Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Notes from the Brink of Age 32

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Imperfect Selfie: Relaxing in Koh Lanta, Thailand

This week I turned 32. It’s had me deep in thought. 32 isn’t one of the more significant birthdays, but it’s been a while since I went through a year filled with so many changes.

Every year I write a birthday post, talking about where I am now in this part of my life. For this year’s post, I’m illustrating it with several “imperfect selfies” from the past year that never made it off my phone to be published anywhere. They’re not great shots, but they’re as real as they get.

Imperfect Selfie: In Central Park on a warm April day

On a cold winter evening, shortly after moving into my new apartment, I sit down with a cup of wild berry herbal tea. Just me on my groovy purple couch, the magenta-and-indigo Persian-style rug spread beneath it. Spotify’s “Late Night Jazz” playlist wafts through the air because apparently I listen to jazz now. Fuzzy fuchsia Ugg slippers are on my feet.

Slippers.

I’ve had no need to own slippers for a long time.

It’s late, it’s soft, and everything here belongs to me. It’s all mine. I’m so overwhelmed with gratitude that I nearly cry.

And I promised myself, “I need to remember how good this feels.”

Imperfect Selfie: Not-So-Jet-Lagged in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

On Being in Transition

Moving to New York and scaling down my travels was absolutely the right decision. I have zero doubts with that. Sure, I’d love it if the cost of living were more reasonable, but the benefits exponentially outweigh the drawbacks. I have a community and so many close friends in New York. It’s the center of just about every industry. Blogger friends are always passing through.

That said, I’ve been struggling with the transition from full-time travel to being somewhat settled down. I often worry that I’m not traveling as much as I should be, that I’m not experiencing as many new places as I used to.

Sometimes I feel like I’m living two different lives. Take the month of April — it was wonderful. I did a lot of fun things. I had several friends come to visit during the month. And then I realized I had gone a full month without leaving the city. How could I be happy with that?!

If there’s anything I know, when you’re doing two things that are contradictory to each other, you can’t do both well. The better I did with travel, the worse I would do at building a home life. As long as I was at home, my travel life would suffer. So where exactly would I draw the line?

Imperfect Selfie: Still my favorite Wes Anderson movie

And that’s where the public life comes in. It’s hard enough dealing with a major lifestyle change on your own — but what about when 1) you’re living in a fishbowl, the world’s eyes on you as you make this change and 2) your previous lifestyle provides your income, an income that now must be much higher given your new lifestyle?

So these days when I get my Snapchat profile featured in different publications and the description starts with the inevitable, “Kate doesn’t travel as much as she used to, buuuuut…” I panic. Is that me? Is that who I am now?

But it goes both ways. Because then, Jayne of Girl Tweets World writes, “I’ve discovered through Adventurous Kate’s snaps (@adventurouskate) that she’s pretty good at cooking,” and that makes me so happy. (Jayne, come to New York and I’ll make you dinner!)

So I find myself in the middle. Enjoying my new settled life, but wondering if I’ll still be feeling the travel pangs months or years later. I don’t see myself traveling open-endedly long-term for a very long time. Probably not until I’m in a very different stage of life. And when that happens, I’ll probably rent my place out instead of selling everything to travel.

Imperfect Selfie: With the Bird Girl in Savannah, Georgia

What I’ve Learned at 31

Here are two things with which I’ve come to terms in the past year:

Balance is a fallacy. No matter who you are or what you do for a living, you’re never going to achieve a perfect balance between all of the important things in your life. Hell, you’re not even going to get close. While there might be a day where you happen to hit it out of the park, that’s a rarity.

It’s like that for everybody. If you read a handful of travel blogs besides mine, you’ve probably read a few posts saying, “This isn’t working — I need to find a new balance.” Then a few months down the line, the same blogger will often write the same thing. It’s an unending battle.

But that’s fine. I think it’s smart to be at peace with the fact that you’re never going to get it perfect, and instead just try to do the best you can and not beat yourself up about it when you fall short.

Imperfect Selfie: Turns out you can get a photo alone with the Wall Street bull if you go at 1:00 AM!

The second:

There is no financial satisfaction ceiling. There will always be reason to make more money.

I remember sitting speechless in Krabi, Thailand, nearly six years ago, after my friend Cody’s offhand comment that I’d be financially sustainable within a year. (In reality, it only took six months.) All I need is to make a thousand dollars a month — then I’ll be able to live in Southeast Asia, I thought to myself.

Funny how things change! Sure, that $1,000 a month could still work today, even with inflation (you can live in Chiang Mai on far less), but my personal goals changed. Living on the cheap in a developing country would have worked in 2011, but soon I wanted to live in nicer places and travel more often. I had to make more money to support a slightly better lifestyle. And then a slightly better lifestyle than that.

