It has come to my attention that my blog, this blog, has turned into a destination website versus a personal blog. While it’s wonderful that I get to help you lovely readers chase your dreams of visiting exotic destinations and plan your epic holidays under the sun or across continents, I’ve realized that in the process of turning my attention to making money (I gotta fund my own dreams too!) that I stopped doing what I really want to do: write and connect more with people.
I do not want to be another blog where people just come to for quick tips and itinerary guides, I want to be a blog where people come for that very reason I just mentioned above and because of my writing. I want to be able to have discussions with fellow travellers, I want to share the really bad and the really good parts past the need to know tips on how to get to your hostel. I want to share what I really think about destinations and I want to be the blogger you come back to not just for useful travel info but because you connect with me, maybe think I’m funny or just totally get whatever it is I’m saying.
So I’ve decided to introduce a section of Taylor’s Tracks called Confessions where you’ll find all of my travel fails, strong opinions that you may not agree with and musings about travel that I just need to get out of my head. Along with these articles I’ll be sharing monthly updates on what went down either from my couch at home, on a tropical beach somewhere fabulous or in a grimy hostel because I decided to be cheap.
To start I’m looking back over 2018 cuz I’ve got one or two opinions I need to share.
New destinations are marked with a *.
- Newfoundland (Canada)*
- Bosnia & Herzegovina*
What I Really Thought About Israel
In November I spent 3 weeks in Israel (1 on my own and 2 with a travel blogger friend, Hannah) making my way around the small country, educating myself on this part of the world that so many deem a “no-go” zone and trying to understand more about religion.
I read My Promised Land partly before and during to help me better grasp the intense and complicated history of Israel. I gotta admit, it did not give me a good impression before going.
Nevertheless, I was still overly excited to be visiting a new country, to be stepping foot into the Middle East for the first time and to eat my weight in falafels.
The falafels and hummus and food in general did not disappoint. It was expensive though so I ate a lot of falafel sandwiches and have no regrets.
The country as a whole though? I didn’t like Israel and have no desire to go back. Sorry to be harsh. Before you tell me I didn’t see enough or didn’t travel Israel right let me tell you that I did see a lot and that by doing a lot of tours I was actually able to learn more about the country and what I was seeing. I would have been completely lost and oblivious to much of the significance of places I was visiting without doing tours.
To sum up why I didn’t like Israel: people kept telling me how beautiful Israel was…I did not find it that scenic. Perhaps I’m spoiled because I’m Canadian and I’m surrounded by beauty but Israel is not a country I would choose to describe as beautiful.
The people were amongst the most unwelcoming I have ever met while travelling. Does this mean that everyone was rude to me? No. But I will mention that the nicest people I met were those who immigrated to Israel from North America.
It was expensive. Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally okay for forking out cash for things I believe are worth it but Israel just wasn’t doing it for me to continue throwing my cash out the windows into the holy streets.
While I may not have liked Israel and will most likely not return I do highly encourage travellers to venture over. I learned more in Israel about cultures and religion than I have anywhere else in the world. Israel is a country many choose to ignore and push away because it’s “unsafe”, which is untrue. Israel makes a bigger impact than you think, I felt comfortable in Israel (minus the times whenever I saw a gun because I’m just always nervous around guns no matter if it’s a soldier or civilian holding it) and I don’t think you can judge Israel until you visit both Israel and Palestine (I say Palestine because 193 United Nations members believe it is a country).
Travel Burnout is a Bitch
Going against my better judgment this year, I decided to travel for 3 months for my final trip, knowing full well that I am totally exhausted and just want my own bed and ridiculously fluffy pillows by the time 2 months rolls around.
In 3 months I visited 11 countries (England, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Slovenia, Slovakia, Austria, Malta, Israel, Palestine and Jordan) and while many think it’s fabulous (including me) I was so done with travel by the end.
But it’s my job, I have to travel!
But I also need to keep myself sane and healthy, which I wasn’t doing.
I’m thankful that I had my friend Hannah with me because she planned our final days in London skipping around Christmas markets and to high tea and I was able to just follow (I only left the hostel because of FOMO).
That Europe/Middle East trip was such an eye-opener for me and it has made me realize that I am not a long-term traveller. I need a base, I need to make smaller trips and need to stop telling myself that I need to travel all the time to be a travel blogger. That’s not the case and I spend way too much energy on putting myself down and feeling guilty about doing more. I wish I was Super Woman but I’m not. I’m Taylor the traveller who also loves spending time at home instead of hiding in hostel dorm rooms hoping my temporary room rates don’t come back in so I can truly be alone.
On Going Back to the Same Places
This year I visited Bali for the first time and spent 2 months living there and 1 travelling around. I fell in love. I felt at home. I had friends. It was wonderful.
