A Year in Review : My Messy 2019

January 15, 2020

Alright, let's face it... 2019 was a messy one… The highs were some of the best in my life. But the lows took it out of me for most of the year. I wanted to have a chance to reflect back on what a year it was, and I thought you might be interested in following along.

“2019 was going to be my year.” At the start of 2019, I was shouting this from the rooftops. The year started off great. I spent New Year’s in Bern Switzerland after having visited about 10 different Christmas Markets in Europe and spending the holiday's house sitting in Biel/Bienne.

My travel plans for the start of the year were nothing short of epic. I spent the first part of the year exploring England, visiting friends in every corner of the country. I was able to catch up with people in London, Birmingham, and Canterbury. From there I was planning to spend a month backpacking through Egypt.

I ended up having the most incredible time on that trip. I got dive certified in the Red Sea. I rode in a hot air balloon over Luxor. I visited every temple I could possibly get to, seeing more of the country than I ever dreamed I could. I stayed in a Nubian Village in Aswan, a luxury hotel in Dahab and spent more than a few nights on overnight buses and trains.

After Egypt, I spent two weeks road tripping around Iceland in the winter. Iceland holds a very special place in my heart. My 2x Great Grandma immigrated to the US from Iceland so it’s a place I try to return to once a year. This year's trip was nothing short of perfect. We hired a campervan for the two weeks and basically spent the enter trip chasing the northern lights. I've never seen the northern lights before and during these 2 weeks, we saw them over 5 times!

From crazy wind storms for 4 euro dairy-free Ben and Jerry's, and about 100 stunning waterfalls... I already can't wait to go back to Iceland.

After a refreshing couple of weeks offline and in the wild, I returned to the sunny middle east to spend a few weeks in Israel, celebrating Purim, a crazy festival that takes place in Israel every year. When the holiday was over I retreated to Nazareth to recover where I met two of the most incredible people in all my travels. I was lucky enough to spend the rest of their trip with them before finishing off my trip on a road trip through the south of the country.

On this adventure, I found out I was an aunt! My sweet nephew was born at 26 weeks.

The Isreal Crew in the desert

The Boys in Israel

Lauren with Baby Vance

Getting out of Israel was no piece of cake, but once they finally let me out, I was on my way to meet Christina and Rachel in Oman. Oman was a HUGE bucket list destination for me. And going with Christina and Rachel was a dream come true. The three of us had never actually met in person... but we had enough mutual friends to guess we'd get along. I was looking forward to a two-week road trip there, full of completely unique landscapes, new friends and of course, camping in the desert.

Oman, however, got cut short when I went home to bury my sister. Suddenly, 2019 took a serious turn. I wasn’t sure what the rest of the year would hold for me. I ended up living in an RV park with my family, spending day in and day out at the NICU with my nephew.

Laurens Funeral in Utah

In the end, I found myself on a plane back to Europe. I spent a few weeks in Portugal where 2019 decided to get a little bit worse… my entire backpack with my camera, photos, laptop, kindle and journal (along with a lot of other sentimental items) was stolen. Right out of the car while I stood half a block down the road waiting for my Airbnb Host. Let's just say... it was not good.

Equipped with nothing but my phone, I attempted to run my business for two weeks in Portugal before getting my hands on a new chrome book.

From Portugal, I traveled to Barcelona for a music festival with friends, which was a much-needed escape from reality. I was able to spend a few days just dancing it out in a crazy European city, what more could a girl need?

Barcelona led me back to Geneva for a few months of getting my feet back underneath me. Visa limits ended up pushing me to the Balkans though (I had basically spent 89 days of my 90 limit in Europe at that point and the Balkans give a different visa out to Americans). The summer of 2019 was spent sunbathing in Croatia, drinking way too much coffee in Bosnia & Herzegovina and hiking in Montenegro. I fell in love with the Balkan countries and I finally felt like I was getting my business going again.

The Girls Trip in Croatia

In August the burnout set in and it was time to return home. For the rest of the year, I reunited with friends and family across the country. But really, I spent most of the time cuddling my nephew on the couch watching, catching up on lost time.

It was in August that I started to get my business back on its feet. I was paying off debt and I was saving money again as well.

At the end of the year, I got the opportunity to spend 2 weeks in French Polynesia. A DREAM. I know... After a few days hanging out in Tahiti, I island-hopped to Bora Bora and Moorea. I dove with sharks, swam with dolphins, string rays, manta rays, and eagle rays. I stayed in over the water bungalows and spent a lot of time reading and relaxing on sunset cruises (even though it was the rainy season and we didn't see a single sunset...)

This was the type of trip I never thought I’d get the chance to be on… but there I was.

After an incredible couple of weeks, I finished the year back in Geneva recouping for 2020. IT WAS A YEAR. Wow. It’s a bit crazy how hectic it all seems when you write it down.

The results...

In 2019, I traveled to 11 countries. I caught up with most of my friends and family back in America. I got to know my sweet nephew. I buried my sister. I cried. I laughed. I mourned and I celebrated. And boy the one thing I hope for 2020 is that life can just slow down a bit.

I know that my goals are going to look a lot different for 2020. Here are a few things I want to strive for:

  • Making time for reflection and meditation
  • Weekends spent reading and exploring instead of working
  • Quiet mornings and nights offline
  • Slow and intentional travel
  • Start nurturing my blog again

However, my biggest goal for 2020 is to take it easy on myself.

Thanks for following along this crazy adventure. Here’s to 2020.

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