26 Things I Did While I Was 26

Last year, I shared one of my personal traditions on the blog: every year since my twenty-second birthday, I have made a list on my birthday as a gift to myself: “21 Things I Did When I Was 21”, or whatever the corresponding number of things and age was.

This year, I’d like to continue the tradition of sharing.

Read Last Year’s Post: 25 Things I Did While I Was 25

Whitewater Rafting in Honduras

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Behind the love of travel, the love of writing, the slight addiction to budgeting, the creative excitement of collaborating on a project of this scale with Jeremy, and the growing adoration of photography that make up this blog, there is one heartbeat that I judge all of my actions by, that I hope comes out onto these pages: live with intention.

That is, simply put, one of my biggest goals in life: I never want to look back one day and wonder where the time has gone.

I never want to grow old without the experiences to show for my years. I never want to wake up and realize I lived a single year of my life based on inertia, rather than choice. I never want to look back and say, “Wow, if only I hadn’t been so afraid.”

That, right there, is the attitude that made me turn to Jeremy and suggest quitting our jobs to travel the world. It’s the attitude that made me start a blog, even though I feared no one would read it. It’s the attitude that helps guide me toward the right decisions for my life, every day.

On my birthday, it’s the attitude that I celebrate–because living with intention helped every one of these experiences come to fruition, and I am so utterly grateful for each and every one of them.

Rome, Italy

This week, I turn 27.

Here are 26 things I did while I was 26.

1. Visited 11 new-to-me countries: Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Malta, Vatican City & Romania.

2. Traveled overland from Mexico to Panama over the course of six months.

3. Returned to one of my favorite countries in the world (Mexico) for a six-week trip through the southern half of the country.

Read More: 25 Reasons You Should Backpack Mexico Next

Hierve el Agua, Mexico

4. Had two new incredible caving experiences: touring the ATM Cave in Belize, and exploring the caves under Budapest.

5. Obtained my Advanced Open Water scuba certification on Utila, Honduras.

6. Fulfilled a childhood fantasy of galloping a horse on a beach at sunset.

Read More: Horseback Riding in Nicaragua with Rancho Chilamate

7. Decided with Jeremy that we would try to create a sustainable nomadic life of traveling for the next indefinite amount of time.

Prague or Budapest: Fisherman's Bastion

8. Jeremy and I sold our car, the last “big” remaining possession that we had tying us to the USA.

9. Finally saw sloths in person!

Read More: Seeing Sloths in Costa Rica: A Visit to the Jaguar Rescue Center

10. Saw my first professional musical as part of celebrating four years of marriage–Wicked at the Boston Opera House.

11. Quickly followed that up by seeing my first Broadway production a couple of months later (Phantom of the Opera).

12. Witnessed my two brothers taking their first trip outside the USA on our family trip to Costa Rica.

13. Took a “just the girls” trip to the coast of North Carolina with my mom and Grammy–these trips feel more and more special each time that we get the chance for one.

Read More: A Glorious Day Trip to Cape Lookout, North Carolina

Light Travel Reads, Summer Books

14. Went horseback riding in four countries: Guatemala, Nicaragua, Malta, and Italy!

15. Finally “lived” in a big city by spending three months in Boston, and found that I loved it.

Read More: 39 Incredible Things to Do in Boston

16. “Lived” in Tuscany for a month (technically still completing this one!).

17. Started making a noticeable side income from this blog, and grew even more passionate about keeping the project going.

18. Read about 30 new-to-me books.

It would be absolutely impossible to choose even a handful of favorites, but here are a few that have stuck with me: Without You, There Is No Us by Suki Kim, American Heiress by Jeffrey Toobin, Evicted by Matthew Desmond, The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner, Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed, and last but certainly not least, The Radium Girls by Kate Moore.

… And even looking at that rather congested list, I’m tempted to add at least ten more.

