27 Before 28: A Travel Wish List

Travel Wish List
Travel Wish List

Now that I’m officially 27 years old (YAY!!) I have a few things I’d like to do. I’ve always been a list maker. I love to make lists, often long ones that are way too ambitious for the amount of time I have. I make so many lists that I never cross anything off of them. Perhaps writing my goals here will make it a little easier to stay accountable. I’ve had a yearly tradition for a few years now of writing down a list every year around my birthday of the things I want to accomplish by the next birthday. They range from oddly specific to very vague and hard to quantify. I thought it would be fun to write a travel wish list. I will continually update this post as the year goes on, crossing items off when I accomplish them and linking to a specific post all about what I did.

27 Before 28: A Travel Wish List

1. Travel to the Baltics

I’ve already written about my plans to travel to England (on the plane there now as I write this!) and then Finland to stay with my friend who lives there. After that, though, I’m not 100% sure. Most of me thinks I will end up traveling in The Baltics. It’s only a quick ferry ride from Helsinki to Tallinn, a city I’ve heard endlessly good things about. The other capital cities, Riga and Vilnius, get a pretty good review as well. I know almost nothing about these cities other than the fact that I love the architecture I’ve seen in photos. If you’ve been and have any suggestions for what to do, leave them in the comments!

UPDATE: I spent time in The Baltics during my 2 months in Europe this past fall. I visited all three capital cities and even got a taste of the countryside on my Scenic Tour from Riga, Latvia to Tallinn, Estonia.

The Baltics

The Baltics

2. Learn how to really play the ukulele

Okay, I know I said travel specific, but hear me out! I made the (potentially very foolish) decision to bring my little ukulele with me traveling this time around. I can only play a couple songs, but I would love to incorporate it into my travels. Something I rarely write about here is the fact that I got a Bachelor of Music degree from a Choir College (Yes, they do exist). Since leaving school I haven’t been able to make music nearly as much as I’d like to. Singing is something that fulfills me just as much as travel does. Why not combine the two and be able to participate in hostel jam sessions from now on?

UPDATE: I started to learn how to play the ukulele, and then I stupidly left my ukulele on the bus traveling from Prague to Poland. Also unfortunately for me, that wasn’t the stupidest thing that happened to me on a public bus this year.

3. Create a travel web series

As I wrote in this post, my friend and I are tossing around the idea of creating a web series about travel. There have been so many moments during my travels when I write something down that would make a perfect comedy sketch. Travel is ripe for comedic fodder. Language barriers, transportation woes, meeting crazy people on the road..there’s a LOT there. This year I want to combine some of those experiences with my friends’ stories and create something we can all laugh at and relate to.

UPDATE: The web series is currently in the works! By a stroke of luck (or synchronicity?) my childhood friend who I was planning on writing with happened to move back to Syracuse mere months before I moved back myself.

4. Learn how to practice a healing art

Before leaving New York I almost got certified to be a Reiki healer. I’ve been curious about energy healing for a while and healing in general for much longer. Especially after attending that women’s wellness retreat in Costa Rica this past year, and meeting so many women who were helping to heal people in some way (and healing themselves in the process) I’ve been wanting to find my own thing. I’m open to seeing what and who crosses my path this year, and what I can learn.

UPDATE: I still haven’t formally learned how to harness healing energy to use on others, but I’ve gotten better at using it on myself. I’ve also become a lot more in tune with my intuition and learning my body’s signals.

5. Participate in my first TBEX

This is an item I know I’ll be crossing off because I’ve already got the ticket! I’m not sure what I’m more excited about, finally meeting people I’ve been reading about and connecting with virtually for a year now, or learning how to better my own travel blog? One thing’s for sure, it’s going to be a crazy experience! I’m a little nervous about how everything will play out, as I’ve never even been to a conference before, let alone one in an industry where I’ve never met anyone in person. Hopefully, I can make some friends and learn some things in the process!

UPDATE: I DID IT! I attended my first TBEX in The Philippines and met lots of amazing travel bloggers in the process. I didn’t write a full post on TBEX, but you can read about my experience in my monthly roundup for October.

TBEX Manila Philippines Travel Blogger Eva Explores

6. Travel to Poland

A natural place to go after Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania is Poland! Poland is an ancestral place for me, and I have been wanting to visit for a long time. Especially since reading amazing pieces on cities like Warsaw and Krakow, I’ve really been itching to get there. Maybe I’ll learn how to make pirogues, or learn about the history of the country. I want to get a feel for the country where half my family comes from.

UPDATE: I spent two weeks in Poland this year – visiting Wroclaw, Krakow and Warsaw. I still haven’t fully written about this magnificent country, but you can get a feel for some of the things I saw in my Poland Photo Diary.

