Turning 38 and Two Exciting New Developments

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Today is my 38th birthday. I’m celebrating in Prague for the second year in a row.

Each birthday, I write a post going over the past year. I write so much in my monthly recaps that you guys know what I’ve been up to the past year — visiting my final three Italian regions; spending another winter in Mexico; falling madly in love with Naples, Italy; welcoming a new might-as-well-be-a-nephew; canceling a road trip in Iceland because I can’t drive a manual car.

I also managed to avoid COVID, despite two very close calls this past year. Still haven’t had it. (I reach down and knock my hardwood floor every time I say that.)

But there were two big things that I didn’t mention here yet.

Kate and Charlie hold us two foamy Czech beers and smile. Kate has long curly hair and wears a flowered dress with a square neckline. Charlie wears a gray and white striped long-sleeved shirt.
Enjoying pre-dinner beers in Prague!

Charlie and I are engaged!

Charlie asked me to marry him when we were in Lake Como in July! And I said yes!

I share bits and pieces of life with Charlie here, but I keep most of the personal relationship stuff private. We’ve been together more than three years now, and I don’t think I’ve talked much about how we got together.

Charlie and I met online in 2017. Charlie reached out to me saying that he saw I was planning a trip to Ukraine, and whether his company, JayWay Travel, could sponsor my trip there. I agreed and I ended up with a wonderful trip to Odessa, Kyiv, and a memorable day in Chernobyl. I loved Ukraine so much, I named it my favorite destination of 2017.

Charlie and I became Facebook friends and occasionally commented on each other’s posts, and we also had a ton of mutual friends. We finally met in person at the Traverse conference in Trento, Italy, in 2019. And we hit it off right away! So much that Charlie flew BACK to Italy a few days after getting home so we could travel more together.

That summer I ended up subletting my New York apartment for a few months; Charlie bought me a ticket to Azerbaijan for my birthday and planned a Georgia blog trip for us and our friends. That was the beginning of traveling to 14 countries together so far, two winters living in Mexico, and visiting 17 of Italy’s regions together.

Kate and Charlie take a smiling selfie in front of big letters on grass reading I Baku. The B is a sideways red heart.
Enjoying our time in Baku, Azerbaijan, one of the odder cities we’ve visited.

Things got rough when 2020 hit. Suddenly we had to deal with a pandemic, getting banned from each other’s countries, and wading through red tape and ever-changing border closures to get back together. Not to mention the obliteration of the travel industry and our two businesses, all the financial stress that caused, and painstakingly building them back.

I got to Prague in September 2020, and we adopted our kittens Lewis and Murray in November. A month later, we found out Lewis was dying from FIP. Charlie found the lifesaving FIP treatment on Facebook, and we saved Lewis, giving him 12 weeks of painful daily shots until he was fully cured. That was a really difficult time, not to mention expensive, but Lewis being happy and healthy is so incredibly worth it.

I know that going through these challenges will give us strength when we inevitably hit tough times in the future.

Life has stabilized a bit more in the past year as the travel industry and our businesses continued to recover. I feel like our life in Prague is cozy, fun, and filled with the things we love.

And I feel so happy and lucky to have found Charlie. I am so excited to GET married to him and so excited to BE married to him!

We will be having a big wedding in Prague in the spring and a very small wedding in New England.

And as for the honeymoon — we are aiming for December 2023, and want to go to a country that neither of us has visited before (so nowhere in Europe, Southeast Asia, or Central America). Somewhere more far-flung, maybe a little beachy but not all beachy, with really nice accommodation. Any ideas?

Kate wears sunglasses and a black shirt with cutouts and stands in front of a side reading "Welcome-Bienvenue to New Hampshire. Live Free or Die."
Live free or die, baby!

I started a new business!

Over the last few years, several travel bloggers have started destination niche sites as side hustles. You take all your skills from years upon years of blogging and throw them into growing a brand new site focused on just one destination.

I’ve wanted to do this for awhile, but I had trouble finding a good destination. You need to hit the sweet spot of somewhere you know well that has a lot of demand but isn’t covered to death. Prague, for example, wouldn’t work because it’s a fairly narrow niche and there are already tons of Prague blogs.

Then after months of pondering, it hit me on August 11, 2021.

New Hampshire Way. A site all about New Hampshire travel.

My sister and I would make up a song we called, “That’s the New Hampshire Way,” whenever we drove into New Hampshire as kids. The moment that phrase entered my mind, I had 100% clarity. This was what I was waiting for.

I bought the domain immediately.

