, those plans went out the window and I ended up visiting 9 countries (Which ones? Check them out in my previous post). After reading a few other travel bloggers’ posts about 2016, I think it’s fair to say that plans don’t always work out. Unexpected emergencies, friends asking you to join their last-minute travels, and error fare deals come up all the time, so it’s important to be flexible. Keep a list of your travel goals and see where you can take advantage of them.
1. My Countries for 2017
I’d love to visit all the countries in the world (I’m working on it!), but the top 5 on my mind right now are Cuba, Iceland, South Korea, Iran, and Norway. Check out my reasons below:
– Cuba: Cuba recently eased restrictions for US travelers, which is my main reason to visit. I’d love to see this country before it becomes too commercialized, and there’s so much to see outside of Havana! Plus, colorful cars, tropical weather, and friendly people – what’s not to love?
– Iceland: Have you seen photos of the Northern Lights? No? Go and Google it, I’ll wait ;)
Iceland has really exploded in popularity recently because of super cheap flights from WOW Air and Norwegian, so it’s a perfect time to jump on and visit.
– South Korea: After getting into the Asian Beauty trend last year, a visit to the skincare capital of the world would be amazing. Could you imagine the haul posts after that trip? Like Japan, South Korea also has cherry blossoms in the spring, and I’d love to explore Jeju Island.
– Iran: Iran isn’t usually at the top of those “15 Places to Visit in 2017” lists, and I’ve always wondered why. While getting a visa might be a pain, the amazing architecture (Nasir ol Molk Mosque), history, and countryside make up for it. Also, did you know they have their own party island? Check out Kish Island – if you stay there, you don’t need a visa to have a good time :)
– Norway: One of my favorite lifestyle bloggers, CathInTheCity, lives in a cute little Norwegian city called Bergen, which I’ve always wanted to visit. Norway also has the world’s second largest igloo hotel and it’s possible to see the Northern Lights here as well!
2. Start an Antarctica Fund & Save $7,000
You thought I was kidding about visiting Antarctica in my last post, huh? Nope! It’s the last continent to check off my list, and how cool would it be to see penguins, kayak through the ice, and take a sub-zero swim? I just made a saving account (about 10 minutes ago…) that goes specifically towards my Antarctica Fund. I plan to step up my freelance game this year and use those profits exclusively for my travels. Of course, it’s not the cheapest place to visit, but it’s doable for that amount of money. Plus if I have any money left over after my trip, come visit SF and the champagne is on me. ;)
3. Go to Eurovision
Every May, the entire European continent throws a huge, kitschy, and fun party known as Eurovision, where singers get to compete for the best song. I’ve been watching ever since Ruslana won the 2004 competition for Ukraine (), and I’m so happy that Ukraine won again last year! I can’t wait to celebrate the final in my home country. All I need are tickets to go on sale and I’ll be there!
4. Take Better Travel Photos
Whenever I pack my luggage before setting off on my next adventure, I take my Canon DSLR hoping to shoot a bunch of pretty pictures that rival National Geographic (ahem), and when I actually get there … I use my iPhone. It’s easier to take it out of my pocket versus digging up a camera, taking the lens off, adjusting the settings, etc until I finally get a decent photo. There’s nothing wrong with taking iPhone photos, but I want to improve my travel photography + editing skills this year.
5. Get 2nd Citizenship
Still a work in progress so I can’t say too much, but I should (hopefully) get my second citizenship within 1 – 2 months! I ‘ll also get visa-free access to 8 new countries, versus having to spend money and get a visa for the countries that my first passport won’t cover.
*New Bucket List Goals*
Not really #goals, but I’ve added a few things I’d like to do before I kick the bucket:
– Volunteer in FIFA 2018 – I submitted my application, now time to wait…
– Visit all oblasts (states) in Ukraine – there are 24!
– Take a ride on the Trans-Siberian Express
– Celebrate New Year’s Eve in two or more different time zones
– Go to all the cat cafes in the world
and probably like 15 more than I forgot, thanks short-term memory :(
Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt
What I learned in 2016: Last year was the first year when I really got into traveling, but I neglected my personal life. I procrastinated, didn’t take care of my body with proper nutrition and exercise, and basically turned into a hermit (fml). This year I want to do more, see more, and live more!
1. Say “Yes” More Often
As a self-diagnosed introvert, sometimes it’s really hard to find the energy to get dressed, do my hair, and go out. There’s nothing wrong with staying inside, of course, but I’ve been feeling a little bit of FOMO when I declined an invitation to something that looked really cool. This year, I’m going out and having fun!
2. Get into the Habit of Minimalism
After moving back last summer, I decided to have a little garage sale to clear up some space
because it looked like a tornado ran through the room for all my souvenirs. What I didn’t realize was that I had so much crap laying around the house, especially things that I didn’t use! Books from middle school, clothes that didn’t fit, and other things that had no purpose were boxed up and sold to new homes – One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right?? (Shh – Don’t tell them I said that, though)
For the new year, I want to go through all my things and make sure that I have only what I really need and sell the rest. Once that’s done, I plan to live minimalistically and only buy things that I’ll actually use – like a ticket to Antarctica
3. Stop Being Late
Ugh, this is my worst habit and it’s really embarrassing! Whenever I have a meeting, I always seem to run late by accident. I get out the door at a normal time, and then some shit always has to go down: I miss the bus, the metro track is on fire (true story), or I sprain an ankle. Thankfully I’ve never missed a flight (yet), but I want to kick this habit and stop making my friends awkwardly wait while I sprint to the coffee shop.
Fun fact: It’s the Chinese year of the Rooster, which is a symbol of punctuality!
4. Take Better Care of my Skin
You know those ladies who are like, 50 but look 17? I might be exaggerating, but wtf, tell me your secrets! I want to take better care of my skin this year because let’s face it, I can’t depend only on genetics – no matter how good they are (shout out to you, mom). Also, ever since I got into Asian skincare I’ve been slapping on face masks nonstop. Here’s hoping that all this effort will pay off in 30 years ;)
5. Go Outdoors & Do Fun Exercises
Like I mentioned above, I didn’t really schedule too much exercise in 2016, except for the 500km challenge. In 2017, I’m going to do more outdoor activities like hiking in the Presidio or walking my dog in the local park. I also want to take dance classes at the local gym (edit: I had my first class yesterday!) and learn indoor rock climbing.
That’s about it! I’d love to learn more about your goals – what do you hope to accomplish in the new year? Are you going on any new trips, trying new things, or improving yourself? I also hope you all have a fantastic 2017 with lots of excitement, happiness, and of course, adventure!