Endings, Beginnings, Big Changes and What’s Next

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Kate in Boracay

A few years ago, I got the coffee table book Where to Go When for Christmas. It’s a gorgeous book featuring full-page spreads on eleven destinations to visit during each month of the year.

I like to check things off. Each time I come home from a long trip, I find that book and underline my most recently visited destinations of the 132. Most recently: Slovenia (best in August). Fjord cruise, Norway (best in April). Helsinki (best in December).

But for the first time, I turned to the opening page, which featured a world map. I absent-mindedly drew a heart around Boston. Then London. Then Bangkok. Then New York.

I didn’t think about it. But these four cities have been incredibly meaningful to me.

Seaside Florida

It’s been a rough summer in lots of ways. On the heels of a yearlong trip, in which I only spent more than two weeks in a single destination (Koh Lanta, and even then I was constantly switching rooms), I threw myself into a summer of hopping all over Europe. A week in Croatia, a week in London. A week in Finland, a week in London. Paris, Puglia, back again.

It was the opposite of what I needed, but with no visa on the horizon, I had no choice but to keep leaving the UK. I took on way too much work requiring travel, and it wreaked havoc on me in every way possible.

And the summer got worse when Mario and I split up.

Don’t worry about me. I’m doing well. Mario and I are on excellent terms, talk every day, and still collaborate in our work. He has asked me to keep him off the blog in the future, and I’m happy to respect his wishes.

If you want to know what you can do for me, here’s what I’d like: Please don’t lean your head to the side, give me doe eyes, and rub my shoulder while asking if I’m okay. I know you mean well, but seriously. That is patronizing and the last thing that I want. Just be a normal level of nice to me. That’s what I’d like.

Also, please don’t speak badly of Mario, publicly or privately. I don’t want to hear it. We’ve never been a conventional couple, and we’re not having a conventional breakup. Just let me move on with my life, happily.

Boston View

The Question

If you follow a lot of travel bloggers, you might be surprised to learn that several of them are not as single as they appear to be. A few of the more well-known bloggers in particular have been in relationships over the past few years, but haven’t revealed anything whatsoever on their blogs. One is even married.

I’ve always been very open and honest here, and you appreciate that. It’s the comment that I hear the most from readers. I think it’s important to paint everything with light and shade and show you the too-often-neglected dark side of travel. I used to have absolutely no filter (you do not want to read my first blog entries from my freshman year of college in 2002!), and now I think I’m at a good level of filter — open and revealing, but keeping the most important stuff private.

But telling you about the end of my engagement has got to be the worst thing I’ve done in my blogging career. I fucking hate it. And it has me second-guessing my openness and wondering if I should take the more private approach of some of my peers in the future.

What also sucks is that I know I have a contingent of readers that wants me to be single, broke, not making any money from this site, and living on less than $1000 a month in Southeast Asia. It’s a small contingent, but it’s definitely out there. And even though it’s been more than three years since I finished my first trip to Asia, and even though there are tons of travel bloggers covering ultra-budget travel these days, some of these readers expect me to be one of them.

Even though I’m single now, that’s not going to happen. I’ve evolved over time. Living on the cheap in Southeast Asia was perfect for that moment in my life, but it’s not what I’ve wanted for the past few years.

I’ll continue backpacking on and off throughout my travels, because I love the community and the fun, but at a more expensive and higher comfort level. Think Airbnb rentals in cool neighborhoods, private rooms in hostels, and the occasional four-bed dorm — not 12-bed dorms on the outskirts of town and roach-filled guesthouses because they’re all I can afford.

Upcoming Fall Travels

Let’s focus on the positive: travel! I’ve got a lot planned for this summer, but virtually no plans for 2015. Anything could happen. This is what’s definitely going to happen:

London Millennium Bridge

London

Yes, still London. I’ll be in and out of London throughout the fall, attending World Travel Market and hopefully doing some exploring in southern England as well as within the city.