There will always be higher goals. The old me would have been ecstatic that I could make enough money to live in Manhattan without roommates. The current me is wondering how she’ll be able to buy property in Manhattan someday, or if that’s just a pipe dream.

Hell, maybe in the future I’ll be wishing I made just a little more money so I could buy my own yacht instead of renting them all the time!

I know the answer to this quandary is to be grateful for what you have. Which I am. But it’s hard to push away the thoughts of what you could do with just a little more.

Imperfect Selfie: With a Leonardo DiCaprio statue in San Francisco

A New Quest for Privacy

There’s something else. I’ve been wrestling with the notion of privacy lately.

The duality between public figures and their privacy fascinates me endlessly. Like how Kristen Bell and Dax Shepherd campaigned successfully to get the major celebrity magazines to stop publishing photos of celebrity children. How Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck joined their effort, but only after their strategy of posing for a million “candid” family photo ops to win Ben his Oscar for Argo.

How the Obama girls, despite living in a world of social media, have much more privacy and respect from the media than Chelsea Clinton ever did. How Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin gave interviews about their relationship but refused to be photographed as a couple. How Kate Winslet and Sam Mendes never breathed a word about their divorce and no tabloid published so much as a rumor. How Isla Fisher, Eva Mendes, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and some of my own friends kept their pregnancies secret until the baby was born. How Mark Zuckerberg decides which photos of his wife and daughter to share on Facebook.

Not everyone is a Kardashian. A great many celebrities have found ways to promote their public brand while protecting their private life.

Whether you’re a blogger, a celebrity, or just a regular person with a Facebook account, social media means having your life available for consumption. You get to decide how much you want to reveal.

Imperfect Selfie: at my friend Janelle’s wedding in Connecticut

I admire my travel blogger friends who don’t hesitate to talk about the ugly parts of travel and reveal raw, honest, intimate details about their innermost feelings, details that most bloggers would be afraid to share — and yet never mention that they have a serious romantic partner. That’s the level I want to return to.

A few years ago, I decided to take my romantic life off the blog. And aside from a few ambiguous travel anecdotes from the past, like my love stories post, I’ve stuck to that. I haven’t even breathed a word of my love life on Facebook! The next time I mention I’m seeing someone, well, don’t be surprised if it’s accompanied by wedding photos. I like it this way.

Not only is this fair to my partner, it allows me to keep a major aspect of my life free from commentary from the public.

I keep other things private, too: my finances, most business stuff, and exactly where I live (though obviously I’m open about living in Harlem). The other day, a reader asked in a blog comment what street I lived on, and it freaked me out. I don’t even snap or take selfies on my own street. Where do I live? At 69 None of Your Business St., right between Why Would I Tell A Complete Stranger Ave. and Are You A Rapist Lane.

I recently came across a quote from Glennon Doyle Melton, and although she wrote about it in terms of her marriage ending, I think it’s valuable to all of us who write publicly about our lives:

If I don’t mention something, it’s not because I forgot to. It’s because I desperately have to find the balance here between honesty and a tell-all. Between transparency and responsibility. What I owe you and what I owe myself. There will be parts of this story I (try to) keep for myself…If you can, please resist assumptions, gossip, or asking for details I haven’t provided.

She’s absolutely right. We should all follow suit — as readers and as bloggers.

Imperfect Selfie: At Salisbury Beach, Massachusetts

The Traps That Befall Us

One of the scariest things about starting a career in a new and burgeoning industry is that there are no blueprints to follow. While of course we can always learn from our friends, colleagues, and mentors, there are no people who already went through the Snapchat vs. Instagram Stories debate years ago and can tell you which route to take.

We’ve been soaring blindly, coasting on the faith in our dreams. Or flying by the seat of our pants.

The most common problems I see among travel bloggers are from trying to work too hard and/or travel too hard at the expense of everything else. Lots of people burn out; lots of people run out of money; lots of people neglect their personal relationships, health, and interests outside the world of travel; lots of people sacrifice the quality of their blog to improve the quality (and especially luxury) of their travels.

I’ve even seen these problems leading to bloggers having a full-on breakdown and pull the plug on their site, never to blog again. I don’t want that to happen to me, but I can see how easily it could happen.

I’ve had some serious lows myself over the past six and a half years. As I always say, travel blogging isn’t heart surgery. It’s not coal mining. To be able to travel for a living is a luxury and a privilege. But that doesn’t mean it’s without its challenges.

Imperfect Selfie: After a fresh cut and color in NYC

Travel Goals for Age 32

And on to the fun stuff! Travel goals!

