2019 Travel Highlights


Usually at the end of each year I’ll spend a day or two looking back at the highlights of the year.

In 2019 however, I spent the last two weeks of the year moving cross country from the Washington DC area to the San Francisco Bay Area. As a result, I did not have a chance to write up my travel highlights from the year until now!

For the sake of tradition, although a full year late, here’s my travel highlights from 2019: 

  • MLK Weekend in Charleston and Savannah  
  • Went to Big Island to see my grandma in February. Visited a coffee plantation and a brewery.
  • An incredible gastronomic experience in Bogota
  • Spent an evening at a lovely Hacienda Plantation 
  • Trekked to an equatorial glacier at Parque Nacional Los Nevados 
  • Exploring Hilton Head Island over Memorial Day Weekend
  • SF Pride, followed by July 4th Weekend in Santa Barbara 
  • Orcas Island and Seattle for a long weekend in August 
  • Annual Atlantic City / Jersey Shore trip! 
  • Running the San Jose half-marathon in early October
  • Day trip to the Hudson Valley from NYC in mid-October
  • SF visit in late October and again in late November 
  • Day trip to Salem from Boston 
  • Walking around the skyline in Columbus OH 
  • Visiting a Frank Lloyd Wright House in Springfield OH
  • Visiting the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield IL 
  • Seeing St. Louis atop the Gateway Arch
  • Visiting Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Bentonville!
  • Visiting a massive greenspace / park in Tulsa  
  • Christmas Midnight mass in Oklahoma City 
  • Walking around Santa Fe NM 
  • Visiting the native american museums in Albuquerque
  • Seeing the Colorado River at Horseshoe Bend  
  • Driving through winter storms to reach Monument Valley in Northern Arizona 
  • Sunrise hike in Zion National Park 
  • Seeing the incredible hoodoos at Bryce National Park 
  • Walking along the rim trail at Grand Canyon National Park 
  • Celebrating NYE in Palm Springs 

2018 Travel Highlights


Despite not traveling so much this past year due to a focus on saving for grad school, I still managed to travel to a few places this year. Here are my highlights from 2018:

Cities Visited: 17
Countries Visited: 4 countries
Miles flown: 47,511 miles
Weekends away from DC: 13
Total miles redeemed: ~100k (for flights to Hawaii and Asia)

January – Louisville


February – Maui

Sunset in Lahaina

February – Big Island

Early morning run in Hilo!


February – Vienna, Austria

Visiting the palaces of Vienna, Austria

February – Bangkok, Thailand

Rooftop bar in Bangkok

February – Siem Reap, Cambodia 

Visiting Angkor Wat!

May – Las Vegas

Rock formations at Red Rocks State Park near Las Vegas

August – Brussels

Flight of beer in Brussels!

August – Gorges du Verdon, France

Swimming and kayaking at Gorges du Verdon in France

August – Nice, France

Biking and walking along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France

August – Monaco 

Wandering around the streets of Monaco.

August – Paris

Visiting Paris for the first time!




August – Paso Robles, California

Visiting the wineries of Paso Robles, Central Coast, California

November – Albany, New York

Visiting the NY State Capitol in Albany

December – Ashville, North Carolina

Honey tasting in Asheville!

December – Nashville, Tennessee

Visiting the music city of Nashville!

December – Southern Kentucky

Walking through caves (including this cool suspension bridge) in Southern Kentucky


December – Charleston, West Virginia

Visiting the West Virginia State Capitol


2018 in Review


I’ve neglected to post on this blog the whole year, but it would be strange if I didn’t post an annual review! Hard to believe I’ve been doing this for nearly the whole decade! And after doing this throughout my 20s, I’m writing this blog post as a now 30 something! You can check out my previous annual reviews here:  2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011.

How did with my 2018 goals?

Keep running and lifting

  • I only did one race this year, and it wasn’t even a half marathon! As a result, I didn’t set a new PR. Additionally, while I have consistently gone to the gym throughout the year (yay!) I haven’t increased my weights all that much. Perhaps I need to switch it up this year with classes?

Running the 2018 Cherry Blossom 10-Miler Run!

Keep cooking

  • This one surprised me. While I did continue to cook throughout the year instead of eating out, I didn’t really expand my repertoire of dishes to make…thanks Trader Joes!

Keep saving and investing

  • This one was a bit tough considering I was saving so much for grad school while paying down more student loans. I managed to contribute about ~$5k to retirement this year, but didn’t add to my emergency fund or set up a 529 plan.

Keep improving my Mandarin Chinese

  • Surprisingly, I did have a tutor (briefly) for the school year in the months leading up to grad school.

Get my Private Pilot’s License

  • I completely failed on this one. I didn’t even schedule a call with flight instructor to do a demo flight. This is still something I want to do, but not quite sure when it’ll happen. Now that I’m not doing grad school, hopefully I can get to this goal.

2018 Areas of Focus:


  • By far the big thing this year was my decision on doing a career change from marketing to international affairs, and the possibility of starting grad school. I finally applied, was accepted and started grad school at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. Between juggling school and work full-time, quickly realized that while I LOVE learning about other cultures, international affairs as a career was no longer for me. So happy that I went through the process. I can finally move on with my life!
  • Switched jobs again from marketing analytics back to marketing automation. Realized that I (1) still prefer being on the execution rather than strategy side of marketing, (2) I operate better working in smaller rather than larger organizations, and that (3) it’s better to work for a company as a full time employee rather than as a contractor.

Getting an award for my efforts at my day job!


  • Continued to grow in my relationships, both with myself, my significant other and friends.
  • So happy that things are going well on this front! 

Friends visiting my apartment for my 30th Birthday Hangout/BBQ!


