Travel Highlights 2018 Year In Review

Ice Lake Side Trek on the Annapurna Circuit, Nepal


I started the 2018 off with a bang at Khao San Road in Bangkok, Thailand! This was followed by a family trip with my best friends from elementary school to Songkhlaburi, Thailand. I then crossed over into Cambodia to check off seeing Angkor Wat and Bagan temples off of my bucket list. I spent most of the month in Cambodia visiting the islands and small villages, and learning about Khmer history including its genocide.

New Year's 2018 on Khao San Road, Bangkok Thailand
Sangkhlaburi, Thailand - View from the Mon Bridge
Angkor Wat Cambodia Sunset


Back to Incredible India! After starting in Kochi and Bangalore to visit old friends, I slowed down my pace of travel by staying in Auroville for three weeks. I lived and worked at a permaculture garden, and helped to build a “European pavilion” within the township. I was lucky enough to be there for Auroville’s 50th Anniversary celebration! Water from all over the world was brought together to symbolize human unity within Auroville.

Auroville 50th Anniversary Celebration, February 28, 2018


Although it was my third time here, March 2018 was my first time backpacking around India! I visited Kerala, a state in southwest India with beautiful nature and historical towns. Stops included tea plantations in Munnar, the ‘backwaters’ of Allepey which were covered in houseboats, a yoga-beach village of Varkala, and Periyar Tiger reserve in Thekkady. I went back up to Bangalore, then to Goa and Mumbai.

Calf on the beach in Goa, India
A little calf looking for snacks and attention on a beach in Goa
Munnar tea plantations, Kerala India
Kerala house boats in Alleppey, India
A houseboat in the backwaters of Allepey, Kerala


I planned my entire travels around being in Nepal during the trekking season in April and May. Being back in Kathmandu was a dream come true with its prayer flag-draped, hiking store-filled alleyways. I went straight to my favorite city viewpoint, the Monkey Temple. I visited Pokhara for the first time, a serene lake-side city home to many expats. from Pokhara I spent 13-days trekking the Annapurna Circuit!

Kathmandu monkey temple viewpoint, Nepal
Ice Lake Side Trek on the Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Thorong La Pass, Annapurna Circuit Nepal, April 2018


What started as a plan to trek to only Everest Base Camp in May turned into the epic Three Passes Trek. I spent a whopping 25 days in the Everest region and crossed three mountain passes: Kongma La (5,535m), Cho La (5,420m), and Renjo La (5,340m). The highest elevation I reached was the summit of Kala Patthar at 5,550m, overlooking mighty Mt. Everest and Everest Base Camp (which I also visited, at 5,380m). It was an immensely challenging but spectacular experience to say the least.

Everest Base Camp, May 2018 trekking in Nepal
Three Passes trek en route to Kongma La and Everest Base Camp in Nepal, Nepal trekking
En route to Kongma La, the highest of the Three Passes for what would end up being a 12+ hour day of trekking, guesthouse to guesthouse!
Everest and the Khumbu ice fall and glacier from Kala Patthar at sunrise, Nepal
Mt. Everest with its iconic tuft of snow blowing off the summit


Off to Europe for the start of the 2018 World Cup! I planned to travel from country to country depending on if they were playing a match that day in the World Cup. I love the atmosphere of public viewings so that’s what I was chasing. I made a quick stopover in Ireland to check out Dublin and the Cliffs of Moher, then came back to London to watch England beat Tunisia (“It’s coming home, it’s cooooming home, foot-ball’s coming home!” yeah… no).

In a lucky turn of events, my Dad came from the U.S. to the Netherlands, so I got to hang out with my extended family and stay with my grandparents in Veenendaal! 

St Paul's Cathedral in London, England, budget for England
Cliffs of Moher in typical Irish weather, budget for travel to Ireland
Amsterdam townhouses, the Netherlands


World Cup fever reaches a peak across Europe! I watched Belgium beat Brazil in Antwerp, one of the greatest celebrations I’ve been a part of. For the World Cup finale on July 15 I watched France beat Croatia. The public viewing was in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris!

The rest of the month I spent in Switzerland. I trekked in the beautiful Alps for the first time – it won’t be the last time! I also spent time with friends I had met in Southeast Asia, and learned a lot about Swiss cultures and tradition.