Colombia and New Zealand are definitely slated for this year. Poland and Slovakia are high possibilities. Beyond those trips, aside from a handful of conferences and trade shows in the US and Europe, I have no travel plans for the next year.

But it’s always good to have travel goals. Here are a few of mine:

Keep chipping away at new countries. The last new country I visited was Latvia, over a year ago! I’m holding at 63 now and while I don’t have a desire to visit every country in the world, I’d like to visit over 100 before I turn 40. That said, I don’t like flying in and out purely for the sake of visiting a new country, so this will take some time.

Get closer to visiting every country in Europe. Only 10 remain: Belarus, Cyprus, Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, and Ukraine. I don’t count the Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan) as Europe.

Go on another wildlife trip — hopefully in the Galapagos. I fell in love with wildlife photography on my most recent trip to South Africa, thanks to finally using quality photography gear. I’m craving MUCH more! The Galapagos is at the top of my list, but I’m also dreaming of lemurs in Madagascar, penguins in Antarctica, gorillas in Rwanda.

Visit at least one of my major US travel oversights. Austin, Portland, Nashville, Miami, and Hawaii top the list! (At this point I wonder if I should keep mentioning Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, the most egregious oversight for a professional traveler who lived most of her life in Massachusetts.)

Take a digital detox — or perhaps a creative retreat. Either kind of trip would require getting away from the internet for a few days, something that is highly beneficial yet becoming more and more of a challenge.

Explore a LOT more of New York, particularly the areas that aren’t covered as often in the travel media. I know I’ll have no trouble doing that!

Imperfect Selfie: At a Daybreaker party in NYC

Life Goals for Age 32

I do have some personal goals, but going back to the privacy issue, I think I’d like to keep them under wraps.

In a nutshell:

I will continue what’s going well.

I will improve what’s not going well.

I will continue doing unpleasant things that are good for me, even when they’re difficult.

I will contribute more joy to the world.

Thank you for reading.

I value your readership so much, and having you here means the world to me. None of this exists without you and I never forget that.

But beyond that, I’d love to hear your thoughts on maintaining privacy as a public figure. Share away!

You can check out my previous birthday posts here: 26, 27, 28, 30, and 31. I didn’t write one for 29 for some reason.

Comments

93 Responses to “Notes from the Brink of Age 32”
  1. Kate Storm says:

    I have also always been fascinated by the public vs. private debate, and always find it refreshing (and engaging) when people tend to hold some cards close to the chest.

    It’s true for celebrities and public figures–but with social media being what it is, it’s something that just about everyone should consider these days. Facebook became huge when I was in high school, and I remember actively thinking as a teenager, “Is this status/photo something that I would be okay with coming into the public eye if I ever ran for public office?”

    For a kid, I think I did okay–I definitely kept things more private than many of my peers. I have absolutely no plans to ever become a politician, but the thought process greatly impacted my social media (and now blogging) writing style. I curse like a sailor in real life, but it’s very rare to find any f-bombs in my public writing.

    Awesome topic, and happy birthday!

  2. Noelle says:

    Great post. I think it’s great to reflect back on the past year and what you are aiming for in the future.

    Regarding privacy, I agree that it’s good to maintain it. While we love to learn more about you and your life, I can totally understand there needs to be some separation.

    I also followed you in that I never Snap or Instagram from my street. Not that I have many ‘followers’ on either, but you never know. The most I’ve put is the area of London that I live in.

    • Thanks, Noelle! Yes, there are crazy enough people who would analyze your snaps and actually go and sit on your stoop and wait for you to come home. Creepy McCreeperston. Smart of you not to put that information out there.

  3. Wow, a lot to think about in this post… I feel similar about finding balance as you. 10 years ago I thought I have to figure out who I want to be soon and then just live that life and work hard. By now I know it’s not how things work – at least it’s not how I work. My goals and dreams and I myself are so different from who I was even 1 or 2 years ago! But this is what’s good in life, there’s always new goals and dreams, everything is changing… That’s what makes life, well, life. 😀 And those moments of perfection when everything is in balance don’t last too long, but I will never forget them and they always give hope.

    As for privacy, I’m struggling with it, too. Though we are travelling and blogging as a couple, but there are still so many questions about what and how much to share. We are real beginners in that yet. 😀 And once you make something public, it will be public forever – that’s another question whether anyone will care about it or not, but it’s out there.

    Thanks for sharing all of these thoughts. Happy birthday, Kate!

