Looking back on 2018, I cannot believe all the crazy adventures I shared with Matt, my family, and friends. I could not be more grateful for all the wonderful opportunities we had.
To be honest, when 2018 started I was less than excited. I had just returned home from a year traveling around the world full-time with Matt (we visited 27 countries in 2017) and after the buzz from the holiday season wore off, it was time to get back to business in January. I had spent most of my hard-earned money while on the road (three years worth of savings from working two jobs) and I needed to make more.
I was mildly depressed about leaving my nomadic travel lifestyle behind, but tried to keep my spirits high by telling myself I’d make more money, travel domestically when I could throughout the year, and then once I had more money I could travel “for real” again. I immediately starting teaching yoga at CorePower again, which I absolutely love and did part time before I left on my world trip, but unfortunately isn’t lucrative enough on its own.
I was in the process of job hunting and interviewing back at Microsoft when I received the most exciting news that had me screaming and literally jumping for joy in the kitchen. Matt and I were announced as SWISSGEAR’s 2018 Travel Ambassadors.
This gave me the push and confidence I needed to make the bold move to keep living my dream. Granted, the position didn’t pay, but it paid for travel around the world, and I knew I would make the most of it while trying to grow go4theglobe as a business.
Throughout the year, not only did we partner with SWISSGEAR but we also worked with BioLite, Mazda, Toyota, Andie Swim, Sunski, Rumpl, Kayak Gozo, Horizon Holidays, and Taste Buddies Mauritius, along with other apparel and tour companies at various travel destinations.
Below you’ll find a month by month breakdown of our travels, milestones, and adventures each month. As always, you’ll get a healthy dose of reality including travel mishaps because there’s much more to the story than the beautiful photos you may have seen throughout the year on Instagram.
Many events and travels on the list are hyperlinked to corresponding blog posts and photos/videos – so don’t forget to click on the topics & pictures to read more!
The most exciting thing that kicked off our year was finding out Matt and I won SWISSGEAR’s Travel Ambassadorship! I entered through an Instagram contest and we were told there were 19,000 applicants. Our travel photos were up on the homepage of SWISSGEAR.com for a couple weeks.
I became a stand-in dog mom for my sister’s Paraguayn street dog, Chipa. My sister Kathryne brought her dog home from Paraguay over the holidays and then she returned to finish her service in the Peace Corps, leaving Matt and I to show Chipa the ropes in America.
Matt and I took a trip to San Juan Island in Washington with friends. My old roommate (she was actually both of our roommates at one point) and one of my best friends, Meghan, has a beautiful cabin in Roche Harbor and we had a fun weekend away with four-legged and two-legged friends.
We traveled to Austin, Texas for the wedding of one of Matt’s college basketball teammates. This was my first trip to the state of Texas and the first time either of us had visited Austin.
Austin is one of the cities I’ve wanted to visit most in the U.S., so I was happy we had this opportunity to visit! We ventured around the city and explored Hamilton Pool Preserve.
Matt and I were named Seattle’s Power Couple! I entered a radio contest on Seattle’s POWER 933 (now KUBE 933) for Seattle’s Power Couple and Matt and I were selected as one of three finals couples. We were interviewed on the radio and ended up winning the contest by votes (thanks to everyone who supported us!). After winning we visited the iHeartRadio studio in Seattle and got to spend the morning with morning show hosts Carla Marie & Anthony (who are now the morning show hosts on KISS 106.1). We got to see first hand how the morning show is put on and went live on air to talk travel – it was so much fun!
Matt turned 28 in February and we went snowboarding at Steven’s Pass to celebrate!
In March we really buckled down and got to work! Matt went back to work in the car industry. On top of teaching yoga, I started leading Yoga Sculpt Teacher Training at CorePower Yoga Bellevue. I also started driving for Lyft (which lasted a couple months) to earn more money for upcoming travels. We spent a week housesitting/dogsitting in Kirkland.
We started planning our first SWISSGEAR trip of the year…
We took a weekend trip to Bend, Oregon with our friends Meghan (my bestie/old roommate) and Blake. Bend had been on my PNW bucket list as people in Washington rave about it. Four dogs and four people for a 350 mile drive was quite the adventure.
On our road trip back home, we hiked in beautiful Smith Rock State Park in Oregon.
At the end of April we jetted off on our first trip as SWISSGEAR Travel Ambassadors to New Zealand. We spent the end of April on the North Island, beginning our journey in the country’s largest city, Auckland. From there we rented a campervan and did a little loop of the North Island.
Our highlights include getting a kitchen tour at Giapo Kitchen (world famous gelato) in Auckland, visiting Cathedral Cove, catching the sunrise at the top of Mount Maunganui, having Marokopa Falls to ourselves, and seeing the glowworms at Waitomo cave. See more photos and read more about our North Island adventures on SWISSGEAR.com.
