Looking Back at 2016 & Our Travel Goals for 2017

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In keeping with a smidgen of tradition, and with the fast approach of 2017, we wanted to follow up last year's post (Looking Back at 2015 & Five Tips for 2016) with a recap of our 2016 and life goals for next year.

It's kind of a yearly review of ourselves, I suppose, which I think will prove interesting as we continue to grow and improve Two Nerds Travel.

So, 2016!

2016 has been quite a year. Probably right on par with the hugeness of last year!

Over the last 365 days, I started a full-time job as a technical writer. Mr. Nerd and I embarked on our honeymoon to the Dominican Republic and Chicago, we bought our first house together, celebrated our first wedding anniversary, and I graduated college! We also hit our year anniversary for Two Nerds Travel, reached several blogging goals, and Mr. Nerd secured a full-time job after years of contracting work.

*whew*

While we didn't tick anything off our bucket list (we'd hoped to see the Northern Lights in Iceland and strike that off our list, but alas, no luck), we did visit 4 new countries together. A big travel win for us after years of only traveling once every twelve months!

"Life," to quote last year's recap, "has been really great." It continues to get better and better, and we can't wait to see what 2017 brings us. Two Nerds Travel keeps growing; it's a slow process, and I didn't get to all the things I wanted to do this year (score our first sponsorship, create a logo, host a giveaway, etc), but I did learn a lot. Some things I learned I've managed to implement, other things will be done in 2017. But all in all, I'm encouraged by our growth and, ultimately, proud of ourselves for sticking to our dreams.

What do we see for 2017? We plan to visit Europe over Christmas (adding at least 3 new countries to our list), start hiking the Superior Hiking Trail seriously on the weekends, and expand our blog ... maybe finally get to that giveaway! Woo-hoo!

As for personal goals, I plan to finish my novel (long in the making), take a beginner's course for Swedish language, and return to my editorial roots. Mr. Nerd, I'm sure, has his own goals. It's going to be a slower year for travel (for personal reasons, highest being lack of funds), but we plan to do a lot of local travel.

No matter what, we're wholeheartedly looking forward to 2017!

Favorite 2016 Photos

What's a yearly recap post without some of our favorite photos from this year's travels?

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Recap: Last Year's Travel Goals

Last year, we had five travel goals that we encouraged ourselves (and others) to try. Did we successfully meet these goals? In some ways, yes. In other ways, no. But I think this year was a positive step in the right direction, no matter how you slice it.

"Don't be afraid to try new things"

Mr. Nerd fearlessly ate five pieces of rotten shark, aka hakarl, in Iceland so that I could get it on video. Hehe. I tried lamb for the first time and suffered through a couple shots of Brennivin, an Icelandic schnapps that tastes like licorice (big feat; I hate licorice).

All in all, we didn't say no to anything that presented itself this year, and I'm glad for it. It paved the way to several new experiences that we wouldn't have thought to pursue before (and gave us even more laughs, for us and for you, our readers).

"Throw away the itinerary"

I tried to scale back on the planning this year but failed, just a bit. Our trip to Iceland was planned with an itinerary. I know, I know! I just can't give up my spreadsheets, lists, and directions! Type A personality, right here.

On a positive note, despite having an itinerary, we did throw it aside several times in favor of wild side tangents/adventures. So, perhaps this year was a step in the right direction, and the itinerary-less travel can wait when we embark around the world as full-time nomads (whenever that happens).

"Create your own travel opportunities"

In my opinion, we nailed this. The goal "create your own travel opportunities" was all about making the most of travel, taking control of timing, and leaving our days of "waiting for the right moment" behind. So this year, we traveled not once, which is the usual for us, but eleven times collectively (there were a couple solo trips in there). That's huge! We decided to make travel a priority, and it has been, and it's great.

For 2017, we don't anticipate to travel as many times as this year, but we still expect to travel often. I can't wait.

"Travel light"

We ditched our suitcases and invested in some awesome backpacking bags. Yes, you heard that right. We're full-on carry-on travelers now! It's so freeing. Couldn't be more pleased.

Next steps? We're simply trying to figure out how to pack lighter and more efficiently. It comes with time and practice, but we don't regret it. Totally beats lugging around a giant suitcase and waiting at the baggage claim!

"Leave behind all expectations"

How'd we do with expectations this year? Hmmm. Well, I think this is a work-in-progress goal that'll improve as we continue to travel the world. For the most part, we stuck to the United States, Canada, and Europe this year, which meant we didn't leave our comfort zone. We had ideas on what each place would be like before we visited, and they were spot on.

I regret not having more of a chance to challenge myself and my beliefs through travel this year.

The only place we visited that we managed to leave behind expectations for was the Dominican Republic, and I'm glad we were so open and unassuming because wow. The trip definitely taught us something about our lives in the United States and what privileges we have that others do not. It gave us humility and thankfulness, and we'll carry it with us for a while.

2017: Travel Goals for the New Year

For 2017, we have some new travel goals that we're excited to achieve:

1. Stay in more hostels. We want to meet new people, drastically reduce our budget, and be more open to our surroundings. In this case, hostels are perfect for all three! It'll be a huge difference from the AirBnbs and cheap hotels we usually stay in, but after staying in a hostel in Iceland, we've really come to love them and are excited for the change.

2. Take our first backpacking trip. Okay, time to be honest. We haven't done any "real" backpacking before. We've always been contained to one or two places over the span of a trip, and we get there by flight or short train ride. So, for 2017, we're planning to visit Amsterdam over Christmas. This opens up 16 days where we could, potentially, backpack across a few European countries (including the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, and the Czech Republic). We're excited for this possibility! Train rides, landscapes, budgeting, and living out of one backpack each for 16 days? Here we come!

3. Hike the Superior Hiking Trail. While we've hiked bits and pieces of the Superior Hiking Trail in Minnesota before (only two hours north of where we live), we've never hiked the full 310 miles of beautiful wilderness it cuts through. It's a huge goal that we've discussed for years. 2017 seems like the right time to achieve it!

4. Focus on storytelling and relationships. This is a big one for me, personally, since I write the content for Two Nerds Travel. We've done well with our blog so far, but I want to get back to the heart of writing stories and seeking out travel relationships. If there's a chance I can meet some amazing people during our travels next year, awesome! So if you see me on your travels, come talk to me! I promise I don't bite.

Did you achieve everything you wanted to do this year? What are your travel goals for 2017? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.