Lessons Learned in 2012

2012 was a big year, the kind of year that’s going to be really, really hard to top. I visited places I’ve always wanted to see (London hey-oh!) and places that I never knew existed (Sarande, Albania). It was also a very educational year, so I have decided to share with you the things I have learned.

If you get seasick, sea kayaking is probably not for you.

When we were traveling in Croatia last summer, I got the idea in my head that we needed to do something adventurous. I did some research, and signed us up for a half-day sea kayaking excursion. I was pretty proud of myself until I talked to my sister the night before. “Don’t you think you’re going to get seasick?” she asked. As someone who gets queasy on a swing set, for some reason, the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind. Sure enough, 30 minutes into the trip and I’m puking over the side of my kayak. Fail.


"Think there's any way we can get out of this?"

“Think there’s any way we can get out of this?”

Just because a place is labeled as a tourist attraction doesn’t mean it’s not worth going to.

I’ve noticed that lots of well-seasoned travelers (and bloggers) get a little high-and-mighty about the places they’ve traveled. There seems to be an unwritten rule that the more remote the place, the higher your travel cred it. I wouldn’t trade my experiences at the Eiffel Tower, Coliseum, or London Bridge for anything, and while I have been to some unknown places, I wasn’t the first, and it certainly doesn’t make me any better than anyone else.

"Big Ben? Sooooo touristy. Ugh."

“Big Ben? Sooooo touristy. Ugh.”

A celebrity tweeting at you (even if that celebrity is from the Real Housewives of Vancouver) is exhilarating.

2012 was the year I was tweeted at by a celebrity. Mary Zilba from the Real Housewives of Vancouver, to be exact. Now if I could only get Ed Sheeran to notice me…


Just because you’re stationary doesn’t mean you have to stop traveling.

Yes, I work a 9-5 job. Yes, I have a lot more responsibilities and bills than I did a year ago. However, I realized that I can take that excitement I had about traveling Europe and apply it to my own country. This year will hopefully have me exploring North Carolina, Oregon, and Massachusetts. I may not be in Europe anymore, but I’m going to keep traveling.

Be who you are.

Life is about figuring out who you are, and it’s possible I came a little closer to that this year. Specifically, I figured out what I am not. A hiker. For some reason, I thought I enjoyed hiking and mountain climbing, yet put it off all year. My last week in Bilbao, I accepted an invitation to climb Pagasarri, a mountain overlooking Bilbao. I hated it. Yes, the view was amazing, but I would have much rather driven up. Once and for all, I realized I am not so much an outdoors girl.


Not as happy as I appear to be

Not as happy as I appear to be

Going to bed early makes you better rested in the morning.

This is such a duh, but I actually did learn that this year. In Spain, I would stay up until midnight or later, and wonder why I felt like I was going to die having to get up at 7:15 for class. Now, I go to bed a little earlier (ok, a lot earlier) and feel great in the morning. Who knew?

Friends don’t have to live in the same time zone. Or continent.

If you want to stay in touch with someone, you will. With Facebook, Skype, and Whatsapp, hardly a day goes by that I don’t talk to one of the people I became friends with in the last two years. Technology is pretty great.


2012 was an amazing, but challenging year. I had to make some difficult decisions, some of which included deciding to leave Europe for good and ending a long-term relationship. However, these decisions have proved to be good ones so far, and hopefully 2013 will be even better. 

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2 comments on “Lessons Learned in 2012

  1. Great list Liz! And I SO agree with you on your second point. Tourist attractions are popular for a reason, and most are very worth a visit!
    • Thanks Darlene! Traveling is about being open-minded, so you gotta be open-minded to everything!

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