I am thankful for you. A review of TravelBreak highlights and milestones, in appreciation for the people who made them happen.
As we celebrated the un-ironic use of Hashtag Blessed, this Thanksgiving, I felt every bit of my cheesy ” I am so thankful” as I did those cheesy mash potatoes.
I am grateful for my family.
I am grateful for my friends.
I am grateful for the people I’ve met while traveling.
I am grateful for the people who have supported me in starting a business and traveling the world.
Yes, that means I’m grateful for you — the little things add up!
When you read, you comment, you send me kind direct messages, when you share, when you connect — you inspire me, you encourage me, and you empower me.
So I’d like to summarize with you what you’ve enabled me to do in 2016!
Instead of making a list of 26 at 26, I am starting an annual highlights reel of thanks, and what better time to share it than at the end of the year, around my mother’s favorite holiday (food-coma day of thanks)?
Last year, I did two highlight reels:
This year, I focused less on hugely cool international experiences, and more on getting to know the USA, meeting up with people I had already met year one of travel blogging, and bring there for family and friends. I did a lot of really adventurous domestic trips, and set the foundation for the sustainability of TravelBreak.
With only two years to boast, we’ve already come so far! I’m giving thanks for 2016, the years that led me here and the people that met me here. Cheers to this year and the ones to come!
West Coast, USA
I snuck away for a few trips in California throughout the year. In the spring, my best friend from Australia who I hadn’t seen in three years came to visit and we explored La Jolla, Newport Beach, Santa Monica, West Hollywood and Las Vegas.
Other West Coast trips and friends I’m grateful for:
- Ski + Surf trips in Big Bear, Los Angeles and Tahoe with Clint from Trip Hackr, Lesley from the Road Les Traveled, Katie from Riot Social, and Chris Kauffman
- Eastern Sierra Nevadas camping and hiking with Tiff Penguin, Jonathan Basiago, and Axelle Claire
- Bryce Canyon National Park with Kevin Lu
- Horseshoe Bend
- THE WAVE with Kevin Lu
- Tucson, Arizona with Sean Parker
- California Winter: Ski, Surf, and Avocado (Photos)
- Tahoe Ski Escape: Winter in Squaw Valley, California (Photos)
- 10 Photos of Big Pine North Fork, Inyo National Forest | California Hike
- Desert Vibes: Everything You Want to Know About The Wave, Arizona (Photos)
East Coast, USA
I have spent a lot of time in Florida and New York over the last couple of years. This years’ trips included:
- Road tripping during the spring in Florida with Kevin Lu and Andrew Hector, then back again during the fall for Downtown Miami and Miami’s Design District.
- New York in the spring — where I secretly consulted for one of the biggest corporations in the world on their new travel technology. It’s under non-disclosure, but it was freakin’ cool. Not to mention, shooting in New York with Ross Cockrell and catching up with NYC-based friends. In the fall, I moved to New York… more on this later.
- Road tripping in Vermont with Kevin Lu.
- Arts, Beaches and Culture: Sarasota, Florida in 10 Photos
- 7 Must-See Instagram Spots in the Miami Design District, Florida
- Autumn in Vermont: 13 Photos to Guide You Through the Green Mountains
- Beer City USA (Grand Rapids) … I really recommend the beer massage.
- Hawaii … because Disney released my new favorite Princess.
- Beyond Beer: 5 Reasons Grand Rapids is America’s Evolving City (Photos)
- Disney’s Moana: Our First Princess Without a Love Interest
A destination that has long been on top of my bucket list, I was finallyi able to explore Alberta!
While having previously sent my parents off to Bali and bringing one of my best friends to Cabo, for the first time, I was able to fly a best friend transcontinentally. We went hard in Europe. Too much fun to blog about, we definitely snapped some great P.I.C. photos.
- Italy: Rome, Positano, Santa Margherita, Capri, Portofino
- Spain: Barcelona, Mallorca
- France: Cassis, Marseilles, Paris
- Belgium: Road tripped
Mexico and the Caribbean
- Holbox, Cancun
- Volunteering in the Dominican Republic with Kyle Huber, Tiff Penguin, and Kristin Addis. Also where I finally met the lovely Anna Everywhere.
- Junkanoo Festival with Lisa Schwartz — Where I played the drums with Wyclef Jean.
- Bikini, Bahamas with Sean Ensch — where I went open-ocean shark diving.
- Holbox Island – Quintana Roo’s Unspoiled Escape (Photos)
- Miami to Bimini, Bahamas: 40 Minutes to Paradise (Photos)
- What is the Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival? (Tips + Photos)
- 12 Crucial Questions to Ask Before Volunteering Abroad
Personal and Professional Growth
“It’s like a blacked out behind my computer and a quarter of a year later, I had a new website and knew the basics of coding.” I told one of my college friends as we drove beach cruisers from Venice to Santa Monica.
From January to mid March, I spent about six days a week working until 4 am in yoga pants learning to code, navigating through WordPress, sharpening my design skills and re-building my website Travel-Break.net. With a humble budget, I knew that I would not be able to hire the quality of web designer and developer that would meet my standards, so I learned to do it myself.
It was ridiculous. I thought it would take three weeks — it took three and a half months.
A few different developers gave me some tips, and so many bloggers taught me about plugins, web security, and more etc. Thank you to Cole and Brian for playing hero!
Key Highlights in Personal and Professional Growth:
- Learning to code/ web fundamentals
- Learning to ski! Wooooh
- Shark diving in the open ocean
- More family time 🙂
- Shooting Cinemagraphs and Stop Motion Videos, thanks to Kevin Lu
- In June, I was the first non-celebrity on the cover of Hola Latinos print magazine!
- Consulting for one of the biggest travel technology companies in the world.
- Speaking at Social Media Week Miami on the changing digital landscape.
- Speaking at the Women in Travel Summit on Instagram for business.
- Ongoing press features and partnerships; not to mention, joining the Business Insider team.
- Sending a writer on behalf of TravelBreak for the first time (read about Hedonism in Jamaica).
- Growing the TravelBreak team to include a sustainability developer, Husain who literally plays hero once a week!
There were a lot of firsts in 2016, but more importantly, it is the year my brother graduated from UCLA and I am incredibly proud of him!
Read: An Open Letter to New Grads: No One Knows What They’re Doing
This fall, I started really pondering my next steps. I’d recently shared a personal testimony about how I fell into blogging. Having broken a threshold and flying with momentum, I was confident in focusing on some needs I have outside of blogging and travel.
It was during this time that I bought myself a car for the first time. If you’re not familiar with my personal story, I once sold my car and bought a one-way ticket to Sydney. Assuming I would buy a new car when I returned to corporate America, I put this off as I instead started my small business.
Buying a car in cash this summer was a huge personal goal reached. It was more than a car, it was a gateway and a symbol of independence and growth.
My next step was to get an apartment. I intended on moving back to Los Angles, but fell into an opportunity in Manhattan. I’m working on a very special project and therefore living bi-coastal in between travels.
Professionally, this year has been beyond my own understanding — it’s this stability and these milestones that have brought me to peace in my personal life. Understanding who I am, my wants and needs and securing my next steps has allowed me to spend more time with my family and friends — and to create more passion-fueled work for all of you.
In review this year I worked with some incredible partners who I’d like to also thank. You know who you are!
Above all, here’s to my family and best friends who have somehow continued to believe in me and elevate me.
It’s unbelievable to think that we have friends who read and follow our photos that support us who we haven’t even met! But it’s those friends and family that have been there through the evolution of our ideas, our sacrifices and needs that touch our hearts most.
Thank you peeps.