Travel mishaps: We did not realize there was a shuttle ride and 45 minute hike involved to visit Cathedral Cove. We actually changed out of our sneakers into flip flops to visit the beach and we figured there would be somewhere we could get water and snacks along the way or at the beach (spoiler alert, there wasn’t!). Thankfully the sunshine and beauty of the beach made us forget how hungry and thirsty we were, and the hoki (local fish) & chips we had in town after our visit tasted that much more delicious.
There was a storm the day I was supposed to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, so the trail was closed. This was disappointing as it was something I was looking forward to most on the North Island, but it gives me a great reason to come back one day. Matt also changed his fishing excursion from a full day to a half day due to the weather and because I was no longer able to do the trek at the same time. But fishing for rainbow trout was one of his top highlights of the trip!
In May we flew to the South Island of New Zealand where we picked up another campervan and took a longer tour of the larger island. Highlights from our 10 day visit included finding waterfalls at Tunnel Beach, watching the sunrise at Nugget Point Lighthouse, cruising Milford Sound on a beautiful & rare clear sunny day, hiking Roy’s Peak and wine tasting.
It was autumn in New Zealand and we enjoyed beautiful fall colors on the South Island. The drives around the South Island were absolutely incredible, especially through Milford Sound, over several mountain passes, and around Mount Cook alongside the incredibly bright teal water of Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki. I also bungee jumped from the highest bungee jump in New Zealand! See more photos and read about our South Island adventures on SWISSGEAR.com.
Travel mishap: We pulled over a few too many times on our way to Mount Cook (can you really blame me? The view was breathtaking) so by the time we reached Hooker Valley hike, Mount Cook was mostly covered in clouds and then we were faced with rain the rest of our hike.
At the end of the month, I attended the Taylor Swift concert in Seattle with my bestie Abby! I had purchased these VIP floor tickets back when I was in Thailand (in December 2017 we purposely stayed at our hotel in Koh Samui longer because I knew it had reliable internet and I had to wake up at 3 a.m. to purchase them with the time difference). If you know me, you’ll know I am the BIGGEST Taylor Swift fan ever and cry every time I see her haha. This time was no different!
In the beginning of June, I flew to Chicago to surprise my first best friend, Laura! Her boyfriend (now fiancée) organized the surprise for me to come visit and see Taylor Swift with her! We had so much fun and got so close to Taylor since I had already seen the concert, I was prepared to be up at the front when she moved to a stage in the back. I was freaking out and crying hysterically (no surprise there), as I was only feet away from her. It also ended up pouring at the end of the show so we got to dance in the rain with Taylor!!
We played tourist in Chicago (if you didn’t know, I was born in Chicago), visiting the top of the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) and Cloud Gate (aka the Bean). We enjoyed more local experiences, like going to speakeasies, rooftop bars, street fairs, and eating so much delicious food.
Matt and I housesat/dogsat in Woodinville, which is Washington wine country and we took advantage of beautiful weather and our surroundings to enjoy wine & whiskey tasting within walking distance with friends!
My sister surprised me (thanks to my dad) by coming home from her service in the Peace Corps and travels around South America in a big box on the front porch on my birthday!
I had the ultimate 28th birthday party, thanks to Meghan offering up her lake cabin on Lake Sammamish and an awesome sponsorship by PartyBird Floats! Matt got amazing drone footage of the bash. If you’re looking to get your own giant floatie, look no further: Flamingo, Unicorn
Party Foul: My phone took a dip in the lake, so I ended up having to use my sister’s phone after (somehow she got the new one haha). And I woke up with small chip on my front tooth the morning after my birthday party.
In July, I took a sister trip to San Francisco and Napa Valley. Despite having many layovers in San Francisco before, I had never actually visited the city or the Bay Area! My sister and I first visited my brother, who was in Sonoma playing baseball. Then we drove back to San Francisco where we stayed with her awesome friend Julie. Our best friends from our childhood (who are also sisters), Laura & Emily, met us there. We drove across the Golden Gate Bridge, ate delicious food, and went to a Giants game (the number one stadium on my baseball ballpark bucket list!).
We took a road trip and spent an incredibly fun day and night wine tasting in Napa Valley!
My next SWISSGEAR trip kicked off in July! Matt had to work so my sister joined me. Our adventure began with an 8-hour layover in Rome! Technically, we also had a long layover in Oakland beforehand, where we got In-N-Out Burger.
It had been 10 years since I visited Rome, so I was excited to have the opportunity to get another taste of the city (and the delicious Italian cuisine!). I still dream about the ricotta spinach ravioli with truffle sauce I had for lunch. I made sure to throw another coin in the Trevi Fountain to ensure I will return again one day, hopefully for a longer stay!
