In the last 365 days,
I lived in two different and visited five other countries.
I visited 41 cities and 11 islands.
I caught 10 planes, 32 boats and uncountable busses.
I got to see 13 UNESCO World Heritage sites and 11 national parks.
I slept in 41 different beds.
I got my diving certification and were able to explore the under water world 15 times.
I tried outdoor activities I’ve never done before like canyoning and canopy.
I participated in 43 tours and took about 8500 photos.
I read 38 books.
I ate incredibly delicious food as well as food I would have better not touched.
I met a lot of incredibly helpful and interesting people. People I would have never met at home. Not only because you meet fewer people at home but also because they are so different than I am: different in age, personality and thinking.
It’s been a hell of year. With very intense ups and downs, more than I can even remember. I don’t want to miss one single moment of this year. It has made me to who I am today.
I have spent a huge part of the year in Mexico, that is why some people would probably say I am more of an expat than a long-term traveler. I don’t know. I’m probably something in between as I am now having my base there. I don’t care how you call me. I do what my heart tells me to do and so far my heart did a good job. I am happy.
So guess what?! I haven’t regretted to quit my job and start living that life even once and I do not want to stop it anytime soon. Here are some highlights, achievement, lowlights, mishaps and lessons of my first 365 days abroad.
Highlights & Achievements
Living on the Galapagos
My adventure started with a work exchange on the Galapagos Islands. That’s right, I was able to live on the Galapagos Islands for 2.5 months. A destination many people strive for but cannot make it due to high costs of flights and tours. I was lucky to live there like a local, do the tours of the tour operator I worked for and could experience the islands on a real budget. I got to know the locals, had wildlife around me every single day and enjoyed one of the most unique environments we still have on this planet.
Getting my dive certification
Also on the Galapagos Islands, I got the chance to finally to my PADI Open Water Certification which I wanted to do for ages. Since I’ve been snorkeling for the first time in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, I’ve been hooked with the underwater world. Including the dives of the course, I did 15 dives so far, the last one has been just a couple of days ago, here in Costa Rica. I haven’t been diving since March and it has been a real revelation to me. I definitely have to go diving more often in the future.
Arriving in Mexico
As you can read below I learned that I cannot travel and travel and travel without being in one place for a while. I need my routine more than I had known, I need some quiet time and I appreciate it a lot having close friends around. When I arrived in Mexico I felt like I arrived in a country I can imagine living (at least for now). I felt like I belong there somehow. I adore the language, the food is amazing and the people are one of the nicest ones I’ve met. I cannot describe the feeling but I can say that I am very happy living there at the moment. Of course, you never know how conditions and feelings change but for now I feel like I found a place where I can see me staying for a while.
I don’t want to make a business out of my blog. I enjoy sharing my experiences and helping and inspiring others but if I do not make money with it, that’s fine as it never was my plan when I started.
For me success means that I can inspire people to get out there and make their dreams come true. When I get messages that someone decided to travel and my blog was a part of that decision – it means the world to me. It’s the greatest appreciation I could get.
And then additionally I made it on the Best female travel blogs of 2015 list of Susan Shain, a travel blogger, I have loved to follow since I got in this whole travel blogging. I’m proud to be among all those inspiring people.
Lowlights & Mishaps
Sickness – way too often
I don’t know how often I’ve been sick in the last year but it was way more often that I used to be sick in the past. Luckily it has been mainly colds and stomach issues and nothing dramatic (knock on wood).
Nonetheless, it’s really annoying if you arrive somewhere new and want to get to know it but feel to weak to head outside, especially when you have work to get done as well.
Chaos at the airport in Quito
I started my trip with a work exchange on the Galapagos. A country which is a bit harder to get to when you want to stay longer than the usual one week. I was a bit nervous as it was the beginning of my new life. Then the first issue appeared: I couldn’t get any money out of the three ATMs on the airport. I got even more nervous.