  4. Candice says:

    First, happy birthday! Second, I’m so glad I’m not the only one who struggles with the settled lifestyle versus travel thing. I’m at a loss now that I’m home in Canada but living out of a suitcase. I poked through some of my boxes stored in my parents’ basement and got excited about cookware and my French press. FWIW, I think a great deal of your followers appreciate you as a personality, and not just your travels. We are innately curious about how others live their lives.

    Also, I hope that purple couch has a pull-out bed.

  5. Pauline says:

    I’m turning 29 this year and wanted to read your 29th birthday post… except it’s not there *sad-face*. I kid.

    I admire public figures who successfully maintain their privacy, like the Obama girls and Will and Kate. There is an aura of mystery surrounding their private/family life. So, when they do open up an aspect of their lives, I devour that article because I find it very intriguing. I think the same thing can be applied to bloggers. I love reading travel blogs who not only talk about their travels, but also sometimes post about their family and home town (like Camels and Chocolate or Angie Away). It gives me a personal connection with them. I think there is a “privacy line” but where that line is drawn is completely up to you. I enjoy reading all your travel adventures nonetheless. Happy 32nd Birthday, Kate!

    Cheers!

    • Yes! I love how Will and Kate do it, too! They release family photos very often, but they don’t talk much the kids, so any tidbit becomes SO exciting. (“George has a good pair of lungs on him” — OH MY GOOOOOOD!)

      Thanks, Pauline!

  6. Great post! I just turned 32 last month-the early thirties are so great, right?

  7. Taylor says:

    Great post, Kate!
    I may not be known by the public, but I employ a few ideas re: privacy for what I post on my site, instagram, twitter, and even my personal facebook page.
    1. Will anyone else grow from what I’m posting? 2. Will I grow from what I’m posting? 3. Is what I’m posting worthwhile to put out into the world? With the internet so full of swill I think it’s super important to be choosy in what we let on there about ourselves. For our own sanity’s sake.
    That being said, I personally think you’ve done an excellent job at this. You’re very highly respected and for good reason!

    Happy Birthday!

  8. Amanda says:

    “I will continue what’s going well.
    I will improve what’s not going well.
    I will continue doing unpleasant things that are good for me, even when they’re difficult.
    I will contribute more joy to the world.”

    Love this.

    I also get the whole anxiety about not traveling as much. I’ve tried to settle down into a career these past few years and have had major itchy feet. But then when I’m on the go more, I worry about the future and if I’m building a sustainable life for myself. I think at the end of the day, if you’re a traveler you’ll always be a traveler and you’ll never get it out of your system. It will evolve and grow with you but the desire will always be there. That’s something I’ve only just come to learn and accept: how to sustainability fit traveling into my life, forever.

  9. Courtney says:

    Happy Birthday! And great post! I’ve spent most of the last decade traveling and recently turned 33, so I can relate to so much of this. I too have struggled with finding balance between wanting a more settled life and maintaining a life on the road. It’s nice to share confusion with company haha!

    As far as privacy goes, I think it’s completely necessary and reasonable for you to set your own limits. I love when bloggers are open and honest, but that doesn’t mean I need to know every detail of your life.

    If you ever make it to Austin (where I finally decided to settle for now), I’d love to show you around! I tried to meet you in Koh Lanta once, but wasn’t meant to be.

  10. Traci says:

    I just recently discovered you when looking up good travel bloggers to follow on snapchat. I can easily say hands down you are my absolute favorite. The thing I love about snapchat, is it shows the real side to travel – not the glossy, over edited perfect camera shots that sometimes over-romanticizes the process of travel. I liked getting to see what travel looks like in real time.

    When I found you were my favorite I headed over to the blog and I was totally not disappointed. Seeing you live in New York is great and your snaps about different neighborhoods are amazing. The thing that makes you great is the content of your snaps and blog post.

    Of course everyone would fancy to know everything about your personal life because I think we all would love to be your friend in real life. But you in no way are responsible for that, nor should you think that would make you lose readers. I respect your privacy because I love the quality of your content.

    You keep doing what you need to thrive in life and thank you for all you do share. It’s great to see a genuine person out there show everyone what travel/New York life is like. Keep on, keepin’ on. And if you ever need a good mani, I’m your gal! 😉

  11. Dominique says:

    Happy birthday! What a great reflective post! Every year I turn a year older, I’m happy; for everything that I accomplished that year and that I’m around for another awesome year!

    Just keep enjoying what your doing 🙂

  12. Bobbi Gould says:

    Hi Kate! I was actually just in New York and wanted to hit you up but was too busy with work. This whole balance thing….yikes. I’ve been trying to travel blog for nearly 2 years now, and I feel like I’ll never find the perfect balance. I constantly feel like I should be doing more, but at the end of he day I’m happy to know I did this all by my lonesome.

