One year ago yesterday I set out for my grand solo round the world adventure. First, YAY! I made it back alive & well much to the chagrin of all the naysayers who said it couldn’t be done. Second, IT WAS AWESOME. I had my ups and downs, as you do over the course of 365 days, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say it was the best year of my life. I won’t recap the highlights from the entire year here, but if you’re just tuning in, check out this video to get you up to speed on what I did in 2011.
If I learned anything in 2011, besides how not to get pickpocketed in Athens and how to stop thinking guys with British accents are sexy, I learned a year isn’t all that much time, and the world is much too big to quit now. Read on for the update on what’s next for Angie Away!
- I spent two days on safari in Kenya’s Masai Mara and it exceeded my expectations by miles! I stayed at a tented camp, &Beyond’s Kichwa Tembo, and saw more animals than I ever imagined. With the Lion King soundtrack on loop in my head, I saw everything – lions, leopards, cheetahs, giraffes, wildebeest, water buffalo, hyenas, monkeys, elephants, zebras, hippos, crocodiles, a zillion varieties of antelope, and I even got to dance around on the border of Tanzania… why that appeals to me, I don’t know, but I thought it was fun. It was more magnificent than I dreamed and everything the Disney animators said it was. God is so cool. Definitely a highlight!
- About four days into my South Africa trip, I was invited to dine with about 100 movers & shakers in Cape Town, including the former president F.W. de Klerk. He & Nelson Mandela won the Nobel Peace prize for their work to end apartheid in the 90s, so it was nothing short of an honor to hear from him what strides have been made in South Africa since then to bring folks from all races together. I learned so much about the country’s culture in that one night.
- I ticked off multiple boxes on the life checklist, including a HUGE one — cage diving with Great White Sharks in South Africa. I loved it so much, I went back for seconds! I’m considering a career change to shark photographer, but I have to put it off until my late 40s because I’m booked up until then.
- I turned 30! New decade, new goals, new outlook. It’s going to be hard to top my 20s, but I’m up for the challenge. (Of beating myself at a game I’m apparently playing with myself.)
- My little brother met me in Europe for 13 days of exhausting fun. I introduced him to hostel life (one night only – the whole place smelled like feet) and to several friends I made while traveling this year. We ice skated at Hampton Court Palace in London with Hannah & Dave who I met in Mykonos, ate famous Dutch apple pie with my darling friend Pam from my yoga retreats in Bali and wandered around Amsterdam with Rojtah, a sweet gal I met at a hostel in Oxford this summer. We also did a bit of planking at a few landmarks and some crepe-eating and Louvre-jumping with our cousin who’s an au pair in Paris. I can’t think of any better way to cap off a year on the road than sharing some of what made this year awesome with my goofball little brother.
- On my way back from the Masai Mara, the 12-seat Cessna I was on had a terrifying little… mishap. And it freaked me out more than anything else that’s happened this entire year. It’s a heckuva story and I can’t wait to share it!
- My dream 30th birthday was rained (and hailed) out in South Africa, so I confess I was a little bit weepy on the actual day. I ended up going to the mall and seeing a movie…. about cancer, which admittedly wasn’t the best idea.
- My Kindle broke the first hour of a mega-journey from Cape Town – Johannesburg – Abu Dhabi – London. Ouch.
- Europe is SO expensive! I knew this to be true more or less, but my gosh if food hasn’t doubled in price since the last time I took a sibling to Paris! I was hoping that by splitting costs it would turn out to be a cheap holiday and I anticipated coming home with a decent financial cushion still in the bank, but unfortunately Europe popped that cushion. Time to get to work, eh?!
Lessons & Goals
I learned so much about myself this year.
- I realized I want to write a book.
- I realized office life and a rigid schedule is not for me.
- I learned everything will just work out and there’s no need to plan every last detail.
- I learned that the nomadic lifestyle is tougher than I thought in many ways but still everything I dreamed it would be.
- I learned it’s hard to resist cute boys with accents when you’re out there in the world alone for months at a time.
- I learned not everyone is happy for happy people.
- I learned that you can’t please everyone.
- I learned that haters gon’ hate.
- I learned that there are some wonderfully helpful travel bloggers out there, and that there are some snarky ones who wouldn’t help you cross the street.
- I learned to just do what I want, the way I want, and folks can either read or not read.
- I learned that chucking the plan can lead to the best adventures and the most interesting stories.
- I learned that there are folks that wouldn’t comment on a blog post if their life depended on it.
A very significant lesson I learned: I prefer 2-3 month stints on the road as opposed to mega-epic-gargantuan-Lord-of-the-Rings-style sojourns, so I’m hoping to follow that model in 2012. I love to be able to go-go-go and visit new places and see everything they have to offer, but there’s also value in sitting still and catching up on work for a month at a time.
Since the Angie Away expedition was only scheduled to last a year, I guess right about now you’re wondering what I have up my sleeve for the future. The bottom line is – IT’S NOT OVER. Rather than satiating my desire to see the world, this year of travel has only fanned the flames. There’s so much more to see and do!
Now, I have a teeny challenge in that I don’t have much cash left, so the 2012 Angie Away World Travel business plan is going to be significantly different. I want to work smarter, not harder in 2012. I still want to travel, but with fewer miles in the air and miles on my body. Six transoceanic flights this year was more than enough!
I won’t just be gallivanting with little regard to expenditures – this year is all about bringing in the dough while still doing what I want. In 2011, I gave myself leave to fly wherever my whims dictated, but I’m going to be a bit more cautious now that the original savings account is dried up and I’m back to bringing in income.
So you may have guessed that I will be working in some capacity… but I’m not heading back to cube life. Not after I’ve tasted FREEDOM! Instead, I’m starting a social media consulting business with a few familiar friends… details to come when it’s all sorted out. At the end of the month, I’m off to Jordan and Berlin to kick off the whole venture in style.
Afterward I’m hoping to find a housesitting job in the UK for a few months so I can write my book proposal, then I’ll be heading to Italy for Travel Bloggers Unite in April. If I can swing it, I’d like to pop down to Mykonos for some salmon risotto and then I’ll be back stateside in June/July for baby sis’ high school graduation and a Lovely Days wedding. In the meantime, I plan to continue freelance writing and taking on PR projects here and there as well – so keep me in mind if you have a public that needs relating to. It’s going to be busy, busy, busy around here… but that’s business as usual, even when my business isn’t so usual.
Thanks for reading, commenting and virtually traveling around the world with me! Cheers to even more adventures and wild stories for all of us in 2012!
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