I spent all of my childhood summers in New Hampshire, and I still travel there often to this day. I know the state backwards and forwards, especially the White Mountains, Lakes Region, and Seacoast. And my knowledge goes deep, too. At election time, I’m the one explaining the nuances of why Granite Staters vote differently than most New Englanders.

Is there demand for New Hampshire travel? YES. Did you know that New Hampshire gets more travelers than either Vermont or Maine? Seriously!

Beyond that, almost all of New Hampshire’s visitors are from the US, especially New England. Some Canadians come down via Québec, and some international travelers come during foliage time (usually as a short part of a longer New England trip), but this is largely a US travel destination for US travelers.

That’s good for business for two reasons: Americans earn the highest rates on display ads, and local destinations are more secure than international destinations in times of pandemic, inflation, and recession. I’m doing this to give myself more security long-term. (Same reason why I’ve been writing so much about Massachusetts here lately.)

The Flume Gorge in the White Mountains.

So how did I get started? Well, you might recall that last year I did the mother of all New Hampshire research trips, criss-crossing the state, packing in activities from sunup to sundown, photographing everything, taking copious notes.

I revisited old favorites like the Flume Gorge and White Lake and did new things like the Mount Washington Cog Railway and the M/V Sophie C mailboat on Lake Winnipesaukee. I visited 26 breweries (!!). I fell in love with the Monadnock region, the southwest part of the state I hadn’t explored much before.

After the trip, I got to work: organizing, writing, and link-building. I found three terrific New Hampshire writers who are experts on topics I’m weaker on — Bekah wrote about hiking the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire, Jeff wrote about the best restaurants in Portsmouth, and Katie wrote about the best New Hampshire ski resorts.

Guys — I am LOVING building this site SO much. It feels like coming full circle to my childhood.

My favorite posts I’ve written so far: my guide to the Kancamagus Highway, the most gorgeous drive in New Hampshire. New Hampshire Winter Getaways is a sweet little post on so many different kinds of winter trips you can have. I am proud of my guide to the best New Hampshire breweries, forever a work in progress.

And if you have no clue what New Hampshire has to offer, check out my post on the best things to do in New Hampshire. I worked hard on this list to make it genuinely interesting and diverse, and it will probably surprise you!

So far the site has earned me about $50 so far. Woohoo! But traffic is growing very rapidly, and I hope to be on the same display ad network as Adventurous Kate by the end of the year.

Kate smiling in front of a small pirate ship topped with afternoon tea pastries. Behind her is the city skyline of London, including the Tower Bridge.
Who needs to grow up when you can enjoy a Peter Pan-themed afternoon tea in London?

What’s next for age 38?

Getting married! That’s the big thing, and nothing else comes close! Charlie and I have so much to do, and we’re looking forward to all of it! Our big goal is to throw an amazing multi-day experience in Prague for our friends and loved ones.

We’ve actually already booked the band but have yet to secure a date or venue. Ha. That will be this week, probably. Luckily, weddings are much more chill in Prague than in the US, where you need to lock down vendors a year in advance.

But first — I’m taking Charlie to New Hampshire! Haha, yes, I finally get to combine the two biggest things in my life in the last year! Charlie is already a big fan of New Hampshire’s tax-free shopping but he needs to go somewhere that isn’t an Apple store!

We’re going to the White Mountains during peak foliage and doing some of the best fall activities: the Conway Scenic Railroad, driving up Mount Washington, the Kancamagus Highway. I’m excited to stay at the Sugar Hill Inn, one of the best inns in the state in one of my favorite towns in the state.

We will be around for NH Brewfest in Portsmouth, and I’d like to finish visiting the breweries in Portsmouth and Manchester so I can do a post on each city’s breweries. I also want to take Charlie to some of my favorite breweries, like Schilling in Littleton and Rek-Lis in Bethlehem. (Schilling literally has a Czech Pilsner named after a neighborhood down the street from us, Palmovka!)

Right now New Hampshire Way has 39 posts live. How many do you need? I’ve heard 50 is a good number to aim for in the early days, and 200 is a great long-term goal. We shall see!

Other stuff coming up for age 38? It has been a long time since I’ve visited a new country — the last one was Cuba in December 2019! It would be nice to visit a new country this year. No idea where or when, though.

Charlie and I have decided to spend a quiet winter in Prague this year instead of going to Mexico. Last year we missed the cats too much, and we realized that January is our big work-work-work month and it’s not an ideal time to go away.

We might take a trip somewhere warm for a week in February or March.

Beyond that, I’d love to get back to Paris this year. I miss it. Charlie and I have talked a bit about a weekend in Rome (I haven’t been since 2006, pre-blog). I have my 20-year high school reunion around Thanksgiving but am going back and forth on whether to go — it’s a long way for a trip.

