Again, I’m late with the 2016 wrap-up stuff, but we’re not too far into the year yet, right?
As we all know, 2016 was a pretty tough year globally, and it seems, personally too for a lot of people. Since I decided not to do a 2016 wrap-up myself, I asked 4 other blogger friends for help (so yeah, blame them actually!).
So here are a collection of stories on the biggest defining moment in 5 bloggers’ lives in 2016.
Dan from Dan Flying Solo
This year was defined by both a breakup and losing a visa. In just one day I lost the person, and the country, I loved the most. It was a stark reminder of how quickly life can change, especially in a transient life of travel.
At first, I wanted to get on a flight and be on my own, a quiet beach, crashing waves and a million miles away from all my problems. Luckily, I had a change of heart and realised what I needed the most was friends.
Travel isn’t a perfect path; things go wrong and it is usually when we are most out of our comfort zone. Craving the familiar and friendly faces, I planned some mad road trips for the months ahead and completely fell in love with this style of traveling.
Whilst I didn’t have the chance to interact with locals as much as I would normally, spending 10 days plus in a car with friends (and new friends) exploring a country was an incredible experience. Whilst road tripping through Montenegro, I saw canyons that looked like movie sets, drove through the clouds and found friends for life. After that, I hopped on a flight to Oman to spend time with someone I knew off Instagram. We laughed, cried and screamed our way through the natural Wadis, the incredible mountain ranges and slept under the stars in the desert.
The most signification moment of 2016 for me was realising that although travel can’t heal everything, it really is a perfect way to bring people together, make new connections and give you that gentle nudge onto the next step in life. Bring on 2017!
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Andrea from Scribble Snap Travel
I’d describe 2016 as a year of life lessons, but my most significant experience was without a shadow of a doubt travelling to Berlin solo in March.
The reason it was so significant is that it was my first solo trip following my breakup in 2015. After getting stuck in what I perceived as a post-breakup rut living back home with my family, I decided it was time to finally get back out there and learn how to be totally on my own again. I decided on Berlin for a number of reasons – first of all, I was always fascinated by the history of the city, from the days of World War 2 through to the rise and fall of the infamous wall. Secondly, as a creative person with a penchant for vegan food, it sounded like a haven.
I just had to get myself there. So I booked a ticket, a month in an apartment on Airbnb, packed my bags and off I went.
I won’t say it was always the easiest experience – getting used to being totally alone after spending so much time with my family was hard. The weather was terrible, too, but the whole experience did me the world of good. I spent hours wandering around the museums of Museum Island. Ate amazing vegan food and trawled the stalls at The Green Market. Met with blogger friends. Drank in secret bars. Wrote my book from tiny cafés. Soaked up the city’s amazing history. Got highly emotional at the Jewish Museum. Walked the streets and immersed myself in what I think is an incredible place.
In short, I fell in love with the city and rediscovered my love of spending time alone. It was exactly what I needed and for that, I’ll always think of Berlin fondly. In fact, part of me longs to return and stay for a longer stretch of time. If the weather were better, I wouldn’t want to base myself anywhere else in the world.
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Candice from Free Candie
My most significant moment from 2016 is finishing the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Truthfully, it was never something I felt I had to do — I basically decided to embark on my pilgrimage as a spur-of-the-moment thing. My first week into it, I realized I was on a special journey that would change my life.
My stress melted away. I grew stronger and more confident with every step. I made incredible connections with people, and I stayed mostly unplugged for the duration of 33 days. I never dreamed I’d be capable of walking 720 kilometres — and sure, there were plenty of challenges — but I came through.
I learned a thing or two about gratitude on that walk. There were several moments where I’d become overwhelmed by the beauty of the Spanish countryside, or the spiritual significance of The Way, and I’d start crying because I felt so blessed and grateful for the experience. I came to understand my own privilege on that trail — my privilege in having the freedom to walk it, and for my own two legs to carry me.
