2018 was the best year of my life.
Without a doubt.
2018 was the year when I finally decided to follow my dreams and pursue a career which makes me happy. It was the year when I left behind my advertising career for traveling full time with my boyfriend, Dan.
We saved up for a long period of time in order to afford this trip. Our story is not like those advertised on Facebook or Instagram where everyone says that you can become a blogger overnight and win money instantly. Our story involves saving money for a few years and a continuous process of learning. There is no such things as overnight success.
2018 was the first year when I dedicated most of my time to learning new things – things that mattered to me. I like to think that with the savings I had, I bought time – time to learn, time to explore new places and to experiment things and what a year 2018 has been!
Full time traveling – the biggest step I’ve ever taken
I love traveling and I always have. While working at my full-time job in advertising, I always used every single holiday as an opportunity to buy some plane tickets to somewhere new. I’ve traveled quite a lot while working but for me, it was not enough. The more I traveled, the hungrier I got for new places and experiences.
2018 was the year when I decided to pursue something new, to travel full time.
Yes, it was scary – I’ve never been to Asia before.
Yes, it was hard – leaving my family and friends behind
Was it worth it? Totally!
Don’t get me wrong, I miss my family and friends a lot. However, I don’t miss my job at all because now I have the best job in the world – I am a travel blogger and I love every second of it! I love sharing tips and tricks with you about the destination I’ve visited. Every email that I receive from someone saying that my guides were useful fills my heart with joy.
I love this community of travel enthusiast and I promise one thing: I’ll always share first-hand, unbiased experiences and opinions about the places I visit. I want this blog to be a trusted source of travel inspiration.
Countries I’ve traveled to in 2018
I’ve started the year with a short trip to Prague to visit my dear friend, Madalina. Her wedding was this past August and as I was going to travel around Asia, I knew I wouldn’t make it. This is the downside of full-time travel – you will always skip the important moments in your loved ones’ lives.
After my brief trip to Prague, our journey started in the middle of February and since then we have been to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar, Laos, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, and China.
We like to take our time while exploring a country. This is the reason why in most of these countries we’ve spent at least one month. I like to really feel the local culture, to feel like a part of the local community.
Starting my blog – a new challenge
2018 was also the year when I started to take blogging seriously. For me, my blog is like a journal – a journal of experiences and places.
Blogging was and it still is a challenge for me. At the surface it appears to be simple, just writing, but there is so much more to it. There is SEO, Pinterest, KeySearch, direct mailing and many many other things. If you are also starting a blog, my advice would be to be very patient. Blogging takes time – both learning and growing it (would you like me to write more about my blogging experience? Let me know in the comments).
I am not a tech savvy person but I am lucky that Dan is a programmer and he helped me a lot with this blog. He is so supportive in my journey and I couldn’t ever thank him enough!
Instagram vs Blog
In 2018 I struggled to find a balance between social media (Instagram) and blogging. I have always loved Instagram (I have my account for 7 years already) but lately I got tired of seeing the same photos in the same locations, recreated by everyone. It just seemed that the platform was not rewarding creativity anymore and this was a turn off for me.
I thought really well about the advantages and disadvantages of each platform – I even wrote a blog post about it – and I came to the conclusion that I will focus on my blog. I like having total control over my blog and I feel more creative here since I can combine both writing and photography.
I will not be giving up on Instagram for good, I will still post photos but I am determined to focus on my blog.
The best of 2018
1. My favorite country in 2018
Ah, this one is hard but I have to say that Indonesia stole my heart although I’ve only been to Bali. This island has incredible waterfalls, endless rice fields, some of the most beautiful beaches, reasonable prices and incredible food. What is not to love about it? As I am writing this post, I am sitting by the pool, in our villa in Canggu and believe it or not, we only pay $400 per month for it.
Bali is the place where we always come back to catch up on content and work work work work…..work. It is our Asian home as I like to call it.
2. The funniest memory
I will share with you a memory that became funny with time. It was certainly not when it happened. We were in Myanmar and we took the bus to the biggest reclining Buddha in the world. We were the only foreigners in this old, rusty bus and every piece of free space inside was used to store food, furniture, animals and anything you can possibly imagine.
Right in front of me, there was this cute girl who was about 5 years old. We were both sitting at the window. After about one and a half hours, I see this cute girl pulling her head off the window and all hell broke loose. She started puking, because of the wind coming from her window, some of the puke landed on my leg, hand and seat and there was no space for me to move anywhere else.
At first, I was a bit mad but I soon realized that she was just a child and it was not her fault that she felt sick from the ride. Dan started laughing, I started laughing, I cleaned up with some wet towels and we continued our journey to the biggest reclining Buddha in the world.
3. The best experience
Seeing the elephants was something I wanted to do for quite a long time. Now, that we were in Asia, I actively looked for ethical elephant sanctuaries but finding one is harder than it seems. During our trip to Laos, I’ve started researching about the Mandalao Elephant Sanctuary and it seemed that they took excellent care of the elephants.
I was really excited to spend half day near the elephants and it turned out to be the best experience of the year! The elephants were extremely happy, they were not chained and they had an entire forest to wonder around. I fed them bananas, I hugged them and enjoyed their company. Elephants are some of the most incredible creatures!
4. The best food I’ve had
Asian people don’t usually eat dessert but in Thailand they have this incredible rice dessert called Mango Sticky Rice. It is absolutely delicious! It’s basically sticky rice, topped with coconut milk and mango on the side. There is something about it that makes me want to eat one kilogram of Mango Sticky Rice at a time.
5. The best hotel I’ve stayed at
I’ve been staying at hotels for a year now but hands-down the best hotel I’ve stayed at in 2018 is the Cameron Highlands Resort (you can read my full review here). Situated near the Cameron tea plantations, this hotel is a dream. Its colonial architecture and timeless elegance are just some of the reasons why I fell in love with this place.
The spa is absolutely incredible – I had a Chrysanthemum flower bath, followed by a full body massage with avocado oil. It just made me fell 10 years younger. And the food is delicious. My Cameron Highlands Resort experience was definitely an unforgettable one.
Goals for 2019
Here comes the hard part. My plans for 2019 are quite ambitious and they will require a lot of work. I am determined to grow my blog, to share more with you and inspire you to travel more.
For my blog, I plan to post an interview with a local from every country I visit in 2019. I think this will be interesting for those who want to find out more about a certain country (if you have any questions in mind, let me know in the comments section). Also, I plan to write a journey post every month about where I’ve traveled to, about how my blog is doing and my overall feeling (both personal and travel related).
Moreover, I also plan to focus on YouTube. Since many of you were so excited about my presets, I plan on making short tutorials on YouTube about photo editing in Lightroom.
Here is the summary of my goals for 2019:
- grow my blog
- post an interview with a local from each country I visit
- keep a monthly journal on my blog
- post short videos on YouTube about Lightroom editing
Many of these things are new to me but I am sure that I will achieve my goals for 2019.
How was your 2018? Which was your favorite destination?
May the travel bug bite you!