AK Monthly Recap: December 2015

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Kate with Fake Eyelashes

How do I even characterize a month like this?

It’s hard to say. This month was spend pinging around the world, from Thailand back to the States. I had pushed myself too far and was burned out beyond belief.

At the same time, I was dealing with the realization that I need to take a break from travel — a long one — for the sake of maintaining sanity. The great irony is that not traveling for awhile is probably what’s going to save this travel blog.

Luckily, my burnout came at a time when I know what the next step in my post-nomadic life will be. I decided to move up my moving date to New York earlier than planned and headed to the city for a visit in between time at home.

Ice Skating in Central Park

Destinations Visited

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Reading, Lynn, and Nahant, Massachusetts

New York, New York

Favorite Destinations

New York! Don’t have to ask me twice.

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights


One last motorbike ride through Chiang Mai. My Airbnb host (check out where I stayed; I loved it!) kindly offered me a ride to the airport, and with my carry-on luggage, I was able to fit on the bike. We took a long trip and the morning light was so beautiful. I loved the wind whipping through my hair, the unmistakable scent of Thailand in the air, the rainbows appearing in the canal fountains. It reminded me of my first arrival in Chiang Mai five years ago.

Getting Christmasy in New York. New York is one of the best places to experience the holidays! This time I went to Rockefeller Center, went to a 25th anniversary screening of Home Alone, saw lots of store windows, braved the shopping hordes in SoHo, and went ice skating in Central Park. But especially:

Seeing the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights. If you want to see crazy Christmas lights within New York City, head to Dyker Heights, Brooklyn (about 11th-13th ave. and 83rd-86th st.)! These houses get super competitive with each other. I loved my trip out here; I want to go back next year! I didn’t bring my good camera with me, but check out Oneika’s post on the lights this year.

My first gel manicure. Getting a gel manicure is like driving a 1992 Oldsmobile all your life and then upgrading to a Lexus. They look so good and are ridiculously solid! I even washed my hair right after I got them done! After three weeks (side note: three weeks is the ABSOLUTE MAX), I only have two tiny chips. I think I’ve got a new habit!

Many, many good times with friends. Tons of meetups with friends in New York and the Boston area. But I especially loved getting to meet up with my bud Tom from Up Helly Aa (the Viking fire festival in Shetland) nearly four years ago! He’s one of the most interesting people I’ve met on my travels and it was crazy to meet his permanently-on-walkabout-personality in New York of all places.

Celebrating Christmas with my family. Just like last year, this Christmas was a three-day extravaganza with TONS of food! We did well. It was also nice that my sister was able to change her plans last-minute and come home for all of Christmas.

Kate Uncomfortable at Narita Airport


A very long journey home from Thailand. I wanted to come home early, and the best route home involved a two-day trip from Chiang Mai to Bangkok to Hong Kong to Tokyo to Boston. Including an overnight in Hong Kong. But at least I got to avoid Air China this time!

(I should mention that I spent the overnight in a “private resting area” within the Plaza Premium Lounge outside security, which I found uncomfortable and absolutely not worth the price tag of 900 HKD/$116 USD for six hours, yet still vastly preferable to missing a night’s sleep on a long journey like that. My platinum Amex gives me lounge access but the private suite costs the $116. You can pay the same price for the private suite if you don’t have lounge access.)

Illness. Stomach virus/food poisoning at the beginning of the month. A cold that wouldn’t quit at the end of the month. Always a blast. Onward and upward.

Eataly Prosciutto and Cheese

Most Popular Post

My Worst Travel Moments of 2015 — No surprise here! This is always one of my most popular posts of the year.

Other Posts

My Best Travel Moments of 2015 — From dancing on the beach in Montenegro to swimming through a cave in Guatemala, the absolute best moments of the year!

My Favorite Reads of 2015 — My 15 (well, technically 18) absolute favorite reads of the 54 I read in 2015.

Airportag: The Coolest Travel Shirts on the Web — I’m loving these sweet travel-themed shirts — and so are you!

