And just like that, another year is gone in the blink of an eye. I don’t know what’s crazier – the fact that we are now 2 years away from 2020, or that this is my 4th yearly round up (I’VE BEEN BLOGGING FOR FOUR YEARS ALREADY?!)
If one thing is for sure — Time flies when you’re having fun.
In 2017, I lived in both Hanoi and Manila. I visited 43 countries, 79 cities and 6 continents by means of 101 airplanes, 225 Uber rides, 17 long buses, 13 train rides and 2 cruises. I broke another Guinness World Record, slept in 66 hotels, 3 airports and made hundreds upon hundreds of new friends!
If you plot all of that madness on a map, it looks something like this:
But most importantly in 2017, it was the year when I first picked up a video camera (thanks to Deanna who surprised me with one!) In the first few months of this year, I only made a few videos per month (as I was still focused on Snapchat & Instagram)… but that changed quickly after my North Korea video went viral with 9M views, and from that moment on, I went full-time on making videos on Facebook. From Jan 1st until today (Jan 1), I’ve launched 148 videos across 39 countries – with a total of 49.3 million+ views, 1.7 million shares and I grew my FB page from 2K to 300K followers.
But just like anything, this came as a result of very hard work, dedication and simply not giving up. I can only imagine what bigger things will happen in 2018!!
For the remainder of this article, I will share with you my top 10 memories of 2017 in no particular order. But first, watch it all in a video!
And the 4 day countdown until 2018 begins! What an exciting, adventurous and spontaneous year 2017 has been — without question, the best year of my life! In this video, I share my top 10 highlights of the year after visiting 43 countries, 79 cities, 6 continents and making hundreds of new friends and thousands of lifelong memories.
361 days ago, on January 1, 2017, Deanna randomly surprised me with a Canon EOSM3, and it inspired me to start making videos on Facebook. At first, my growth was slow and frustrating — as I only posted about 2 videos per month… But I stuck with it, keep grinding and learning, and 143 videos later, I am humbled to say more than 45 million people have watched my videos.
It’s crazy to look back over the years and see how I’ve transitioned every year to something else. In 2013, I graduated college from UW-Madison. In 2014, I was making a full-time income from teaching English in South Korea. In 2015, I was living off travel blogging (affiliate marketing, advertising & sponsors). In 2016, I was collaborating with huge brands on Snapchat, and monetizing that platform was enough to earn income while traveling for free. And in 2017, I’ve found my niche with Facebook video (which I honestly enjoy the most!) and I’ve been able to attract even bigger sponsors. I also just upgraded cameras to a Panasonic Lumix GH5!
Whatever you do in life, you have to keep making the necessary pivots to keep climbing up the ladder. I am so excited to see what’s in store for 2018!
THANK YOU TO ALL MY FAMILY, FRIENDS AND NEW FACES I MET IN 2017 WHO MADE THIS YEAR SO SPECIAL FOR ME. If one thing’s for sure, this ride is going to continue moving forward.
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Music: Epidemic Sound
Posted by Drew Binsky on Wednesday, December 27, 2017
1. Expedition to Antarctica
Ah – my 7th and final continent, and one that I was most excited to visit!! Only about 35,000 people visit the southernmost continent each year, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to go with Hurtigruten! Coming fresh off my trip, I still can’t believe it was real… A blanket of white natural beauty unlike anything imaginable. Penguins going about their daily business and sea lions just chilling on huge blocks of ice. I just can’t explain how magical Antarctica is, and I can’t wait to go back someday soon!
2. Spending 4 Days in North Korea
The most ‘gutsy’ trip I’ve ever taken was, without question, North Korea. In fact, I had to keep it a secret from my family & friends until I got back safely! Going to Pyongyang, North Korea and running in the Pyongyang marathon was the most surreal travel experience of my life. It was humbling to meet and interact with local Koreans (I can speak Korean), and to witness the most isolated country’s culture with my own two eyes.
3. Ireland Golf Trip w/ Dad
I took my dad on a surprise 7 day golf trip to Ireland & Scotland. We are both huge golfers, so this was a dream trip for both of us. Playing these traditional courses was much more challenging than what we’re used to back home in Arizona, but it was surely a memorable trip! I also enjoyed sightseeing around the two beautiful islands, driving through the tiniest of towns, and eating fish n chips everyday!
4. Scuba Diving in Belize
Ever since I got scuba certified, it was a goal of mine to dive in the world’s second longest coral reef. Finally, my dream came true when I was traveling around Central America! It’s shocking how clear the Belize waters are — I saw more activity there than anywhere else on earth. A truly magnificent experience.
5. Exploring Petra in Jordan
One of the 7 new wonders of the world, Petra is an ancient city that’s half natural and half carved into giant rocks in the south Jordanian desert. I had only heard about it a few times before I went, so I didn’t have too many expectations. This place is the real deal if you like adventure, history and mind-blowing structures built into the desert. You have to see it to believe it.
6. Visiting Paris
My very first visit to Paris did not disappoint! I surprised Deanna for her birthday with professional photos under the Eiffel tower. Paris was just as romantic, European and classy as I imagined, and I am more than certain that I will be back soon. The only downfall to Paris is the expensive prices (which rival London) — but there are always ways to do things cheaper and that’s a must in Paris.
7. Cigars & Rum in Cuba
Ever since the travel ban was lifted for Americans in 2015, I made it a mission to visit Cuba. I finally had the chance to go with my buddy Evan in March, and we had an absolute blast. The trip was filed with (too much) rum, cigars, salsa dancing, baseball and I was most surprised by how friendly the locals were! I hope to go back to Cuba someday soon.
8. Wandering in Samarkand, Uzbekistan
As one of the oldest cities in the world, and a crucial place on the ancient silk road, Samarkand’s sites and historical vibes were quite impressive. I had the chance to go to Tajikistan & Uzbekistan on a group trip, and it was a great experience! Samarkand is a really laid back town, with a fascinating culture that made me eager to keep exploring. My favorite part of Samarkand was the blue-tiled mosques and mausoleums scatted around the city!
9. Yosemite National Park, California
Deanna and I took a week-long road trip through California, and we spent a few days in the beautiful Yosemite National Park. It’s crazy that I grew up in the neighboring state of Arizona, but never realized how underrated this park is! We saw giant waterfalls, steep cliffs, luscious lakes and went white water rafting. Sometimes, it’s more fun to explore your own backyard a little more!
10. Beaching in Siargao, Philippines
I finally visited the island that was highest on my list in the Philippines. It’s called Siargao – and it has the whitest sanded beaches I’ve ever seen. The entire island has a laid-back, surfer vibe (as it’s the #1 surfing island of the Philippines), and the prices are very cheap (especailly compared to Boracay or Palawan). If you come to Philippines, it’d be a crime not to visit Siargao!
Bonus! Vietnam & Philippines with Family
I cannot end this blog post without talking about the trip I’m currently on across Vietnam and the Philippines with Deanna and my family!!! We are having an amazing time together! They all flew out 10 days ago and we visited Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Ninh Binh, Boracay and tonight we will be spending New Years Eve in Manila. What a fantastic and bonding trip it has been, and I hope it will be the first of many trips to Asia together in the future!
Finally, I’d just like to say THANK YOU to all my family, friends and new faces I met in 2017 from near and far. You all made this year very special for me, and I can’t wait for bigger and better things to come in 2018, starting with a 14-country Africa trip TOMORROW!