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Digital Nomad Life: 2023 in Review

2023 was one of the most epic years of travel I have ever had and I absolutely loved (nearly) every moment of it. 

I visited 12 countries this year – four of them new to me – and twelve states plus the District of Columbia. I started the year with a three-week road trip in the South Island of New Zealand, island-hopped in Thailand, hiked the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, saw the cherry blossoms and hiked an ancient pilgrimage route in Japan, housesat in Oregon, London, and Denver, revisited Chicago, New York, Washington D.C., Seattle (four times), and Vancouver (twice), explored more of Washington State, worked my second summer season at the Gorge, rescued a baby kitty who is now part of our family, spent six weeks traveling in Europe, and then returned to New Zealand for the last seven weeks of the year where I did a five-day hike by myself and spent time with family and friends.

View from Mauao

Lowlights of the year included anxiety over all of the horror in the world right now, a shooting at the Gorge during a show, family issues, body issues, vehicle issues, everything being so damn expensive, bad weather, getting sick, neck and upper back pain, smoky skies, not knowing if Toby will get his residency in New Zealand, Achilles pain, work stress, phone issues, extreme heat, and extreme cold. Nothing too crazy and I am very lucky for that.

Here’s what my 2023 looked like month by month. But first off – here are a few quick stats:

Koh Ngai

Countries Visited: 12 – New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, Nepal, Philippines, Japan, USA, Canada, UK, Denmark, Sweden, Cyprus. This is the most countries I have visited in a year since 2013!

States Visited: 12 + District of Columbia – Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, New York, Illinois, Virginia, Idaho, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii.

House Sits Completed: 4

Hikes Tackled: 93

What I Spent: $31,203 (not including international flights)

This, for me, proves how much more expensive everything is now with inflation. I did travel more this year than last year as well but my regular U.S. spend was up from previous years and I haven’t changed my spending habits. I also had to pay for my U.S. Citizenship and two new passports this year as well.

I am earning more now than I have since I started on this nomadic journey and I think I have to adjust my expectations around spending. My goal for next year will be a more realistic $30,000.

(To see a more detailed breakdown of each month, check out my monthly round-ups)

Tokyo temple

January: New Zealand, Australia, Thailand

I started the year in New Zealand at an epic 40th birthday party in Auckland that went on until the early hours of the 1st. It is one of my absolute favorite New Year’s Eve.

Milford Sound views

On the 2nd I started a three-week road trip, driving down to Christchurch to pick up my friend Dani from the airport and then driving all over the southern half of the South Island including through Arthur’s Pass, the West Coast glaciers, Wanaka, Queenstown, Arrowtown, Lake Tekapo, Mount Cook, Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, Te Anau, Glenorchy, as well as hiking part of the Routeburn Track.

From the South Island, I flew back to Auckland for a night and then onto Sydney where I spent a week staying between Coogee and the Northern Beaches.

Bungan Beach

The last two days of the month I spent in Bangkok, going for my dental checkup and enjoying being back in one of my favorite Asian cities.

Read more about this month here.

February: Thailand, Nepal

I spent the first nearly three weeks of the month in Thailand, a week of that was spent in Bangkok getting dental work done and exploring, and I spent the other two weeks island-hopping between the Trang Islands of Koh Mook, Koh Ngai, Koh Kradan, and Koh Libong.

Koh Libong Beach

I spent the last week of the month in Nepal, traveling between Kathmandu, Chitwan National Park, and Pokhara.

Read more about this month here.

March: Nepal, Thailand, Philippines, Japan

The first two weeks of the month I was hiking the Annapurna Circuit between Nepalese and Tibetan villages in the Himalayas of Nepal and it was one of the absolute highlights of all my travels.

Hiking towards Ngawal on the Annapurna Circuit

I then spent ten more days in Nepal between Pokhara, Bandipur, and Patan before flying to Tokyo via a night and day in Bangkok, and a night in Manila.

The last five days of the month were spent in Japan which was a dream come true for me, especially because we were visiting when the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. I spent three nights in Tokyo hitting up all the cherry blossom sites, and two nights in the onsen mountain town of Hakone. 

Tokyo sakura

Read more about this month here.