Sunset at Northshore Mall

News and Announcements

No major news to announce this month — but if you’ve been following me on Facebook, you’ve known that I’ve been going through anxiety and stress for the last several weeks. I think the root of it is that I’ve been feeling so unsettled. It’s not enough to get an apartment in Chiang Mai or Playa del Carmen for a few months like most travel bloggers; even a temporary sublet in New York would not be enough. I need to find my long-term home, and soon.

I do think that I will start to feel normal again once I move into my own place and can start living my new life.

In terms of last month’s challenge, to meditate more, I was doing well but fell off the wagon — so I need to pick that up again! I’m also making art again, which is great for stress. I got some art supplies for Christmas.

My big challenge for this month is to find a place — and to furnish it from scratch. YIKES! (I did have an apartment full of furniture and belongings before I started traveling, but I told my sister she could keep it all if I didn’t want it after two years. It’s been five years now — it’s all very much hers!)

Right now, I own, like, three mugs and that’s it. (One says, “Write like a motherfucker.” One says, “I had sex with an elf in Iceland.” One is an artist’s rendering of “Peeno Noir” from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.)

Getting to furnish completely from scratch is a pretty cool opportunity, though. I want a bed that looks and feels like a hotel bed. A big, sexy couch. A golden pineapple print near the entrance, some nifty solar system glasses, and a laundry hamper that doesn’t look like it belongs in a college dorm.

Nyhavn Copenhagen

Most Popular Photo on Instagram

Copenhagen, once again! People love that Nyhavn. (Though the likes are probably enhanced since this was the last shot I posted before taking a break from Instagram.)

For real-time updates, you can follow me on Instagram and on Snapchat — adventurouskate on both!

Gingerbread Cookies

What I Read This Month

CHALLENGE COMPLETE! I finished the PopSugar 2015 Book Challenge and read 54 books in 2015, two more than I had to!

I won’t be taking part in the 2016 book challenge, which has different categories than this year’s. I want more freedom in what I read in 2016, but I encourage you to do the challenge. It will get you to shake up your habits and get out of your comfort zone.

The Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif — My mom chose this book for me. This novel tells cross-cultural love stories from multiple generations in a family, spanning from London to Egypt to New York. I loved the romance parts and thought they were far better than the drier historical parts, which ultimately didn’t go anywhere plot-wise. Not one of my favorites of the year, but still a good read. Category: a book your mom loves.

Behind the Bell by Dustin Diamond — Well, I had to choose a book with bad reviews for the challenge, so I chose the worst book I could find. This book is absolutely awful. Dustin Diamond has zero perspective on his experiences as a teenager and spends the whole book slut-shaming every one of his co-stars in between bragging about his own sexual conquests. Beyond that, the book is mean, petty, and very poorly edited. The only good thing was that it was a quick and easy read. Category: a book with bad reviews.

Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris — I’m a big David Sedaris fan, but I really did not enjoy this collection of Christmas-themed stories (except for one of my all-time favorites of his, “Six to Eight Black Men,” which has been published elsewhere). David Sedaris is biting and sarcastic; this book actually felt quite mean compared to his others. It made me uncomfortable to read many of these stories. Category: a book set during Christmas.

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson — Jenny, a.k.a. The Bloggess, writes one of the funniest blogs out there and has been very open about her struggle with mental illness. This memoir, her second, is about mental illness itself. Despite the heavy subject, this book is actually hilarious and illuminating about the reality that so many people live with.

I prefer Jenny’s writing in small doses — this is probably why she’s so successful as a blogger! — but having a Kindle made it easy to switch back and forth between her book and others. No category because I finished the challenge!

What I Watched This Month

MASTER OF NONE! Wow. I adore this Netflix series and it’s probably the show that most closely resembles my life. (Other than, you know, Californication.) It’s sweet, it’s honest, it’s a bit risqué, it is so very Brooklynian. Basically, if you’re around 30, single, and living in a city, you’ll see yourself here.

