A personal update on the year that was… and the BIG changes to come in 2016!
First off, Merry Christmas, friends! (And a very hearty “Happy Holidays!” if you don’t celebrate all that Santa and Jesus in a manger stuff.)
For the first time in 7 years, I didn’t travel for Noël. In 2009, I celebrated the holiday in Arusha, Tanzania, amongst the strangers-turned-friends in my safari tour group. In 2010, 2011, and 2013 I flew to Berlin to spend it with Liebling and his family (and eat my weight in yummy German kuchen). And in 2012 and 2014, Christmas Day found me in Toronto with my very large, loud, and loveable family, doubled over in raucous laughter while reggae-fied Christmas carols blared from strategically placed speakers in my mom’s house.
Instead, Liebling and I are spending a very quiet day at our apartment in New York City. After a hectic past few months of travel and other activity, we decided to keep our festivities low-key: we opted not to put up a tree and our only gifts to each other are… well, each other. We went out for a nice dinner last night in our neighbourhood and our plan today is to hit up the Rockefeller Center tree and the Top of the Rock observation deck if the skies remain clear.
Which brings me, then, to the purpose of this post. At the end of every year I like to share a recap of sorts– it forces me to enumerate and evaluate the experiences that I’ve had, what I’ve achieved, and, inevitably the promises I failed to make good on (oops!). I also like to give a sneak peek into what’s ahead in the coming year. So let’s get started, shall we?
2015- The Year of YOLO
This year I made “You Only Live Once” my personal mantra. I said “yes” more than I ever had before and stretched myself creatively, professionally, and socially. If you keep up with me on social media, you’ll know that this year I began to post more on my oft-neglected Instagram page (click here to follow my adventures in real time!) and continued to dabble a bit in vlogging (pleeeassseee give my Youtube channel some love by subscribing here!).
#tbt to 3 weeks ago at the Laguna Colorada in #Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni. This shallow salt lake is only 3 feet deep at its deepest, and the special type of algae residing in the waters tint it this bizarre shade of red/pink. I’ll say it again– the Bolivian desert has the most impressive natural landscapes I’ve ever seen in my travels.
A photo posted by @oneikatraveller on
2015 was also the year I broke into the world of conferences and public speaking. I was honoured to give a presentation about the art of storytelling at the Blogging While Brown Conference this past June, as well as participate in a panel about travel blogging at the Nomadness Alternative Conference in September. I happily fulfilled a number of interview requests from media outlets, even appearing on national television to discuss the best destinations for African-American travellers.
I also continued to work with brands on various projects, most notably a campaign with heavy-hitter Toyota! They flew me out to L.A. where I, along with other a few other travel influencers, filmed a few commercials about our experiences on the open road. I love the way they turned out!
On the travel front, 2015 was one of the busiest years I’ve ever had: I travelled to over 40 cities… in 22 countries… on 4 different continents! Admittedly, all this travel was greatly facilitated by all the time I had off: when I quit my teaching job in Hong Kong to move to New York City this past June I decided to *not* look for another job and instead take the next 6 months off. The great news is that this self-imposed sabbatical allowed me to live out some of my travel fantasies. I finally got to visit Bolivia, return to Jamaica to see where my mom is from, and rock out in Brazil and Colombia with my best friends. I recently made a video chronicling where I’ve been this year, check it out if you haven’t already seen it!
Vlog more and do more on-camera work. I’ve fallen in love with video and being in front of the camera! While it’s no surprise that an audiovisual medium naturally suits a chatterbox like me, I also like the idea of being able to more effectively show people what to expect when they travel to a particular place. Still images and words are great, of course, but moving pictures and sound paint a much more vivid picture, don’t you think? Sharing more of my adventures (and travel advice) through video is definitely on tap for 2016 so make sure to subscribe to my Youtube channel!
Do more solo travel. While I’m lucky to have a loving husband and amazing family and friends who are always up for an international adventure, I’d like to do at least a couple of trips on my own in 2016. I miss the feeling of independence and freedom that come with travelling on one’s own; selfishly I want to plan and execute a trip without having to consider anyone else’s preferences or travel style. I also feel like I meet way more people and have way more interesting encounters when I travel by myself, proof positive that travelling solo doesn’t mean being alone.
2016 Travels and The Year of “Getting My Life”
I’ve already coined 2016 as the year where I will continue to “get my life” by doing more of the things that I love, like travelling. As such, I’ve already confirmed a few trips for the beginning of 2016! For two weeks in February Liebling and I will be heading to South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana, then over Easter we’ll be heading to Russia.
“Getting my life” next year is also about challenging myself to do things I’ve never thought possible so… I’ve gone ahead and signed up for a marathon! Why? Well, I’ve been super inspired by some of my runner friends lately and, after running 4 half-marathons I figured it was high time I get on the marathon train. Ergo, I will be flying to Taiwan to run the New Taipei City Marathon in mid-March… Which gives me about 12 solid weeks to train. Am I crazy? Yes. Am I pumped? Totally!
And a big announcement…
Well, if you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you know that I always like to keep things interesting and that I never reeeeaally stay put for long. With this in mind, it may not come as a surprise that… I’m moving back to Hong Kong (temporarily)! Whaaaa?!?!
Yup! I’ll be back in HKG for 6 months starting January 1, just as I was starting to settle into my new home of New York City. For those scratching their heads at this revelation, here’s the deal: a couple months ago, my former school contacted me to ask whether or not I would consider coming back to replace another teacher who had left. After a bit of back and forth, I decided to accept the offer, so the new year will find me in my beloved Hong Kong for a third go-round (I lived there from 2009-2011, then again from 2013-2015)!
Liebling will stay on at his job in New York City, which means we’ll be back to doing the long-distance thing. But, honestly, at this point we are old pros at LDRs and realize that the short term pain of being separated will result in long term gain as we work towards achieving some financial goals. At any rate, I love Hong Kong and a number of my good friends still live there, so I’m really looking forward to going back! I’m planning on producing more Hong Kong content so you can get a feel for why I adore the place so much!
So there you have it, 2015 in review and a sneak peek at what my 2016 holds. What are some of the things you accomplished last year? What are some of the things you have planned for 2016?