I was just working on another post for my Pakistan series when I realized that my next one would be my 100th published post- and felt that this should be celebrated!
The funny thing is, I have almost as many posts in my draft folder as I have published. There are so many topics and experiences I want to write about – if only I had ten of me and 100 hours in the day! But on the other hand, I guess having nothing to write about would be worse.
Someday I hope to publish my 1000th blog post, but something I’ve learned over the last year is that it’s important to celebrate the small milestones along the way to your greater goals.
I’m not sure what one does to celebrate 100 posts (a cake perhaps?), but I do know that I want to thank you for following along on my journey. It’s been exciting to see growth on my blog month over month, and I just want to continue making this a great resource to help inspire and plan your travel.
You may have noticed changes around my site these past few weeks, and there’s still a lot more coming. I’m trying to work on my user-experience, and I know it’s far from perfect. If you have any ideas on features you’d like to see on my blog, or any topics you’d like to see written about, please do let me know in the comments below or send me an e-mail! Always happy to hear suggestions and feedback.
One thing that I’ve been wanting to start is monthly update posts. I can barely keep up with my crazy life, so I’d imagine it’s even more confusing for you. There’s no better time to start then the present, so here’s my September update about this past summer.
It’s been a crazy one, to say the least. One with a lot of highs and lows, and I still haven’t quite figured out how I feel about it.
The summer started off strong early in June when I visited one of my good friends in NYC to attend the Governors Ball music festival. It was the perfect summer weekend spent dancing away at the festival and street parties in Williamsburg, as well as exploring NYC.
After that weekend, I envisioned my summer dancing away at music festivals on weekend getaways, but it didn’t really end up like that.
Return to Ireland
About a week later, I left on a Europe trip to Dublin. I had been planning for months to go to Iceland for my 30th birthday with my two best friends and then-boyfriend, but I figured I’d sneak in a little Ireland trip before I went there. I actually lived in Dublin when I was 19, so it seemed very fitting to go back a decade later before turning 30.
I went to Cork for a few days to explore Southern Ireland, which I had never visited before when I lived there. That area of the country is so beautiful, and you can see a lot of it just from day trips from Cork.
It also reminded me of why Ireland is a perfect destination for solo travel. If you’re thinking about taking a solo trip for the first time, consider Ireland!
After a week in Ireland, I hopped on a plane to Iceland. No, wait. That’s not right. I went via London because it was cheaper to fly Ireland ->London -> Iceland then Ireland->Iceland direct. This is a large part of the reason why you see me hopping around so many cities/countries. I find the cheapest possible flight route and then I get to see more places/friends.
The nightmare of my 30th birthday in Iceland
I arrived in Iceland airport where I was supposed to meet my two friends at the airport to start our road trip through Iceland – enter the first nightmare of Iceland.
I get a message upon arriving in Iceland that my friends missed their flight and Icelandair wouldn’t book them on another one without buying new flights. This was devastating to read because we had been planning the trip for months and I was so excited. After many tears, I decided to head on anyways to Enterprise to pick up the rental car. After an inspiring chat with a worker at Enterprise, I felt encouraged that I could drive Iceland on my own.
I spent the first day driving through the Snaefellsnes Peninsula which was magical. I lounged in my own hot spring, chased waterfalls, saw seals, and crashed my drone into someone’s house. Okay, it was mostly magical.
I also got a message that day from my friends had managed to buy new flight tickets and would be joining me the next day! Woohoo! So I woke up early the next and drove back to Reykavik, where along the way I got a caught on speed came which would later come back to haunt me in the form of an $850 dollar speeding ticket. Pro-tip for renting a car and driving in Iceland: DON’T SPEED.
My birthday is on June 21st which is the longest day of the year, and in Iceland means 24 hours of daylight! We were attending the Secret Solstice Festival in Reykjavik Iceland for the weekend to celebrate. Everything was going great, until we returned back to our Airbnb in Reykjavik the night of my birthday, only to find out someone had burgled our apartment.
I lost all the equipment I had bought over the years for blogging. Laptop, cameras, drone – they even took some of our clothes and rental car. I can’t describe to you in words how awful it feels to have everything you’ve worked taken away from you, but it really, really sucks. Not to mention the negative consequences the burglary has on my personal relationships. It really was a dream turned nightmare.
I left Iceland feeling like an absolute pile of garbage, but I wasn’t headed home. I was headed to Boston for my first ever travel conference – TravelCon.
Of all the places I could have gone after what happened in Iceland, this was probably the best place to lift my spirits. I met so many amazing people and left with a ton of inspiration and motivation for pursuing my blogging dreams.
Quitting my job
I came back to Toronto after an inspiring week at TravelCon, and made a huge decision that was a long time coming:
I quit my job!
As I talk about in my Instagram post below, this wasn’t a light-hearted decision. I’ve had a successful career in HR with the Government of Canada for the last six years. And for the first few years, I really wanted that, but over time I changed as a person as did my aspirations and goals. I’ve always had a passion for travel, and after traveling all of 2018 and starting this blog, I knew I had to find a way to make it my permanent lifestyle.
It’s a scary thing to leave a stable job and jump into the unknown to chase your dreams, but there’s not a day I regret it.
