Looking Back at 2017 & Our Travel Goals for 2018

Every year in December, Mr. Nerd and I sit down and reflect on the past twelve months: our achievements, our struggles, our favorite travel destinations, and what we hope to do in the new year. Per tradition (this is one of my favorite posts to draft, in fact), here is our 2017 in review.

Interested in our previous recap posts? Check out what we did in 2015 and 2016.

 Mr. and Mrs. Nerd at Jökulsárlón, a glacier lagoon in Iceland

Mr. and Mrs. Nerd at Jökulsárlón, a glacier lagoon in Iceland

Oh 2017, How Lovely You’ve Been!

It’s funny. We proclaim every year as “the big one” for travel, never believing we’ll top it again. But then we do.

Last year, I graduated from college. Ben and I settled into our careers, went on our honeymoon, bought our first house… The list goes on.

Life: In 2017, we capitalized on those successes in new ways. I transitioned from technical writing to marketing writing, a move that gave me access to the creative outlets I crave (ones I didn't have in a development environment). Mr. Nerd went back to art school for night classes, too—a total dream come true for him, as art is something he'd eventually love to do full-time.

• You can follow Mr. Nerd’s art school adventures on his Instagram page 

We also celebrated our two year wedding anniversary. Already. I know, right?

Travel: On the travel front, I visited Cuba in May and ticked a new country off my list. It was an experience I'll never forget. Mr. Nerd and I then proceeded to visit six states (two of which, Nebraska and Nevada, were new for me) and flew to Iceland in October to travel the Ring Road. We accomplished a single bucket list item this year—on that last trip, too. We saw the elusive northern lights!

What were our best travel blogs of 2017?

Website: As for our website... Growth exploded this year after we migrated from a Premium Wordpress account to Squarespace. We tripled our organic traffic, completely redesigned our site, and gave ourselves a logo—all accomplishments we’re proud of. We also partnered with a company in Iceland (our first sponsorship!) and hosted a giveaway for a postcard. Basically, we accomplished everything we wanted to do for the website this year! I couldn’t be happier.

2017 was also the year of personal changes and challenges.

Health: Mr. Nerd and I started running 3x a week to gain strength and flexibility, achieve a healthier weight, and work some mobility into our otherwise immobile lives (now that it's winter, we've switched to yoga 4-5x a week for energy and rejuvenation). I took this quest for my best self a step further and became a vegetarian in June. Since then, I've spent hundreds of hours in the kitchen pouring through my new favorite cookbooks: Cookie and Kate's Love Real Food and Thug Kitchen’s Eat like You Give a F*ck.

Related Reading: How to Travel as a Vegetarian Foodie

Hobbies: I already mentioned that Ben started back at art school this year. As it happens, I also returned to my writing roots by planning, researching, starting, and finishing a new novel—and this after 6 years of working on an old idea. We both have many goals for our prospective hobbies in 2018, and 2017 was just the start of what's to come.

All in all, the last twelve months have been fantastic. And not surprisingly (anymore, anyway), we predict 2018 will be even better! Fingers crossed we can keep the good vibes going forever. ;)

Favorite 2017 Photos

What’s a yearly recap post without some of our favorite photos from this year’s travels? Note: Hover over a picture to see where it was taken.

 Havana, Cuba - May 2017

Havana, Cuba - May 2017

 Viñales, Cuba - May 2017

Viñales, Cuba - May 2017

 Great Basin National Park, Nevada - June 2017

Great Basin National Park, Nevada - June 2017

 Zion National Park, Utah - July 2017

Zion National Park, Utah - July 2017

 Southern Iceland - October 2017

Southern Iceland - October 2017

 Northern Iceland - October 2017

Northern Iceland - October 2017

RECAP: Last Year’s Travel Goals

Every year, we identify four or five travel goals we want to accomplish over the next 365 days. These goals test our boundaries, challenge us to see more of the world and what’s in it. The big question in December, then, is: did we successfully meet those goals, and if not, why?

I'll be honest. Our 2017 goals were not as successful as ones made in previous years, mostly because of travel limitations.

“Stay in more hostels.”

We stayed in a single hostel in Iceland. Mrs. Nerd's sister traveled with us, so because there were three people in our group instead of the usual two, we got the full hostel experience. Bunk beds and loud roommates, baby! But I really would've liked to stay in more hostels throughout the year ... we just didn’t end up going anywhere else that needed one.

“Take our first backpacking trip.”

We had scheduled this for August, but our plans fell through (all of them, still sad about it). So unless you count a two week road trip around Iceland as backpacking, we definitely failed this goal. Maybe we’ll try again a couple years from now.

“Hike the Superior Hiking Trail.”

This 310-mile stretch of trail in Northern Minnesota calls to us each year, but we didn’t get around to it in 2017. We’re hoping to revisit this goal in bits and pieces (a weekend here, a week there) as our schedules open up.

“Focus on storytelling and relationships.”

If anything, this is the one goal we excelled at this year. Our trip to Iceland inspired me to make some changes to the way we run Two Nerds Travel. Instead of seeking popularity and sponsorships, I've worked to bring more heart and soul to our website. I also met many wonderful people through our travels. As I'd hoped to make some awesome connections in 2017, I have to say... this year was pretty stellar in that regard.

2018: Travel Goals for the New Year

Our 2018 goals are a little different than ones we've had in previous years. We keep thinking we're going to slow down (to breathe and build up our funds), but that never seems to happen. I suppose you could say we no longer believe in taming the travel bug. 

So instead of setting travel goals, here are the personal goals we want to achieve in 2018.

"Learn Spanish."

This is a huge goal for Mrs. Nerd. There's another blog coming in the next few weeks that will speak to why I've chosen to do this, but to give you a slight spoiler: while in Cuba, I really struggled with not being able to communicate. It was a difficult, miserable experience. So! Armed with a desire to take control of my future and broaden my horizons, I've picked up a textbook and started my way through it. The progress I've made in the last month alone has been incredible. ¡Espero hablar Español pronto!

"Write one blog post a month."

We've really fallen off the horse when it comes to blogging frequency, but that's (in part) because I've decided to focus on fiction writing and language learning. However, I still want to keep it up, so expect one post a month. Maybe more, of course, but I won't promise anything. ;) I'd hate to let anyone down.

"Sell our house and figure out where to settle next."

Sadly, full-time travel is out of our reach for the foreseeable future. However, we're still selling our house; we expect it to be on the market in March! So not only is our spring going to be filled with painting and downsizing, we're also trying to figure out where we want to put down roots. Wish us luck!

"Edit my book to a publishable state by Dec 2018."

I know this doesn't seem travel related, but it actually is! The book I've worked on the last two months is a New Adult Contemporary Folklore set in Iceland, which is (mostly) why we went to Iceland for 11 days in October. This book is packed with real locations and descriptions and reflects upon Icelandic culture and beliefs. I would love to finally pursue publication with this book, so 2018 will be taken up with edits. Honestly can't wait to get started!

Of course, we're also still planning our 2018 trips!

Don't you worry about that. We'll never stop traveling, never! Expect to hear from us on the following (guaranteed) locations in 2018:

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico | Seattle, Washington | Duluth, Minnesota | Lake Anna, Virginia

...as well as some other international trips we haven't fully committed to yet.

Happy Holidays, all!