MONTHLY UPDATE…COUNTRY 54 = QATAR OR CHINESE GHOST TOWN? + CHRISTMAS/NEW YEAR’S IN DUBAI
Happy New Year!!! I hope you had an amazing time ringing in the New Year + are actively chipping away at your New Year’s resolutions. As for our NYE…we were in bed by 10PM, + I woke up feeling as fresh as a daisy ready to tackle Jan 1. But, one of these years we’ll stay up past midnight to stare mesmerizingly at the Burj Khalifa as lights + fireworks explode out of the side of it. Mark my word.
In this edition of the Monthly Update we’ll share…
- Our honest opinion of Doha, Qatar
- Spending 4 whole weeks in one spot…Dubai
- Mind blowing recap stats from 2023 🤯
- Some of the craziness we have in store for 2024!
WHERE ARE ASHLEY + CAMERON?!
DECEMBER 8 – 12 | DOHA, QATAR
Landing in Qatar…I crossed off my 54th country! Driving into the West Bay, I was mesmerized by the gorgeous skyline + how each building was uniquely illuminated + built. For this trip, we used points to stay at the W Doha which was right in the middle of the action. As for Doha itself…I loved the accessible paths everywhere + zipping around on Lime scooters. There was one huge problem though…where were all the people? From afar, it looks like it has this vibrant energy…but in it…it completely falls flat.
We had dinner at two different restaurants in the W + at the brand-new Waldorf Astoria…and we were practically the only people in the restaurant every single night. Granted…we tend to eat on the earlier side. But, it was like Cameron booked the entire restaurant for just the two of us. Even when we Uber’d to the Venetian inspired part of Pearl Island…it reminded us of a Chinese ghost town with empty shops + restaurants everywhere. Kind of eerie + weird tbh.
Our favorite part of Doha…the National Museum of Qatar. It’s a geometric wonder + all the exhibits were so well done. Check this…it took 18 years + $434 million to build.
Overall, I’m glad I went. Mainly because I got to add another country to my list. Woot woot! But, beyond that, I don’t foresee myself returning to Qatar any time soon.
DECEMBER 12 – JANUARY 12 | DUBAI, UAE
Pinch me already…I can’t believe we stayed in one place for an entire month. It felt so magical as a full-time nomad/traveler. We used this time to GET SH*T DONE, since we’ve been to Dubai various times in the past 18 months. Cameron recently moved his residency + business to Dubai from Barbados, + he was finalizing his banking. And, both his boys flew over to spend Christmas with us.
While there…I focused on getting rid of this nasty chest cold/cough I’ve had for 1 ½ months, getting my sleep back in order, working out again after not being able to for the majority of 2023 [it’s been humbling, yet rewarding as always], spending time recapping the past year, creating content with my awesome social media manager to share on social, + planning my/our 2024. Oh…and getting to connect with as many awesome humans as we could while there.
Some highlights include going to the Top of the Burj [absolutely LOVE this building…it’s so freaking photogenic], exploring Old Dubai + the Spice + Gold Souks, watching the epic drone show at JBR [they kept changing it], going to the La Perle show [crazy production factor], eating a Michelin Star dinner [Dinner by Heston] at Atlantis The Royal while watching the magical fountain + fire show, + sitting on the grass next to a busy roundabout waiting for our dinner reservation at Zuma [it’s the small things sometimes]. Cameron also took them to romp around in the sand dunes, see The Grand Mosque + Qasr Al Watan in Abu Dhabi, indoor skiing just to say they did it, + to the biggest waterpark in the world [shocker…I know]!
My fave part about our time in Dubai…taking the time to recap all of 2023. It was a crazy awesome year! March – September 2023 were easily the best 6 months of my life + it was so fun reliving all those amazing memories! Here are some noteworthy stats…I hit my 54th country, I visited 16 total countries of which 7 were new + 1 Territory [Faroe Islands], I crossed off freaking 33 bucket list items, + attended 6 different conferences/masterminds globally.
As for 2024…we’re going on another tear this year. As of right now, we’ll be visiting 20 different countries of which 7 will be new. And, here’s a sneak peek into some of the highlights we have planned…chasing down the Northern Lights in Northern Norway, immersing ourselves in Tokyo, hosting my first Ever Wander Experience in Niseko, Japan with 12 of our friends, seeing the Snow Monkeys, + exploring Hakone, Kyoto, Osaka, South Korea, + Bali for the first time. We’re also prioritizing our health in 2024…so we’re going to We Care Spa for a 7 day, liquid detox spa treatment, getting a NLS scan done, attending the Intelligent Change Summit in Ibiza as well as the Health Optimization Summit in London, + doing an Aya ceremony in Costa Rica. Other fun items include Paris for the first time [I can’t wait to see the Eiffel Tower all twinkly], checking out Northern Italy in hopes of finding our forever city + home, sailing the Med, going to Burning Man [TBD], hosting a Porsche Experience in Spain/Morocco, attending a Wayfinders event in Laos + Vietnam, seeing the Lantern Festival in Thailand, + spending December bouncing around Turkey. Needless to say, I’m feeling extremely pumped, grateful, + blessed. And, a lil overwhelmed if I’m honest. But, that’s why biohacking + prioritizing my health/sleep/hormones are top priority to me.