View this post on Instagram
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful then the risk it took to blossom” . Guys, I did a really big thing. . I quit my job! . This wasn’t an easy decision. It’s not one of those situations where I was working some shitty job with a asshole boss. I’ve been super fortunate the last six years to have had a pretty successful career with the Canadian federal government in HR. I’ve worked for three departments, moved across the country 3 times, gotten several promotions, and learned a ton. And when I got my first job out of university, I was really excited about it. Believe it or not, I used to really want a 9-5. I wanted stability. . But over the years I changed a lot as a person, and those aren’t my aspirations anymore. What I want is location independence. The freedom to live and be anywhere I want. . When I left to go travel for a year everyone told me I’d get it out of my system, but all it did was make my desire to see the world stronger then ever. There’s no getting it out. This is part of me. Travel is my life, and I’ll never be happy in a “traditional” job that ties me down. Lucky for me, I have the choice not too. . But it took me a really, really long time to make that choice. To let go of my old life and fully jump into the new. It took years. . Some people will probably think that I’m crazy. I walked away from one of the most secure jobs you can have in today’s world, with a great pension (should I work another 30 years). But that doesn’t scare me anymore. What scares me is NOT taking the risk to chase my dreams. . Anyway, I’ll be writing a whole blog post about all of this and what’s next so stay tuned. I’m so excited for my journey into being a digital nomad and I hope you are too! . AHHH!!!
I also got to visit my beautiful hometown of St. John’s, Newfoundland for a friends wedding. After going through so many big changes it was nice to be with family and nature to clear my head.
I had a better week in Toronto following my trip to Newfoundland. I started dog-walking as a side hustle to blogging, spent time at the beach with friends, joined boot camp, and worked on the blog.
Visiting Pakistan with IESS
August was an exciting month for me, as I got to go on my first big sponsored trip to Pakistan with IESS. It wasn’t a country that was on my radar to visit, but I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to visit, as being there opened my eyes to what a beautiful country it is.
I spent the month of August traveling through the country with 11 other content creators and students from the university. I’ve already written a few posts about my experience, which you can find here:
- 10 Beautiful Places you need to see in Pakistan
- Planning your trip to Pakistan: The Best Places to Visit
- Guide to visiting Karachi
Although visiting Pakistan was a positive experience overall, there were some downsides. Mainly that I got very stomach sick. Now, I’ve gotten my share of food poisoning and stomach issues while traveling, but this problem lasted longer then I would have liked.
By the time I left the country, I was feeling weak and terrible, as I had almost stopped eating completely. Fortunately, after a third bout of antibiotics and visit to the hospital, things started to get better.
I rented an apartment in Dubai for a week after Pakistan, which I am extremely grateful for now, as I really needed the rest. I didn’t explore Dubai as much as I probably should have. Partly that I was feeling so low on energy, and the fact that it was 45 degrees out didn’t help much either.
I spent most of time catching up on writing and admin for the blog, enjoying my apartment’s pool and gym, and eating very healthy home-cooked meals. Of course, I did go on a few adventures.
I hadn’t booked a return flight home before going to Pakistan. But on the way there I had a layover in Istanbul, Turkey which I quickly fell in love with. So I decided to take advantage of being on that side of the world and do some more travel in Turkey on my way back. Plus, I had already paid for the e-visa which allowed for multiple entries, so it seemed like a logical choice.
It was a blast! Turkey has so much amazing adventure activities, like paragliding over the turquoise coast.
I fell for Turkey over the last few weeks. As far as backpacking goes, it’s a great country to be in. It’s well rounded in the sense that it’s got a lot of beautiful nature to explore, epic adventures, fascinating history, and delicious food.
I’ve got a lot of content coming down the pipe for Turkey, so be sure to subscribe to my blog for updates. In the meantime, you can see some of the wonderful places in Turkey on my Instagram.
Now, I’m on a plane heading home to Toronto after a stopover in London to visit a friend who just moved there. I told you – I love stopovers!
Soon I’ll be home, and I’m really looking forward to it. Even though I’ve been on some incredible adventures in the last few months, it’s left me feeling burnt out. I’m looking forward to some routine of yoga, cooking my own food, and kitty cuddles.
I’m very excited to announce that I’m going on a press trip next month in Malawi with Biosphere Expeditions to work on a conservation project. This has been a lifelong dream of mine, so to be able to do it in collaboration through my blog is surreal. It’s going to be my first time in Africa (my 6th continent)! and I couldn’t be more excited.
In November, I’m going to attend the Women in Travel Summit in Riga, Latvia. I had such a good time at TravelCon in Boston, that I just couldn’t wait to go to another conference. It’s going to be such a great experience to be around so many empowering female content creators! Plus, I’m going to be doing some FAM trips exploring Latvia which will be so fun.
By December I plan to be back in Canada, to celebrate Christmas with my family. I’m not sure what my plans are for the winter yet. I want to settle somewhere for a few months, somewhere warm ideally, to focus on writing and growing my blog. I’m leaning towards one of the digital nomad spaces in South East Asia like Chiang Mai, but who knows. If you have any ideas – let me know in the comments below!
Feeling burnt out
I feel like I’ve lived a million lives in just the last three months and honestly, I haven’t been very happy lately. There’s been a lot of nights of feeling lonely, anxious and overwhelmed. It’s something that I want to talk more about on my blog, because as amazing and glamourous as travel may look sometimes, it doesn’t make your emotions go away.
It’s well known that when you go through a big life change it’s going to have impacts on your mind and emotions. I happen to be going through many all at the same time – switching careers, breakups, moving around. It’s no wonder why I feel so overwhelmed, and I’m struggling to find a way to stay grounded through it all.
I’ve always been a fast-paced traveler because I’ve always had time restraints and wanted to see as much as possible while I could. But now that I have the luxury of being able to slow-travel I need to actually slow down. I’ve realized over the last few months that it’s not sustainable, financially or mentally, to jump from place to place all of the time. But old habits die hard – and it’s been challenging to change my mindset to this.
Phew – it’s fun not to write for SEO! Even still, I managed to write almost 3000 words. Yikes! Well, these updates should be shorter in the future, when they just cover the last month.
If you have any suggestions for things you’d like to see on the blog, travel recommendations, mental health tips, or just want to say hi, leave a comment below or send me an e-mail!