Don’t quantify your 2018 travels, let your memories do that

As travelers, we’re often pressured to quantify our travel experiences. Break down all the memories that we experienced around the world and quantify them to make our trips seem worthy and stand out. It usually looks something like this: 

2018, what a year you’ve been. I embarked on 13 flights, domestic and international, and ventured more than 16,000 miles in the air. I also drove more than 25,000 miles domestically and abroad. But I can’t forget the 2,500 kilometers I spent on trains traipsing through Europe. In total, I trekked more than 42,500 miles these past 12 months.

Maybe, that’s impressive to you, but honestly, I could care less about all the miles I clocked in during 2018. What I care about are the countless memories that I had. Who are we to try to quantify our memories so that they are tangible and measurable.

Isn’t that what makes our travel experiences great? No one else in the world can have an identical experience to our own. Yet, we are encouraged over and over again to quantify them. 

So, in true travel blogger fashion, I will “quantify” my travels for you, but I’ll also tell you how my trips were more than just miles clocked on the odometer.  

Jungle brush view from hike to St Herman's cave in Blue Hole National Park in Belize off the Hummingbird Highway

Belize Road Trip – 800 km

In January of 2018, I kicked off the new year with a road trip to Belize. I finally escaped the treacherous Minnesota winter and visited a tropical paradise that fulfilled and even exceeded my expectations. For a week, I voyaged through the dense, jungle fronds in Belize and explored ancient Mayan ruins overgrown with vegetation. I was even brave enough to travel solo to Caracol, a remote Mayan ruin site located near the Guatemalan border. 

I bounced around the mainland and stayed in hidden jungle oases where I was surrounded by the sounds of Howler Monkeys jaguars roaming at night. Though the landscape was beautiful and serene, I suffered a huge learning curve. I fell for my first Airbnb scam and also saw first hand the effects of not supporting local tourism. Five-star hotels and casinos stood guard on the brink of villages where residents were starving, had no roofs, and were unable to start their own businesses due to the imported competition based down the street. Belize opened my eyes. 

Further south, I explore Belize’s St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park. I hiked humid trails in the jungle and swam in some of the most relaxing waters. With all the lush greenery around me, I was set for a tranquil, yet adventurous, visit. 

Here I learned to let go and live in the moment. I spent hours basking in Belize’s smaller Blue Hole and just fantasizing about my future and the endeavors I had overcome. 

I ended my trip with a short jaunt to the Cayes, small islands off the shores of Belize. Two of the largest and most well-known are Ambergris Caye, the home of San Pedro, and Caye Caulker. 

With a motto of “take it easy,” I hardly knew what time or what day it was when I was relaxing in the Cayes. No, this wasn’t due to the amount of Caribbean Punch/Rum they served at all the restaurants. I embraced the relaxing lifestyle and sat for hours watching the waves disturb the reeds off the beach’s shore. There was nothing here to disturb me or my inner peace that I was slowly finding. 

European getaway – 2,500 km 

After a disastrous break up that ended my soon-to-be marriage, I jetted across the pond to Europe for part of my summer. For six weeks, I ventured aimlessly around Europe indulging in the finer things in life while also taking the time to love myself, even when I was in my less-than-usual-sparkly-state. 

Off the beaten path in the Czech Republic 

My first destination was the Czech Republic. I started first in Ostrava an industrial city that still has remnants of the Cold War lurking around numerous corners. The industrial metropolis served as my house base for a few days before I branched out and explore many of the UNESCO sites in Czech

I headed westward towards Jihlava, Telc and Trebic, where the oppressive history of the Jews came to life. The ghettos where they lived, the synagogues where they worshiped, and their homes where they sought refuge from the terror that surrounded them, told their stories. 

Then there was the chatteaus and castles that took my breath away. Sucked into a time warp, I visited a time when lords, duchesses, kings and queens ruled the land. I marveled at the ornate artistry that went into constructing their homes and chateaus where they threw lavish parties. 

I returned to modern times with a relaxing massage and a day trip to Ceske Budejovice. It was enough time to enjoy some high dining before exposing myself to another unknown — rural Czech. 

In the next few days, sheep, llamas, goats and horses were my closest friends. I stayed at goat farms and urban breweries deep in the Czech countryside. The city hustle and bustle was far behind me and I woke up each morning to the sounds of the barnyard. Here I hunkered down with Czech locals and drank the best slivovice, a potent Czech fruit brandy. We shouted “Nz zdravi!” (Cheers!) with each sip and my heart grew full with the kindness each local gave me. 

It was in Czech where my heart began to truly heal. After months of living in an apartment that was tainted with memories of my past love, I craved an oasis. Czech was that oasis. It wasn’t the copious amounts of alcohol that I drank with the Czech locals that made my visit jolly, it was their kindness. 