The real Athens

Athens

My trip to Athens for TBEX Europe will be my first visit to Greece, one of my most egregiously unvisited countries! It’s about time.

Athens gets a lot of flack from travelers, but that’s mostly because they’re visiting en route to the islands during the miserably hot summer. I’ve heard that the cooler months are much nicer, so I think visiting in late October will be a perfect introduction to the city.

What I’m most looking forward to is staying in a swank apartment near the Acropolis for a week with a few of my girlfriends. There shall be spanakopita. There shall be ouzo. There may be smashed plates.

Quatro Mosteiros -  Four Monasteries - Meteora

Meteora

I have a few extra days in Greece post-TBEX — just enough to visit one destination. If you could go to one place within a few hours of Athens, on the mainland, in late October, where would you go?

Well, Meteora is the place in mainland Greece I’ve wanted to visit for the longest. Photographing those clifftop monasteries would be a dream come true. So I think I will go there!

Tea plantations near Kandy Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

I was supposed to visit Sri Lanka on my first trip to Asia four years ago, but I had to cut it out due to budget reasons. Since then, it’s been one of the countries I’ve yearned to visit the most.

And it’s happening. The Professional Travel Bloggers Association (of which I am a founding member and former board member) is putting on its first conference: TBC Asia.

There has never been a conference like this before: a not-for-profit travel blogging conference for professionals where a few days of travel is part of the itinerary. I’ll be sticking around afterward to explore a bit more of Sri Lanka. The beaches of Unawatuna and the highlands of Ella are calling my name.

Maldives, October 2007

Maldives

Being so close to Sri Lanka, this is my best chance to visit the Maldives. I can fly there for a $200 return flight (or 9000 Avios if I must), so why not just go?

The Maldives are famous for luxury resorts and overwater bungalows, but a few years ago they opened to budget travelers for the first time. The industry is very new and fledgling but I look forward to seeing it for myself before it gets popular.

Norbert from Globotreks wrote this excellent Maldives budget travel guide several months back; Lauren from Neverending Footsteps wrote another great Maldives budget guide this past week that recommends a few guesthouses in particular.

The Swing Carousel

A Quick European Getaway

I fly back to London in December — the perfect launching pad for a short trip somewhere. A few days in Luxembourg or Copenhagen would be nice and would help me continue toward visiting every country in Europe, a goal I’ve had for the past year or so.

Winter in Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Boston

Home for Christmas

I missed the last two Christmases, so it’s time to go home and spend time with my family over the holidays.

Not that I’m a big fan of New England winters…but I am a big fan of my family!

lake and colossus

Central America…?

I have two and a half months free before I need to be in Boston for the Women in Travel Summit at the end of March, which got me scratching my nonexistent beard in contemplation.

I had a world of possibilities and a few offers on the table. And so I tried to stop thinking about where I thought I SHOULD go and what I thought would be good for my brand, and instead thought of what I WANTED.

What do I want? Summer weather. Beaches. Cheap prices. Good infrastructure for travelers. Not Asia. Somewhere new.

And a VACATION. My first break from work in two and a half years.

When I tallied up the criteria, Central America certainly fit that bill, as I haven’t been anywhere in the region. With two and a half months, I should probably do either the top half (Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, maybe a bit of Mexico if I fly into Cancun) or the bottom half (Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua). The bottom half seems to have nicer beaches overall.

Central America seems like an easy destination — too easy — but you know what? I want easy right now. I NEED easy right now. I’ve got some offbeat journeys and destinations in mind for the next year, but I’ll save them for the warmer months.

Village Building

And then…New York?

It seems like every trip I take to New York is better than the last. I had so much fun on my most recent trip there last week. So much that I’m now thinking that I should move there. Most of my closest friends from home now live in New York.

But OH MY GOD CAN I EVEN AFFORD THIS? Even though I’m now making more money than I did before I quit my job to travel, I’m still not sure whether that can translate into both living alone and living in a good neighborhood in New York City. As someone who works from home, those are two things that I need, and they are also two things that drive up the cost of rent exponentially. But the more I spend on rent, the less I can travel.

