2021 End-Of-Year Summary & Sneak Peek 2022

Published December 18, 2021

It’s that time of year again! 2021 is coming to an end, so I wanted to review where I went and what I did over the past twelve months. In addition, this post will explain what the blog has in store for 2022!

Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage, a popular photo spot in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

I wrote a similar post last December, which means this “year in review/looking forward” will probably become a yearly tradition. It’s been fun to reflect on how different my plans for 2021 were from what I actually did this year!

2021 Review

1. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Jan)

I began this year in Rio de Janeiro, where I was based from September 2020 until January 2021. Long story short, I spent the majority of the pandemic in Brazil. I was there for almost a year and a half in total!

During my time in Rio, I explored the city pretty extensively and blogged about it in my Rio de Janeiro 360 blog series. You can read about some of Rio’s most famous beaches and attractions, as well as some better-kept secrets in the city.

2. Arraial do Cabo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Jan)

A few weeks after New Year, I spent a couple of days in Arraial do Cabo, a seaside resort town in the State of Rio de Janeiro (about 100 miles east of the city of Rio). Arraial is known for its light blue water reminiscent of the Caribbean, and it’s something you really should see in person if you’re going to visit Brazil!

3. Vitória, Espírito Santo, Brazil (Feb)

Since the end of 2020, I was planning on moving northward in Brazil before returning to the US, so I began that journey at the beginning of February with a two-week stop in Vitória. This mid-sized city seemed to be one that few foreign tourists visit, so it had a much more local vibe than Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo.

Vitória and the nearby city of Vila Velha have a lot to offer, including beaches, hiking, and a vibrant food scene. To learn more, check out one of my three blog posts I wrote after visiting!

4. Porto Seguro, Bahia, Brazil (Feb - Mar)

The next stop on my trip up the coast of Brazil was Porto Seguro in the state of Bahia. This little town is known for its gorgeous beaches that stretch on for miles and miles. I originally only planned to stay there for a week or two, but that turned into a month. I really enjoyed soaking up the sun and admiring the stunning coastline!

5. Salvador, Bahia, Brazil (Mar - Apr)

If you check out my 2020 year in review and 2021 preview post, you’ll see that I was originally planning to travel as far north as Recife. Unfortunately, Brazil was in the midst of a severe wave of COVID in March and April of this year. So when I made it up to Salvador, a new round of lockdown had already begun.

I took a couple of walks around the city, especially in the Pelourinho, or historic center where I was staying. But I didn’t experience much since everything was closed. I didn’t write a blog post about my month in Salvador because there wouldn’t have been much to talk about.

6. Return to Rio (Apr)

By mid-April, case numbers were still looking bad in Brazil, but I was finally eligible to get my vaccine in the US. As such, I decided to head back to Rio de Janeiro for a few days before finally leaving the country.

Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro

7. Moving to Chicago, IL (Apr)

On April 21st, the time had come to move back to the US and get my vaccine! I was filled with mixed emotions, but excited to get a new start in Chicago. Although it wasn’t technically required, I chose to quarantine for two weeks after arriving just to be safe.

As you might guess, my current blogging project is Chicago 360. There are countless blog posts online with titles like “What To Do In Chicago” or “How To Spend A Weekend In The Windy City,” so I figured I’d try to highlight individual neighborhoods for both travelers and locals.

To be completely honest, I didn’t publish nearly as much as I would’ve liked this year. There are a number of reasons for that, but one of them is that writing about individual neighborhoods is very time-intensive. Nonetheless, it’s been a great way to increase blog traffic and provide specific and targeted info to readers.

Bridgeport, Chicago: a neighborhood most tourists probably skip, but that has some interesting attractions and restaurants.

8. Arizona (May)

My first domestic trip after moving to Chicago was a visit to Arizona for my brother’s college graduation. It was my first time in the state, and we managed to see a lot in a relatively short period of time. That post has been one of this year’s most popular!

9. Fort Lauderdale, FL (May)

A few days in Fort Lauderdale was my next trip after going to Arizona. I’ve been to South Florida a number of times but never really spent time in Fort Lauderdale, so I was glad to explore as much as I could there over a long weekend. That blog post was my most-viewed for the year, so be sure to check it out if you haven’t already!

10. Albuquerque, NM (July)

In July, I spent about three days in the capital of New Mexico. I think seeing Arizona piqued my curiosity about the American Southwest, the part of the US I’m least familiar with. Albuquerque had a laid-back vibe, good food, and impressive landscapes.

Delicious cuisine was a major highlight of my weekend in Albuquerque!

11. Montana (Aug - Sept)

The highlight of my 2021 was a week in Montana! That’s because it’s been something some friends and I have wanted to do for a number of years. I even got to cross it off my official travel wish list for the decade!

We visited Glacier National Park, and I’m still in awe, months later, at how pretty the mountains and lakes are there. We also spent some time camping on the shores of Flathead Lake, which is located about an hour away from the park.

Glacier National Park, Montana, USA.

12. Indiana for a Wedding & the Holidays (Oct - Dec)

Although I didn’t blog about any of these trips, I’ve been going down to Indiana for most of the holidays since moving to Chicago. That’s because a lot of my relatives live near Indianapolis, and after living abroad in various countries since 2018, it is incredible to be so close to family again!