April: Japan, Hawaii, Colorado

I spent most of the month traveling in Japan visiting Kanazawa, Takayama, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Miyajima Island, Nara, Osaka, and Tokyo again. We also did the five-day Nakahechi route of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trail on the Kii Peninsula, which was the highlight of my trip to Japan, especially Yunomine Onsen.

Yunomine Onsen village

We flew from Tokyo to Honolulu where we spent three nights at a hostel near the University which has some of the best (and cheapest) food options in Honolulu. We visited Waikiki Beach from there a couple of times too.

The last two days of the month were spent back in Denver, running errands and spending time with family.

Read more about this month here.

Waikiki Beach views

May: Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Canada

May started in Denver where we had three more nights, and then after a few days in northern New Mexico hitting up some of my favorite places, we drove up to the Gorge Amphitheatre in eastern Washington for another summer season working there. 

Along the drive, we did some hiking and hot springs in southern Colorado and Moab, and visited friends in Salt Lake City and Boise. Then Toby headed onto the Gorge and I drove to Portland where I had a five-day housesit.

Forest Park Portland

From Portland, I headed to Bend for four days for another housesit. I really enjoyed my time in Oregon hiking and exploring both cities.

After my Oregon travels, I reunited with Toby at the Gorge and got straight to work to prepare for our first event of the year, Illenium. It was great to be back!

View from Cliffhouse at the Gorge

I spent the last day of the month driving up to my favorite city in the world, Vancouver.

Read more about this month here.

June: Canada, Washington, Illinois, Washington D.C., Virginia, New York

The first week of the month was spent in Canada between Vancouver and the mountain town of Squamish where I did some hiking and city exploration. After a night and a day sorting out new brakes in Seattle and picking up my bestie Kurt who flew in from New Zealand, I headed back to the Gorge to work one of the biggest shows of the year: Brandi Carlile and Joni Mitchell.

View over Squamish

Although we were short-staffed and super stressed, it was still the best show of the year. We had a quick night away in Leavenworth, then I dropped Kurt at the bus station and went back to the Gorge to work Beyond Wonderland where there was a shooting that cut the show short.

After all that stress I needed a break – luckily I had the last couple of weeks of the month off. I met up with Kurt and friends in Chicago for a few days to see Stevie Nicks and explore the city and city beaches, then we visited Washington D.C. for a couple of nights, a little cabin in Virginia to visit Shenandoah National Park, and finished the trip in New York City.

Chicago River

Read more about this month here.

July: New York, Washington, Canada, Colorado

I started the month with four days left in New York City where I explored some old favorites and new-to-me spots around the city and celebrated the fourth at a rooftop BBQ in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Bridge

Then it was back to work again with four shows in a row including Dead & Company, Bert Kreischer’s Fully Loaded Comedy Festival, Above & Beyond, and boygenius. Whew! 

During the last show, we rescued a kitten that was found scared and underweight under the Box Office. We hadn’t planned to keep her but we instantly fell in love so despite it not being easy being nomadic and having a cat, we are making it work. We named her Joni and she is such a sweet girl.

Katie and Joni

It was a super busy month with work but I did have days off between each show and visited Leavenworth, Vancouver, and Seattle. On the last day of the month, I flew to Denver because I had an appointment for my U.S. citizenship.

Read more about this month here.

August: Colorado, Washington

I had an excellent start to the month – getting my U.S. Citizenship! Then it was back to the Gorge for another event: Watershed. After that, we had just over a week off and it was well-needed.

Gorge glamping at night

We headed to Winthrop in the foothills of the North Cascades mountains for a few days in the RV – Joni’s first trip. Despite a large fire closing the highway through North Cascades National Park, we still did some excellent hikes on the outskirts of the park, as well as hanging out around town.

From there Toby went back to the Gorge and I spent a few days on a solo trip to Leavenworth and Seattle before returning to the Gorge to work the longest show of the year – Bass Canyon.

Easy Pass Trail

After that, I had another nine days off and I spent the first four days on peaceful Lopez Island. Unfortunately, all of the fires around Washington thwarted my plans for the second half of my time off – I had wanted to go to Mount Baker, Mount Rainier, or North Cascades National Park but they all had bad air quality. After a night in Seattle, I headed back to the Gorge a few days before the next show.