  • Managed to maintain my weight throughout the year, as well as continued to workout and cook my own food several times a week!

Meal prepping for the next few days! Shrimp and spinach linguine


  • Visited four new countries and crossed a few places off my bucket list: Ankor Wat/Cambodia, Brussels/Belgium, Paris/France, Monaco.

Sunrise at Angkor Wat!

Sunrise at Angkor Wat!


  • Paid off two additional student loans (roughly ~$7k) and have just one loan remaining!
  • Paid in cash my first semester of grad school (roughly ~$13k)
  • Didn’t get to saving more as a result of my focus on education expenses this year.

2019 Goals

After having done these year-end reviews for now 8 years, I’m realizing that most of my goals are pretty much the same as they are every year. Perhaps this means I need to think bigger and outside the box. In order of priority, here are my goals for 2019:

  • Finances: Pay off my car ($6.8k remaining) and Penn student loans ($4.2k remaining)
  • Traveling: Visit at least 3 new countries this year, go to someplace new in the U.S.
  • Career: Get certification in either Salesforce/Pardot/Marketo (tools I use for my day job)
  • Health: Gym at least 4x/week; PR my half marathon time.

That’s it for now, let’s see how this new (and final year of the decade) plays out!

2017 in Review


Another year has come and gone. Hard to imagine that I’ve been writing an annual review like this for the past six years. You can check out my previous annual reviews here: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011.

I started out the year with five specific goals. How’d I do?

How I did with my 2017 Goals?

Improve Mandarin Chinese.

I majored in Chinese Literature in undergrad, but since graduating in 2010 I’ve rarely used my Mandarin Chinese. My goal this year was to get back into a habit of using the language again. Earlier this year I enrolled in a class through the Global Language Network, a language program based in DC. While I enjoyed my experience with GLN, I don’t think it was helpful in getting me to use or retain my Mandarin throughout the year.

Set another PR with my half marathon time.

At the beginning of the year, I was registered for three half marathons, of which I ended up completing two: DC and Raleigh Rock N Roll Half Marathons. I BARELY set a PR this year at the Raleigh Rock N Roll, shaving off a minute from my time to run the race in: 2hr 14min, 49 sec.

Learn how to cook.

Of all my goals this year, I definitely excelled at this one. Perhaps out of necessity, I began cooking a lot more after increasing my monthly rent due to my decision to finally move out of Arlington and into The District. Most of the recipes I’ve cooked have been fairly basic (baked salmon, chicken and vegetables, shrimp linguine, chili), but I’m glad that I’ve gotten into the habit of regularly meal-prepping on Sundays and Wednesdays instead of eating out for every single meal.

Stuffed tomatoes for dinner!

Continue working towards my second degree in Computer Science

I had tuition benefits through my previous employer, and began taking advantage of those benefits last year by enrolling a second bachelors degree in Computer Science. I ended up taking a total of 5 classes in math, databases and java programming for the degree. However, after leaving that employer in August and losing those education benefits, I haven’t taken any additional classes towards the degree. Given that I no longer have tuition benefits and would have to pay for the classes out of pocket, as of now, I’ve decided not to continue pursuing the degree.

Growing at my day job and enabling people to travel through my consultation service.

This time last year I began a travel consulting service to help people redeem their points for travel. While I got a few customers at the beginning of this year, I didn’t do a great job promoting my services and didn’t have any additional customers throughout most of the year. As for my day job, I switched companies in August. I’m still in the marketing space, but my focus has shifted from marketing automation to marketing analytics. Through the switch, I hope to deepen my experience in understanding how to build, track and drive high quality traffic that converts for businesses.

Those were my top five goals for the year. Here’s how I did with the other core areas of my life: 

2017 Focus Areas:


  • Moved from marketing automation to marketing analytics.

Going away cake from my coworkers at UMUC.


  • Focused on the most important relationship — the one I have with myself.
  • Moved on from a relationship that became increasingly unhealthy.
  • Learned what it means to be in a healthy relationship (!)
  • Continued to focus on making an effort to carve out more time to hang with friends


  • Regularly worked out throughout the year.
  • Got into the habit of cooking for myself instead of eating out.


  • Moved from Arlington to Washington DC (!!!)
  • Managed to visit three new countries this year: Iceland, Chile and the Netherlands
  • Crossed off another item on my bucket list: hiking at Torres del Paine National Park
  • A more in-depth of my travel experiences from this year here: 2017 Travel Highlights

Autumn colors on my new street in Northwest Washington DC!


  • Didn’t max out my retirement accounts as had originally planned, but still managed to contributed on average about 25% of gross pay to retirement.
  • Through market performance and an increased savings rate, increased my net worth by 140%!
  • Paid off a student loan, have about $11k in loans left (down from $85k when I graduated school).

2018 GOALS

Most of the goals I have from the coming year are a continuation of good habits that I’ve established in years past:

  • Keep running and lifting.
    • Set another PR for my half marathon time.
    • Increase weights used when strength training.
  • Keep cooking.
    • Experiment with cooking dishes from different cuisines.
    • Increase my repertoire of dishes that I know how to make.
  • Keep saving and investing
    • Max out my retirement accounts
    • Continue adding to my emergency fund
    • Set up a 529 plan
  • Keep improving my Mandarin Chinese:
    • Hire a tutor to help enforce discipline in my language learning journey.
    • Finally take the HSK, even if it’s just a really low level.

And an additional goal for this coming year:

  • Get my Private Pilot’s License. I’ve always wanted to become a pilot. Now that I’ve gotten my financial footing (seemingly) under control, I think it’s finally time to start earning my hours towards my PPL.

Well, I wrote a lot more than I had initially thought. Looking forward to see what happens in the coming year!