With closing the year of 2016, people stop and think what went well and what went wrong throughout the year. And I did the same. But I’m also trying to see the bad as part of the good. I learnt to change focus from the negative to the positive side of the situation.

There is so much to be thankful for. It’s all in the mindset. Am I thankful for writing this on a bus on which I’ll spend 7 hours with a crazy driver on the winding and hilly roads? Well, I’m thankful for traveling with my boyfriend through South America with my sister joining us for a few weeks. That’s what I’m focusing on.

50 things I'm thankful for this year - Banff national park, Canada

sunrise in Banff national park, Canada

This post is all about the things I’m thankful for that happened in 2016. My goal is not only to keep a diary on the blog but to inspire you, our readers, to look at all the situations that happened to you from a different point of view. I’m sure you will find most of them good in some way.

There would be much more things to be thankful for if I kept notes throughout the year. These are just 50 things I’m thankful for which made the most impact on my life.

  1. I welcomed the year of 2016 in the Canadian Rockies where my butt almost froze. But we got to see beautiful Northern Lights.
  2. Cross country skiing. Apart from being outside and enjoying the snow, it can be a real workout. We’ve done many trips to the Canadian Rockies and almost learnt how not to fall when skiing downhill.
  3. Ice cave in Jasper national park. This was a surreal experience. To tell you the truth, I liked it more than a white sand beach with palm trees.
    50 things I'm thankful for this year
  4. Slovak friends in Canada. Although we also have international friends in Canada, there is no better spent evening than drinking beers and tell stories only your countrymen get.
  5. Less than 4 seasons of the year. I like all the seasons and love spending them in a different way. But I also enjoyed the summer we had half of 2016 while traveling through Central America.
  6. Waking up for sunrise in the mountains. I believe that people love sunsets only because they don’t need to do anything to see them. When we bought a new camera and went out to test it during the sunrise I quickly understood why it’s the favourite part of the day for photographers.
  7. Vegetarian food – I tried to eat as little meat as possible for several personal reasons. And found a ton of delicious vegetarian recipes I’m now addicted to, such as penne with avocado sauce topped with cherry tomatoes (recipe here if you would like to try it)
  8. Dandelions – sounds weird, I know. When I found a meadow full of dandelions in the spring, it reminded me childhood. So much that I made a dandelion headband and wore it proudly feeling like a little girl, haha.
  9. Northern lights. The most spectacular freak of nature I’ve ever seen. Imagine green lights dancing above your head for hours.
    50 things I'm thankful for this year - Northern Lights
  10. Wilderness and uncrowdedness of Canada’s naturethe Canadian Rockies are busy and popular place. And yet there are many places where you can be all by yourself with just wildlife around.
  11. Canadian wildlife. Watching bears, moose, goats, elks and beavers is my favourite thing to do.
  12. Baby animals – every year in spring, we go out even more than usual in hope to see all the newborns.
  13. My bike – it brought me joyful days after work in the city park and during the weekends in the Rockies.
  14. Visiting Fernie in British Columbia. We have friends living in this little town and would like to make it our base in Canada one day.
  15. Ice rinks in Canada. They are literally everywhere. Almost every playground (more than 100 in Calgary) has a hockey rink during the winter and girls are welcome to play. Yay for me!
  16. European bakeries. I’m proud to say Europeans have the best bread. And luckily, we were able to buy it in Calgary.
  17. City parks in Calgary – more than 60! Not many big cities have that. We went several times a week to one of the parks for a run or bike ride.
  18. Kind Canadians. I’m glad Canadians, in general, are a welcoming nation and not judgmental of a different language, background or religion newcomers to Canada might have and receive them with open arms.
  19. Canadian immigration system. It finally worked in our favour and Michal and I became permanent residents of Canada. Our biggest accomplishment of 2016.
  20. Yoga – my go-to activity when feeling anxious, stressed or stiff. It changed my life!
  21. Tara & Adriene – my all time favourite yoga guides. I found them on youtube years ago, their videos and positive messages are uplifting. (check Tara’s channel & Adriene’s channel)
  22. My boyfriend – we’ve been through everything together. 12 years is a long time and every year I’m grateful to have such an understanding and adventurous person by my side.
    50 things I'm thankful for this year - Banff national park
  23. Family – this is obvious but very important. I’m so glad all members of my family are supporting my crazy travel ideas.
  24. Canadian winter is sometimes crazy but it hasn’t stopped us in doing what we love – being outdoors. Cross country skiing in -20C was challenging but my frozen hair made it much more fun.
  25. Ice & snow – all the fun we had while playing ice hockey, cross country skiing and running..makes me miss winter now.
    50 things I'm thankful for this year - Canadian winter in Calgary