The main destination of my SWISSGEAR Travel Ambassador trip was Malta! Since I had the opportunity to go anywhere in the world, many people were questioning why I picked Malta, but I think my photos and stories spoke for themselves afterwards. I absolutely fell in love with this charming little country on the Mediterranean.
My Malta trip ended in August (we spend August 1st in Mdina, Malta) and then I returned home to enjoy the rest of summer in Seattle!
My sister started medical school at Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine (Washington State University) so my dad, brother, and I traveled to Spokane for her White Coat Ceremony!
Matt and I took ‘Save the Date’ photos for our friend’s upcoming wedding one late afternoon outside of the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium. UW is my alma matter and we were so excited when we found out we would be able go on the field and have the empty stadium to ourselves. We had the opportunity take photos and fly our drone on the field at sunset, thanks to a connection the future groom has. Matt and I also went to a Huskies football game later in the fall thanks to a tailgate sponsorship from BioLite!
Smokey Summer: Unfortunately, wild fires in Canada and around the U.S. caused the whole Seattle area to be smokey at the end of August, which is typically one of the most beautiful times to spend in Seattle. The air quality was so bad there were warnings not to venture outside, so this put a damper on some typical Seattle summer outdoor activities.
Matt and I went to the Zac Brown Band concert at Safeco Field and then traveled to his family’s cabin on Whidbey Island over Labor Day Weekend. Matt’s mom and I were inside the cabin when Matt came running from the beach like his pants were on fire (I thought he must’ve caught a really big fish) but that’s when we heard him shouting “WHALES!” We ran outside and saw a mother and baby orca swimming right off the beach, only 30 feet or so from the shore. It was such a surreal experience.
I also took an awesome hike with my bestie Abby in Mount Rainier National Park to Tolmie Peak Fire Lookout!
I traveled to one of my favorite places in Washington, Lake Chelan, for my friend Jamie’s Bachelorette Party! We had a blast wine tasting, dancing, singing karaoke (Hot in Herre is my go to) and lounging in the pool with my giant flamingo floatie.
For our final trip of the year as SWISSGEAR Travel Ambassadors, Matt and I took the ultimate trip to Mauritius, the UAE and Jordan! It was the perfect mixture of beach, city, and desert vibes with a dose of ancient history.
Mauritius turned out to be perfect island paradise. We enjoyed beach time, catamaran cruises, and chasing waterfalls. See more photos and read about our adventures in Mauritius here.
In the UAE, we stayed in Dubai where we went up in the world’s tallest building and found one of our favorite restaurants, a budget friendly Pakistani restaurant called Ravi Restaurant (we ate there twice at two different locations).
We rented a car and drove to Abu Dhabi to visit the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque and the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
One of my biggest travel dreams came true when we visited Petra in Jordan. Petra is so much more than the couple photos the famous “Treasury” and “Monastery” you see online, it is a whole lost city of ancient ruins and temples built into the desert. Jordan was such a beautiful country, we enjoyed a night in the desert Wadi Rum and had one of our most fun adventures of 2018 canyoneering in Wadi Mujib!
Travel Fail: We got a flat tire in Mauritius and Jordan! Luckily, Matt knows how to change a flat.
Biggest travel fail of 2018: I misinterpreted our flight home from Jordan (thought it was 2pm instead of 2am) so I missed my opportunity to float in the Dead Sea. I was devastated, as it is a bucket list item of mine to float in the Dead Sea. We also missed out on spending the night at the Hilton Dead Sea (thanks to my dad’s hotel points, which I never use so it was a big treat and this sea view room would have been the nicest hotel we stayed in all year). Luckily we found out with enough time to still make our flight home (otherwise it would’ve been a very expensive mistake) and we would’ve missed our friend’s wedding back home the following day (which was so beautiful & fun!).
What did we do in November? I wrote several blogs from our October trip and we both worked a lot! On top of teaching yoga and being a coach in yoga teacher training, I started working part time remotely for a small tech company earlier in the fall and kept busy with that in November. I am doing random projects and planning events for the company.
In December we enjoyed being home for the holiday festivities with our families. Matt and I scored media passes to Enchant Seattle at Safeco Field, where we enjoyed the impressive Christmas light display and had fun ice skating.
I housesat/cat-sat in Lake Chelan where it snowed during my stay, making for a magical winter wonderland escape.
To end the year, I rang in the new year with a trip to Nashville with my family! We had a blast in the music city, listening to live music and eating delicious southern food!
Looking ahead to 2019
I have little to no idea where 2019 will take me but I’m okay with that. Last year at this time, I would have never guessed what 2018 would bring (and I was uneasy about it) but the year ended up being even more incredible than I could have imagined or planned for. I foresee many more adventures and world travels, so stay tuned to see what the new year will have in store! It’s an open road…