2019 in Review: My Travels & Progress Toward 2019 Resolutions

Photo fo a family of elephants with white birds on their back from my 2019 in review post.
On Safari in Murchison Falls.

2020 is almost here, which means it’s time to reflect on my travel goals I set in January and see how I did!

Last year, I set 19 goals for myself related to travel. I ended up meeting 11 of the 19. Many of these misses are due to my partner getting a job in Uganda where we spent the last 3 months of the year. Knowing we were going to do this, and having a lot of family travel in the summer, I opted against trying to coordinate housesits, workaways, or other travel.

Trips taken:

Bahamas

Vegas

Morocco

Tennessee

North Carolina

Tahoe & Vegas

Kings Island in Ohio

San Fran & San Diego

Ethiopia

Uganda

  • Jinja X3
  • Tororo
  • Sipi Falls
  • Murchison Falls

Rwanda & Lake Bunyoni (in Uganda)

Goals I met:

Have a Suitcase Six Reunion

We met up in Tahoe! We had an amazing time, no surprises. I wrote a post about why you should visit Lake Tahoe:

6 Reasons to Visit Lake Tahoe ASAP

Apply to a master’s program abroad or online

I applied to a Masters in International Humanitarian Action, and another program in Human Rights Practice and Policy, both as a scholarship applicant through the Erasmus Mundus program.

Travel somewhere with the bf 

We went to the Bahamas together for Valentines Day, Tennessee for the Bonnaroo music festival, and then to Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Uganda (where we’ve lived for three months). Definitely consider this goal met and exceeded.

Explore more countries in North America

I’m counting this because we went to the Bahamas and I visited Tahoe and North Carolina – new places for me in North America and the US, though I’d hoped to also hit Mexico. We might have a wedding in Mexico in 2020 so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for that!

Take a refresher on scuba diving

Go camping (completed at Bonnaroo)

Read 2 books written by non-English authors

The Alchemist

Half of a Yellow Sun

Then You Know It’s Over

Spend more time outdoors

This is a bit ambiguous but we spent a lot of time working outdoors and visiting natural sites (waterfalls, safaris, lakes) in Uganda. I also did some hikes and had some outdoor time in Tahoe, California, and North Carolina – so I’m checking this off my list!

Travel for a political event 

Technically I just travelled downtown in Indianapolis, BUT I went to a protest in my city against the anti-abortion laws restricting reproductive rights and healthcare access for women in my state. Shoutout to my friend, Alex, for inviting me!

Travel for a music festival

Bonnaroo in Tennessee! We have plans to go again next year because we enjoyed it so much.

Explore the vegan/vegetarian scene more at home

I ate a lot of vegan meals and restaurants, sticking to a vegan diet 90% of the time from January – September, and a vegetarian diet 90% of the time October – December when we moved to Uganda. 

Image of red raft flipped over in the rapids.

Goals I did not meet:

Take a cooking class

(We’d scheduled one in Rwanda, but it got cancelled 🙁 

Practice my Spanish language skills

Didn’t really achieve this.

Start saving for bigger travel again

Also didn’t get far with this when we moved to Uganda, but I spent a lot of time traveling this year so I can’t complain. I’m hoping to get a job next year with a higher salary, which would make saving up a bit easier too.

Do A Workaway

Do A Housesit

Volunteer somewhere with animals

I didn’t fit the last three goals in. I did not anticipate moving to Uganda for the end of the year and all the changes and preparation that would bring! I do hope to incorporate these into my travel again, possibly next year if I do some extended travel in different areas.

Visit Northeast Coast 

Didn’t get up here much, for the same reasons as above.

Fly less this year

I exceeded my flight count from 2018, which was surprising because I traveled for 7 months and visited 21 countries that year! But I worked literally around the globe from Chicago, going east, until I got back so I was able to travel by train for the majority of that. 

This year, I flew roundtrip to the Bahamas (6) Vegas (2) and Morocco (6), to Tahoe and out of Vegas (2), to San Francisco (2) to San Diego (1) and out of San Diego (2), and then to Uganda via Addis Ababa (2). All told, it was six trips with 23 legs.

I tried to minimize my travel where possible, taking the bus from Indiana to Chicago so we could get a nonstop flight to Chicago, sharing a car with my boyfriend at home, and working mostly remotely cutting down on daily travel. I also tried to take advantage of as many layovers as possible to visit friends and family instead of making separate trips. I explored NYC on my way through Morocco, combined our Suitcase Six reunion with my Vegas family reunion to cut down on a flight, and spent 4 days in Addis Ababa taking advantage of the forced layover. 

