Happy New Year!

Fireworks at Darling Harbour

2011 was fabulous.

I moved to a country on the other side of the world that I knew absolutely nothing about.

I ran a half-marathon.

I started writing for the newspaper.

I traveled to Mongolia.

I fell in love with approximately 700 small Korean children.

I decided for once and all that I don’t like kimchi.

And, I started this blog! Thanks to everyone for all your love and support throughout the year (and for all of the amazing care packages!).

So, why am I stoked for 2012? How could it possibly top 2011? Well, I have a whole LOT of traveling to do and a whole lot of amazing people to see. And, I will be documenting it all right here at Travel Junkette!

Here’s my sched. I am one lucky duck.

January:  JAPAN. Headed to the motherland, peeps. (My mom’s Japanese-American, fyi.) I’ll be seeing Justice in concert, eating obscene amounts of sushi, and shredding glorious powder at Niseko Ski Resort. Because I’ll need some relaxation after all that skiing, I’m headed to the PHILIPPINES. Dive with thresher sharks, tan, nap, drink, sleep, and repeat. What a way to kick off the new year!

February: My last month in Korea. What? When did that happen!? On my way home, I’ll enjoy a whirlwind visit to my friend Teddy in Shanghai, taking advantage of the visa-free 48 hour transit period. China? CHINA!

Susan and grandpa in San Diego
My grandpa and me. What a stud.

March: Home sweet home. I’ll be setting foot on American soil for the first time in more than a year. Reverse culture shock galore. In addition to being there to watch both Michigan basketball and hockey rock their respective tournaments (did I mention we won the Sugar Bowl yesterday???!!!), March is going to be familyyy time. I can’t wait! I’m criss-crossing Cali to see my grandpa and extended fam, then it’s back home to New York, where I’ll be catching up on a year’s worth of trashy reality TV with my friend Jen and getting fat off my mom’s cooking. I’ll also be headed to New York City to chill with my friend Maggie and lots of other great people.

April: My first foray into the Middle East! I’ll be spending 10 days in Israel (fo’ FREE) through the Birthright program (don’t you wish you were Jewish?), then will be meeting my friend Claire in Jordan. After a stateside wedding, it’s up to Southeast Alaska. I worked there two summers ago and haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. When you’re working at a sea kayaking company, it’s not exactly work! Even better, my friend Stew is coming with me!

View from sea kayak in Ketchikan, Alaska
Uhh, yeah. I miss this view.

May – September: Work and play in beautiful Southeast Alaska. Make friends with whales, bears, and fishermen that look like bears. Eat endless amounts of fresh salmon and halibut.

October: Who knows? That’s the beauty of it. I can promise you it will involve adventure, travel, and pleasedeargodpleaseplease a trip to see Denard Robinson play at the Big House!

That’s what I’ve got planned so far. Typing this up just made me realize how insane it all is.. WOW. Want to meet up anywhere?!

Make 2012 Your Year For Travel, Too!

For anybody who hasn’t yet taken the plunge but really wants to go on that first big international trip, make 2012 the year. It’s totes overwhelming, but with the resources of the internet you pretty much have no excuse.

If you don’t know where to begin, Adventurous Kate wrote this post called Yes, You WILL Travel This Year. Here’s HowIt is basic and inspiring, and it’s amazing to see how far she’s come since her first international journey.

And for those who need a little tougher love, check out these posts about leaving your travel excuses behind and just going – from Art of Backpacking and Bohemian Trails. The first article focuses on the mental barriers, and the second on the financial ones.

You know what my resolution was the past couple years? “Quit buying stupid shit.” “Quit buying shots for everyone and their mothers, and their mothers’ friends, at the bar.” And I did. And now this is what my year looks like.

It just takes one small step to start, and then the others will follow. Stop buying Starbucks mochachinolattegrandes every morning. Put the money you saved into a jar. Once you see that cash piling up, you’ll want to make other changes. Put a photo of your dream vacation in your wallet and on your computer’s wallpaper. Then the next time you go to buy something dumb as shit, you will remember – 2012 is the year. 

(And if you are buried in student loans or credit card debt, come teach in South Korea, g-dammit! It is a gold mine of easy money and travel opportunities over here. Email me with any questions, and I’d be delighted to help.)