Anyway. If New York ends up being my place, I won’t move there until summer or fall next year. I have time.

The Next Step

When I drew the tiny hearts around those cities, I had no idea that I had chosen the four most pivotal cities in my lifetime.

Boston. My upbringing, my early adult life, my roots.

Bangkok. My fire, my independence, my love of travel.

London. My great love.

New York. My potential future.

I don’t know where the road is going to lead me, but I hope you continue to stick around for the ride.

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140 thoughts on “Endings, Beginnings, Big Changes and What’s Next”

  1. Oh Kate, how odd I find myself in a similar position to you. Travel blogger. Just broke up with long term partner and thinking about Central America. Thank you for your honesty, it is what has made your blog as it is.

  2. Congratulations! It doesn’t seem like you need anything other than kudos for your spirit! Have fun in Sri Lanka, I loved Unawatuna when I was there! And if Panama makes it to your itinerary stop by Boquete! I’d love to buy you a drink!

    Cheers,

    Cate

  3. We all love to gosspip, we love to know how others live, what they wear, how their flat looks and possibl the inside of the handbag aswell, just one of the reasons blog readers like to see as much as possible of the person behind the blog.

    As blogger I sometimes feels like its the hardest think to do, decide how much of my private life I want to share, and with so much we already share I like to keep a tinny bit private, not many pix of me, my partner and if there ever will be pix possibile non of my kids apart of hands or feets!

    A clear thumb up for your travel plans, Luxembour in December is stunning, cheaper then copenhagen (mulled wine!) and you might be able to fit a bit of Germany in and fly out of Frankfurt for example!

    PS. If you’re in London on the 20th October and would fancy a cup of tea and look back at the maltaise more adventure just give me a shoot out – short few hour stop over on my way back from South Africa

  4. Hey girl, you do you.
    As for living in NY, coming from the theater world, I don’t know how most of my friends survive but they do. Somehow people make it work.

  5. Best of luck with the coming year Kate, you continue to be a huge inspiration to lots of people, me included! Having recently come to the end of a 9 year relationship I can only imagine how you’re feeling with a section of the internet watching and commenting… Ignore them, you’re awesome. Hope to meet you on the road one day! X

  6. Glad to hear you will be at TBEX Athens – our first time there too. The only constant in the world is change – which I think is partially what us blogger types thrive on. But it is not as easy or always fun as it looks on the surface for sure. And I’m absolutely a airbnb apartment slow traveler that doesn’t mind an expensive meal now and again too. Looking forward to trading recommendations in Greece.

  7. Breakups are though when you have a public life! I still have some old articles in my site where I talk about future plans with the person that is now my present day ex. A part of me wants to edit them but another part wants to keep them as a reminder that life must always go on.

    PS. Let me know if you need any specific advice about Mexico (my lovely home country) or Central America, I’m sure you’ll love it there, Kate!

  8. Kate, keep doing what you are doing! You are great and I love reading your blog posts. I am sorry to hear about you and Mario but I am happy that you are so real and open with us readers. It’s not fair that other people will make you regret it. I love that you travel the way you travel since not all of us like the ultra budget traveling. You find great deals in places that are still awesome and like you said, non cockroach ridden 12-bed dorm rooms. I love reading about your adventures and you are truly an inspiration. Keep it up and don’t let other people get you down!

  9. Wishing you nothing but the best. At the end of the day, you need to be true to you…it’s wonderful your travel career has evolved so much over the years. I’m excited to read about your upcoming travels; thanks for your openness and honesty.

  10. Hey Kate, you are an inspiration! I would love to travel on my own, especially for a living.
    Please can you check out my travel blog: purple-jelly.blogspot.com
    I am a beginner at this, and need some followers! any tips would be appreciated
    Thanks,
    Clare

    1. Clare, I know you’re new at this and you mean well, but this is a post about the end of my engagement. Be a little sensitive. This is not the time or place to ask people to check out your new blog.

