It's a new year, and time to reflect on the past twelve months. I encourage you to do the same!
What went well
What an unbelievable year. Having been able to travel for the past 9 months straight has literally been a dream come true, plus some.
Travel with Remote Year
This is an obvious one. What an incredible year being able to travel the world with Remote Year. I've learned a lot along the way, mostly about myself. I'll write a full post about that in March after the full 12 months of travel are finished.
- Lived in 9 countries and visited 8 others
How fortunate am I to be able to experience living in Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, England, Czech Republic, Serbia, Croatia, Malaysia, and Thailand. Working full time, walking to the office was a completely different experience than being a tourist for a week. I truly felt like I lived there. I also made side trips and visited Chile, Austria, Bosnia, Hungary, Montenegro, Romania, Spain, and Qatar, ranging from one day to a week. How am I so lucky?
- Aaaall of this shit and more...
Turned 32 at El Papagayo, presented Hopscratch to Argentinian entrepreneurs, got tan lines from hiking that lasted 8 months, experienced Dia de la Memoria, ate too much meat at asados, attended Villa General Belgrano cake festival, went canyoneering in Altas Cumbres, saw Messi play futbol, painted a mural for the first time, drank too much whiskey, spent a week in Patagonia camping and kayaking 40km, saw the natural wonder Iguazu Waterfalls, rode the world’s longest Teleférico, watched lady Cholitas wrestle, mountain biked 40 miles down Death Road, admired the vastness of the salt flats in Salar de Uyuni, had our photo placed on a local magazine cover, paraded the Fiesta del Gran Poder, explored a Witch Market, visited the insane San Pedro Prison, dressed as a zebra to help children cross the street, walked in ancient and beautiful cities, visited Macchu Picchu, rode a horse up Rainbow Mountain, drank piscos and played poker for charity, played with 10 puppies, spent a week in the Amazon with best friends, ate beetle larva and a Guinea Pig, danced sober at a 7am morning rave, saw Odeza at Love Box, didn’t beach-it-up at Brighton, saw a man dance naked at Barbu, dropped my jaw at the most amazing photography exhibit called Microsculpture, acted in my first short film, marveled at giant rocks in Stonehenge, boat parties, biked 40km through Prague, saw Disclosure and Skrillex in concert, vacationed in Vienna, went skydiving, rode a bicycle to Romania, raced go carts, participated in a slack-jaw dance-off, helped feed and clothe refugees, whitewater rafted for the first time, stared at the sea, camped on an island in somebody’s backyard, jumped off a cliff, explored waterfalls at Plitvička Park, vacationed with a friend in Barcelona for a week, cuddled William Ignacious Picklebottom, dressed in a dinosaur onesie, spend a night in the world where I didn’t know where I was, explored the Batu Caves, took way too many photos of monkeys, dove into Malay culture and shared breakfast in a local home, hiked with fish, saw baby sea turtles, explored temples, rock climbed outdoors up to 75ft, learned about tea in the Cameron Highlands, rode a motorcycle for a road trip, took a Muay Thai class, played with baby elephants, shared a loving Christmas, island-hopped in Krabi, swam with bioluminescent plankton, had the most fun NYE ever, and most importantly, met and made friends with truly amazing, inspiring, intelligent, and beautiful people in countries all over the world.
My traveling family, or "tramily"
The most amazing part of this year has been expanding my family by about 70 people. We've created a truly amazing sense of love and community within our group. The amount of thoughtful generosity and support is something I've never witnessed before. We truly feel like this traveling family is our home.
It has been a great year. At Truce, sales are growing at a solid pace, we have introduced new products, and our team has expanded with a partnership that's aimed at helping us grow our online sales and distribution. Hopscratch officially has a new name - Trym - as we're in the process of merging companies. I think it's a wise move and am excited to see what we can accomplish together. And finally, personally, I've revamped this site a bit, and it feels more "me" now, as opposed to a targeted website trying to sell my services.
I'm very thankful to have had a healthy year. Last year was a tough one with kidney stones and hernias, and it's been so amazing to not have my health feel like a burden and weigh be down psychologically.
What could have gone better
With such an unbelievable year, it's hard to imagine things having gone much better. That said of many things that good have gone better.
Yeah, this has definitely slipped. Ok, it's all but stopped. Living in a new country every month it's been difficult getting my life into any sort of routine. There are constantly more interesting things to do and see. Ultimately though, it's on me for not making this more of a priority.
Looking forward to 2017
This section might be the most important. There are several things I'm looking forward to in the next year.
I've always admired great photography, and over the past year I've been able to learn a lot through photographers in our group. Sadly last week my point-and-shoot camera decided to take a bath in the ocean, but on the bright side, it might now be time for me to invest in a professional camera.
- Photo book
One project that I do know I want to tackle is creating a photo book documenting my time with Remote Year. It will be a large undertaking, but it will be a priceless memento that I will keep with me for the rest of my life. Also, my mother wants one.
- Design projects
This past year I designed a Euchre playing cards and a couple of posters. These are often the most fun I can have with design. After serendipitously meeting one of my favorite illustrators while in Thailand, Lauren Hom, I have been reinvigorated to dive into a new passion project. What will it be? A collection of drawings, a new app, a book?
- New programs and skills
I'm in the middle of learning new programs (Sketch + InVision) to streamline our design process and enhance our design/developer collaboration. In an effort to never stop learning, I subscribed to a handful of select blogs to stay up to date on ttechnologies and strategies revolving around UX, UI, and leadership. I'd also like to explore animation to enhance our customers' online experience.
- Design leadership
In the past, I've always been the sole designer. Lately, I've had to try and manage other designers working with our brands, and I must admit, it's an entirely separate and difficult skill. Having never really worked for anybody, I don't have many experiences to pull from. I will make a conscious effort to become a better design lead.
Living abroad for so long doesn't come without compromise. I haven't seen most of my dear friends and family in almost a year. I'm excited to get to spend more time and create new memories with my friends back home, spend time with my family in Michigan, and it will be great to sit side-by-side with my coworkers.
And finally, more travel
While I don't even want to think about Remote Year coming to an end, it will be a reality in no time, and it's been important to think about where I want to go from here. I know I'll be heading back to Phoenix for at least a couple of months, but after that it's fairly open ended. It will be nice to recharge, but when the temps starting getting too hot in Phoenix, my current thought is to peace out for the summer. I would likely head to a few new countries in South America or Europe and continue working remotely.