 Poland is the Most Beautiful Country in the World

7. Go on another road trip

It’s no surprise that I love to road trip. I did a 6 week ultimate USA road trip this past year, and I would love to do another one. I haven’t explored much of the Southeast USA. Cities like Asheville, Charleston and Savannah call to me. I would love to visit in the spring when all the trees are blooming. I also have a lot of friends in Florida that I need to visit!

UPDATE: Sadly, I didn’t get to go on another road trip this year, aside from short day and weekend trips.
travel wish list

8. Learn how to scuba dive

I almost learned how to scuba dive in my 26th year, but didn’t follow through. I even flew to Little Corn Island almost specifically for that purpose but chickened out at the last minute. Remember when I overcame my fears and snorkeled in Panama? I hope this is the year I overcome my fears and scuba dive!

UPDATE: I guess scuba diving is always going to be the thing I keep saying I’ll get around to learning but never do (also see: surfing).

9. Travel to the Philippines

And what better place to learn how to scuba dive than the Philippines? Regularly topping lists for being one of the most scenic (and cheapest) places to scuba dive, I’m hoping to finally do my open water in the Philippines. I’m going to be there anyways for TBEX, so there should be nothing stopping me. Besides learning to scuba dive, I want to explore the islands that the Philippines are so famous for. Do you have any more suggestions of things to do in the Philippines or a place to do my open water?

UPDATE: I certainly saw The Philippines! From Southern Luzon to Palawan, I only cracked the surface of all there is to see in The Philippines on my three week trip.
Philippines Photo Diary Facebook
Z Hostel

10. Explore how it feels to love my body

I wrote at the beginning of the summer about my struggle with my health. I vowed to turn it around this summer. I haven’t exactly made huge strides in that direction. But I’m trying not to beat myself up about it. Mostly, I’d like to learn how to love my body. Sometimes I stop myself from being active or going to the beach because I don’t like how out of shape I am or how I look in a bikini. Not to mention the pressure that exists being a woman who travels and puts her experiences online. You don’t have to look far to find travel Instagram accounts featuring gorgeous girls on beaches. It’s been a point of contention for many women in the travel media-sphere, and I love that there’s been a push lately to feature women of all shapes, sizes and colors. One of my favorite hashtags to search on Instagram is #shewantsadventure. No perfectly made up models, just women who love to travel.

UPDATE: I am glad I titled this one “explore how it feels to love my body” rather than “get super fit and slim while I travel” because NEWSFLASH! long term travel is not super conducive to leading a healthy lifestyle (that is, unless you’re committed to it which I certainly wasn’t). While I didn’t make much headway on the getting healthy front, I DID learn a lot about loving myself, being kind to myself, and appreciating my body for everything it does for me.
Travel Wish List

11. Revamp my travel wardrobe

Who doesn’t get sick of traveling with the same 14 articles of clothing? I sure am. It’s a bummer to have to confine myself to some leggings and tank tops and call it a day. I miss being able to express myself through my clothing. Also, as I’m traveling to Europe, I want to look a little more put together than my beach bum look in Central America. I tried to bring fewer clothes this time in order to be able to buy clothes in Europe, but I failed. I’ll just have to accept that if I buy something I need to get rid of something else.

UPDATE: Eh…not so much. But I tried! I bought a vintage dress in Poland, sweatshirt in Latvia, boots and jeans in Helsinki. Then promptly left all of that in Helsinki while I traveled to Asia, where I bought disposable warm weather wear in Manila and cheap pieces from, of all places, a Forever 21 in a mall in Singapore.

12. Experiment with traveling consciously

Excuse me if this sounds out there and strange, but my 26th year was very much about exploring my spirituality. I went to an adult summer camp for the soul and I went on a yoga and wellness retreat in Costa Rica. I hope to continue that this year. Instead of staying in party hostels all the time, I want to find another side to backpacking. For the longest time, backpacking to me has been about having fun, meeting new people, and getting drunk. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that (especially not the having fun and meeting new people part!) but it’s started to feel out of line with where I am in my life in other aspects. I met plenty of people in Central America who were going about backpacking in a very different way, and I’d like to try to incorporate that this time around.

UPDATE: Well, I wasn’t planning on it, but I got swept up in Bali ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ fever. During my time in Ubud, which I haven’t written about in detail yet, I met inspiring people, learned a LOT, and had a kind of spiritual initiation. It was a different kind of travel, definitely steeped in the monied “wellness travel” industry, but all the same – at the end of my travels I think living in this community was the closest I came to traveling “consciously.”

13. Travel to Indonesia

This is a pretty new development, and I can’t say the details yet in case it doesn’t end up happening, but I think I will be traveling to Indonesia this year!

UPDATE: See Above!