When I wandered the streets of Jihlava, a local baker emerged from her shop with freshly baked blueberry muffins. It was dinner time and she didn’t want a visitor to be left unfed. She graciously offered me the best of her muffins so I would enjoy her lovely city and remember it kindly. 

Over and over again, surreal kindness from strangers blessed me. The woman whose goat farm I stayed at took me out early one morning to feed the goats with her. It was then that I met her pride and joy, Rosie, a white, milking goat that gave your hand the softest nips and kisses. 

By the time I finally ventured to Prague, the crowned jewel and center of attention of Czech, my heart overflowed with all the gracious acts I witnessed during my visit. 

In Prague, I allowed my heart for the first time to really yearn for love again. I walked the cobblestone streets alone and was content with the love that I had cultivated again for myself. I toyed with the idea of letting someone back into my heart, and for me, that was a marvelous revelation. 

Chugging onward, Slovakia 

After Prague, my time was up in Czech. I drank enough Czech beer to qualify myself as an expert in the art and taken enough sips of slivovice with good company. I boarded the train, which I discovered is now one of my favorite forms of transportation, and chugged onward to Bratislava, Slovakia. 

Bratislava brought about a feast of unique concoctions. It was a paradise for cheese lovers because many of the cultural dishes were just that. I feasted on bryndzove halushky, potato dumplings with goat cheese and crispy bacon, and schnitzel. Though my days in Slovakia were few, I fell in love with Bratislava’s Old Town and loved meandering the streets admiring the beautiful architecture. 

In a few short few days, I relaxed and avoided the crowds. I disguised myself as a local and emerged to experience the city around me. I stopped rushing from tourist attraction to tourist trap and just took a moment to truly feel what Slovakia had to offer. 

Indulging in Budapest 

From Slovakia, I whirled off to Budapest where I pampered myself to my heart’s content. After walking 12 miles a day for many weeks, my body was starting to ache with fatigue. My journey in Budapest began with a sunset river cruise where I dined by myself and stared out on the beautiful Buda and Pest skylines as the cruise ship sailed up and down the Danube River. I watched the Budapest Castle erupt into a sea of diamonds. Then watch the dusk sky melt into an ink black. 

The next day I took luxury to an entirely new level. I spoiled myself with an all-day pamper session at the Széchenyi thermal baths. I ventured from pool to pool cleansing myself of my worries and reacquainting myself with peace.

Igniting with passion in Austria 

Before I knew it, I was boarding the train once again to my last country — Austria. Little did I know, that this rusty tin can carried a handsome stranger who jolted my heart awake. 

After a lovely train ride together, I had no intention of pursuing this relationship further. I was accustom to telling the world no over and over again. It was too good to be true because who makes a connection offline these days? I pushed away love because every dating guru would tell me I wasn’t ready. Or so I thought. 

As fate would have it, I stumbled — literally — into my mysterious, handsome train companion days later. Though I had no intention of letting feelings blossom or allowing myself to be whisked away by passion, it happened. 

And soon after that passion, I suffered from the worst food poisoning of my life. How romantic. Yet, I learned that I could rely on others to take care of me, especially in the feeble state that I was. I promised myself to remain vulnerable and let others in. Whether that meant romantically or in a practical way. 

A year full of lessons 

I have jetted across the globe and ticked off numerous new countries off my bucket list. Yet, what’s even more memorable is the joy that each of these destinations gave me.

Belize gave me the courage to always remain independent. I should constantly strive to make myself happy and not sacrifice my happiness for the sake of others. 

The Czech Republic gave me rejuvenation and reacquainted me with my true love — travel. I found the courage to stand alone and truly let go. Worry slipped from my mind, and I found joy in the wonders around me. 

In Slovakia, I stripped myself of the pressure to live up to everyone’s expectations. I finally found compassion for myself and promised to never forget it. 

Hungary was a country of decadent delight. It was another type of love that I found in pampering oneself. In the days that I spent sipping wine on the Danube and soaking in the Széchenyi thermal baths, I developed the mantra, “you are worthy to indulge.” That in itself was a miracle to say aloud. 

And as fate would have it, Austria brought me back my spark. Austria made me trip back into love. I also learned that in order to continue to find love, I needed to be vulnerable. I had to bare it all for those who cared for me. 

When I started 2018, I thought it would be a year by the numbers. I never imagined it would be a year that amounted to so much more than that. 

About the Author

Quirky Globetrotter

Hi! I'm Martha! The mastermind behind Quirky Globetrotter a feminist travel blog. Quirky Globetrotter is devoted to telling narratives devoted to female solo travel and hidden gems worldwide with an emphasis on intersectional feminism and how that impacts travel on a global and local level.