    Happiness is finding appreciation for the small things. I find it helps me to meditate as much as I possibly can.

    I’m 35 now and find myself doing things I never thought I’d find enjoyment in. After returning from this trip to New York, I couldn’t wait to be home. That was a first. I usually revel in the different.

    Perhaps just knowing that you will always change as a person and being able to accept that different things make you happy is the key.

    And YES, I maintain as much privacy as I can to feel sane. It is essential!

    Always a fan,

    Bobbi

    • Thank you so much, Bobbi. Actually, another thing I try to balance is meeting up with readers — it’s often more than I can handle, so now I ask that anyone who wants to meet up comes to my neighborhood. Nobody minds, I get to show off my neighborhood, and I don’t lose a lot of time getting there.

      I’m trying to get back into meditation, even considering Transcendental Meditation (even though it’s expensive). Something to watch for!

  13. Wendy says:

    Hi Kate,
    It is my first time reading your blog, and I love it! I am new to the travel writing/blogging/photography scene. At the ripe old age of 34 I had finally gotten my degree (a life long dream) and with the help of my hubby I am working on making enough for us to live on (on a much smaller scale than now) so that hubby can retire and we can live his dream of just up and going where ever we want, when we want. I’m hitting this travel writing ideal on several different fronts at once so prioritizing my energy is huge, and so hard to do.

    I appreciated the talk about privacy here. I don’t have my blog up yet, nor is my blog title/domain name secured (I am going big or going home in that I am having a professional set it all up for me, a great idea in theory, but hard to cope with in reality), but the issue of security and privacy in this oh so public time has been on the forefront of my mind.

    How much is too much?

    Since my blog will be about traveling/living…when your life is medically complicated, I will have to be free with some of my details, but not all. It will be interesting finding my happy place where this subject is concerned. I struggle to even put my face out there, I don’t often post photos of myself on Facebook. This gave me a lot to contemplate, and for that I thank you.

  14. Amanda says:

    Very reflective post. The older we get the more decisions we question and the pressure to make those decisions is greater. In the end you have to do what feels right and if that is slippers at home, that’s awesome too!

  15. Katie says:

    The privacy issue is a complicated one for sure. I’m usually keen to share all the things that are going well in my life, including my relationships, but I am not so keen to share in detail about the pain and emotional issues I am going through. I want to present a balanced picture of my life because it’s not even close to perfect but it can be hard to know where to draw the line

    • When you start offering up your personal life for professional gain, that’s when it starts getting dicey. :-/ Though like you said, it’s hard to know where the line is.

  16. Rod Martin says:

    If you come to Auckland, look at staying at the Takapuna Beach Holiday Park. A fantastic facility right on the beach that has just been saved from a take over by the Yachting fraternity. We’ll even take you out for for some world class NZ mussels

  17. Bob May says:

    Great Post.

    I am probably much older than most of your followers but I share you love of traveling.

    I enjoy your travel posts and gain insight on topics, although many of your activities are different than mine.

    If you get to the Galapagos, take a side trip to Easter Island- you will not regret it.

    But if you would ever like to discuss coal mining, I spent 13 years down in the hole.

    Best of luck.

  18. Tikva says:

    Congratulations! I have been following you for many years although sometimes stopping for a couple of month. I do miss that you are not travelling so much anymore but I totally understand the need to settle down a bit. Looking forward to you Colombia adventures especially as we (husband and 3year old daughter)will be travelling there ourselves in December/January.

    Why would anyone want to know you exact address that is creepy. As for keeping your romantic life a secret, well I have always admired you for being so open about it. However I can understand that after your past experiences you would want to keep things less in the open now. Maybe the men in you live don’t want to be on a blog.

    The thing I hate however is bloggers who write post like they are travelling solo but are not. They always write I did this, I went there. There is no mention of a second person in the text or in any of the pictures. And then you meet them and find out they are always travelling with a boyfriend. We or I can make all the difference even in save countries. Maybe not for a citytrip but for a couple of days 4wheel offroad adventure in Iceland, or backpacking in Thailand two can make things a lot easier and cheaper than one. So while I totally respect your privacy I also feel bloggers should not pretend that something is a solo adventure when it is not just say something like “I was travelling with a friend” nothing more needed.

    • Thanks so much, Tikva!

      Yes, I’ve actually been wrestling with that myself. There were times in the past when readers told me they didn’t like that I wrote so much about “we” and “us” so I switched to I, but I never outright lied about being there with someone else. Not sure whether that was the right decision.

      In the future I’m sure I’ll write something along the lines of, “I was traveling with a friend who is a private person and thus won’t be appearing in the posts.”