14. Vote from Abroad in the Election

Already filled out my Absentee Ballot Application! I’ve actually never lived in the county I’m supposed to vote in since I’ve been 18. This year I’ll be voting from all the way across the world. When you travel, you realize how lucky us citizens of the USA are that we get to vote. You also realize how, like it or not, the USA’s politics are often a hot topic for people from all over the world. I won’t tell you how many laughing Canadians approached me when the whole Trump running for President thing happened. (Oh, that’s still happening, you say? GET OUT THE VOTE, PEOPLE!!) If you’ll be voting from abroad this year, check out this post for all the information you’ll need.

Travel Wish List

15. Start taking care of my body

Let’s do this, 27 year old me! It’s time to abandon fast food in favor of food that will nourish me. Abandon hours of binge watching TV in favor of working out. I believe in you, 27 year old me.

UPDATE: I plead the fifth. But, I mean, who can be healthy when there are delicious foods and delectable coffee from all over the world to be eaten and drunk?


16. Travel to Thailand

Thailand! I feel like I’ve read so much about this country that I’ve actually been there, but nope. That is definitely changing this year, though because my family is meeting me in Thailand for the Holidays!

UPDATE: Yes! I visited Thailand for over a month this year, from a family holiday on a little known island to a digital nomad retreat in Chiang Mai. Plenty to write about still, but for now you can get a sneak peak in my monthly roundup post – one month in Thailand.

17. Create more video content for my YouTube channel

Why is it so hard to start something? Like this blog for instance. I waffled for YEARS over wanting to start a blog, but never gathering either the courage or the willpower to just go for it. Then I did, and started kicking myself for not doing it sooner. I’ve started putting together the footage I have from my travels in Central America and the USA, but in terms of getting in front of the camera and filming something? Nope. I want to change that this year! (You can help me by subscribing to my channel so I don’t feel like I’m talking to the void!)

UPDATE: So it wasn’t quite the consistent effort I had imagined making, but I did put together a few videos this year! I have SO much footage from my travels, but I just don’t find any joy in video editing. Anyone want to do it for me? I’ll bake you cookies! While I don’t think that Youtuber is going to be added to my business card in the near future, I am semi-proud of the few videos I managed to compile. Check them out!

18. Be more active in my travels

See #15. I’ve always been more of an ‘indoor kid.’ I prefer reading to playing sports any day. But I also hate to miss out on stuff. I feel like if I travel halfway around the world, I need to sample everything the country has to offer..even if it pushes me outside of my comfort zone. Even if I’m not particularly good at it (and I hate being bad at things). I want to go on hikes and get more into the adventurous side of travel.

UPDATE: Again, I plead the fifth.
Travel Wish List

19. Get off the computer & go completely off the grid

Since starting to work on my computer, there’s been maybe one or two days that I haven’t looked at a screen for the majority of my day. I am SO grateful to be able to work on my computer and fund my travels, but just like anyone who works on a computer all day I need to limit my screen time. It felt so good to go off the grid in San Juanillo, Costa Rica on my retreat, and I’d like to do something similar again this year.

UPDATE: So it didn’t happen while traveling, but I definitely had a digital detox the past few months. Some days went by when I barely looked at my phone OR computer. I have to admit, though I’ve missed blogging, I haven’t missed the hours of screentime that went along with it. Quitting my digital job means that I no longer have to stare at a screen to make money, but it also means that I can’t pick up and leave at a moments notice. The trade off is worth it to me for now, but I guess we’ll see what the future holds.

20. Travel to Cambodia

For whatever reason, Cambodia is the country in Southeast Asia that captures my imagination more than any other. Yes, I also want to visit Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, and, well, basically everywhere. But Cambodia is inexplicably calling me. Have you been to Cambodia? What did you think?

UPDATE: Unfortunately, when I cut my trip short Cambodia was nixed from the travel itinerary. I still really hope to visit someday!

21. Do improv all over the world

Besides singing, my other love is comedy and improv, specifically. I started doing improv when I was living in NYC, and I miss it SO much. It’s such a fun way to get out of your head and into your body. Plus, it’s an absolute blast. I want to check out improv jams all over the world!

UPDATE: Surprisingly, I couldn’t find much long form improv abroad. And if I did, it was hard to find open jams or classes to participate in. Ah, well. Luckily, since moving back home I’ve been able to pick it up again!

22. Be an eco-conscious traveler

After traveling in Central America and seeing all the trash littered everywhere, I don’t want to add to the world’s garbage problems. I do my part by traveling with a reusable water battle and generally avoiding plastic bags and things, but I could definitely do better. Check out this site for brilliant tips on how to be an eco-conscious traveler.

