Around the world travel, Backpacking, Bucket List, long term travel, Southeast Asia, Travel

2009 – Year in Review

2009 was a pretty kick-ass year, with the second half obviously standing out a bit more than the first, but I wanted to recap quickly before I jump into Part II of my travels.

I kicked off the year in Rio de Janeiro, finally making it to a city that had been on the top of my “to go to” list for years. For not being a big New Years fan, ringing in 2009 dancing on Copacabana Beach is going to be hard to beat. Aside from all of the celebrations though, the trip renewed my sense of adventure and made me realize that it wasn’t too late to pack up a backpack and travel the world “hostel style.”

As I made my way to Sao Paulo to catch my flight home, my bus broke down (this seems to be a recurring theme) and I crossed paths with 3 generous human beings who took me in and took care of me during my time in Sao Paulo. What could’ve been a crazy-bad experience left me with three new friends in Brazil, who I WILL see next time I get to South America.
After returning from Brazil, we celebrated my Dad’s 60th birthday- the whole family together, and it made me happy to have us all together, and to celebrate this stage of my dad’s life. Here’s to many more healthy years.

I headed back to NYC knowing that I had to contemplate my next steps. School was finished and I was trying to find some more balance in my life. Not too long after being back in the swing of things, my grandmother passed away. It was at this time that I was shown how short life really is. We do only get one shot at it (well, depending on your beliefs) and I realized that I needed to live it the way I wanted to, and I needed to fulfill my dreams.

A few nights later, over a couple glasses of wine and a butcher’s block of paper, I came up with a concrete plan as to how to turn my dreams of traveling into a reality. This included who I owed money to, how much I could potentially save, and lots of motivational quotes. I hung this in my living room so that every morning I would see it and it would remind me to keep on keeping on. I still have this piece of paper filed away and I’m so glad I kept it to show me where I started.
I realize that I decided this is what I wanted and that I was going to make it happen and then things just started to align. On May 20th, I “graduated” from Columbia. I skipped the ceremony, because I didn’t want to spend the $65 on the cap and gown, and instead, I went and got my vaccines and sorted a couple of my visas. I organized when I could vacate my apartment and booked movers and decided when would be the right time to resign. Come June, tickets for the around-the-world tour were booked.

In July, I met up with my dearest friends from college for a reunion weekend in Napa (I know, I am so lucky), and this enabled me to see them before my travels began. We spent the 4th of July catching up, tasting wine, visiting markets and celebrating!

The rest of July was a whirlwind as I began to pack up my NYC life and transport it to my parents’ basement in Snellville, Georgia. I spent my last night in NYC with everyone I could have possibly wanted to see before leaving.

There was little time to get ready, and even less time to think about what I was about to embark on. I began my trip in England with my entire family, celebrating my aunt and uncle’s 25th wedding anniversary and then headed to India, where my Dad was traveling for business for about 3 weeks. I am so thankful for the time we had traveling together, before I set off to SE Asia to meet up with others for the next 3 months.

What can I say? I was living it. I couldn’t believe this was my reality. I visited 11 countries during the trip and each place just seemed to get better and held new adventures for me. It was a trip I will never forget, one where I found myself, lost myself, fell in love, conquered fears and crossed paths with so many amazing and wonderful people. I knew this couldn’t be the end.

I returned home in early December and spent the holidays with my family, all the while checking the airline websites to get a good deal back over. I didn’t want the adventure to end, there was too much more to see, to do, to experience. And so, I booked a ticket to return to Southeast Asia for January 25th, this time with no set plan, just the desire to keep exploring and keep discovering… so stay tuned!

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