I got to the Check in and they sent me away as I had to get to another desk first. On this desk, they told me I need to show them a letter stating that I do a work exchange. My future boss went with the letter to the migration office on the Galapagos but I hadn’t gotten it by mail yet. I already saw myself staying in Quito, having to book a new flight in a couple of days.
After minutes which seemed like hours, the woman behind the desk said that she can see the mentioned on her monitor. The migration office attached it to my electronic ticket. She printed it out for me as apparently I needed it again when arriving at San Cristobal airport.
Back at the check in desk I was sent away again. I had to get my luggage checked as you cannot introduce anything to the islands. After a lot of stress I went through I could finally check in and calm down, still with the thought I’m so screwed if my credit card won’t work on the islands. Luckily everything turned out to be good and I could get money from the bank. The ATM didn’t work though.
Emotions in Guatemala
In case you have been following me a while, you know that I met a guy in Mexico and fell in love. Before I went to Guatemala (to travel for four months down south), I had spent almost 24 hours with him, every single day for almost three months. The longest time we had been apart from each other might had been not even eight ours. Then I went to travel from Cancun to San Cristobal in the beginning of June and was supposed to come back on September 21st.
The 24-hour journey was a nightmare, I wanted to get off that stupid bus with every stop we made. I was miserable the first days and couldn’t appreciate the beauty of San Cristobal de las Casas. I wasn’t as curious as I usually am. It made me sick knowing that I wouldn’t see him for four months.
So the idea of booking a flight back from Guatemala to Cancun and then from Cancun to Costa Rica in August came into my mind. This way I would have almost two more months in Cancun and it would mean three weeks and then another seven weeks apart. That definitely sounded better and I couldn’t get the idea out of my head.
So I followed my heart to feel better instead of sticking to my plans of traveling through the whole Central America. Today I haven’t regretted the decision even once. I was unhappy even though it has become easier after the first days (but also due to the fact that I knew I’ll be back in a couple of weeks). Even though I missed out on El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua this time, I would always do the same thing again. Following my heart was the right thing to do. I am young, I am living in Mexico which is the closest I’ve ever been to Central America and there is still plenty of time to visit those countries.
One thing I had really sucked at was being patient. I had to have everything done as fast as possible and if something didn’t work out immediately I lost focus or interest. While living in Latin America, you learn that things don’t always work out immediately. That you have to wait for a bus an hour longer than the arranged time. That the electricity doesn’t come back within minutes. That ahora even though it means now in Spanish, doesn’t always mean now but more probable soon. Those are trivial things but living here definitely made me a more patient person.
The biggest evidence is definitely the change of my Central American travel plans. I used to plan everything. I knew where I wanted to go before I go traveling and I always kept up with my plan. By feeling miserable in Guatemala, I learned that it doesn’t mean I fail if I book that plane ticket back to Cancun and doesn’t stick to my plan. It just means I do what’s right for me in that certain moment. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a plan to make yourself feel better. Because: It doesn’t make any sense to stick to your plan if you are not happy with it.
I burn out quickly
Another thing I learned during the last year mainly by visiting Cuba and Guatemala is that I am not able to travel with a fast pace. I am an introverted traveler who needs time to rest and get energy, I need my sleep and I just cannot be in a good mood when being active all the time.
I need to travel slowly especially as I work while traveling as well and a lack of sleep is not very benefiting when you have to get something done.
In Cuba I came to point after maybe 10 days of fast travel (at least for me) that I didn’t want to get out. I just wanted to sleep.
In Guatemala it was the same. As I had my flight booked I still wanted to make the most of the time I had in Guatemala. So I spend a lot of time on the bus. I went from Antigua to Lanquin (8 hours), then did a day trip to Semuc Champey the next day, continued my journey to Flores (8 hours), got up at 2.30 AM the next day to participate in the sunrise tour to Tikal to head back on a 8 hour bus journey during that exact night. By the time I got to Antigua I was shattered.
I have made the same mistakes over and over again. Cross your fingers I learned my lesson for the future.
To finish this post I want to thank you. Thank you for following me along my journey this year. Thanks for your kind words and support. To a new year abroad with you coming along with me!