Belgium vs Brazil semi finals World Cup 2018
France wins world cup 2018, Paris eiffel tower
Hiking in the Alps in Switzerland
Schynige Platte to Grindelwald in Switzerland was one of the most scenic treks I've ever done


Now the backpacking starts again – this time in the Balkans! My first stop was Croatia to get my passport renewed because I had filled every page with stamps. I chilled on the Croatian islands while I waited for the U.S. Embassy to do its work. 

After I got my passport back, I started to make my way around to some other Balkan countries: Slovenia (where I met up with my college friends), Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, and Albania were the countries I visited in August. 

Supetar, Brac Croatia
Overlooking Supetar town on Brac Island, Croatia
Bled, Slovenia, Bussing through the Balkans Itinerary
Bled, Slovenia view from Bled Castle
Prizren, Kosovo river fortress and mosque
Prizren, Kosovo's famous arched bridge, mosque, and fortress on the hill
Theth Albania mountain views
An old cemetery in Theth, Albania, a small mountain town popular with trekkers


To continue my Balkans road trip, in September I visited Montenegro, went back to Albania’s capital of Tirana, then to Macedonia and Bulgaria. 

Once I reached Plovdiv, Bulgaria, I took a bus down to Istanbul, Turkey, and spent the rest of the month between Istanbul and Cappadocia! 

Bussing around the Balkans Slovenia Croatia Bosnia & Herzegovina Serbia Kosovo Montenegro Macedonia Albania Bulgaria Ultimate guide to bus around Balkan countries
Overlooking Kotor Bay in Kotor, Montenegro
Bussing around the Balkans Slovenia Croatia Bosnia & Herzegovina Serbia Kosovo Montenegro Macedonia Albania Bulgaria Ultimate guide to bus around Balkan countries
Looking out from Samuel's Fortress over Lake Ohrid in Ohrid, Macedonia
Bussing overland by bus from Plovdiv, Sofia, Bulgaria to Istanbul, Turkey, what to expect
Visiting the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey
Cappadocia, Turkey hot air balloons at sunrise
Sunrise flight of the balloons over Cappadocia, Turkey


Two off-the-beaten-track countries that I ended up loving were my destinations for October: Azerbaijan and Georgia. I spent four days in Baku, Azerbaijan, a city that’s beautifully modern but also has pockets of well-preserved historical buildings and alleyways. Then it was off to Tbilisi, Georgia where I buckled down to work on this travel blog 🙂 

I also spent a week in the beautiful Svaneti region in Georgia, including a 4-day trek from Mestia to Ushguli. The fall colors in the mountains were truly stunning, and different from any landscape I had trekked before. 

Baku City center, Azerbaijan
Baku, Azerbaijan city center felt like a less crowded, pedestrian-only Paris!
Mountain views outside of Mestia, in Svaneti, Georgia on the way to Zhabeshi and Ushguli, Georgia
Just outside of Mestia, Georgia - views and colors like this continued for all four days of trekking


November brought my back to Southeast Asia, but I crafted a two-day layover in Dubai. I flew from Tbilisi to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, then to Dubai where unfortunately my bag was lost in transit. By the time it arrived at the Dubai airport, it was time to leave for the Philippines

The highlight of the Dubai layover for me was the Dubai Mall Fountain & Light Show, and a visit to the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque in nearby Abu Dhabi. 

The rest of the month was spent island-hopping in the beautiful Philippines. I checked off a bucket list item of swimming with whale sharks, saw incredible sunsets on Siquijor island, and also did some great snorkeling around the islands of Bohol and Coron.

Erika at Abu Dhabi Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque
Swimming with whale sharks in Oslob, Philippines what you need to know
Snorkeling tour in Panglao, Bohol Philippines


After a quick stopover in Bangkok, I headed home to surprise my parents for the holidays! Now I’m in none other than Laramie, Wyoming, braving the cold but excited to see lots of snow. 

I’m looking forward to what 2019 has in store, it’ll be hard to top my 2018 adventures!

Christmas and presents in Wyoming
Snowshoeing in Laramie, Wyoming
Family snowshoeing outing just outside Laramie, Wyoming

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