46 thoughts on “Don’t quantify your 2018 travels, let your memories do that

  1. Well that was a year! I am so glad to read that you left it all behind and ventured out on your own. I too was in Ostrava and spent a whole month in the Czech Republic. A fascinating country and one that I will have fond memories of. What a year 2019 will be. I will check back this time next year to see how it panned out. Enjoy

    1. Hi Jane! It definitely was quite the rollercoaster of a year. I was pleasantly surprised by Czech, honestly. It’s overwhelming how much I enjoyed that country. And this year, I hope to push myself further out of my comfort zone. That I’m really excited for. Happy and safe travels to you!

  2. It never occurred to me to “quantify” my travels. I don’t feel any pressure to add up the miles and see how far I’ve traveled. You are right, the memories are all that matters and you seem to have accumulated quite a few of them in 2018.

    1. Hi Anda! I’m glad that there is still a group of us that don’t care about the numbers. I’m so happy about my travels in 2018 and looking to travel even more in 2019. Happy and safe travels to you in the upcoming year!

  3. It sure sounds like you had an exciting year! I hope 2019 will be even better and bring you even more exciting adventures. You’re absolutely right- it’s the memories that count and not the miles. I don’t even keep a track of the miles but I have a lot of precious memories from different places around the globe 🙂

    1. Hi Daniel! I’m glad that we are both in the minority together. This upcoming year looks like a whirlwind of travel, but I’m beyond excited to start chipping away at my bucket list again. Wishing you safe and fun travels this year!

  4. I like your viewpoint. We did quite a bit last year despite our “numbers” not matching up to some other travelers. Its not about quantifying the experiences like you said, it is about the memories 🙂

  5. It sounds like you had quite an adventure! I don’t count my travels by numbers, just the strength of experiences it’s given me 🙂 Nice that you had a romantic moment too there at the end, it’s definitely one you’ll always remember!

    1. Hi Lisa! That’s a brilliant way to put it “strength of experiences.” We always learn so much when we travel and it’s important to reflect back on that. Yeah, a little romance didn’t hurt at all, ha! Happy and safe travels to you!

  6. WOW!! it sounds like you’ve had quite the amazing travel year!! I really do like your viewpoint of how you travel! What do you have planned for 2019?

    1. Hi Krista! Why thank you, that means a lot! In the upcoming year I’m hoping to embark on four international trips and many new domestic journeys. I’m hoping to announce them in the next week or so!

  7. I love slovakia but seems like not many people travel there? Budapest has lovely architecture and I go back every year. AS for the Czech Republic – I really need to experience this further as I haven’t yet.Your photos sure made me want to!

    1. Hi Ann! Thanks for reading. Slovakia definitely blew me away. I want to go back and experience it all over again. For Czech, I would definitely recommend getting off the beaten path and visiting rural areas. I found that to be my favorite parts. Cheers to you and happy new year!

  8. Amazing year, despite the break-up (so sorry). I totally agree about not quantifying. We as a family who travels together, do it to create bonds and memories, not create numbers. I think you created a great amount of memories for yourself.

    1. Hi Alison! Thanks for your kind words. I’m doing well! As a kid, my family used to take a road trip each year together. I love all those memories! I’m so happy that you share that with your family. Wishing you and all your loved ones safe and happy travels in the new year!

  9. I’ve not yet qualified any travel, never thought of it. Although, I do love to cover as much “ground” as possible while traveling, but for experience and memories. I loved this post. And loved hearing about your growth as a person due to your experiences with new places. What an amazing adventure for you. This was a fun read.

    1. Hi Jenny! Thank you for the kind words! I definitely grow substantially each year due to the amount of traveling I do. I love seeing how new cultures and experiences have stretched my mind a little more and how I have a different outlook on things. Wishing you a safe and happy new year!

  10. I read many blogs about their travel recaps during 2018, and I thought of writing of my own. However, I realized that I should keep it to myself, not writing a recap (coz I’ve already shared the stories to my blog) and just reminisce them specially when am alone. It makes me happy and feed my soul, and realized all the adventures I had for the past year, are making me stronger for the future. Numbers are just numbers.

    1. Hi Blair! I’m glad that you had the chance to reflect on your past year. I think the reason I love these yearly round-up posts because they give us a chance to reflect and see how these moments really changed us as individuals. I do write daily journal entries, where I document many of these experiences to begin with, but I’m not honored with the foresight of how this experience changed me. I think that’s important to note that travel isn’t just for the photographs, but it definitely cultivates a better you. Happy and safe travels to you!

    1. Hi Anwesha! Thank you for reading, that’s very kind of you! This upcoming year I’m hoping to experience more of Asia. I’ll be announcing some new travel destinations for me soon, so stay tuned!

