Eternal Arrival
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I Guess I Have to Adult Someday: Travel & Life Goals for 2018

Since it’s now officially February, these are decidedly not New Years Resolutions, you hear? Because the second you slap those three words on it, that seemingly dooms them to a messy chocolate-/tear-stained failure. Nope. These are February life goals. Totally different.

Inspired by Lauren of Never Ending Footsteps‘ yearly goals, I’ve decided to drown under the weight of hopelessly unrealistic ambitions hold myself accountable for once and say aloud my absurd life goals. After all, you’re supposed to speak it into existence, vision boards, etc., right?

So, here goes: my ridiculously lofty goals for 2018.

Goal #1: Take fewer douchey, pensively-looking-away Instagram photos

Travel Goals

1. Slow down and live part-time out of a home base

Is it cheating to start off with a goal that I’m already in the process of accomplishing? Yes? Ah, well.

After coming up on two years of full-time travel, I’m beginning to find it unsustainable for a number of reasons, the first being my mental health. While I’ve recovered from some of my worst periods of depression and have done a good job at managing my anxiety, I’m still not really operating at peak capacity.

After a spate of fast-paced travel last year, I really burned myself out well and good, and even this most recent slow travel trip to Bali and Taiwan didn’t help. So, I’m resting in California for a bit to get my energy stores back up, then briefly stopping over in Barcelona and Andorra en route to my new home base in…

Wait for it…

Sofia!

I spent a month living in the Bulgarian capital last year and promptly fell in love with it. The quality of life to price ratio there is pretty on par with digital nomad hotspots in Southeast Asia, but Bulgaria doesn’t cater exclusively to the expat community in a way that I felt a bit uncomfortable with in Bali. Plus, I love the Balkans so much and the fact that I’ll be close to some of my favorite places in the world (virtually everywhere in Albania, Belgrade, Istanbul) while based in a country that I also love is really exciting.

So, if you come on through these parts, give me a shout!

2. Visit every country in Eastern Europe

This shouldn’t be too hard, as I’m only missing a handful of countries in the region: Ukraine, Belarus, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Moldova. Russia, too, if you want to get real fancy.

I visited 5 new ones last year (Romania, Bulgaria & all the Baltics) and I don’t think 5 new ones will be exceedingly hard, although these are kind of jumbled across the map and not particularly convenient with the exception of combining Moldova/Ukraine/Slovakia into one extended trip. I prefer overlanding when possible because flying gives me such anxiety. The fact that I can visit three new-to-me countries in one trip, while only flying twice, is pretty exciting to me.

I was planning on visiting Russia during the World Cup due to the fact that I wouldn’t have to obtain a visa (I despise paperwork) but my hatred of crowds and paying a premium on hotels makes this a bit of a problem.

My travel plans do have me definitely in Georgia in June, though, which makes a border hop to visit of some of Russia’s smaller cities in the south (and maybe catching a game) quite tempting, so it’s something I’m definitely considering!

3. Get to 75 countries on the Traveler’s Century Club

As much as it’s cool to protest to the contrary, I’m a proud country counter. I have anxiety and making lists calms me down. Completing lists gives me no greater joy. I’ve struggled to determine which methodology to use, as what is considered a country is subject to geopolitical whims and who has more power. For example, is Kosovo a country? What about Taiwan?

I say yes on both counts, but the U.N. disagrees, largely because of the pressure of Russia/Serbia and China respectively. So I’m going with the Traveler’s Century Club as it’s the most complete list I can find, and I’m nothing if not a completionist.

How badass I’ll feel upon joining the Century Club! 

The TCC list is a bit more attuned to political nuances, historically and ethnically distinct regions, etc. (for example, it counts the Faroes as separate from Denmark, and Republika Srpska as separate from Bosnia & Herzegovina) than the standard U.N. (+2, or 3, or 4) list.

For normal people, this is irrelevant, but I’ve been a geography geek since I was a little girl and first discovered an atlas at my day care center. Totally unrelated note, I seemed to never be that popular as a kid. I suspect it may have had something to do with the fact that I wanted to talk about Kyrgyzstan a lot.

Right here and now, I’m setting the ridiculously ambitious goal to join the Traveler’s Century Club before I’m 30. I’ve been to 59 countries as per this list (52 or 54 according to other lists) at the time of writing. Getting to 75 isn’t too ambitious, especially considering that I’d like to travel slower this year and give myself a bit of a break from constant movement. And then in my final year of my 20s, I can give it a bit of a push.

Wish me luck. And sanity, because I seem to have lost it somewhere along the way.

Maybe in a bar in Tirana.

Life Goals

1. Do my taxes

OK, this is pathetic, but I’ve yet to claim my full tax refund from 2016 because I am terrified of phone calls and paperwork… in that order. Basically, I’m missing some necessary documents to complete it, and I’m emotionally about three years old when it comes time to dealing with it.