Other than that, moving back to Canada from Germany was a bit of a reverse culture shock. I had no intention of living in St. John’s again for many years, but here I find myself with a full-time job and all settled into a cozy new apartment. And I’m very happy about it.
Isn’t life weird like that?
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Michael from The Unexamined Life
2016 has been one hell of a year. Some of our heroes like Harambe died, Brexit happened, and of course Donald Trump was elected president.
As much as I would like to jump on the “2016 sucks bandwagon”, that would just make me an ungrateful prick. 2016 has been a pretty eventful year for me. I kicked it off by celebrating the new year in Melbourne, Australia. I celebrated this new year on a boat in Berlin, watching the fireworks, some guy threw up on my pants just as the New Year set in, but that’s what NYE is for (:D).
There was also a fair amount that happened in between those two, the biggest of which was that I moved to Paris! This has been a long term goal of mine, and even though it isn’t exactly how I pictured it, I recognise that I’m incredibly fortunate (though not lucky) to have the opportunity.
Living in Paris has also given me the opportunity to catch up with some old travel friends. I spent a week in Amsterdam catching up with my Vietnam travel buddies Bart and Dana (shoutout!). I spent 3 days in Hanover catching up with my Australian travel friends Aryan and Lukas (shoutout to Aryans mom being the best host ever). I wrote this in my friend Marvin’s flat in Berlin. I then went to Prague, which was incredible! Then finished off my trip in Lausanne, Switzerland and crashed with two sisters I met in Myanmar, Yana and Maude.
It’s pretty crazy when I stop to think about the fact that I met these people thousands of miles away from home, and now they invite me into their homes, and it is almost as if no time has passed, although it’s been over a year.
2016 hasn’t been all rainbows and puppies but the good moments have definitely outweighed the bad (like getting thrown up on).
So was 2016 perfect? No, not even close, but I’m very happy with how 2017 is shaping up already, and I’m excited to see where the year takes me!
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And finally me!
It was one evening pretty early on in the year, during the period when D and I were apart. We were talking on the phone and he said “I don’t think this is working. I don’t really see a future together.”
We had been drifting apart for a while and in my heart, I knew we were too different to be compatible in the long run. But still, in that one moment, it was as if my world came crashing down – all the history we’ve shared, our travel plans, and the future we’d envisioned. My worst fear had come true – I was dumped in a foreign country.
If you’ve been a fairly long reader, you’d know that this kind of full-time nomadic traveling was never my dream. It was D’s. And I loved him at the time so I followed him to the ends of the world to together create a new life. So literally, my worst fear was that we’d break up on the road. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to travel. I just didn’t believe that I had in me to do it too. I needed his strength to carry us through this dream.
So in that one moment, it was as if my future had disappeared. I hate being the kind of girl who need a guy, but I was scared to have to figure out life alone, especially since this wasn’t what I had chosen for myself in the first place. But of course by then, I had fallen in love with travel, so I knew there was no way I was going to go home just because I lost my boyfriend. I thought… “why can’t I do it too?”
I still had a healthy amount of savings, so I knew I could still travel on. But I didn’t want to just travel. I wanted to create this free location-independent life for myself too. So over the next few weeks, I found freelance work that will allow me to stay on the road. And I settled into a nice, new life in Kuala Lumpur to heal both emotionally and financially.
The road to building self-esteem isn’t easy. There were some bumps and moments when I cried (mostly after long work days on low pay) and thought “I left to travel to have more than this“. But I realized a very valuable thing: that I am capable of making my own dreams happen. I am stronger than I ever gave myself credit for. I just need to believe in myself a little more.
I’m happy to ring in the New Year as a completely independent woman who is learning to embrace the adventure of being alone. Now that I’ve got the work thing down, my new goal for 2017? Making some of my travel dreams come true!
And you can follow me on Instagram too. :P
What was your most significant moment of 2016?
I realized that this is the first time I had others guest post on my blog! Who else would be up for collab posts in the future? :)