  11. I dislike people quantifying their travels as well and it’s the one thing I refrain from doing myself. I love the way you’ve recounted all your memories though, and it was such a lovely read to see how you grew to love yourself and your passion for travel all over again after a difficult break up and your journey into finding someone else (unexpectedly and unintentionally) who you felt some connection with! You travelled quite a bit but what counts is the journey through self-discovery, love and generally, life!

    1. Hi Medha! Thank you for the lovely and kind words. Self-discovery is a huge appeal in travel right now since the Elizabeth Gilbert boom. I never thought I’d be one of those people, but here I am! Happy and safe travels to you!

  12. I absolutly love how you broke down each place and what it did for you. I am going to do the same! And I can’t agree more with not quantifying everything. That’s not the point at all. You can travel the world and learn not a thing. It’s not how far you go but what you do with it.

    1. Hi Hailey! I loved breaking this down by country because it definitely gave me a chance to reflect and be pensive about my self-growth. I have a lot of people and experiences to thank for helping me become a better human being. Thank you for reading; happy and safe travels to you!

  13. I would have to agree in everything you say in the first part of your post. Don’t go for the quantity, but rather see the quality. I also visited Budapest and Vienna last 2018, they’re both amazing.

  14. Well said – one has to count the memories and not the miles. I am a firm believer of that. In fact, if I had to list down the memories, my post for 2018 would go to pages. You sure had your share of amazing memories. Loved your adventures.

  15. Oh, I really enjoyed reading your post as these are things that bloggers do not really talk/write / admit. I agree with you sometimes we try to… impress others more and we tend to forget the real experiences! Great post 👍🏽

    1. I totally agree, Valentini! This is definitely a syndrome felt in the travel blogger community. We are constantly competing to impress, which I think is why yearly round up posts saying we’ve been to x amount of countries are so popular. There’s nothing wrong with sharing your memories, it’s when we start playing the numbers game were things start to get a little tricky.

  16. This is really the most amazing thing I’ve ever read. It’s always amazing when you read something and you unexpectedly get some amazing message from the text that you didn’t even know you needed. This is such an important post and I’m glad you decided to share this.

    1. Hi Deidre! I’m glad that you felt inspired by my post. That makes me feel wonderful. Hopefully you’re inspired to travel more in the upcoming year and create some unforgettable memories!

    1. Hi Lynsey! I hope you do get to travel someday as well. It’s so important to explore outside of our comfort zone and learn more about our wonderful planet. I definitely have a few tricks that can help you especially if you are beginning traveler. Best of luck and happy travels to you!

  17. It certainly sounds like you have had some amazing adventures! I couldn’t agree more about the need to quantify travels, I don’t understand why there is this pressure on people to country count and brag. Just because you visited 12 countries in 3 weeks it doesn’t necessarily mean you got to scratch the surface of any of them! Your memories are without doubt the most important thing. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Hi Sheree! I think we often forget to that travel is such a privilege. In fact, the numbers game perpetuates that notion. If we forget why we ultimately travel and why it’s beneficial it will start to become meaningless. That’s why it’s important as travelers to have conversations about travel and why it’s important to explore outside of our backyard and why others should too. Thanks for reading!

  18. Beautiful photos! I’ve been wanting to visit Hungary for some time now so thank you for sharing your experience there! Excited to see where 2019 takes you.

  19. Love the perspective! It’s definitely more rewarding to focus on the experiences, instead of stats used to impress others. I would love to visit Belize someday…

    1. I hope you get to Belize, Chelsea! It’s still one of my favorite countries to date. I think it’s because of the immense shock and wonder I felt when visiting so many places that I didn’t read about it guide books or on blogs. I love feeling as though I was the original explorer in this realm. So cool! Happy travels to you!

  20. Traveling brings lots of experiences, lots of learning, lots of joy. And you rightly said, why quantify it?
    I am planning a Euro trip and I might be visiting Prague, Slovakia, Asutria, etc. The post fueled the desire to be there soon.

    1. Hi Majulika! I hope you do get to Prague, Slovakia and Austria this year. I definitely want to go back to each one! I have a lot more posts coming about these destinations so make sure to stay tuned. Happy travels to you!

  21. I have to agree with you. Being an advocate of domestic tourism, I mostly don’t relate to the list of ‘number of countries’ visited and the ‘next country’ updates on social media. I like this unusual way you’ve come up with the concept here.
    Carocal Mayan ruins would be something I’d love to see. Indeed brave of you to head there solo. The lesser known places of Czech & Slovak are fascinating! I’m super glad Austria brought back the spark in your life! Looking forward to read more chronicles of your travels & life!!!

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