  11. Good to know you have so many exciting travels lined up. 🙂 I visited Sri Lanka in Dec 2013 (have a couple of blog posts on it, if you want to check ’em out) and absolutely LOVED the country. There are so many places I already want to go back to, and some that I missed that I *have* to visit soon. A tip: Unawatuna and the southern beaches are great, but Trincomalee or the eastern coast in general is much less visited and much more magnificent.
    Well, good luck with the new beginnings, keep having fun! 🙂

  12. Lots of changes, sure, but sounds like a lot of positive ones too. Really looking forward to hearing your take on independent travels in Maldives. As others have begun blogging about it, its increasing nudging its way higher up on my list. As for Central America – my vote would be the upper half. Its a bit more compact to get all around without as much travel and there’s so many awesome different experiences. Have fun!

  13. Wishing you continued good luck with everything and sending smiles your way, kate- my fu glee club mentor! I traveled and lived abroad for a few years after college and i envy your adventures all the time. despite feeling at home and falling in love with several cities, i can definitely relate to your description of london as your “great love”. I think about it every day and hope to get back there someday soon. keep doing all the fabulous things you do.
    best, brooke.

  14. Best wishes in your future endeavors. I admire you for, no matter how difficult things may be, finding the focus to look at what is truly best for you. I’m going through a similar personal situation at the moment (my husband and I are separating), and I know how hard it can be to look ahead and keep smiling — even when the breakup itself is completely civil and you remain close friends.

    Keep on going, girl. I’m excited to hear you speak at WITS in March!

  15. Great update, Kate, and I’m excited to see what the next travels bring you! I’m glad we got to hang out this week, and like I said, if you ever need a place to stop somewhere in CT, we’re here for you! 🙂

  16. Life is change. Relationships wax and wane, but life goes on. I envy you your Central America adventures. But then, I have my own on the go so I don’t envy you too much 🙂

    Looking forward to continued fascinating postings. .

  17. Hi Kate!

    Just came across your blog a few weeks ago and I’m really inspired by you! Congrats on all your achievements! I’ve traveled extensively around the world and always get questions from friends on where to go, so I’m thinking about creating a travel blog for the Hispanic market. I’m from Mexico living in Miami so that makes sense for me. Very interestingly we’re on similar life situations, I work at a digital marketing agency (which you did before your blog), I’m turning 30 this year and I broke up with my boyfriend this summer (we had been together for 4 yrs).

    I wanted to give you some recos if you travel to Mexico. I think you should! Don’t know if you’ve written about Playa del Carmen, Isla Holbox, Tulum or Akumal, all near Cancun, I think you should definitely include these destinations in your blog!

  18. I’m very sorry to hear about that and I’m sure it was hard. I decided to stop posting personal details on my blog after the last relationship. It still sucks seeing posts with pictures of him in it, but it was an important part of my journey, so I’m not taking them down.

    You’re always welcome in Atlanta if you haven’t had your fill of fried food. I’m sure Akila would love to show you Buford Highway, our ethnic eats hood!

  19. Sounds like you have a great year planned ahead 🙂
    I’m an avid reader of your adventures and i live in luxembourg! Let me know if you need a guide for a day :)))
    Happy travels

  20. Hey Kate,

    Been a fan of yours for a long time and hopefully will get a chance to meet at some of these similar events, tbex, wtm and TBC Asia…it’s going to be an exhausting 3rd quarter and I’m also tossing in ITBD Rimini, sounds crazy! Hope we can connect 🙂

  21. Thanks for your travel blog. The mix of personal and professional travel info is great. I stumbled upon your work more than a year ago. It was the first travel blog I’d read. It inspired me to take some writing classes. I’m a mom. I love travel but don’t have much time. Your blog has led me to a new writing hobby that has given me lots of Joy! Thank you. And now I have a great list of places is love to visit someday….