      And the privacy isn’t only based on my personal experiences — there are lots of bloggers I’ve been reading for 5+ years and I’ve seen some of them in relationships, out of relationships, in, out, new guy, another new guy, etc. I don’t want people to see that happening with me, if my life happens to turn in that direction. People can be very judgmental, especially when it comes to a woman’s romantic life.

  19. kami says:

    I have to disagree about the balance. I’ve achieved mine in full time work + normal work and travels and I’m more than happy. Of course it took years and lots of ups and downs but it isn’t impossible 🙂

    Anyway, when you decide to visit Poland and C-E Europe feel free to contact me, I’m a master of this part of the world and will be happy to help with just about anything;) and when you’re in Warsaw I will be happy to show you around. I’ve already made numerous bloggers to fall for this city and prefer it over Cracow 😉

    And last but not least – all the best for your birthday! May this upcoming year will be amazing and full of answers 🙂

  20. Brooklyn says:

    Girl you are a total babe!
    Happy birthday! I just had a birthday the other day as well 🙂

  21. Becky says:

    Happy Birthday! I think any year with big changes will bring profound reflection. That was my 30th year. Almost 32 now and so far it’s been a great year! For reasons that have surprised me. Different things have become more important than others.

    I have found your move to be very interesting mostly because I’m more curious about places to live than just travel to, since next year I’ll be making the big decision of where I want to go after I graduate. Kudos to you for finding a place you like and being able to afford to live there. Also, I totally agree with being able to buy a place! I eventually want to buy my own place and the sooner the better!

    Hope you make it to Poland and Austin! Auschwitz made the trip so worthwhile, and take the Jewish Quarter tour in Kraków if you’re there. Personally Warsaw was my favorite city, with the Soviet influence so strong there, but modern and a very much up and coming feel. The free city walking tours in Warsaw and Kraków are excellent. Skip the train unless you are near Kraków, the Polish countryside is pretty flat. Wished I could’ve seen Gdansk.

    Austin’s my hometown, but I have mixed feelings about it. Food is great! Salt Lick, 2nd Street, and take a walk on the boardwalk. Boat trip on Lake Travis is one of my favorite things to do there. The view from the Long Center at night is also a favorite. A great free place to visit is the Harry Ransom Center at UT. The Blanton Art Museum has free Thursday’s and sometimes some very good temporary exhibits.

  22. Happy birthday! You and your blog is such an inspiration to read =o)
    I loved reading your post, especially about keeping parts of your life private. With so much social media and how exposed we all are it’s important to take a step back and see what you want to share with the world. I can’t wait to see what the new year brings to you and what adventures you go on =o)

  23. Jayne says:

    Ah thanks for the shout out Kate. I absolutely love following your snaps. I love that you show that travel bloggers have interests outside of travelling, you know, like normal people! And I’ll definitely let you know if I make it to NYC so we can plan that meal 🙂

    Happy birthday J x

    • Absolutely, Jayne! Hope to see you soon! 🙂 You never know, I might end up in Sydney!

      I agree — it’s important to be well-rounded individuals or you will lose your mind.

  24. Joshua says:

    Happy Birthday!!! I am new to blogging and came across your site a few weeks ago. You have some great, insightful content. It would also seem that you and I have early August birthdays so congrats again. Ill make sure to keep in mind your suggestions and insights about privacy. It’s definitely something to think about before writing anything down. I can also relate to recent career changes having lived abroad and traveling around the world for the past several years then coming back to North America to start something new. Talk about going stir crazy…

    I also noticed that you have plans to visit Eastern Europe in the coming year. I lived in Russia for 4 years working at an Internationals School and traveling around Russia/Europe. St. Petersburg is very tourist friendly but the rest of Russia (including Moscow where I lived) is greatly lagging in this department. I recommend learning the Cyrillic alphabet before going because Moscow and the Golden Ring is definitely an area you’ll want to check out. That and tours are incredibly overpriced compared to transportation which in Russia is very good, timely, and very cheap. You also mentioned not including Georgia in Europe. Either way you MUST go there. Georgia has such a rich, unique culture. It is in the caucasus’ mountains which makes it and absolutely beautiful country too. It was given the name ‘the land of the golden fleece’ for a reason 🙂

    I wish you all the best in the coming year and I look forward to reading more from your blog.

    • Happy birthday back atcha, Joshua! Thanks so much for this terrific advice. I do hope to see a lot more of Eastern Europe and/or the Caucasus in the coming year. I remember being in Macedonia a few years ago when I attempted to spell out a word in Cyrillic…and I sounded out “Vladimir” and burst out laughing, I was so delighted it worked!