So, shame me, because now’s the time to finally stop being a baby about bureaucracy and getting my shit in order. Also, yeah, now it’s time to do 2017 taxes? UGH. Adulting is awful, 0/10, highly recommend avoiding.

Looking for fucks to give; failing to find any.

2. Develop a healthier relationship with exercise

Confession alert: I did a 10-minute “ab and booty blaster” Pilates exercise on YouTube two days ago and have been in such agony since that as I laid in bed last night I was convinced that I had bruised my ribs.

So yeah, maybe I should start a little slower, but I do really need to incorporate exercise more into my daily routine. I’ve always loved hiking, but I hike so sporadically – maybe once every two months or so – that I don’t really see any crossover mental health benefits, which are the primary reason why I need to exercise.

Also because I keep eating shit like this.

I’m trying to find an exercise I enjoy that I can replicate both on the road and find classes to progress in. So, if you have any recommendations for exercise you’ve enjoyed, let me know, because I’m still not convinced it can be anything other than horrifying.

3. Become mildly conversational in Bulgarian and Russian

I am finally starting to make some progress in my Russian (though the judgy Duolingo owl would beg to differ). Which is good because I’m certain I’ll be using it on my upcoming trip to the Caucasus and my tentative trip to the Stans.

Russian is undoubtedly the hardest language I’ve ever tried to teach myself, so I’m not super optimistic. Still, I’d love to be able to tell people a bit about myself, ask basic questions, and understand most of what they say back.

Bulgarian junk shops, clearly Instagram gold.

Since I’ll be based in Sofia about half-time I want to also learn some Bulgarian. While younger Bulgarians have amazing English, I often found that I had trouble communicating with older people, and I don’t want to be a burden. So I’m going to seek out some language classes in Sofia and work on my Bulgarian bit by bit.

Luckily, because I’ve studied Czech/Serbian/Russian at some points in the past (and before you go thinking I’m some weird polyglot genius, I just have a really short attention span and get distracted by new and shiny languages all the time), picking up a Slavic language won’t be as hard. In theory.

4. Stop avoiding meditation and get a better bedtime routine

As someone with ADD, I find meditation almost painful, which is probably a sign that I need it especially badly. I don’t have any crazy goals for this, but it’d be nice to do 10 minutes of meditation 5 times a week by the end of the year. For now, though, I’m settling for 5 minutes at a time because it’s better than nothing.

In line with that, I also need to work on like, not going to bed at 5 AM, because nothing brings back my anxiety more than being nocturnal.

Which probably means questioning the most important relationship I have in my life, no I’m not crying.

Blog Goals

1. Improve my photography and video editing

I’ve really started to love photography and I’d love to further develop my skills. I paid $300 for a tutorial on Fstoppers and so far I honestly feel like with the skills I’ve learned I’ve already gotten my money’s worth.

I’m learning how to edit using a combination of Photoshop plus Lightroom, which is much-needed as I feel like I was reaching the limit to what I wanted to do using just Lightroom. While I don’t want to do crazy edited HDR style photos, the flexibility of Photoshop is really rewarding, and I like being able to see my photo edits progress by setting up layers. I also want to stop producing atrocities like this:

In an unhealthy relationship with my saturation slider

Honestly, I think the biggest thing keeping me from reaching my photography goals is my laziness to go out during the right lighting conditions, so I think I have to rework my priorities a bit. There’s only so much you can do without that nice golden hour lighting. So like, this might mean waking up for sunrise sometimes. GAH.

I also started to dive into video last year and want to keep up with learning about it, developing my filming and editing skill set, and maybe even getting over how weird I think my face looks to start producing some vlogs.

2. Improve my storytelling

As I’ve seen this blog grow its numbers, unfortunately, I feel like it’s lost a bit of its spark. And, since the only way I can cope with feelings of January-induced inadequacy is by blindly throwing money at courses, I’ve also enrolled in a storytelling course for bloggers.

I need to find a balance between search-engine friendly content *cough* please don’t read the post on Stockholm hostels just before this *cough* and the fun, exciting stories I enjoyed telling in the earlier blogging days (like that time I got stuck in a snow bank in Swedish Lapland and why I’m completely obsessed with Albania).

hitching in albania

Or that time I hitchhiked to Kosovo

Working out a healthy balance of the two will take me most of 2018, I imagine, but finally arriving at a combination I’m happy with will be worthwhile. I’m also taking fewer sponsored trips this year (zero so far until August) and going more off the beaten path this year, so I’m hoping to bring you some really engaging stories once again.

On the docket? Andorra, the Caucasus, and a bit of Central Asia.

3. … yet still reach 100,000 pageviews a month by the end of 2018

’cause I still measure my worth by numbers and lists, and this blog has got to start making a bit more money — I’ve got cozy sweaters and fancy wine to buy.

Preferably consumed straight from a bottle on a sunny afternoon in the Alps.