The Affair. Season Two is much darker than its predecessor. And if you have any confidence in human nature, prepare to say goodbye to it after witnessing what these characters do.

What I Listened To This Month

Jamiroquai is one of those bands that I go through spurts of listening to like crazy — then don’t listen to them for a few years. then start the cycle again. I’ve been a fan of them for about 20 years and after getting back into them once again, I really want to see them live.

My new favorite? “Love Foolosophy.” Three great versions of it on Spotify — the original, the Raul Rincon remix, and the live performance in Clapham.


Coming Up in January 2015

Getting an apartment in New York! I can’t focus on anything else. I can’t think about anything else. Literally, this is my one goal in life right now.

The plan is to head back to the city soon and find a place with a lease starting either immediately or by February 1.

I know exactly what I’m looking for, but I think it will be best to hold off on telling you more details until I’ve actually signed a lease.

I will say this — I’ve decided to get my own place, sans roommates. I know it’s kind of crazy, and roommates are the cost of living in New York City, as everyone tells me, but at this point in my life, I’m ready for solitude and independence. I’ve never lived alone before. I also plan to have friends crash on a regular basis, which wouldn’t be fair to a roommate. And, you know, walking around naked and all that.

We’ll see how it goes!

What are your plans for January? Share away!

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53 thoughts on “AK Monthly Recap: December 2015”

  1. Hi Kate,
    I have been following your blog for years and absolutely love your style of writing. We’re about the same age and seem to have a lot in common regarding the development of our travelling styles, our personal lives and all that stuff in between. So I always enjoy reading about your insights and thoughts on travel and life in general. Altough I have not led a nomadic lifestyle like you, I also just got my own apartment sans roommates and I enjoy it so much. I’m sure you won’t regret it and furnishing from scratch is a lot of fun, too. (and a lot of work…) Do you have any travel plans at all for 2016?
    I don’t have anything exciting planned but have some stuff going on career-wise. And then it’s off to Japan in late March for 3 weeks!
    I wish you all the best for the apartment hunt and maybe we get to see some pictures when you’re done furnishing 🙂
    Love from Germany,

    1. Thanks so much, Asta! It sounds like we’re kindred spirits. 🙂 No actual travel plans at the moment, but I’d love to visit some U.S. cities like Austin and Nashville. And maybe the Caribbean or Panama if I can swing it. Will I do my annual Balkans summer trip? I hope so!

  2. I completely understand your drive to find your own apartment! It’s so exciting to pick furniture and such to furnish your own place. I’ve lived in different countries the last few years, so I’ve done it a couple of times (and I had to sell the lot too when I moved on). Now I’m really looking forward to get my own place in The Netherlands and to stay there for a while (of course I will not stop travelling!).

    It’s awesome that you finished the book challenge. I started strong, but I quit about three months in when I noticed there was no way I would make it 🙂

  3. Hi Kate,

    I think you have to live by yourself at least once in your life, it’s an experience.
    We are doing the complete opposite at the moment, selling up and preparing to move to Canada.
    I look forward to reading all about apartment hunting in New York.

    Happy Travels,


  4. Best of luck with the apartment hunting (or flat hunting, as we say in the UK ;-)) Looking forward to reading about your new life in NYC!

    My plans for January are to work HARD and save money so that I can go through with the plans I have for the rest of the year. Hoping to be in Berlin by April!

  5. Yay welcome to NYC! Nail salons are one of my favorite parts of city culture and my favorite cheap indulgence. I started getting gel earlier this year and it is LIFE CHANGING. Especially good before you go on a trip–mine usually don’t chip for 3-4 weeks!