  25. PT says:

    Who said 32 is not a significant birthday? It’s the age all movie/TV “spinsters” are – Bridget Jones, Carrie Bradshaw, Lorelai Gilmore… If anything, this is the age life gets interesting enough to be portrayed on a screen!

    (Fellow 32-er here, for all zero of you who asked)

    Happy birthday!!

  26. Carl Kruse says:

    Happy 32 Kate!

    I don’t think any of us will ever find a balance between being settled and the traveling life nor between our private and public worlds. These realms constantly tug at one another. And who knows, balance might well be overrated anyway, no?

    Keep rocking.

    Carl Kruse
    Miami

  27. Sara says:

    Hi Kate!

    I just wanted to let you know that I loved this article! I have been following you for the past almost two years! I am a Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine and it would be awesome to meet you, when & if you make it over here! It’s a beautiful country and definitely worth exploring!

    Your blog definitely has played a factor into my decision in living abroad, following all of your adventures and it’s been a magical and difficult experience. Although, living as a Peace Corps volunteer is a completely different experience all together.

    However, thank you so much for all your posts and for allowing me and others to follow you on your adventures!

    -Sara, PCV Ukraine

  28. fay says:

    Hi Kate, I hope you’ve enjoyed your 32 years of existence. I’m hoping for more of your adventure. Take care and good luck. Belated happy 32nd birthday! 🙂

  29. Rebecca says:

    What an honest and inspiring post! 🙂 I need to hit some of those major US spots too, I don’t know how it’s possible that I keep missing them. Thank you for sharing this and happy birthday!

  30. Mimazine says:

    You are so inspiring! I completely agree with you about privacy: you have to have a balance. You are so open with the ‘real’ side of travelling which makes your posts so great to read… roll on 32! X

  31. Alissa says:

    Worse than traveling less, you’re also blogging much less kate :(. I have been visiting your site religiously for years and look forward to reading the next article but they are now fewer and far between (around 2-4 blogposts a month?). Hope this changes, I thoroughly love reading about your experiences and thoughts.

    • 2-4 per month?! Not at all. Some months are slower, but they are usually around 8. That said, I used to churn out a bunch of 500-word posts per week, but these days my posts are a LOT longer (almost always 2500+ words) which I think makes them more in-depth and provides women with all the information they need to help them travel better.

      It is SO hard keeping this up. Seriously. The vast majority of work behind the scenes has nothing to do with blogging itself.

  32. I’ve been following your blog since 2012 and first of all – your hair at 32 is FIRE. You look so good with the lighter color, I’m loving it! Second, I can completely relate to the feeling of losing your anonymity with blogging. I have had 6 blogs since 2012 and am on my 7th! (Congrats for sticking to one this whole time LOL) but on some I was anonymous and some I was not. I have found that you have to put some pictures and your first name to get the most traction and be relatable. It always makes me uncomfortable though. I was anonymous at the beginning of this latest blog but have since had to delete or change content since my family and friends would read it (its a personal finance blog so some of my views are strong).

  33. Happy belated birthday, Kate! Really enjoyed this post. Having been on the road full time for over a year and a half now (which, I realize, isn’t long at all in the travel blogging universe) I totally feel you on the whole “finding a work-life balance is a never-ending exercise” sentiment. Sometimes the realization that my husband and I will, probably, always be tweaking our balance seems daunting; other times, it just reminds me that it’s ok for your life to evolve as you do. Hope you do indeed get to Poland this year–it’s fantastic (eat as much Pierogi as you can)!

  34. James World Travel Chef says:

    Hi Kate. I’m not much older than you at 39 (just) but we seem to be comng at the travel thing from opposite ends. I had the wife, kids and big house BEFORE I started the nomadic travel, over 3 years ago now. I tootally see where you’re coming from here, but for me, it’s all in reverse. Because I had those things already, I’m not looking for them any more, it’s kinda interesting. Everybody is seeking change I think, mixing up their lives to try everything available. And yes, things change and evolve over time, we’ve found ways to adapt to those needs, sometimes we go budget backpacker, sometimes luxury, sometimes we rent for a month or so. It’s all good!

  35. shabrina says:

    Hi Kate,

    Wow! I don’t know why but this post somehow make me cry. I think the part of “A New Quest for Privacy” what resonates me the most now. I started blogging in 2014 and even though the blog not as a big as you I feel I share too many of my life. I started to travel way before I have a blog. But now, with the blog and social media, i feel the need to make this perfect showcase about my (travel) life. However, sometimes travel alone and keep up with the “cheer” friends and family said I travel too much and always happy, just make me sad. They don’t know what’s behind the perfect story. And when i start to pour my heart out about the negative (or tiring) side of travel, they just brush me off. Hoo well, but you can’t complain right? haha.

    really love ur article. Hope I can somehow meet you in NYC. Hey, its 12 million people only right.hahah

    • Thank you, Shabrina — that means a lot to me. Remember that you can always blog about whatever you want — you’re the one who makes the rules. You can always change course.