In the next 4 weeks, we will chase down my number 1 bucket list item in Northern Norway. You might have guessed it…the NORTHERN LIGHTS baby! I’m actually writing this update on our flight to Oslo. Fingers crossed the weather cooperates, + we get to basque in Mother Nature’s beautiful light show. Then, we’re off to explore Tokyo + watch a live sumo wrestling match before we go get high on the Niseko pow-pow with 12 of our fave peeps! It’s extra special, because it’s the very first Ever Wander Experience I’ve curated + hosted for friends. My plan is to curate + host a couple of these Experiences every year all over the world. The inspiration came from wanting our friends to come visit us on the road, but finding out that it’s easier said than done. As always, life always seems to get in the way. So, I decided to entice folks out by curating these luxurious + epic bucket list experiences…making it impossible for them to say no. It’s gonna be 7 straight days of fun + shenanigans + I can’t wait to create lifelong memories! Oh ya…I almost forgot…the Snow Monkeys + Kyoto will be sprinkled in there afterwards too!
That’s all I got for right now. Make 2024 a great year! I can feel it in my bones…it’s gonna be an epic one! Maybe even better than 2023.
As always we’re beyond grateful for you + your support! I absolutely love writing these updates + crystallizing them on the website here.
P.S. If you’re new here, feel free to read our previous monthly updates on my Ever Wander website here. I’m not gonna lie…the updates are filled with tons of exotic places, an abundance of bucket list inspo, + practical travel/bio/sleep/app hacks.
VIDEOS YOU’LL LOVE
My Kenya series is CRUSHING IT! I’m smitten…people are loving our safari videos. And, I’m confident you will too! Do me a solid…and help a wannabe content creator get some more watch time, likes, + comments pretty please.
Kenya Nairobi…petting orphaned, baby elephants + accidentally french kissing a giraffe! My best performing video to date…with 10k views!
Kenya Lake Naivasha + Lake Nakuru…3 day old white rhino, a sea of pink flamingos, + our beautiful tented camp!
Kenya Maasai Mara…hot air ballooning over the Mara in animal onesies, a lion cuddle puddle, an elephant family playing at sunset, + lions getting it on!
Kenya Loisaba…a leopard stalking an impala [watch to see if it got it or not], the cutest kind of zebras you’ve ever seen, super rare sighting of wild dogs, + accidentally scaring a pregnant lioness!
TRAVEL HACK OF THE MONTH
Let’s talk foreign languages when cellular service is MIA!
This is easily one of my fave travel hacks that has saved me multiple times in not so great situations!
Want to download a foreign language to your phone? No problem. Follow the Google Translate instructions here.
BIO HACK OF THE MONTH
This month, let’s discuss the controversial topic known as…drum roll please…SLEEP DIVORCE!
I know, I know, I know…I can already hear the push back, rebuttals, + excuses flooding my ears. Hard pass. Case in point…Cameron was super against sleeping in separate rooms + beds when we first started dating. But guess what…after some time + practice he’s a believer! Don’t get me wrong…there’s definitely an adjustment period. And, some might need to do some internal work around feeling safe [I highly recommend doing this work]. But, it’s worth working through these obstacles since SLEEP is the best medicine on the planet. And…it’s FREE!
Here’s my super short list of why I find it difficult to sleep with another human…snoring, fidgeting, tossing + turning [aka restlessness], sheet + comforter stealing, getting up to pee in the middle of the night [I’ve been working on this though…no liquids 2 hours before bed], liking different room temperatures, not liking the same amount of bed coverings, enjoying a pillow fortress, wanting different mattress firmness, disliking touch while sleeping, misaligned sleep schedules, being told to turn off the light or turning off the phone or TV, waking up in the middle of the night + wanting to pop on the phone [I don’t do this anymore…as I have other tactics for getting back to sleep], waking up at different times, + the list goes on + on.
There’s no way you don’t sleep better after giving yourself 30-60 days to get used to this new arrangement. The amount of micro wakeups another person causes each night drastically affects our overall sleep quality/score. Feel free to track it using the Oura or Ultrahuman rings. These disturbances can easily pull us out of super powerful Deep or REM sleep, which is paramount to memory formation + overall brain health. This applies to pretty much everyone, unless both people sleep like they’re dead to the world + don’t move an inch all night. Looks, sounds, smells, + acts like a UNICORN to me.
If you already practice Sleep Divorce…kudos for taking your sleep seriously. And, if you aren’t, I highly recommend considering it + trying it out without quitting too soon. Worried about addressing this topic with your partner? Don’t be. It’s all about the approach. Ask to sit down with them, tell them that you’ve been experiencing sleep issues lately + really want to address them by sleeping separately for a little while to see if they improve. The important part is to reassure them that you still love them very much + have a plan to get very intentional about how you say good night + how you greet one another in the morning. Lastly, let them know that you want to try this so you can show up well-rested [aka better] for yourself + for them.
I’m telling you…it’s hands-down my #1 sleep hack. Even if you’re reluctant, please give it a try! The only thing you’ve got to lose is…a sh*tty night’s sleep. And, repeat a sh*tty night’s sleep enough times, + you’ll have much bigger fish to fry [aka health problems that can’t be fixed or reversed] when you’re older.
Next month, I’ll share my fave tips + tricks on how to optimize your sleep environment.
Keep spreading love, compassion, kindness, + joy in the world…we need it now more than ever.
Any positive and/or constructive feedback is always welcome!
I can’t wait to chat with you after I cross off my #1 bucket list item [seeing the Northern Lights if you missed it up top].