  6. Hi Kate,

    I am travelling to England in early February. I’m flying Norwegian Air. So I want thank you for that tip. However, meals not included. So I have “bring food on board.” Checked bags cost extra too. And you can’t chose your own seats. And it’s a night flight. Yikes!
    I hope to see all the sights and sounds of London and more. I am going to some cool places with a guide and other people. I’ve actually never been to Europe. (other than my country of birth Albania). I am not well travelled. But I have been “fortunate enough” within the US. Wish me luck Kate! And save me a seat on your new couch in New York 🙂

    happy new year,

    1. Keep in mind that if you upgrade your ticket to the next level above the cheapest, it includes a meal, checked luggage, and a seat choice. I do that when I fly Norwegian now; it’s worth it to me!

  7. Hey Kate,

    I’m sure you have a million friends in the city, but let me know if you ever want to grab a coffee, explore a new neighborhood or just vent about the MTA – and (early) welcome to New York!

  8. Kate, wishing you all the best with finding a decent apartment that you can call your home. It’s important, I can’t agree more. Even migrating birds need their own nest.

  9. Happy New Year Kate and good luck apartment hunting! You’re doing the right thing in taking some time off travel, and what better place to settle than New York!? You’ll have a blast. I always enjoy your Instagrams & snaps – keep ’em coming! 🙂

  10. No matter where I go, New York is one place I could go back to over and over and never, ever get sick of it! Good luck on the apartment hunt! I totally fantasize about getting rid of all of my possessions and just starting over brand new. There’s something so exciting about that!

  11. Hey Kate, I am happy to see you are staying put!

    I get tired just reading where you go, even though I do love the travels. I do. I suggest you make this blog a book, in other words, download it and put it for sale. Then just have a few ‘teaser’ posts. Then you should just be an entrepeneur. You could have ‘Kate sunglasses’, ‘Kate lipstick’, and ‘Kate perfume’. Or, you could just start a magazine. Or you could start a new project online and call it ‘The single girls guide to travel.

    Good luck and happy new year!

  12. I’m glad things are starting to look better. And I can totally understand why you love New York so much. If I could, I’d move there too in a heartbeat!

  13. Good luck with the move! Having your own place is SO worth it. Looking forward to reading about your move and your adventures in NYC!

  14. It’s definitely going to be an exciting year for you! I lived in Korea for the past 5 years and I was craving a normal life too. A chance to buy nice furniture and make my place a home. Although now I’m dreaming about when I can get out and travel again haha
    I’m looking forward to reading about this new chapter in your life.

  15. So since reading this I’ve spent a (wet) public holiday binge watching Master of None. Loved it! Also 30ish, singleish and living in a city.

  16. Hey Kate,

    I’ve followed your blog for a couple years now, but never actually commented on any of your posts. I hope you have a flying start to your new chapter in NYC and I know you’ll have a great 2016 😉

    Happy New Year!

  17. Kate,

    I’ll be following you through this new transition! Can’t wait to see what new adventures this bring you. Happy New Year!


  18. Happy 2016!
    Congrats on moving to NYC aka the best city in the world. I lived there from 2012-2014 in the UWS and it was my favorite. I am near Washington DC now and it’s great but nothing compares to New York.
    My plans are Iceland this month then Namibia and South Africa in May!

  19. I hope NYC brings you the peace and perspective that you’re needing! I’m moving to DC next week and apartment hunting is the worst – I am SUPER jealous of you living alone! I’d hoped to do the same, but I gotta get those grad school loans paid off first. Good luck on your search and please give us an apartment tour once you get settled in – it sounds like it’s going to be fabulous!

  20. Hi! I am a long time reader and I live in NYC. Where in NY are you thinking of moving? I live in Lincoln Center and I like it and you get a good amount of square feet for your money while still being centrally located.

  21. Hey Kate,

    I always admire woman who travels solo. Well, comes from Asian countries where travel or the even the thought of travel solo is still consider as weird, I think you’re awesome. Do you host any travel meet up ? would love to attend as now you’re planning to stay in NYC for quite longer period. I just moved here and amazed on the # of things to do in the city.


    1. At some point, I will host a meetup in NYC. However, they take a lot out of me under normal circumstances and with the anxiety, I can’t even imagine doing them now. In the future!

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