The one word I hope will end up describing my 2016? Change.
Change and experimentation.
This is the year Dave and I finally find a base to return to between trips – we’ve been wanting to take the plunge for a couple of years, but ended up giving in to our wanderlust at the expense of our sanity, health, and travel. Finding a base means we’ll be able to travel better and work better, which means higher quality and more frequent posts for you.
I feel as though I’ve been treading water for several years and I’m finally on the brink of drowning. January will be about solo adventuring in the South Pacific, February will revolve around eating with friends in Mexico, March will be full of puppy love when we housesit in Seattle for friends, and then Dave and I will be searching for a home. A real home. A place we can fill with furniture and love. I’m already planning on creating a soundproof sanctuary I can hide away in whenever I’m overwhelmed.
So, change. Setting defined and achievable goals is important to me, and I regularly set myself specific targets to work towards, rather than vague ideas to lose weight or eat healthier. This year, I’ve decided to publicly share them in order to hold myself accountable and keep you updated on my progress throughout the year. I’m confident I can hit them all.
To Visit a Country That Intimidates Other People
I love shattering perceptions when I travel, so I’m hoping that 2016 will be the year I visit somewhere other people view as dangerous to see what it can offer tourists. At present, Pakistan is at the top of the list – a good friend of mine lives there, and I’ve received many offers from my Pakistani readers to show me around. 2016 may just be the year I finally take them up on it.
Failing that, Iran remains permanently on my list of dream destinations, as does overlanding across West Africa.
To Visit My Big European Oversights
It’s 90% likely Dave and I will end up making our base in Europe, which will give me the perfect opportunity to visit the places I really should have seen by now. I’ve explored a significant chunk of the continent, but there are several key destinations I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never seen.
I’ve never been to Paris.
I’ve never been to Berlin.
I’ve never been to Greece.
One thing’s for certain: September is going to be all about Greece. Every couple of years, Dave and his best friend gather a group of people and charter a yacht somewhere in the world for a fortnight of sunshine, swimming, and beers. This year, we’ll be sailing the lesser-visited Ionian coast in Greece, then Dave and I will be hitting up the tourist spots afterwards. I can’t wait to eat everything!
To Shatter More Myths About Expensive Destinations
Much like I did with the Maldives, I’ll be spending January showing you how cheaply you can visit paradise. I’ll be travelling to the Cook Islands, French Polynesia, and Fiji, writing detailed guides to how you can visit them for under $50 a day. Yes, you can even do that in Bora Bora!
I’m keeping my plans loose for the rest of the year, but if I can find the time, I’d also love to head to the Seychelles and Mauritius to make up for having to cancel my trip last year.
To Start Taking More Defined Trips
I mentioned in the introduction that having a base will better my travels, and it’s because I can start taking more defined trips rather than floating from place to place, spending the majority of my time on my laptop.
How will it work? I’ll spend several months writing and scheduling posts on Never Ending Footsteps so that I can then spend a month offline and fully immersing myself in a destination. I’ll be able to research a place instead of just turning up and winging it; I’ll be able to take tours and do activities because I won’t be writing; I’ll be able to get to know a place more than superficially because I’ll be outside exploring. All of this means more detailed coverage of destinations on the site and a healthier, happier version of me.
To Take One Trip I’ve Never Considered Before
I want to get out of my comfort zone this year and try something I would normally steer away from. It could be anything from a yoga retreat to a surf instructor course; a spa holiday in a 5* resort to a camping trip. I think it’ll be fun to try something that’s not me at all and see how much I enjoy/hate it.
To be able to do 100 push ups
Last year, I discovered my love of push-ups and have worked my way up to the point where I can do twenty proper ones without stopping. I’m giving myself a year to get to a hundred.
To be able to do the splits
Real-life friends will laugh at this, as being able to do the splits has been a mainstay in my resolutions list for more than a decade. I’ve always dreamed of it, but never been able to commit to enough stretching to make it happen. I got close in Mexico two years ago, but then my book happened. And then I caught glandular fever/mono, and it all slipped away from me. 2016 is the year.
To run a 10k
I got into running last year, surprised to discover how frequent exercise puts me in a positive frame of mind. I half-ran, half-jogged a 5k race in 2015 and with a full twelve months to get in shape, I’m confident I can reach the point where I can run a 10k without stopping.
Take Rock Climbing Lessons
I was answering interview questions a few weeks ago and the first one had to do with my hobbies. I froze. My hobbies? I realised I don’t actually have any. I travel, I plan my travels, I read about travel, and I write about travel. And travel kind of makes it hard to cultivate other passions.
Rock climbing is something I’ve always wanted to try. With a base and a routine, I’m going to give it a go.
Find a Gym and Start Weightlifting
As soon as Dave and I find our base, I’m joining a gym and getting a personal trainer. It’s time to get strong.