I’ll be speaking at Traverse in Brno, Czech Republic, in September, talking about how to blog in the age of TikTok! If you want to attend, you can get 20% off with the code AK20.

I’d like to get a Czech tutor this year. I took Zoom lessons with a group before, but hated the breakout sessions aspect because everyone was shy and I felt like I had to be the teacher. I think a tutor would be much better. I need to say my wedding vows in Czech, after all!

And just more time with good people. More time in good places. More time living life to the fullest.

Thank you for being here for me, each and every year. I feel so lucky to have you as readers. Cheers to you all!

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24 thoughts on “Turning 38 and Two Exciting New Developments”

  1. Congrats on everything and all your accomplishments.

    For new Hampshire the real tips would be to how to avoid the crowds and save money during fall foliage trips.

    1. Thank you, Nova! Those are great ideas. One way to avoid the crowds is to go north — the Great North Woods — in late September for the first brushes of foliage. Dixille Notch and Milan Hill State Park are great. And this area doesn’t have as many activities as the White Mountains, so it doesn’t have as many tourists.

  2. For honeymoon: I know New Zealand has been on your list for a long time and that would be a great time to visit! There’s plenty of beachy (north of Auckland in the Bay of Islands is stunning) but also tons of not-beachy/mountainous/etc. Amazing wineries on both islands, food…I was a backpacker so I can’t recommend nice accomodation but I know it exists 😁

    1. New Zealand would be an absolute dream. I’m not shy about it being my top pick! The only things are that flights from Europe to NZ are a pain in the ass (especially since we want to fly business and use points to do it — only real option is Emirates, which charges huge fees on top of redemptions), and Charlie thinks we need a much longer trip to make NZ worth it. But who knows?

  3. For a honeymoon, why not look at Zanzibar. It has everything, beach, culture, laid back atmosphere, quick trips for safaris.

  4. Happy birthday and congratulations on your engagement! We were also in Como in July!

    Love the story of how you guys met and your relationship developed.

    And congrats on the new site! I’ve also been thinking about doing the same for Tennessee. Will eagerly follow the New Hampshire Way and see how you do it!

  5. Love your love story! It’s refreshing to read of two adventurous, open minded, ambitious people organically crossing paths in life. As a nomad who has lived a similar lifestyle to yours, its hard to sustain a relationship long term or even connect with someone who hasn’t lived this way. I would love a post on relationship/dating advice you would give your younger self and what helped you live the life you want and find the partner you’ve wanted.

    1. Aww, thank you so much! I think everyone at some point hopes that the same thing will happen for them. Glad I found someone who was already in my community and lifestyle. It made SO much easier.

  6. “Somewhere more far-flung, maybe a little beachy but not all beachy, with really nice accommodation. Any ideas?” Brazil? Tanzania/Zanzibar? Madagascar? Also, congrats!!!

    1. Brazil is on the list! Tanzania is listed but I’m not sure December is the best month for safari. Madagascar I really want to go to, but I’ve heard it’s a bit of a rough place for overland travel (bad roads, long distances, etc.) — which I’d be up for, but not for my honeymoon.

  7. What an uplifting post! Sometimes the birthday posts have some poignancy and/or yearning in them. This one was all joy – and I hope that means you are experiencing all (or almost all) joy.

    Congrats on so many accomplishments, that you have worked very hard for.

    I can’t wait to read about your wedding plan progress!

  8. Kate, I have been following your blog for about 10 years now and never get bored. You are fantastic at re-inventing yourself and keeping things fun.
    Happy 38th Birthday, and also huge congratulations on your engagement. You guys make a very handsome couple.
    For your honeymoon I would suggest Brazil. I know it has been on your list for ages. My home country is gorgeous. I recommend Rio, but also Bonito and the Pantanal in Mato Grosso do Sul. I have recently visited and thoroughly enjoyed it.
    Warm wishes, Gilda.

    1. Thank you so much! Love that you think I keep reinventing myself! 🙂 Brazil is actually one of our top choices at the moment so I will keep your recommendations in mind. I was thinking Rio, Salvador, Chapada Diamantina and Fernando de Noronha would be great for two weeks and change.

  9. I love that you’re focusing on New Hampshire! I’m a New Englander, and my husband and I ended up honeymooning in NH because it was during the pandemic and there were very few travel options. We got dumped with a foot of snow! Definitely not the honeymoon of my dreams, but we made the best of it and had a lot of fun anyway.

    Congratulations on your own engagement!

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