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12 Months of Travel in 12 Images

Just as my Twelve Ways Twelve Days dress challenge has ended, I bring you my 12 months in 12 images travel post on Wanderlust and the Girl.

Even though I’m now going on my 5th travel year (wow), Harry and I left his home in England one year ago. October 18th marks our one year anniversary for our Latin America vagabond journey that somehow turned into temporary expat life in South East Asia. Go figure!

I guess that’s the beauty of traveling, though – the freedom to go where the wind takes you!

Join me on a visual whirlwind of our travel highlights from this past year:

October: Mexico!

After a grueling 40 hour journey from England, we made it our first destination: Cancun. With three things on our mind we indulged in the heat of the tropical sun, the beauty of the vivid crystal sea, and the abundance of delectable Mexican cuisine! One of our goals was to eat our way through Mexico, and we sampled as many “antojitos” as we could fit into our eager bellies!

November: Playa del Carmen

After the threat of hurricane Rita passed, we left our detour in Merida to return to the turquoise Maya Riviera seas. We bee lined our way to Playa del Carmen to celebrate Harry’s 28th birthday and made the decision to rent an apartment and experience “living abroad” in Playa del Carmen. Great fun, amazing people, and a budget friendly lifestyle make Playa del Carmen the idyllic location for an expat.

December: Guatemala

A last minute decision to surprise my grandmother for Christmas, we left Playa one month early and made our way south through Tulum and onto Guatemala experiencing one of the most underrated natural wonders of Central America: Semuc Champey. All the travelers in the Yucatan recommended for us to go to Zephyr Lodge in Lanquin as a home base for these emerald pools – one of the best hostels in the world!

January: El Salvador

Surprising my grandmother in time for the holidays, we spent three weeks in El Salvador and celebrated the New Year in surfer’s paradise, El Tunco. The rest of the time we stayed in the charming town of Ataco which is known for its multitude of religious celebrations and is a weekend hot spots for Salvadorans from the capital city. What a lovely and welcoming country!

February: Utila

One of the items on my bucket list and biggest influencers to travel Central America was diving Utila. Despite initial apprehension, we got both our Open Water and Advanced Diving Certification on this fun and youthful island. An amazing experience, we were thrilled to have learned how to dive with the Utila Dive Centre and will never forget the memorable sea life in these perfectly blue Caribbean waters.

March: Rio Dulce

I forgot to mention that we changed our travel plans and decided to go back to South East Asia cutting out Latin America budget in half. With the hopes to save money, we tried our first volunteer work exchange and got so much more than we bargained for – in fact, we had one of the best experiences of our entire trip! Running an eco-lodge in the remote jungle was a once in a lifetime opportunity. The setting was peaceful, the food phenomenal, and the people I will always hold close to my heart. After 6 weeks living on the Rio Dulce, I hope to one day return again.

April: Los Angeles

With a necessary stopover in the US between Mexico and Asia, we timed the journey to revolve around one of my favorite times of the year in Los Angeles: Coachella. After 2 more wonderful weeks in Mexico, we made a brief 3 week stop in my beautiful city. It was great to see my family and friends and also attend the Coachella Music Festival where we saw the Tupac hologram the first weekend – insane!

May: Thailand

Oh how I Love Thailand and this time I brought a souvenir with me from home: one of my best friends Mo. She joined Harry and me for a few weeks as we showed her some of the sights – Ayuthaya, Kanchanaburri, Phi Phi, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao. Her first international trip, I hope she enjoyed it and will meet me again in the future :-)

June: Thailand

A big month for me: it was my 30th birthday and I celebrated by giving away a free round trip flight within North America! As an added bonus, I created Koh Phangan’s first official Recycling Event & Community Swap for my workaway exchange at the Phangan Project before heading down to Malaysia and over to Borneo to work in the jungle for 4 weeks.

July: Borneo and Malaysia

Change of plans again led to a cancelled flight to the Philippines, a shortened workaway exchange in the Borneo jungle, and losing our reservations to dive Sipidan. Lucky for us, we ventured away from the popular dive shop everyone goes to and found a last minute opening to dive the world famous dive site! An extraordinary experience, Sipidan is worth every penny. From creatures big and small, odd and scary, beautiful and unbelievable; diving Sipidan was the highlight of the trip.

August: Thailand

So Harry and I went our separate ways for one month – no, nothing bad! We pursued different work exchanges and got to learn new and different things. He later joined me in Koh Samui where we have now set up camp for the rest of the year. The work exchange I participated in ended up being a great opportunity – the team helped me launch Travel Fashion Girl my long awaited website :-)

September: Thailand

Harry and I continue to work towards a location independent career as we’ve parked for a few months to build online businesses. We’ll finish the trip here in Koh Samui before flying home for the holidays.

It’s been a great year with many lessons. No matter how long I travel I never stop learning. Stay tuned to find out our one year travel budget and what 2013 will bring! :-)