  22. Well Kate here’s the truth: Fuck ’em. Fuck anyone that doesn’t appreciate what you do. Be you. Be unapologetic.

    In this world that is all that we really have. You do what you want, you stay where you want – if people don’t agree with you or your choices, well that’s their issue, not yours. It’s pretty much unnatural to stay the same person forever. Life happens and we change with it. When you write, when you travel you do it for yourself and don’t worry what other people will say or think. Who cares? You built this all on just being Kate so just keep doing that.

    I’m so sorry that you are going through a really tough time. I do understand in a way, I also had an engagement that didn’t work – we broke up 4 months before the wedding. I was completely destroyed. But as stupid as it sounds and as fucking long as it takes, ultimately life gets better and new chapters open that are somehow better than you could’ve imagined.

    And when it comes to the next place you settle down, don’t sweat it. It will all work out when it is supposed to. The truth is that the next city that gets you will be a lucky one. 🙂

  23. Go get ’em Kate, no doubt you have big, BIG things planned. Also, just putting it out there, if you’re thinking of Central America – Colombia may also be a great option. But Central America is an amazing, crazy, beautiful place and no doubt you will have a great time exploring.

  24. As I was reading this, I noticed my head was tilted and quickly straightened it. 🙂 I’ve followed you since Asia and have admired you then and definitely now– your journey is normal and evolving and it changes. People should get that and for those who doesn’t, like Beth said.. F them all. I can’t wait to hear more about your heart cities, all great and meaningful choices. Cheers!

  25. Everything (Travel related) sounds amazing! I want to do all this but I need to hurry up and finish my degree I have way too much time invested to just toss it aside.

    Its true, personal life can get tricky when your job is to blog and vlog. I think you should follow what you feel about your personal life and go for it. You feel like not disclosing, don’t. In a sharing mood? Then do. It should be up to you, not what your readers want when it comes to your personal life.

  26. can’t wait to see Greece and honestly, Christmas in New England…
    Privacy or Public…it’s always your choice but we love you because you are authentic. To Thine Own Self Be True and I’ve always loved that you are …. you…and we love hearing you blog about what we all love: traveling and life!!
    Thanks

  27. Kate,
    I just got us settled in the North End in a pied-à-terre. It makes it easy to pop into Boston to see the boys who live here now. When I am up here next and you are in town, let’s get together.
    Glad to hear you are happy! Making ones own happiness is the key. You are super!

  28. Well, I have got nothing to do with your personal life, but your travel plans (as always) sound exciting. Your writing style is amazing! Although I am not much of a reader, I end up reading whatever you write. Keep the good work going.

  29. Best of luck with your next year, Kate! I love how such a simple act as circling items on a map can be so meaningful. Those are great cities — I think mine would be Hamilton, NY; Ann Arbor, MI; Breckenridge, CO; and Ketchikan, AK. The places that have made me who I am today.

    Speaking of who I am today, I owe you a big thanks for being one of my biggest inspirations in starting my own travel blog. I’ve always looked up to you: your honesty, your humor, and your hard work. Keep doing what you’re doing — you’re inspiring a whole hell of a lot of us!

    PS. I’ve spent a lot of time in Central America, and I highly recommend it for a true vacation! Though I haven’t been there, I’ve heard amazing things about the Corn Islands in Nicaragua.

    PPS. I just got the spam math question wrong. Ugh. I guess that’s why I’m a writer!

  30. Hey Kate,

    Loved this post. Just so you know NYC doesn’t have to be insanely expensive and you don’t have to live in the swankiest neighborhoods to really love it. I’m a travel blogger living in Bushwick Brooklyn — which is one of the more “dangerous” areas of the city — and I have never been happier (esp as I’m only paying $650 a month in rent!). I also live 30 minutes by straight train ride ($2.50) to JFK + $5 airtrain. Definitely check it out. It’s sort of going up in price now because it’s “up-and-coming,” but you can still find a few cheap finds! 🙂

    Jessie

  31. All the best Kate. Always interested in your thoughts and travels. We spent 2 months in Sri Lanka this year and loved the place and the people, especially the photographic opportunities. We based ourselves at Mirissa which allowed a nice mix of privacy and company. But, having said that we couldn’t wait to get back to Bangkok and Thailand to get more variety into our diet.