Four of these trips were for family visits with relatives who live across the country. The last trip to Uganda was to live with my boyfriend who spends half the year there, across two trips. Had we known we’d be going to Uganda, we probably wouldn’t have taken a trip to the Bahamas. So, I’m disappointed with the number but making plans to bring it down for 2020.

Other Highs, Lows, and Travel Counts:

Best moment: 

Hearing my favorite artist sing my favorite songs at Bonnarroo; realizing my tour guide’s favorite book that inspired him to travel was the book I was currently reading and loving; swimming in a pool overlooking the Nile River with Christian; seeing baby elephants and rhinos on our Safari…

Worst moment: 

Losing my phone with my photos on it, getting food poisoning

Wildest story: 

Losing my phone in the Sahara desert and getting it back two days later 8 hours away from where I lost it 

Best food: 

Brunch in Kigali, fresh juice at our favorite Belgian café, or regular Saturday brunches at the Bistro

Worst food: 

Lake Bunyoni – curry, quesadilla (without cheese) and samosas with the same three ingredients had us super bored

Most adventurous activity: 

Abseiling down Sipi Falls or white water rafting in the Nile River

Best Accommodation: 

Probably Riad & Spa Dar Bensouda in Fez, Morocco, or Lacam Lodge or Nile Smile Airbnb in Uganda (with Sipi Falls/the Nile River in our back yard respectively)

Worst Accommodation: 

Hotel in Bahamas that smelled like tobacco, and was unclean and falling apart 

Biggest Surprise: 

Our giant room in Riad & Spa Dar Bensouda, sleeping under the Redwood forest in Guernville, California, or seeing monkeys in our back yard in Nile Smile

Biggest Letdown: 

The Seafood in the Bahamas – not nearly as good as we would have expected!

New Countries visited: 5

Bahamas

Morocco

Ethiopia

Uganda

Rwanda

Cities visited: 24

In the USA: ChicagoNew York City, San Francisco, Guerneville, San Diego, Tahoe, Las Vegas, Raleigh, Manchester, Chimney Rock, Indianapolis, Mason (OH)

In the Bahamas: Eleuthera Island, Harbour Island, flew into Nassau but didn’t really explore

In Morocco: Marrakech, Fez, Casablanca (though we didn’t explore much here either)

In Ethiopia: Addis Ababa

In Uganda: Kampala, Jinja, Lake Bunyoni, Sipi Falls/Mount Elgon, Tororo, Murchison Falls

In Rwanda: Kigali

Flights: 23

Trains: 1

Ferries/Boats: 5 

(3 in Bahamas, 2 in Murchsion)

New Experiences: 

Abseiling, white water rafting, camping, dugout canoe-ing, safari

Trips: 11

(+6 little trips inside Uganda)

All in all, it was a pretty amazing year and I did so much more traveling than I would have thought. When I got back from my round-the-world trip at the end of 2018, I was so anxious I’d be stuck at home for all of 2019! Looking back on the year I can see I was incredibly wrong. And for being abroad for several months of this year I’m happy to see I got to fit in lots of time with friends and family. I really can’t complain!

I’m super thankful that my job is remote, which has allowed me to join Christian in Uganda and work from there as he works out of Kampala. It also pretty much afforded me the flexibility to visit all the other places I went, working during transit or fitting in work days on the road. I’ll be in the same job until May but after 5+ years I’ve decided to end my time with HOPE Mentoring around the end of the school year. I’ll be searching for something else that will hopefully be fully remote too.

I’ve got my 2020 travel goals and plans laid out already (as best as one can with more change on the horizon for the next year). To see what I’m trying to accomplish and where I know I’m headed, check out my 2020 Travel Resolutions post, and then let me know what you have on your itinerary!

Read next year’s travel goals & plans:

2020 TRAVEL RESOLUTIONS: MY PLANS, GOALS, AND UNKNOWNS FOR A NEW DECADE

Read last year’s travel roundup:

UPDATES, TRAVEL RESOLUTIONS, AND WHERE SUITCASE SIX IS GOING IN 2019

2019 in Review: My Travels & Progress Toward 2019 Resolutions
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