19. Finally visited New York City for the first (and second, and third) time.

Read More: Finally: Our First Weekend in New York City

20. Spent a week studying Spanish one-on-one with a tutor near Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.

21. Visited two new-to-me US States: Massachusetts & New York.

Bass Harbor Head Light, Acadia National Park
Photo Credit: Magnamious Pictures

22. Started learning (extremely basic, but still gratifying) Italian.

23. Returned to Budapest, and fell even more in love with it the second time around.

Read More: 8 Exciting & Unusual Things to Do in Budapest

24. Rode a Vespa for the first time.

25. Climbed a volcano for the first time.

Read More: Hiking Volcano Acatenango: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Volcano Acatenango, Guatemala

26. Started keeping a daily journal for the first time since childhood–six months in and I’m still going!

I love this One Line a Day Journal that I found in a bookstore in Brookline, Massachusetts (and paid more for than the Amazon price, of course)–it’s the perfect amount of commitment for a daily ritual.

Best Viewpoints to Visit in Prague: Starbucks Prague Castle

Every year, I marvel at how much life I was able to fit into a year–there were a lot of quiet moments, stressful moments, moments of doubt, and moments of fear in between these victories, but it has all been absolutely worth it.

I’ve said it on the blog before, but other than marrying each other, the two of us being brave enough to step into the great unknown together to try to chase our dreams has been the absolute best decision for our lives that we could have imagined.

Wherever we go from here–whatever amazing, incredible, unbelievable, and utterly unpredictable places life takes us in the next 365 days–I am sure that on my 28th birthday, I will look back and marvel at how much we fit into this coming year, just as I am doing for this past year today.

Explore Isla Holbox, Mexico

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20 thoughts on “26 Things I Did While I Was 26”

  1. A belated happy birthday! This is such a great idea for a post; you learn so much from travelling. I hope to see sloths in person one day too, they’re so interesting. Well done on selling your car, it can be hard tearing ourselves away from material possessions.

    • Haha, you’re right–the car was the last thing to go because we loved it so much. Oh, well–we definitely made the right call there!

  2. Happy belated birthday! I am seriously impressed. You’ve done more in 26 years that a lot people do in a lifetime. Kudos for living the YOLO life.

  3. A Happy happy birthday from Phoenix, Arizona! What a dream year you had. I would like to see sloths, too! Last, has anybody ever told you that you are beautiful? And he is handsome!.

  4. Happy birthday!! It seems like you’ve accomplished a lot this year! I definitely need to start making these kinds of documented lists for myself because I love looking back on my years like this! Although 80 things I’ve learned about being 80 may get a bit tedious over time 😛 Anyways, I hope you enjoyed your day in Tuscany!

    • I definitely can’t recommend the tradition enough! But you’re right, 80 things at 80 will be harder to pull off. Might have to group them by decade at that point. 😉

  5. Sounds like you had quite an adventure-filled year! I am excited for what the new year brings for you! Spending six months from Mexico to Panama is so cool!!

  6. First of all Many Happy Returns of the Day and wishing you a year – nay life – full of adventure and happiness. I think it s a great idea to make a list of whatever special you did during that year and to have it run from your birth-day to birth-day is even more wonderful. The Vespa in Tuscany has to be my favourite and something I would personally love to do as well.

  7. I love this list! So many amazing things :D. It really had me thinking about all the things I’ve done in the last year too. I love the idea of living through choice not just getting to the next year because kind of thing! Sounds like you’ve had a great year! I’d love to do Italy like that too! And happy birthday!

  8. I’m especially impressed with your overland trip from Mexico to Panama. I’ve made this trip but in reverse. Another one I’m impressed with is seeing a sloth in person. I saw these in person the first time in Bolivia where you can pick them up. Keep following your dreams, you’re achieving a lot of unique experiences!

    • Oh, I’d love to hold a sloth!! The ones we saw were being rehabilitated with the goal of releasing them into the wild, so of course we couldn’t touch them, but it was SO HARD to keep our hands to ourselves.

  9. what cool bucket lists you have set for yourself. I think it’s pretty neat how you set small adventures and goals for yourself. I think you’ve inspire me to do the same….but maybe i’ll keep it to 10!

  10. Happy belated birthday, beautiful Kate! I wish you a year full of new magical places, sunrises over mountains, sunsets on the beach, delicious foods wherever you are, and good inspiring people around you! Stay a strong fearless and curious person that you are!


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