    When you’re ready to add to your favourite places then head to New Zealand, it may not be New York but you may never leave!

  32. It’s a strange business trying to balance your personal life and online blog life. I choose to share very little of my personal life, mostly because my online persona doesn’t necessarily reflect on who I am in real life… it’s just something that comes out when i type 🙂

  33. I’ve been reading your blog for years and I’ve always appreciated your candor. Even though I don’t know you, your honest writing has made me feel brave in my own writing and has always made your adventures more real and personal to me. Can’t wait to follow your upcoming adventures! Great post.

  34. I feel you. I was so honest with my blog before, especially when I was in high school and I was just starting out. I find your style in writing inspiring and relatable. It makes me feel engaged with your blog posts like you’re talking right in front of me, like we’re chatting. Just do what’s comfortable for you. You’ll be alright.

    Your travel list sounds exciting! I’ve been wanting to go to London, too. Ever since I was a kid I’ve dreamt of seeing Big Ben and the London Eye. Please take photos of it once you’ve traveled to London. 🙂

  35. Sounds to me like you have an exciting time full of change ahead of you! You do and share whatever feels right for you – it doesn’t matter what other bloggers are writing about. This is YOUR blog and YOUR story. And you’ll still have tons of readers either way. 🙂

  36. Well I’m just glad that your endings and beginnings aren’t an end of travel blogging! A number of my favorite bloggers have taken indefinite or undefined pauses recently, so I didn’t want to lose another! Although I am sad to hear about your break-up, although I had been wondering why you were travelling so much after saying you’d be slowing down and why we hadn’t heard about him much at all. As curious as I am, I completely understand not wanting to put your personal life all over the internet.

    As for moving to NYC, it is a great city! I know a number of people who live in Hoboken or Jersey City instead though, to have easy access to the city but be a bit removed in terms of cost and traffic and whatnot (although these are people I know who work in central Jersey). And I also know people who love Brooklyn or Queens.

    1. Honestly, the reason behind why I traveled so much this summer is because I agreed to join the Must Love Festivals campaign, which snowballed into five festival trips this summer, as well as the Croatia trip. I also wanted to go to Paris for my 30th birthday, and added in a few days in Norway on my way home. Eight trips, total. I also had to keep leaving because I didn’t have a UK visa and I had to be careful about not spending too much time there. And I didn’t talk about Mario because he wasn’t on those trips — he was working in London.

  37. “He has asked me to keep him off the blog in the future, and I’m happy to respect his wishes”

    * writes whole blog post about him *

    😉

    1. You know, I went back and forth with how to phrase that — whether to say “in the future” or “following this post” and decided that “in the future” would be clear enough for readers to realize that I obviously meant following this post.

      But I guess not.

      Just so it’s abundantly clear, Mario okayed that passage of text before I published it with the understanding that I would be mentioning him in this post and then not anymore.

      1. This will sound harsh, but it’s definetely meant the other way:

        Don’t apologise. To anybody.

        Your blog. Your rules. Your privacy.

        I love the second part of your article, looking at the bright side and full of new adventures and places to see!

        And you got me thinking if I should attend the Women Travel Summit… would be great to see you again 😉

        Best wishes from Montréal,
        Carina

  38. Also, I had been thinking already that I would love to see your own version of where to go when! I’m very likely to be in Ireland for business next November, and have the chance to tack on a vacation with the free plane ticket to Europe… but where to in November? (and I hit much of Ireland this past spring, although not Skellig Michael unfortunately!)

  39. Hi Kate,

    I wanted to know whether you would ever consider sharing experiences? I travel a bit as well and are longing to go to the above places, Greece is def on the top of my list, but would love to travel with an adventurer like you? What is your opinion about this?

    1. I’ve thought of running tours with my readers, but at this point it’s an idea I’ve shelved for the future. There are other things that I would concentrate on first that can be scaled better.

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