  36. Kelly says:

    Happy belated birthday, Kate! I’ve been reading your blog religiously (along with Alex in Wanderland’s, my two faves!) for five years now. I rarely comment but I just wanted to say thank you for all you do in keeping up the blog. While I do miss your more frequent postings, the content you’ve provided to your readers is truly invaluable. And, I’m happy you are loving New York! Looking forward to following along for years to come. Cheers to you and the future.

  37. Happy Birthday!!!
    Your blog is very nice and very inspirational. I have always better day when i find new article!

  38. Tess says:

    The Salisbury Beach, Massachusetts selfie is perfect!!!

  39. Laura says:

    I love the idea of sharing all the “un-posted” selfies for a “momentous” post! I feel like we all have so many of those.

    Thanks for writing, Kate! It’s always such a pleasure to read, and I read every word (which is rare, usually I’m a skimmer). And thanks for sharing what you do care to share. The balance fallacy really spoke to me. Up until now that was probably my greatest wish in life, to find that perfect balance with everything. Health, eating, exercise, work, social life, doing things for myself vs. other people….the list goes on. But you bring a realistic and refreshing approach to it. Does anyone really have a “perfectly balanced” life at all times??!! We definitely need to celebrate those days where we get it right, but realize it’s OK when we don’t.

    Keep on inspiring and contributing your joy to the world 🙂

    Much love!

    Laura

  40. Johanna says:

    Happy belated birthday! You look really good and relaxed. I hope you get to see all the places on your list 🙂 all the love -J

  41. Amy says:

    Great post, I think you get the privacy balance pretty good in terms of what you share on this site. I agree that no matter what kind of life you live, you’re always searching for that elusive ‘balance’ that probably doesn’t exist. Trying to achieve it will probably bring you closer to it though 🙂

  42. Elizabeth says:

    If you head to Nashville, maybe check out nearby Memphis if you haven’t already. Myself and two friends visited both last summer. While Nashville was fun, we all agreed that we preferred Memphis. Plus, Elvis and award-winning BBQ. What’s not to love?

    Great post.

  43. Lynn says:

    Welcome to your new adventure! I can’t wait to see what you do with it.

  44. JoAnna says:

    This is a really refreshing post, Kate. Like a lot of travel bloggers, I, too, took a big long step back from the blogging madness several years ago, so I know where you’re coming from. I think with more social media permeating our lives, the idea of “balance” just isn’t realistic, which makes the divide between public and private very difficult to define. I’m glad you’re enjoying New York just the way you are meant to enjoy it – but I’m also happy to see that you’re still traveling when the time is right.

  45. Emily Kydd says:

    Loved reading this, I’m about to turn 32 in two months, and It’s great to read about your journey over the last few years. I too am torn between a wanderlust and a sense of permanence, I’m in Jamaica for a year right now working and travelling, so I’m going to put work in this year into the blog and my writing and see where I am at the end of it my tenure! Cheers, Emily

  46. Pinky says:

    Hi Kate, belated Happy Birthday! Your post struck a nerve, but in a good way. I, too, was traveling solo or with my girlfriends and ran my family’s art business when I was in my 20s and 30s. Until I had to make a conscious decision to focus on what’s most important. I changed careers, raised a family, but the one thing that’s remained constant has been my love for travel. So turning 50 next year and with the kids older, I hope to be able to do it more often – solo, with family, or with friends. Starting a blog with a travel buddy to help other moms is unchartered territory for me as I don’t even have a Facebook account. But delivering on my promise to keep the family’s privacy has been key. I salute you for the choices you’ve made, Kate, and I’m excited to read more about your journey!

  47. Serhat Engul says:

    Well you look not more than 27 but I congratulate tour new year. I think travelling keeps people young. That definitely works for you.

  48. Rikka says:

    Hey Kate –

    Let me know if you need anything at all when you are planning your trip to New Zealand in the next year. I’ve got sooooo many tips to share on what to focus on, what to skip, how to do everything from Hobbiton and Milford Sound, to less crowded, off-the-beaten path locations.

    Plus, my boyfriend lives on the east coast (north island). If you need a place to stay or want to be shown a true kiwi lifestyle, I can put you in touch! We both know people who can show you some local fun on both islands.

    Also – I’m so glad you’re settling into NYC and loving it so much. It’s my hometown – I’m out on Long Island now. Keep having a blast!

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