So I’m going back. I’m also going back to Thailand because I have literally been talking about eating real Thai food since the last time I was there in 2016 BUT I’m going to new islands and I am so excited to explore more of one of my favourite countries in the world. Seriously, if you haven’t gone yet you need to go. The hype is real.
I had this whole plan to base myself somewhere in Central America and learn Spanish come early 2019 but I was so overwhelmed with the thought of going somewhere new that I opted to break my promise to myself of taking a break from destinations that take me 24 hours+ to get to and go back to Southeast Asia, where I’m comfortable and things are cheap. Bring on the Bintangs and budget pedicures please.
At first I felt guilty (there’s that guilt again) for going back to somewhere I’ve already been cuz you know I should be out doing first-hand research of new destinations to write about! (I have literally not even finished writing about my Europe trip from 2017). But as soon as I booked my ticket I literally felt my shoulders relax. I had no idea how tense I was making myself stressing about limitations I’ve put on myself. I’m so ridiculous.
I Made a Video
You guys, this is a BIG DEAL. I went to film school and so I’ve been on my ass to get into video for such a long time and I finally bought an affordable video editing software and just did it. It’s not perfect but it’s out there in the world.
In 2019 I will be making a video weekly or maybe bi-weekly…I’m still hashing out the details of my 2019 goals so if you could go subscribe to my YouTube page which right now is a work in progress then I will love you forever.
I’m Writing a Book
Yes, you just read that and OMG I’m practically shaking because I just told people I’m writing a book. So that means that I actually have to write a book and that’s exactly why I’m telling you so that it will help hold me accountable.
It will be a memoir and I was waiting for something spectacular to happen in my life for a happy ending but I may be waiting for a while so I’m going ahead with it. I’ll be sharing more details about the book and when and where you can buy it in my emails (please tell me you’d want to read my book).
The Best Things I Did for Myself This Year
- Spending time in one place, Bali, and giving myself time to work on my business (this blog) which is my baby and make more $$$ this year.
- Getting a certain someone out of my life which was a toxic relationship that gave me so much more room once I told them to get out (all my friends are probably jumping for joy knowing they’ll never have to hear about this guy again).
- Taking more time to read and educate myself plus passing my goal of 25 books in one year!
The Best Books I’ve Read This Year
Since reading is so important to me I will always share my favourite books of the month or of the year.
- North of Normal: A Memoir of my Wilderness Childhood, My Unusual Family and How I Survived Both
- Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness
- Bella Figura: How to Live, Love and Eat the Italian Way
- The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country
Most Popular Posts of the Year
- 4 Days in Las Vegas
- My Biggest Mistakes in Banff
- How to Plan the Perfect Toronto Itinerary (1-4 Days + Tips from a Local)
- Backpacking Vietnam on a Budget: 2-3 Week Itinerary + Vietnam Backpacking Tips
- How to Plan the Perfect Easy Coast Australia Itinerary on a Budget
My Favourite Destinations of the Year
I can’t make a list of my favourite places without including the place that I made home for 2 months and helped me get more into my work groove. Bali is really hyped and though not everyone likes it, it is totally understandable why so many people go. Personally, I loved it because I could live by the beach affordably, eat out every meal without breaking the bank and I had a community of like-minded people around me.
London was the first destination I ever visited solo when I first started travelling by myself in 2014. I didn’t get to see much of the city because I was so nervous to venture too far. After returning this year, twice, I fell in love with the city and could easily see myself living there (maybe when I start making more $$$). I’m a big city girl so the ease of getting around, the fashionable people and overall vibe won me over. Plus there’s just so much to do.
Makarska isn’t typically on your backpacker trail but I heard of it from someone I met when I was making my way down the coast and I am so happy that I went. The Makarska Riviera is not as busy as Split (which I didn’t really like) has better beaches, nature and it’s smaller, which I adore.
Seriously, how could I have not loved Petra? It is easily the coolest place I went this year. It’s hard to describe the feeling of walking through the towering rock formations that lead you like a grand entrance to the monastery. It’s like entering a world frozen in time.
I’m just including the entire country because Slovenia really impressed me. The nature was amongst the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, it wasn’t too busy (I visited in October) and every day I walked outside I just fell in love with the country all over again. The only downside was that it is not a cheap country, but worth visiting regardless.
Everyone I talk to that has been to Newfoundland tells me in as many ways possible that I should go. My mom’s friend got married in Newfoundland this summer so I decided to tag along and see what the hype was about. Um, you should go. I know Canada’s beautiful but Newfoundland made me realize once again just how beautiful the country is. Plus Newfoundland is not like the rest of the country. The people have different accents, the food is more fish-focused (duh, it’s an island) and they’ve got a culture of their own. I loved it and it was the most surprising destination of the year.
I could easily ramble on about so much more but I’d like to know what you want to hear. Do you enjoy my ramblings, do you want more stories, podcast or TV recommendations? I appreciate all the comments and love below!
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