  26. Not watching TV. We still watch our favourite TV series but not on TV. I cannot even count how many hours we saved by not watching all the annoying commercials.
  27. I’ve read many travel and self-improvement books over the year. One of my favourites is How to Stop Worrying and Start Living
  28. Skype – second to best way to see my family when I live abroad or travel around the world (first is obviously a real visit)
  29. New job. First 7 months of 2016 was spent in a new job. I had amazing colleagues and the position tested my level of patience which I’m happy to report that it increased.
  30. Quitting my job to travel around the world with Michal. We didn’t want to have this dream forever, so we made it a reality.
  31. Leaving Canada was hard as we love our new home so much. But since we got permanent residency, we can come back anytime.
  32. 12 hours bus ride from Puerto Escondido to San Cristobal in Mexico. It was my first very long bus ride and I survived it just fine. Many more came later and I got used to the long term backpacking style of travel.
  33. Surfing – one of the best things I learnt in 2016. Not that I can ride any wave now, but I’m slowly getting better. Surfing is harder than I thought, especially the next day when the whole body is sore as hell.
    50 things I'm thankful for this year - surfing in Puerto Escondido, Mexico
  34. My yoga mat – for me, it’s one of the most important things I carry in my backpack.
  35. Stomach sickness started 3 weeks into our trip around the world. I figured it would come one day and now I think it won’t come again as we are adjusted more to a different food.
  36. Strangers on the streets in Central America – sometimes it’s mission impossible to find a place without kind people on the street giving you directions and offering help without even asking.
  37. Spanish language – we’ve learnt some Spanish in Guatemala, it would be very hard to get around in Central America without it.
  38. Smile as a language – luckily a language we all speak. Where my limited Spanish didn’t help, a smile always did.
  39. Guides in Venezuela. We’ve visited Venezuela during its hard times but our guides made our trip unforgettable and I hope we’ll come back again one day.
  40. Unexpected visitors on our trip – my mom joined us while backpacking Nicaragua & Costa Rica, and my sister joined us in Colombia. If all goes well, I will see my dad in New Zealand this year.
  41. Off the beaten path places – although Central America is crowded with backpackers, we were able to find real off the beaten path places where not a lot of tourists go. People were curious, kept waving at us, smiling and asking where we are from.
    50 things I'm thankful for this year - Cosiguina volcano, Nicaragua
  42. Wildlife – in the past half a year, I’ve seen many animals I haven’t seen before in the wild, such as tarantula & red-eyed frog in Costa Rica, howler monkeys, cappuccino monkeys, macaw and other parrots, toucan, python and river dolphin in Venezuela
  43. Slovak passport. Believe it or not, there are a lot of people holding judgement against Americans or Australians. The first thought of most locals was that we were from one of these two countries because most of the young people traveling are. But when we say we are from Slovakia, most of the people never heard of that country and immediately started asking questions and wanted to know more about our home country.
  44. International cuisine – I’ve tried more local dishes in 2016 that I’ve ever tried before. Some of them were refused by my taste buds but a lot of them were delicious, for example, a plantain – a staple in Central & South America, fruit called jocote in Guatemala or guava in Venezuela
  45. Food in general – after visiting Venezuela during its crisis and lack of food in supermarkets, I’m even more grateful for all the food I can buy wherever I am
  46. Good health – I’m very cautious about when I sit for too long and when I should move more. I practised yoga a lot, but I also hiked, biked and tried other activities to help me to stay healthy on the road.
    50 things I'm thankful for this year - Panama City, Panama
  47. New friends – There is no such thing as too many friends. I’ve met great people through Couchsurfing when we hosted them in our apartment and hope to visit some of them in the future.
  48. Diary. All of my thoughts are now in one place, it would be hard to remember everything from our travels.
  49. Christmas with family – it’s a long time since I spent Christmas with my family, luckily my sister came to Colombia just in time for a Christmas dinner.
  50. Another year of travel ahead of me – I realize I’m very fortunate to travel around the world and I intend to make the most of it. Hopefully, you’ll follow along and my advice on this blog will help you to travel better.

Do you share my thoughts? What are YOU thankful for? Let me know in the comments below.


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50 things I'm thankful for this year

About Maya Steiningerova

Heyo, I’m Maya! An adventure athlete currently living near the Canadian Rockies with my partner in crime Michal. I love running in the mountains, jumping in the ice cold lakes, mountain biking and trying not so common activities, such as mountaineering. By showing that an ordinary person can live an extraordinary life, my hope is to inspire you to live an adventurous life and provide you with tips and tools for your own adventure.