My cousin, Kailyn, also got married to her now-husband Andrew, so we went down to beautiful Bloomington, IN for their wedding in October! Kailyn and Andrew also love to travel, and Kailyn has her own travel blog with big plans for 2022 and beyond. Check it out directly or via her Facebook page or Instagram!

US States Visited by End-of-Year 2021
30/50 States (60%)
Countries Visited by End-of-Year 2021
34/~200 (17%)

2022 Sneak Peek

1. More Chicago! (Jan Onward)

Since I’ve taught ESL in Vietnam and Brazil the past few years, I’m glad to have found a job as a teaching assistant at a local school here in Chicago! I’m contracted until the end of the school year, which means I’ll definitely be in Chicago for the first half of 2022. I can’t wait to write about even more Chicago neighborhoods, especially as the weather gets warmer in spring!

2. Miami (Jan)

My first trip planned for 2022 is Miami at the end of January. Since I’ve blogged about the greater Miami area before, I want to spend most of this short trip exploring one area in more depth. I’m thinking about Little Havana; if you’ve ever been, leave a comment below and let me know how it was!

Wynwood, Miami

3. Anguilla (Apr)

A week or so in Anguilla is my major trip planned for spring of 2022, and I’m so excited to go! It’s been a long time since I’ve been to the Caribbean, and I can’t wait to go back. Since I’ve already been to The Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Cuba, I wanted to go a little further south and check out an island in the Lesser Antilles.

Anguilla. Image courtesy of Steve Adams @sradams57 on Unsplash (click image for link).

4. Europe Cruise (Jul)

The centerpiece of my 2021 travels is a cruise in Western Europe scheduled for July! We will be traveling along the Rhine River with stops in Switzerland, Germany, France, and the Netherlands (four countries I’ve never been to)! I’ll also be flying in and out of Portugal, and might extend my trip from two weeks to a month to spend some time in one more country, perhaps Spain or Greece.

A stunning scene in Switzerland. Thanks to Andrea T. for providing this photo!

Check back in summer of next year: the Europe section of my blog is finally going to have more than a few posts!

5. Bermuda (Autumn 2022)

This is the one trip I’d really like to do in autumn of next year, and it’s also the one item I’d really like to cross off my travel bucket list for the decade. I’ve been to Bermuda once before in 2017 (right before I started blogging). I was so intrigued by the country’s unique history and beautiful landscapes, and I can’t wait to go back!

Hamilton, Bermuda. Photo taken during my 2017 trip.
View from Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, Southampton, Bermuda. Photo taken during my 2017 trip.

6. Fall 2022 and Beyond

Last year, I wrote in my year-end review that I was planning to move back to Seattle after coming home from Brazil (which never happened). As such, I don’t want to make a prediction yet about where I’ll be based when my school contract ends! I really love Chicago and am open to staying here longer. I feel like I haven’t seen nearly as much of the city as I’d like to.

On the other hand, I’d really like to go abroad again… and I’d love to go somewhere warm! Chicago winter has been an adjustment to say the least. Nonetheless, I’ll be honest and admit that things are truly up in the air! I might stay in Chicago another year, but I might jet off to somewhere new! It will also depend on how open borders are next fall.

It's been so good to be back in the US for half of this year, but I really miss being abroad!
US States Planned by End-of-Year 2022
31/50 States (62%)
Countries Planned by End-of-Year 2022
39/~200 (19%)

Thanks For Following My Journeys!

Whether you’re a long-time follower of Caffeinated Excursions or checking it out for the first time, I want to say thanks! The blog has grown significantly since I started in January of 2018, and it makes me happy to know that other travel enthusiasts are using my posts as a guide for their own adventures!

Have you been to any of the places I’ve been in 2021 or want to go to in 2022? Leave a comment below and let me know! While we’re obviously not back to normal yet in terms of COVID-19, I’m so glad to have been able to do a few trips this year, and am looking forward to ramping up and traveling even more in 2022!

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This post was published on Dec 18, 2021

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Chantelle

    I love following your adventures and next year looks like it will be amazing as well! We are planning to go to Chicago to a Cubs game over the summer, so Ill definitely be keeping track of your food series! We will be in Bermuda in September, is that when you will be there?

    1. I’m not sure yet about Bermuda, likely around that time. I know they don’t have as warm of a winter as the Caribbean, so I don’t want to go too late in the year.

  2. Kailyn Travels

    I really can’t believe you were in Brazil at the beginning of this year! I’m glad you got to have a lot of adventures in the US this year, I’m so jealous of the Glacier trip. Can’t wait to visit Europe at the same time next year!

  3. You had such a travelful year! Brazil is top of my list. Would love to explore soon. Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage seems like a must-visit spot.

  4. Josy A

    I have really enjoyed following your adventures, but it is also good to hear that you have a job in Chicago that will allow you to settle for a bit and be local for a while. 🙂

    It sounds like 2022 is going to be fabulous for you Kevin. Happy New Year to you! Stay caffeinated. 😉

  5. Ada

    You had quite the year! I’m glad you were able to return safely from Brazil and that Chicago has treated you so well. I’m looking forward to following along in 2022!

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