Health and Lifestyle Goals
Experiment With the Whole30 Diet
Diets are often a bad idea, especially ones like the Whole30, which are incredibly restrictive. But at the same time, I believe it could be beneficial for my anxiety. I know that your diet can drastically affect your mental health, and when I cut out sugar for a couple of weeks a few years back, I felt incredible.
I’ve wanted to try something drastic for years, but travel — and rarely having a kitchen — has made it near-impossible. I’m excited to see if it has any major benefits for my anxiety.
Meditate Five Times a Week
I know that if I set myself a goal of meditating every day, I’ll never stick to it, but five days a week is an achievable goal. Again, it’s all about getting to grips with my anxiety and feeling stronger and healthier. I know meditation will help me; it’s just about remembering to do it on the days when I feel fantastic rather than solely on the day after I have a panic attack.
To Give Myself at Least One Month Offline
When I hit the reset button earlier this year, one of the best things I did for myself was to stop. No writing, no social media, no emails.
This year, I’m going to try and take a minimum of one month offline to do anything that doesn’t involve writing. My month in Greece could be the perfect time to do it.
To Learn How to Cook
I used to find it was funny that the only dish I could make was a sandwich, but now it feels like a huge embarrassment and failure as a human. I can make toast and I can put things into an oven, and sometimes I can even chop vegetables without slicing my hand open, but that’s it.
Travel has opened my eyes to the joy of food – it’s now one of my favourite ways to learn more about the world – and I’m gutted to have such limited cooking abilities. With a long-term home on the agenda, one of the first things I’m going to do is pick up a handful of recipe books and start recreating my favourite dishes from around the world.
To Gain Confidence With my Spanish
I’d always been confident in my Spanish language skills until I spent time in Mexico and Spain. Suddenly, people (not locals) were laughing at how I spoke Spanish with a British accent and asking why I don’t use a Spanish accent. And it knocked my confidence so hard to the point that I barely utter a word when I’m in Spanish-speaking countries; I’m too embarrassed to speak. These days, I stand awkwardly and understand everything that’s going on, but keep my lips firmly sealed.
Last year, I worked hard on not caring about what people think of me, and this is one of my few remaining hangups I can work on. I’ll be spending a month in Oaxaca at the start of the year, then potentially moving to Spain a few months later, so there’s no excuse.
Write Another Book
I know. I swore I would never write another book after the first one destroyed my mental health, but this one will be different. I’m keeping it under wraps for now, but I can tell you that it’s about travel, I’ll be self-publishing, and it’s not a memoir. I hope to release it within the first six months of 2016.
Create Detailed Resources on Never Ending Footsteps
This year, I want to work on sharing the expertise I’ve gathered from five years of living the nomadic dream. Like how to travel when you have anxiety. Or a detailed guide to what to pack and what to leave behind. Or how to travel long-term. Or how to work from anywhere. I’m talking 10,000+ word resources that contain everything I know about a topic.
2016 is the year where I start producing helpful content as well as narratives about my disasters.
Get My Work in Big Publications
I’ve created a list of ten magazines, newspapers, and websites that being featured in would blow my mind, and another list of ten major publications I’m confident I can write for. I suck at marketing myself and actively avoid putting my words in front of another site’s audience, so 2016 will be all about growing my confidence by getting featured in new places.
To Switch Up My Social Media Focus
I’ve always been a Facebook/Twitter kind of girl, but I’m starting to feel their limitations. Twitter is fun but sends so little traffic, and my Facebook reach declined by half a few months ago. It’s time to widen my horizons, and I’ll now be focusing my energies on Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, and Snapchat as well.
My Instagram account has been sorely neglected from the day I created it, but I’m proud of my engagement levels there. My photos gain between 150 and 250 likes from an audience of 3,000 followers, but 3,000 isn’t great. By the end of the year, I’m hoping to have 20,000. I’m excited to start sharing a mix of my favourite travel photos and what I’m currently up to!
Pinterest is another site I’ve been neglecting, but I’ve become obsessed with it over the past few months. I’m also terrible at it. I think almost all of my blogging buddies cite Pinterest as their highest referrer. Me? I get 100 visits a month. By the end of 2016, I’m hoping for 50,000 monthly referrals. Aim high!
Youtube is another area I’m going to focus on. After my packing video went somewhat viral, I find my channel with 150,000 views, 1,100 subscribers, and people emailing me every few weeks to tell me they found my video, was inspired to quit their job, and have been travelling ever since! All that from one video and a site I haven’t signed into for a year. This year, I want to start producing high quality Q&A videos. To put some numbers on it, I hope to get a minimum of 25 videos uploaded and grow my audience to 5,000 subscribers.
Finally, Snapchat, which I love because I can give you live updates of my travels and disasters! I’m especially excited to snap my way around the South Pacific on a budget — the beaches are going to be incredible! I’m nefootsteps over there if you want to follow along on my adventures.
And that’s it for my 2016 goals! I’m excited to start kicking ass and start creating a life that’s healthier, happier, and full of balance.