UPDATE: One of the reasons I came home was because I felt like my version of being a digital nomad was most definitely NOT sustainable (obviously emotionally and financially as well as environmentally!) Being an eco-conscious traveler is a lot harder than it seems. And travel fatigue meant that a lot of the time I just let things slide when a little more effort on my part could have helped.
Travel Wish List

23. Learn how to cook a meal in each country I visit

Pretty self-explanatory. There are so many fun cooking classes all over the world. This year I want to learn how to cook lots of different kinds of food!

UPDATE: I took only one cooking class, in Thailand! But it was SO worth it. I have yet to write about this, so stay tuned.

24. Work with a tourism board to deliver content on a specific location

This is a pretty big goal, but I would love to be able to accomplish this one before the year is out.

UPDATE: I DID IT! In The Philippines I went on the Southern Luzon Heritage, Wellness and Culinary Trail with the Tourism Promotions Board of The Philippines. Check out some of the amazing experiences I had:

Food in The Philippines
Heritage Homes Of Taal Facebook

25. Live in a community of like-minded people

Whether this is about doing a month long retreat or checking out co-living, I want to incorporate more of a community lifestyle into my travels. Solo travel is the best, but I also miss the comfort of having people I connect with around me. This could be the solution.

UPDATE: I was hoping to get into the co-living lifestyle, but it just didn’t happen. Unfortunately, most of the co-living situations were out of my budget. But I came close to achieving the “community” vibe when I was in Ubud.

26. Give back to the communities I travel to

I have yet to volunteer abroad. That fact makes me ashamed. At the same time, I find myself so paralyzed by wanting to volunteer responsibly that I don’t know how to make a decision on where to volunteer. Will I actually be making an impact? Will my presence do more harm than good? These are all things I am considering. But there are people out there doing amazing, charitable things, and giving back to the communities they travel to. I want to take a page out of their book and find a way to give back myself.

UPDATE: I did not volunteer abroad. I know part of it what the above-mentioned fear of doing more harm than good, but another part was good old-fashioned laziness. I was working on the road, and honestly, most of my time was devoted to that. Still, no excuses. I definitely could have made more of an effort. And right before I came home, I agreed to become an ambassador with Visit.org, a social enterprise connecting travelers with organizations that give back to the communities they serve. Luckily, they also have opportunities right here in New York, so I will have to check them out soon!

27. Really take advantage of being young and free

Whenever I tell people (usually older people, if I’m honest) that I’m traveling, they always tell me to take advantage now while I have nothing holding me down. I don’t prescribe to the idea that we have to live a conventional life and not travel simply because we have a family or a house or a steady job or whatnot. But there’s no denying that I’m at my least encumbered right at this moment. I carry everything I need on my back. I have a job that allows me to be literally anywhere in the world (Okay, well, anywhere with reasonably good wifi). I want to take this to the fullest advantage this year. I don’t want to look back and feel like I was in these amazing places but not doing everything I wanted to do. Let’s make this the year of yes!

UPDATE: I would definitely call traveling to over 10 countries in 6 months with only a backpack and one suitcase taking advantage of being young and free.
Travel Wish List
So there you have it, my travel wish list for my 27th year. I will try my best to accomplish these, and write about my experiences. If you have any suggestions for ways to help cross these things off my list, or any destination advice leave them in the comments!

Happy Exploring, Wherever You Are!

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  1. It is amazing how often your lists are manifested in the universe! I love that you don’t limit yourself and each year brings greater discoveries!

  2. Great list. As I embark on my 27th year on this planet, too, and in a new place, I need to read this and be inspired by such an amazing, brave woman.

  3. SO many great goals in this post! You’re going to be busy this year. 🙂

    You know I’m a huge fan of Tallinn :), Poland is super high on my ‘must-do’ list, and Cambodia is some place I’m despserate to return to, so I’m excited to see what you think in these destinations. I also think a travel web series is a great idea! Something different than what other travel blogs are doing.

    Sounds like 27 is going to be awesome!
    Amy recently posted…12 Things to do in Budapest that are NOT Ruin BarsMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Amy!! I certainly am going to be busy this year. Exactly how I like it! Hahaha..I cannot wait to see Tallinn and Cambodia for myself! And as far as Poland I will keep you updated! How easy is it to get from Kiev to other parts in Europe?

  4. I turned 27 on the 15th and managed to have a mini mid-life crisis. I felt like I hadn’t made the most of being 26 (despite travelling from the UK through both the Americas and ending up in Thailand). I love all the items on your list and most of them would be on my list too! I have huge plans for this year (including running a marathon) – it’ll be the best year yet.

    1. Damn, that sounds like a LOT for your 26th year!! I totally feel you about the whole quarter life crisis thing, though. I had mine from the ages of 24-26..and I’m not so sure I’m completely out of the woods yet, either 😛 Let’s try to hold each other accountable to reach our 27 year old goals!!

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