It’s hard to believe, but one year ago, I published my first post on Travel Junkette. It’s been an incredible year — I’d even venture to say one of the best of my life. (I mean, you can’t ever beat 17, but I don’t think you’re meant to.)

I’ve traveled to six new countries, reunited with countless friends, and gained my first (and second!) freelance writing jobs. I’m stoked.

A blog was born

The idea for a travel blog first came to me while I was doing endless sessions of “deskwarming” as a teacher in Korea. This highly-sensical process involves sitting at a desk for eight hours a day while all of the students are on vacation. Your entertainment options include reading, watching this video on YouTube, or lesson planning. Needless to say, I read a lot.

Teacher and Korean students
A year old version of me.

Since travel is my version of methamphetamine, I mostly read about travel. I discovered a whole world of bloggers that were traveling the world, writing about it, and having a pretty damn good time. I fell in love with Adventurous Kate, salivated over food porn at Bacon is Magic, and laughed at everything Candice Does The World said.

And, I thought to myself, “I could do this.” I love to write; it’s always been the form of expression that came easiest to me. (Honestly, I’ve been known to stutter when nervous!) I was working a side job as a writer for the local English newspaper, The Jeju Weekly, and I’d kept travel blogs for family and friends during previous trips. If anything was up my alley, a travel blog was it.

It took long thinking sessions in a cramped van in Mongolia to hash out the deets and really decide to do this. I bought my domain when I returned, started writing thinking about writing, and published my first post a few months later. (Yeah, I’m a procrastinator.)

Touring van in Mongolia
That looks like a thought-producing van, if I ever saw one.

I didn’t know how it would evolve. I had no idea where I’d be a year from then, and whether I’d stick with it.

I’m so glad I did.

A year later

These 10 posts drew the most traffic, comments, and shares over the past year.

5 Reasons Never To Fly Aerosvit Airlines – This was an unexpected hit. I wrote it during a terrible, terrible plane ride. It’s been my best performer in terms of search engine hits, and with the most amusing queries — people usually find it by searching “Aerosvit sucks” or the like.

How Travel Makes You Thankful – This past Thanksgiving, I took a break from making hand turkeys to write this post about being thankful for travel, and all the things it’s made me thankful for. Apparently, a lot of people are thankful for toilet paper!

I Love America. So What? – On July 4th, I declared that America’s an f-ed up country. But it’s my country.

Is Egypt Safe For Women Travelers? – My mom said she’d buy me an iPhone if I didn’t go to Egypt this spring. Sadly for her, I like adventure much more than technology, and I went. Here’s my take on whether Egypt is safe for female travelers.

Horse and girl at the Great Pyramids
Safe and happy in Egypt.

Jumping Off A Cliff: Paragliding in Medellin, Colombia – I guess there’s a lot of people out there who are interested in being flown above cocaine fields in a diaper. Who wouldn’t be?

More Women Who Kick Ass At Travel & Life – Unsurprisingly, this post was pretty popular, because it introduced you to some incredible travel blogger ladies. If you haven’t added these blogs to your reader, do it now!

The Best Travel Debit Card – If you’re paying exorbitant bank fees for withdrawing cash from unaffiliated ATMs, stop! Open a checking account with Charles Schwab, and say goodbye to fees forevs.

The One Thing No Music Lover Should Travel Without – This is one little travel gadget that will bring you a lot of friends, and a lot of happiness. It + iPod = instant party.

What I Will (And Won’t) Miss About South Korea – Teaching in South Korea is a FABULOUS opportunity for those looking to travel and make a decent income. This post might give you a little insight into a teacher’s everyday life there. (Hint: lots of kimchi.)

Why I’m SO Excited… And Pretty F-ing Terrified – I bared my soul here, outlining my plans to have no plans and just write and travel. The amount of support you guys gave was unbelievable. Thank you!

Shrimping in Ketchikan
All of you make my life very happiness-filled.

Why it’s worth it

Undoubtedly, the coolest thing about starting this blog is hearing from people that I otherwise never would have. It totes makes my day when I receive an email, FB message, or tweet from someone who’s looking for advice about travel or seasonal jobs. Seriously. So, if you have any questions, or if you just want to chat, get at me!

