Eeeeek… with 2018 firmly underway, it’s (high) time for me to look back on my 2017 highlights and lowlights!
slightly OCD very organised, keen list-maker, I’ve always loved the idea of doing year-end reviews and setting goals (in list form, of course!)… BUT I CLEARLY suck at it, because I’m only sitting at the 2017 restrospective table now that January is almost over!
Overall, 2017 was a positive and eventful year for me: I went to 7 countries, and made the big transition from a location-independent solo traveller to a couply one after meeting the dashing Mr B in Laos (of all places!) at the end of 2016.
Don’t get me wrong: whether in my travels, my work, or my personal life, a sh*tload of things went wrong in 2017… but a lot went right, too. This post is all about celebrating the good times. So without further ado, and in no particular order, here are the smashing-est things that happened to me in 2017.
- 1 2017 Highlights: 1) I Became An Open Water Diver
- 2 2017 Highlights: 2) I Drove A Boat On Lake Garda
- 3 2017 Highlights: 3) I Stayed FOR FREE In A Beautiful Villa In My Hometown
- 4 2017 Highlights: 4) My Instagram Work Took Off
- 5 2017 Highlights: 5) I Was A Witness At My Parents’ Wedding
- 6 2017 Highlights: 6) I Found Out I’m Going To Be An Aunt!
2017 Highlights: 1) I Became An Open Water Diver
From the second I’d immersed my masked head a few meters underwater on my first-ever introductory dive off Easter Island, I’d known that scuba-diving was my thing. I’d had a weird tendency to always swim at the bottom of the pool as a child, and the peace and serenity I immediately felt on my first ocean dive were unmatched. I was in my element.
But this was in 2013, and I’d since procrastinated big time on getting certified. Well, I finally ticked it off the bucket list in 2017! In February, my boyfriend Bauke (already an advanced PADI diver) pretty much whisked me away to the Gulf of Thailand to take my PADI course on gorgeous Koh Tao, one of the cheapest and most convenient places in the world to learn scuba-diving.
It was an intense experience. Juggling a full-time diving course, work, and island exploration was exhausting, and I almost dropped off several times.
Am I glad I stuck through the early starts and hypothermia, though? Hell yes! Now the ocean is my oyster!
2017 Highlights: 2) I Drove A Boat On Lake Garda
In July, we spent a month in Verona, Italy. As if that weren’t enough of a highlight in itself, our friend organised a boating trip on Lake Garda, one of Italy’s most famous and gorgeous lakes.
While we were expecting a traditional passenger tour, we found out when we arrived that we would be driving the boat ourselves! That’s right: companies on Lake Garda just rent you a small motorboat, and let you do whatever the hell you want with it! Say whaaaaaaat?
Although no one in our party had ever piloted a boat before, the briefing went something like this: “Okay guys, this is on, this if off, this is forward, this is backward. Alriiight, you’re ready now, off you go!”.
I wasn’t so sure that I was indeed ready, so I let Bauke take the wheel at first. Seeing how much he was enjoying himself, I soon took over and started spinning us around the lake.
Cue one of the funnest hours of my year.
2017 Highlights: 3) I Stayed FOR FREE In A Beautiful Villa In My Hometown
2017 was the year I gave house- and pet-sitting a try…with mixed results. It was something I’d always wanted to get into, and Bauke’s addition to my travel life made it the perfect time to give it a go.
Hmmm, fair to say housesitting wasn’t quite the straightforward experience we’d expected it to be, and several of our 2017 lowlights are actually tied to bad sitting experiences.
One time it went really, really well however, was when we cat-sat for my parent’s friends in their manor-like home in Maisons-Laffitte, my hometown near Paris.
Why? Well, because “manor-like”! Having been to their place before, when they asked if we’d be interested in looking after their two cats while they went away in August, I jumped at the opportunity! I mean, their house is a 3-storey old property with period features and a massive garden…
Not only that, but it was relaxed, the cats were lovely, and we each had our own office to work from. It was pretty awesome to be so close to my parents and friends and to be able to invite them over. We hosted a few barbecues, and even had Bauke’s parents come over from The Netherlands for his 30th birthday dinner!
We’d do it again in a heartbeat, and are currently working on tempting the owners to go on a loooong holiday this summer..!
2017 Highlights: 4) My Instagram Work Took Off
Despite my love/hate relationship with Instagram, its incessant algorithm changes and obscure punitive rules, I got a lot closer to where I wanted to be as an Instagram travel & lifestyle influencer in 2017.
My account @CamWonderlands had its ups and downs (grrrrr, I’m looking at you, shadowban) but continued to grow to 33K+ followers.
Collaborations with brands and hotels became both more regular and of higher quality and value. I worked with great partners such as Turkish Airlines, Cabin Zero, and Hippocket Wifi, dreamy hotels and resorts around the world, and delish restaurants.
In turn, this required me to keep raising my game, and I relished the challenge! As a reward for my efforts, I made Influence.co’s selection of top travel influencers to work with, and was invited to attend the Pacific-Asia Travel Association’s Travel Mart in Macau this September.
Sure, I still have a ton of room for improvement. I’m definitely hoping my Instagram work gets even better in 2018. Still this is one of the few areas of my business whose development I’ve been happy with – and dare I say it, even a little proud of – in 2017!
2017 Highlights: 5) I Was A Witness At My Parents’ Wedding
Awwwwwwww. After living together for 38 years and bringing up two – genius – daughters, my rogue parents finally made it official and tied the knot in June 2017!
Okay, before we get too sappy, I should probably add that they got married mainly for practical (financial and legal) reasons… but hey, whatever the motives, it turned out to be a perfect day…that kind of extended into a perfect weekend.
It was a small and intimate affair, with a limited circle of 10 relatives and close friends. Despite this (or maybe because of it?) we all had a blast: the ceremony was officiated by a family friend who gave a sweet and funny speech, the sun was out for the occasion, we drank well, ate well, and laughed a lot.
In fact, everyone enjoyed it so much that we had an encore the next day! What was supposed to be an understated formality turned into one the best weekends of 2017, and we were all moved a little more than expected.
Plus, how many people can say that they were a witness at their own parents’ wedding?!
2017 Highlights: 6) I Found Out I’m Going To Be An Aunt!
Although the main event will technically happen in 2018, the end of 2017 brought me a bit Christmas surprise!
During one of our Skype catch-ups, my sister sent me a picture on which her belly looked suspiciously
fat rotund. So of course, I jumped to the most plausible conclusion:
“Wait, what am I looking at? You went to a party dressed up as a pregnant woman?”
“Errrr no, I’m actually pregnant!”
Yay guys! I’m not really into having kids myself but have always said I’d be a cool aunt to my sister’s child(ren). You know, the type who takes them to the zoo and to Disneyland and returns them to their parents exhausted!
Looks like I’m about to fulfill my destiny.
Bring it on, 2018!
Are you more interested in what went disastrously wrong for me in 2017? Stay tuned for the fun part in my next post: my 2017 lowlights!
What were your 2017 highlights? Are you good at reviewing your year? I love chatting with you, so let me know in a comment below and I’ll make sure to reply 🙂
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