2023 Travel Recap: The Essence Of Why We Travel

For me, 2023 has been one of the best years so far. 

I got to travel more than ever, which has always been a top resolution on my list.

For me, 2023 has been one of the best years so far. 

I got to travel more than ever, which has always been a top resolution on my list. 

I got to travel to more places than I could count. But at least I tried to count them, so here’s what I got: 

  • 29 Countries, of which
  • 16 Countries 
  • 2 Islands 
  • 64+  Cities
  • 9 road trips, of which the
  • Longest road trip was 3 weeks.
  • 25 Flights and about
  • 149 Days away from home 
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It was the year that started with no concrete travel plan but a big dream to finish visiting all European countries by the end of the year. 

I knew this was a huge goal, but I never put too much thought into “what if I DON’T make it happen”. 

Instead, I focused more on what I felt like doing next and what was achievable in the next month or so. 

I always say that I never make travel plans too far in advance. And this year was no different. I never had any trip planned for more than one month in advance. To be completely honest, it was more like 2 weeks in advance or less. 

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This is my default packing setup, which includes only carry-on luggage

I think I can’t deal with the stressful idea that at some point in the medium-term future, I need to be somewhere. So that’s why I don’t do those plans. I don’t like the stress or pressure.

Or perhaps I simply enjoy the flexibility of having no plans and the prospect of being able to come up with a new travel plan whenever I feel like it. 

The thing with my personality is that I tend to get obsessive over the things I want.

So the moment I decide I want something to happen, it has to happen fast, or I will lose my mind thinking about it and researching all the possible scenarios. 

And now, after having done all this, I can calmly say I’m not stressed out and have no regrets at all. 

I’m actually thrilled to admit that I only lost one bus ride (in Barcelona) and got just one speeding ticket (it was just 7 km over the limit) in Austria. 

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This is me in Yerevan, Armenia. I loved this place, where all the locals were so friendly and kind.

I got a nail in my tyre in Iceland, but I was so lucky to find the right people to point me to the local car service spot just before they closed for the weekend. 

So it turns out all my stress when planning all these trips paid off in the end because I had the most extraordinary experiences. 

I learnt to bodyboard in the Atlantic Ocean in the Algarve in February (South of Portugal), hiked at over 1800 m altitude in Madeira, fought a monkey for a banana (and lost) in Gibraltar, and was almost blown away by the wind in San Marino

I planned an entire 3-week road trip in Europe around one of Elton John’s last concerts from his farewell tour (which I had been waiting for since 2019).

I drove all around the Balkans and ex-Yougoslavia and survived (just a joke). However, Albania was a bit scary at times, especially with the traffic at peak hours. 

I parked in an incredibly narrow garage on the steep streets of old Sarajevo in Bosnia and then thought I was going to die in the cable car during a mild wind storm.

Turns out I was stressing for nothing because here I am, well and alive. 

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I secretly made an oath to myself to return to Montenegro because I finally understood why people are so in love with that place. You have to see it with your own eyes to understand how gorgeous it is. 

I came to embrace my spontaneous nature, and I now believe I have some sort of special power.

Because I can feel when it’s time to go online and look for Airbnbs in certain locations, how else can you explain how I found the most gorgeous apartment in Iceland, owned by a super nice family who was on holiday during summer?

I felt it in my bones, and I just found it. I’m happy I booked it right then and then, even if I had just barely started my long European road trip. 

I wouldn’t have believed I would make it to Iceland until that day. And then I got to spend 1-month in Iceland exploring the place. The lesson here is to always trust your instincts, even when your instincts make you appear crazy. 

And then, while in Iceland, I never thought about this one thing that is most famous around that part of the world – volcanoes. It never occurred to me that those lava fields would actually happen to get refreshed while I was there.

But one day, I woke up to a rather big Earthquake, and only a week later, there was a new volcano to explore in Iceland

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That’s why I don’t put experiences on my resolutions list. Sure’ having an idea of your travel bucket list helps, but I always remind myself that there are some things I can control. And then, if they happen, then I must be one truly lucky girl. 

It was then all completed by my trip to the Caucasus, which almost didn’t happen. I literally just bought the plane tickets two days before. And did the planning on the go. It turns out that renting a car for a day is cheaper than paying to store your luggage at the airport in Athens. 

Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan were truly unique experiences, and I would be delighted to go back. 

After all of that, I realized I just had to make one more trip to finish off my quest and visit Andorra and Monaco. 

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All these trips were a combination of road trips, backpacking and city breaks. 

For the second year in a row, my travel stories have exceeded my travel plans. My travel advice is to take it one day at a time while not losing sight of your bigger plan. 

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If I were to tell my 15-year-old self that her life would turn out like this, it would have probably made her go crazy. 

I’m proud of the traveller I’ve become. I am proud of the innate resilience I have towards people’s negativity and how good I am at filtering all the opportunities that come my way in my daily life. Because this is what it all boils down to. 

In the end, it’s not about the number of countries you’ve visited or the checked items from your bucket list. It’s about your personal growth and mentality. 

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If done well and responsibly, all these trips will eventually reward you with the skill of observing the world and forming your personal and uninfluenced opinion about the world around you. 

And that is the greatest gift of all. 

I write on this blog not because I want to be seen or brag about my trips. I write because of the potential of changing your life for the better though travelling is so great, I can’t dismiss it. 

I believe we could all benefit from more keen observers of the world. The wars would be, however, or even stop, while the good deeds would be all around. 

Because the world isn’t this scary place, you’re made to believe, in fact, the world is full of great people ready to lend you a hand when you need it the most and change your perception of their country. 

Iceland Volcano Eruption 2023

The most scary things out there are right here, within us – our ignorance. 

I hope 2024 finds you well and ready for a new adventure.

Have a great one!

Iulia Vasile

Iulia is a travel expert, blogger, engineer, freelance copywriter, and a curiosity-driven personality. She sees travel as the ultimate tool for self-improvement and personal growth, and that's the main topic of her blog, Juliasomething.com.

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