Looking Back at 2015 and What’s Next for 2016

This year hasn’t turned out at all like I would have imagined last year. Which makes it hard to even try to tell you what I think next year might look like. And no one really ever knows what the future looks like, do they? Even with the best laid plans, you can’t know. Here’s a look back at 2015 and some thoughts on what I’d like 2016 to look like.

Moving to Berlin

During our time in Pisa in the fall of 2014, Andy and I started talking seriously about moving to Berlin. We cut our time in Sevilla (which I still need to write about) short in order to spend time in Berlin figuring out what part of the city we might want to live in.

But even then, we never thought we’d find an apartment so easily and so quickly and be on our way to moving across the country. We really thought we’d have to go back to Freiburg and schedule trips throughout the year to look at and apply for apartments, that maybe we’d get to move towards the end of 2015 or even sometime in 2016.

We’ve been living in Berlin for about 9 months now, and it’s definitely the right city for us.

Looking Back at 2015 and What's Next for 2016

Sickness and Health

In 2015, I started drastically changing my diet. I stuck to a strict Paleo diet for 30 days, and even though I’m not sticking to it now, I still avoid gluten and dairy, and I limit the amount of non-gluten grains I eat. And you wouldn’t believe the amount of vegetables I eat now. Eating like this has helped me feel a lot healthier and eliminated symptoms I didn’t even realize weren’t normal until they were gone. As a bonus, I lost 30 pounds in about 9 months.

Unfortunately this year was also one of the worst I’ve had in the health category. Due to a series of stressful events in the spring, followed by a bout of food poisoning in July that my body just couldn’t handle, I ended up in the hospital for 2 weeks. I had to get several blood transfusions, and it took months to recover afterwards. But it might have been the wake up call I needed to really focus on reducing my stress.

Travel…not so much

I realize I travel more than a lot of people do, but this year was not a big one for travel for me. Andy and I started the year with our last 10 days in Sevilla before going to Berlin for a month, which didn’t really feel like travel. In May I went to Atlanta for a week to visit friends and family, but again, that didn’t really scratch the travel itch.

In June, my friend Rachel came to visit and, aside from showing her around Berlin, we also took her on a day trip to Poland. Then the two of us went to Paris for a week. Definitely travel, but not my favorite city. That was a trip about spending time with my best friend. (I still have more to write about what we did that week.)

Looking Back at 2015 and What's Next for 2016

Then I had three days in Copenhagen, which was fun. I took a food tour and went castle hunting. After that I visited a friend in England, followed by a couple days in London with Andy and his dad where we took a food tour. (Oops, still need to write about that too.) Andy and I finished up June with a few days in Amsterdam mostly hanging out in our Airbnb apartment because we were out of energy from fast-paced travel.

July was supposed to include a week in Slovenia, but we had to cancel since I got sick. The next time I went anywhere longer than a day trip was another trip to Amsterdam, this time to spend the week with my friend Gigi. I love that city, and I’m so glad I got to spend time with my friend, but again, this didn’t feel too travel-y.

Looking Back at 2015 and What's Next for 2016

Andy and I recently went to Dresden for a weekend to see the Christmas markets, and we had a great time. Travel, yes, but only 2 hours away from home and only a few days.

I really felt the lack of travel this year, even if on paper it looks like I traveled a lot.

So what’s in store for 2016?

As I said at the beginning of this post, there’s no way to really know what’s coming next year. But I can plan and make goals to try to shape the year.

Mini Winter Escape

We decided a long trip away wasn’t working the way we had hoped, so we’re not doing a big winter escape this year. But since I really hate cold weather, we’ve booked a shorter trip to get our warm weather fix. From mid January to early February, we’ll be spending a little over 3 weeks in Central America. We fly into Belize and out of Guatemala, and we’re trying to keep things a little flexible as we go. We will not be working during this trip because we really need a break.

>>Check out where we stayed in Central America and how much we spent traveling in Central America.

Looking Back at 2015 and What's Next for 2016

Solo travel

Denmark was my only new country in 2015, and that kind of makes me sad. Travel is obviously a big passion of mine, and I want more of it next year. Andy enjoys it too, but not to the same level as I do. We’re kicking around a few ideas for some trips we’d like to take in 2016, but I’m also planning on doing some solo travel.

Solo travel is also good for me, even if I prefer to travel with Andy now. I remember a few years ago traveling by myself to Santorini, Dubrovnik, Australia, and several other places, and how good that was for my confidence. I need some of that back in my life.

Looking Back at 2015 and What's Next for 2016

Work and Blogging

I have a few solid contracts right now that I hope will continue in 2016. But I’d love to be able to earn more money from my blogs and my own projects. I don’t think I’ll ever earn what I did at my last job in the US, but wouldn’t it be nice to at least earn more than I did at my first job out of college in 2002? (2018 Update: I totally earn more than I did at my last office job now.)

I earn some money from advertising, but I’m hoping to improve that. I’m also trying to increase my income from affiliate commissions. This means when I recommend a product or a tour through a special link, I earn a commission when someone buys or books something after clicking that link.

Are you booking travel plans soon? Check out the travel resources page on Travel Made Simple. Some, but not all, of the links there are affiliate links. So if you book something using those links, I’ll earn a small commission. Again, this doesn’t cost you anything extra, and the commission helps me pay the bills and keep my sites running.

I’m also hoping to stay on top of my blog more. I hate that I haven’t written about our time in Spain, that I still have several posts to write about Paris, that I haven’t really written anything about our experiences with living in Berlin. I lost a little steam with blogging this year, but I can feel it coming back. Look out for all of those catching-up posts, but also for more current posts.

Looking Back at 2015 and What's Next for 2016

One project I’m looking forward to blogging about is a Berlin restaurant project. My aim is to eat at one restaurant from every country in the world that is represented here. I’d like to get to at least three each month, and they have to be restaurants I haven’t eaten at before, which means trying a new Thai place, a new Mexican place, a new Turkish place, etc.

Making Space

Andy and I have been talking a lot lately about needing change. Part of that change is getting rid of things (both physical things and less tangible things) that aren’t working in our lives anymore and making space for what’s actually important to us. Friends in Berlin and time to hang out with them. More time to enjoy life, less time spent on work. More separation between work and fun, including making our guest room into more of an office. Time for the gym. We’re in the early stages, but I think it’s safe to say we’re aiming for a big overhaul.

How was 2015 for you? What do you have planned for 2016?