The last day of the month was spent checking people in for our busiest show of the year: Dave Matthews.

Read more about this month here.

Lopez Island beach

September: Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, UK

The first few days of the month were spent working Dave Matthews, and everything ran much smoother than last year.

After a two-day break where I mostly just packed and got ready to leave the Gorge, we had our last show of the year, well, two back-to-back shows – The Lumineers and Eric Church. I had to leave the day after our last show day to race to Denver for my urgent passport appointment.


I spent three days driving the 1200 miles to Denver, stopping for a night in Boise and Rock Springs. I had a housesit in Denver for five nights, got my first US passport, and saw friends or family every day I was there.

And then it was time for my second big trip of the year, six weeks in Europe!

London Mews

I spent the first six days housesitting in Chiswick, London and it was so great to be back in one of my former home cities. The last five nights of September I was in the beautiful Peak District staying with an old friend. I loved exploring the historic villages and doing numerous hikes followed by cozy pub lunches and dinners.

Read more about this month here.

Peak District village

October: UK, Denmark, Sweden, Cyprus, Colorado

After a night in Manchester, I flew to Copenhagen for four nights to visit a friend and reexplore the city 13 years after my first visit.

Nyhavn in Copenhagen

From Copenhagen, I traveled to Gothenburg in Sweden for three nights and did a day trip to lovely Marstrand Island. Then I spent my last five nights in Sweden in Stockholm, staying in a boat hotel. Stockholm completely lived up to my high expectations and I would love to go back in summer next time.

Stockholm square

Next up I spent 12 days in Cyprus, starting with a couple of nights in the Turkish-occupied North, and then road tripping all over the Republic of Cyprus. Highlights were the Troodos Mountains, the Greek and Roman ruins, and the incredibly clear water.

Travel Cyprus by Car to visit tiny Troodos Mountain villages

I had four nights back in London and then it was time to return to the U.S. I flew back to Denver just in time to celebrate Halloween. We dressed up, did Halloween karaoke, and entered a costume contest which my SIL won!

Read more about this month here.

November: Colorado, California, New Zealand

I had a few more days in Colorado spent between Denver and Breckenridge where we rented a luxury mountain home for our annual family Outlaw Party.

Snowy Breckenridge

After two nights in my favorite part of LA, the South Bay, I flew to New Zealand where I finished off the month.

I spent two weeks of the month in Auckland catching up with friends and family and going whale watching for my birthday. I also visited Papamoa, the Mount, and Hamilton, and had an excellent sponsored stay at Buffalo Lodge in Coromandel Town.

Hiking is one of the fun things to do in Coromandel Town

Overall it was a pretty chilled month but a good one nonetheless.

Read more about this month here.

December: New Zealand

I spent the whole of December back home in New Zealand and although I was disappointed by the amount of rainy days, it was still great to be back.

Auckland city view

I spent ten nights in Auckland catching up on work and spending time with friends and family, a couple of nights in Hamilton where I did a day trip to Raglan and Kawhia for its hot water beach, I hung out at the beach in the Mount and Papamoa, and spent six days camping at one of the most beautiful beaches in New Zealand – Uretiti in Northland.

I also flew down to the South Island to do the five-day Heaphy Track Great Walk solo, and it was such a peaceful hike where I met new friends but also had alone time to recharge. It was fun to spend time in isolated Karamea and lovely Nelson too. 

Heaphy Hut beach

I had an excellent New Year this year, dancing barefoot in the rain at Uretiti, surrounded by friends. 

Read more about this month here.

And that was a wrap on 2023! It was such a fun year where I was so lucky to travel to new places, old favorites, and to continue working a job that can be stressful at times but which I really love.

These recap posts are my favorite to write because they make me look back and reflect on all the incredible things I have accomplished – things I often take for granted. Looking back at 2023 I know how lucky I am to continue being able to live this life and to have a job that I love that fits into it perfectly.

Rangitoto Christmas

I’m excited to see what 2024 will bring too!

How was your 2023?

If you liked this post, check out my Travel Wishlist For 2024, 2022 in review, 2021 in review, 2020 in review, 2019 in review, 2018 in review. and 2017 in review. 

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