What a year it has been! 2018 was the year I graduated from college, the year I worked fully remote, the year I started my first, Wolves and Waterfalls email series - 52 Places, and the year I traveled to 5 different countries (three of which were new for me).
For a month-by-month account of how the year went and where I traveled to in 2018, keep reading below!
Whistler, British columbia
To kick off the year and celebrate Yuting’s 23rd birthday, I planned a surprise trip to Whistler for the two of us. For two snowboarders like ourselves, getting to experience Olympic-rate slopes was a dream. We’d never been to a fancy, winter resort before, and couldn’t help but feel in awe the whole time.
Now it was my turn to be surprised! Around Valentine’s Day, Yuting told me, “pack your swim suit, we’re going to Hawaii!” We left the next day and found ourselves in island paradise. It was crazy and last minute, yet one of my favorite trips to date. In just 3 full days, we snorkeled with sea turtles at Hanauma Bay, went on an epic hike at Koko Crater, and learned about the other islands in the Pacific at the Polynesian Cultural Center.
Sounds too good to be true, right?? I still can’t believe how amazing Oahu turned out to be and hope I’m able to squeeze in another Hawaiian adventure soon.
Read more: Getting the Most Out of 3 Days in Oahu
If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you’ve probably noticed Yuting and I make a lot of trips to Shenzhen, China. This is because Yuting owns a business which sources some of its products from the Shenzhen area. To ensure orders are completed correctly before they’re shipped overseas, we head to Shenzhen to check in with his suppliers and note any issues with the products.
When we’re not doing business-related things in Shenzhen, we’re usually shoving our faces full of yummy, authentic Chinese food. Some of my favorite treats I look forward to are warm soy milk, custard buns, and hot pot. This particular trip to Shenzhen though, I got to see my first panda at the Shenzhen zoo!
Read more: Tips for Your First Trip to China
Read more: Best Chinese Snacks to Try
Victoria, British Columbia
In April, Yuting and I went to Victoria, B.C. on my first, sponsored trip as a travel blogger. It was a big milestone for me and an awesome experience collaborating with The Butchart Gardens, Clipper Vacations, and Kenmore Air. During this trip, we rode in a sea plane, saw a wild harbor seal, and had afternoon tea at The Butchart Gardens - all firsts for us!
Read more: The Weekend Trip Guide to Victoria, B.C.
Cannon Beach, ORegon
May was a crazy month for me. It was my last, full month of college and I was taking the toughest coding class of my degree (leave it to me to save it until the end). I was stressed about failing and not being able to graduate, while simultaneously working on my capstone project. During the one day I tore myself away from studying, Yuting and I took a day trip to Cannon Beach, Oregon. It was just what I needed, and gave me a little extra boost before graduation.
What a month! I 4.0’ed my coding glass and then skipped out on my graduation ceremony to fly to Nanjing with Yuting. Yuting grew up in Nanjing and still has family who live there, so this was a really special trip for us. He got to show me where he went to elementary school, the little shop where he used to buy toys, and where he lived growing up. Since much of his family still lives in Nanjing, we also got to hangout with them and see the city through their eyes.
Once I got home from China, I went on a road trip through Central Oregon with my mom, younger sister, and nephew. Getting to do this with them was really nostalgic because it reminded me of being a kid again and going on road trips with my family. We roasted s’mores, watched my nephew ride his bike around the campground, and listened to my sister’s favorite CD tracks 100+ times. ;)
Read more: 20 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Nanjing
Read more: Where to Stop on a Central Oregon Road Trip
Utah road trip
July is my birthday month! To celebrate turning 22, I dragged Yuting to Mt. Rainier National Park and did the Summerland - Panhandle Gap trail with him. Mt. Rainier is my favorite place in Washington State, so getting to experience a new hike here was incredible. We couldn’t have picked a better trail either. ‘Summerland’ is a wide open meadow right at the treeline on Mt. Rainier, and ‘Panhandle Gap’ is the rocky, snow-covered section above it. It was crazy to experience such different types of terrain on the same hike.
Right after my birthday, I left on a Utah road trip with my childhood bud, Amanda, and her younger brother. When I was little, Amanda’s family and mine used to go on all sorts of day and weekend trips together. Amanda and I would fight like sisters one second, and then be inseparable the next. For us, planning and taking this road trip felt like a new era of traveling together.
Read more: 1 Week Seattle to Utah Road Trip Itinerary
Paradise, mt. rainier
In August, Yuting went on a solo adventure in Colombia. While he was away, I kept an eye on his business and caught back up with my own work projects. On a random sunny weekend, I decided to head back up to Mt. Rainier for another day trip - only this time on my own. Instead of going on a major hike, I opted to visit an area in the park called Paradise. Paradise is one of the most visited spots in the park due to its accessibility, mountain views, and abundance of wildflowers. For a nature lover like myself, it truly is paradise.
September marked the beginning of my biggest trip in 2018. As a sort of ‘graduation gift’ to myself (a.k.a an excuse to travel), I booked a one-way ticket to Bali, Indonesia. While Yuting wasn’t able to go with me, I knew it would be good to travel by myself for a bit. Before Bali, my last solo trip had been the Philippines in September of 2017, although I was only by myself for a week and a half. This time, I decided to push myself and travel solo for a month.
Over the course of September and part of October, I not only explored Bali, but made my way to Java and Sumatra - two other islands in Indonesia.
Read more: Orangutan Trekking in the Jungles of Sumatra
After looking for orangutans in Sumatra, I traveled to Chiang Mai, Thailand with three other people I’d met in Indonesia. A few days later, Yuting arrived in Chiang Mai and the four us set off on all sorts of adventures. We got $5 hour-long massages, fed bananas to elephants, rode scooters for hours on end, and ate just about all the mango sticky rice we could find. By the end of the trip, Yuting and I agreed we could totally see ourselves living in Thailand some day.
After being gone for five weeks, I spent this month catching up with work and checking in with my friends and family. :)
la fortuna, Costa Rica
This past December was a busy one. Project wise, I launched a weekly email series on my blog called 52 Places. Once a week for the entirety of 2019 (52 weeks), I’ll be sending my subscribers travel inspiration about different destinations from around the world. To sign up or learn more, click here.
To celebrate the holidays and Yuting’s 24th birthday, Yuting and I decided to visit Costa Rica. Neither of us had ever been there before, and ticket prices were surprisingly cheap. During the week we were there, we spent the majority of our time in a town called La Fortuna. La Fortuna is home to a massive, active volcano, sloths, and some seriously delicious coffee.
What’s next for 2019?
From January to March, Yuting and I will be hitting up a ton of conventions to help grow his business. So far on the convention tour, we’ll be stopping in Florida, Las Vegas, Southern California, Cincinnati, and Atlanta. As fun as all the traveling may sound, setting up and working at a convention booth is a lot of work. We likely won’t have much time to get out and explore each of the cities we’re in, but you know I’ll do my best to try!
This summer, I’ve got my sights on visiting Germany for the first time and returning to Italy. Outside of that, nothing else is set in stone. I tend to plan my trips fairly spontaneously and book them once I find a cheap plane ticket. Other destinations I’d love to explore soon though, are Peru, Japan, Spain, Iceland, and more of Thailand.
Subscribe to my email list to find out where I end up traveling this year!
What did you do in 2018?
Let me know in the comments below!