Where I’ll be a year from now

Kicking ass and traveling the world! Ok, besides the obvious, I do have some goals for Travel Junkette. If I make them concrete (and public!), then I’ll have no other choice but to accomplish them, right?

  • I want to start a second website devoted to seasonal jobs.
  • I want to be earning $2,000 a month online (from this blog and other freelance jobs) — which would be enough to sustain me pretty much anywhere, besides Oslo. (Dammit. Norwegian dudes are HOT.)
Girl with Norwegian viking statue
Unfortunately, this is the only photo of a Norwegian man that I have.
  • I want to write and publish an ebook.
  • I want to sell five freelance travel writing articles, and find one more regular freelance job.
  • I want to motivate more people to get out of jobs they hate and into seasonal adventure jobs. (A bit of a fuzzy goal, but fuzzy’s good, too.)
  • Three is my lucky number, so I want to triple Travel Junkette’s size. This means triple my traffic, my Twitter followers, and my Facebook fans.

Do you think I can meet all these goals?

Ripping shrimp apart in Southeast Alaska
If I can rip the head off a shrimp, then I can do anything.

How I’m going to do it

Work my ass off, obvs.

More specifically, I’m going to focus on the seasonal jobs aspect of things. There are a lot of travel blogs out there, but most of them discuss sitting at a soul-sucking job and saving up for a long time, then traveling. I want to show you that it’s possible to work fun jobs, save money, AND travel.

How do I know it’s possible?

Because that’s what I’ve been doing for more than four years, and I’ve met a lot of people who’ve done the same thing. In that vein, I’m going to start a new feature next week called “Seasonal Worker of the Month.” It’s going to highlight kick-ass seasonal workers who will share their stories and insights with you about finding and working seasonal jobs. I’m reallyyyyy excited about it.

I’m also going to guest post the bejesus out of other travel blogs, create some sort of incentive for signing up for my newsletter… and continue to drunkenly pass out my business cards to everyone I see.

And, in the brilliant words of Corbett Barr, I’m going to write epic shit. Just you wait.

It’s all because of you

I wouldn’t be anywhere without you guys. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

To my friends and family

Ready to go kayaking in Ketchikan
The bearers of the red pens go kayaking in Ketchikan.

Thank you for your support during the past year, and always. Your words, love, and advice have been invaluable. I never would have had the guts to do this without you.

To my parents, thanks for tearing apart my childhood essays with your red pens. Though it may have been a tad much for a third grader, you’ve always pushed me to better my writing. And I know that if you understood social media, you’d help me out there, as well.

To my friends, thanks for sharing, liking, and tweeting things. Thanks for sending me supportive texts and indulging “lifers” over bottles of wine (or whiskey). Thanks for telling your friends about this blog, sharing your lives with me, and being the best siblings a girl could ask for. And for always supporting the decision to eat my feelings in carbs.

Some of my super awesome support group.

To my readers & fellow travel bloggers

Have you guys looked in the mirror lately? Go ahead and do it; I’ll wait. Damn, you are BEAUTIFUL.

Thank you for being beautiful, and for reading this blog. Thanks for sharing it with your friends and family.

Thank you for everything. This blog wouldn’t exist with you and your amazing selves.

Magic Gardens in Philadelphia, PA
Since I can’t give you a real hug, this picture of me hugging a wall will have to suffice.

Your support means the world to me. Every time you’ve left a comment, sent me an email, retweeted something, or liked something on Facebook, I do a little happy dance. You may not think I notice, but I do. I probably get way too excited about it, but as Thoreau said, “None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.” (And this girl ain’t ever gonna get old.)

Since you guys are the most important people around, I’d love to know what YOU think. What do YOU want to see more of on Travel Junkette? And if you have a travel question, send it my way.

I always love hearing from you and am here to help.

Thank you so much for your continued support; I’m honored to keep traveling down this road with you.

Road, mountains, trees in British Columbia
The road to adventure.