Fakaalofa lahi atu! This means “hello” in Niuean! As I write this, I am celebrating 1 year of travel from Niue Island in the South Pacific.

The last time my feet touched US soil was September 1st 2014. What a crazy thought. I am so happy I have taken a whole year to travel around the world. Long-term travel is something I’ve always wanted to do and an experience I think everyone should have.

As usual, I will list what I did this last month. Additionally, I will mix things up by listing my favorite moments from this past year. Then I’ll talk a little bit about my biggest deviation of all—the location from which I am celebrating my 1-year anniversary of deviating the norm!

What I’ve been up to this last month

I went to a Rugby League game between New Zealand and Australia
I attended a Hawkes Bay Rollers roller derby game
I walked the beach at Cape Kidnappers
I flew to Niue island
I hiked to the Talava Arches
I snorkeled the fresh water pool at Matapa Chasm
I did a swim through at Limu Pools
I saw spinner dolphins jumping and following our boat
I watched rays leaping out of the water into the sunlight
I viewed hundreds of humpback whales within 100m off shore
I hitchhiked all over Niue and was picked up by many local Niueans
I SCUBA dove into a cave
I swam in waters with up to 75m visibility
I was followed by coral snakes
I ate Niuean dishes, fruit, and coconut
I danced with a Niuean child
I got invited into a Tongan family’s home
I learned how to plant samala by moonlight with Tongans
I had a meal prepared by a Tongan woman
I held a baby coconut crab
I bought items at the Niue market
I jumped into clear Avaiki cave waters bathed in by Niuean ancestor kings
I bicycled half of Niue to visit Togo Chasm

My favorite year of deviation moments

Road tripping around Iceland
Visiting my grandfather’s childhood home in Germany
Learning about social justice through art in Berlin and more recently in Melbourne
Getting my dive certification on Ko Toa
Participating in the Yi Peng & Loy Krathong festivals in Chiang Mai
Talking to native Maori people while hitch-hiking to Christchurch
Visiting Hobbiton and other LOTR film locations in New Zealand
Seeing the stripes and moons of Jupiter
Taking a dip in the glacier waters of Lake Pukaki
Diving the Great Barrier Reef
Exploring the caves, culture, and marine life in Niue (coming soon!)

One-year celebration in Niue

For the anniversary of my 1 year of travel, I find myself sitting on a tiny island in the middle of the South Pacific. Niue is so small (100 square miles) and the population is so small (about 1200 people) most people have never heard of this country before! It’s probably the biggest deviation I’ve made in all of my travels being that it’s such an infrequent tourist destination.

UPDATE: Check out my post, 9 reasons why Niue Island should be on your bucket list!

But here I am. I’ve been here for one week and will be heading back to New Zealand to close out my round-the-world trip soon after.

Niue is the cherry on top of an incredible year of travel. From the uniquely accessible marine life and insane visibility underwater to the laid-back, friendly spirit of the locals and the jaw-dropping caves, chasms, and coastlines, Niue has it all and all of it is top-notch. Around every corner there is Adventure, Beauty, and Culture—the ABCs of deviating the norm.

The return home

Niue is also a calculated break in the midst of applying for jobs back in the USA. I’ve gotten some bites already and am looking forward to my return date and the continuation of my career in a new location!

Even more importantly, I’m really excited to be coming home to catch up with friends and family. As I spoke about in my last update, relationships are of the utmost importance to me. I have plans to hug my super supportive family to death, give my best friend and her husband a high-five as they are expecting a baby, and comfort another friend who is going through a tough time.

At the end of the day, it’s all about the connections we make in life and how well we maintain them.

The future of deviating the norm

First of all, a BIG thank you goes out to all of you who have been following along with this blog. You all rock.

To new arrivals, welcome! And I hope you stick around even though my “year of deviation” is coming to a close.

Everyone reading this should know: Whether I get a job back home or not, I intend to continue to regularly update this blog.

My posts might be less frequent but they will be ongoing and consistent. I plan to keep up with it regularly by posting about shorter term trips I take, new place(s) in which I live, and some of the locations in which I used to live. I will keep providing tips and photos about places I visit around the USA and the world, sharing secrets about earning miles and other travel hacks, and remaining true to yourself by deviating through travel and while traveling.

Is there anything YOU would like to see more of for the future of this blog? Let me know in the comments.

In the meantime, I’ll be sharing more about my time in Australia and my new adventures from Niue as I finish the remainder of my visa in New Zealand.