12 Comments

  • Reply
    Kate and Kris
    February 3, 2018 at 6:43 am

    Let us know when you make it to Ukraine and we’ll have a drink/dumplings/ salad.

    • Reply
      Allison Green
      February 3, 2018 at 7:50 am

      YES to all, especially to dumplings! <3 I can't wait for Ukraine, it's been one of my biggest travel oversights.

  • Reply
    Katie Featherstone
    February 3, 2018 at 9:22 am

    What an excellent collection, I hope you achieve them all! I am also terrified of phone calls to “official” people and try to hide from adult life in this way. It really is a bit pathetic… lets sort it!

    • Reply
      Allison Green
      February 3, 2018 at 9:54 am

      Thank you! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for even 50% and I’ll consider it a solid success. And gah, phone calls are the worst. I would pay SO MUCH money for a robot that read my mind and translated it to voice calls for me. Privacy be damned, I’d sign it all over if I could be guaranteed to never make a phone call again. Come on Siri and Alexa, step it up.

  • Reply
    Nina
    February 4, 2018 at 8:55 am

    I highly recommend yoga! I practice ashtanga yoga (or bits of it) and really love it. I’ve lived all over the place those last few years and found that practicing it every day at home (wherever that is) really keeps me grounded. I highly recommend it! 🙂 My favorite yoga channel for ashtanga yoga videos would be Fightmaster yoga and any video that you can find on YouTube from david swenson! 😀

    Oh, is there any way I could sign up to get your newest blog posts via email? Please let me know. Thank you! I’ve been stumbling upon your blog quite a few times while doing researchf or my trip and found your posts incredibly helpful! 🙂

    • Reply
      Allison Green
      February 4, 2018 at 9:46 pm

      Hey Nina! That’s so awesome to hear – where is it that you’re going? I have a newsletter (which I’ve just added you to!) but I haven’t been great about sending it out regularly. In fact I just looked and I haven’t send a newsletter in nearly a year! Gah. But I’ll be trying to send out updates twice a month this year. If you have an RSS feed, you can see my newest posts that way, but I try not to spam everyone with my newest posts so I don’t have a new post email newsletter.

      Also, thank you for the tips on yoga! I’ve been an on-and-off again yoga enthusiast but I need to get more in the habit of it. I’ve very particular about who my ‘YouTube teachers’ because I get easily frustrated (read: making excuses to stop :P) and it’s great to hear some brand-new recommendations. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Nina
    February 4, 2018 at 9:25 am

    I have a question actually. Apologies, it’s not my intention to spam! About the storytelling course for bloggers you are taking, do you have a favorite one? Is there one you’d recommend? I just got into blogging and would love to hear your thoughts on what course to take as improving my writing is something that I would like to work on! 🙂

    • Reply
      Allison Green
      February 4, 2018 at 9:50 pm

      Definitely not spam! So, I just started this course: http://feveredmutterings.com/storytelling-course but it seems enrollment just closed (I also enrolled when it was about half the price). I’m only a week in, so can’t report back on it quite yet. I suggest watching this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZMFUBafJrg — Jodi Ettenberg is a master of storytelling (if you haven’t already discovered her blog Legal Nomads…. get ready to get sucked into a rabbit hole of goodness). But also, read some books about writing: On Writing by Stephen King and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott are good places to start.

  • Reply
    Ashley
    February 4, 2018 at 8:21 pm

    Good luck with your goals! I feel you on the phone call fear. I need to get better at that as well, and at being a functioning adult in general. I’m hoping to base myself in Belgrade toward the end of summer or autumn, so I might see you around those parts at some point!

    • Reply
      Allison Green
      February 4, 2018 at 9:54 pm

      I’m simultaneously amused and surprised that so many people share my fear of phone calls! But yea, being a functioning adult is pretty awful 🙁 I’m one of the most disorganized people on the planet. And ooh, Belgrade! One of my favorite cities, and one that I definitely need to get back to! I’ll give you a shout if I end up visiting Belgrade sometime around then, and you do the same if you find yourself in Bulgaria!

  • Reply
    LC
    February 10, 2018 at 2:08 am

    Yep, I hate the phone call thing too. It must be generational! Getting a proper bedtime/morning routine is a big one for me too. Am particularly bad if I have something I need to do the next day that I’m not looking forward to, haha. Just end up staying up for hours and hating myself in the morning. Good luck with the move to Sofia and everything you’ve got planned for this year.

    • Reply
      Allison Green
      February 11, 2018 at 8:11 pm

      It’s so weird because I can talk on the phone for hours with anyone I met pre-2008 but if I met you after then and you call me I am so affronted 😛 And gah, that is the exact same case for me! The worst is when I have an early morning bus, flight, appointment, etc. I end up not sleeping at all and the next day is a total killer. And thanks love, I hope I see you sometime this year! <3

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