2016: The Year I Inadvertently Tried So Many New Things

As usual, I didn’t make any concrete New Years resolutions for 2016. That’s why it’s a little funny that it sort of ended up being a year in which I unintentionally experienced a whole lot of new things.

Though I didn’t set out to try 18 awesome new things in 2016, I think my lifestyle naturally delivered all sorts of opportunities that I had the freedom to take advantage of. For me, it really confirmed that the more space you open up in your life, the more amazing / exciting / stimulating / fulfilling / better fitting / [insert other positive adjective here]things are able to enter it and make it even better.

Or as I like to say: cut the crap, trim the fat, and just keep saying yes.

el nido kayaking

Here are some of the more notable things I said yes to in 2016 that I’d never experienced in my 30 years prior.

Watched A Film In 70mm

I didn’t even know what this meant because I am decidedly NOT a movie person, but shortly after App Guy and I started dating in late 2015 I learned all about the glory of 70mm films. We went to see The Hateful Eight in Melbourne and to my great surprise, I LOVED it. The quality and detail in a 70mm film is noticeably better than that of most movies out today. And with much of the movie taking pace with a wintry American west backdrop, every scene was just so beautiful on the big screen.

Melbourne outdoor bathtub

Took a bath in my backyard

Also filed under Things I Never Even Thought Were A Thing, the time I took a bath in a tub in the backyard. The Brunswick house I was subletting a room in this past February had an old tub dug into the ground, essentially making it an infinity tub, with a long hose set up to deliver hot water from the shed straight into it. The others living in the house had strung up some fairy lights around the yard and left out some candles to maximize the relaxing vibes. I enjoyed my backyard bath on the evening of my 31st birthday with bats flying around overhead. Only in Melbourne!

eureka skydeck fireworks melbourne

Watched fireworks from above

I’ve watched fireworks loads of times before, but always from ground level. I got super lucky that my visit to the Eureka Skydeck just happened to coincide with the Lunar New Year fireworks in Melbourne, which I got to witness from the 88th floor. Too cool!

Phillip Island Glamping

Went Glamping

There was never any question about whether glamping and I were a good fit. I already adored camping with a tiny-ass tent and the bare minimum furnishings – throw in a proper bed and some tasteful decor and I certainly won’t complain.

Last year I won an instagram contest put on by the Phillip Island tourism board, which gave me two nights in a fancy tent set up by Phillip Island Glamping. It was such a treat falling asleep to fairy lights with a heater to keep me warm, and waking up to make coffee using their French press.

slackline melbourne

Tried Slacklining

I’m quite familiar with slacklining thanks to my years spent rock climbing back in NYC, but I never got around to trying it because… um… I have terrible balance and didn’t want to risk breaking my neck or face. But when an old friend was visiting Melbourne, he invited me to join him and his friend slacklining in the park. I felt super safe having someone there to lean on while I attempted to tiptoe my way across the slackline. But for the record: slacklining is NOT easy!

Made my own street art

One of the coolest things I did last year was hands down the Melbourne street art class. I learned about the culture and process behind street art here and then gave my best shot at creating my own piece. Again: NOT easy! I can’t believe I even pulled off my little kitty cat character, but here’s evidence that I did in fact create him:

Street art class in Melbourne

Washed a car

I’d have been perfectly fine not adding this to my list here, but then there was the time I went camping with some 20-year-old European backpackers who thought they had to thoroughly clean our rental car before returning it, lest we get charged a cleaning fee. Yeah, because it’s so realistic for travelers to have an industrial vacuum and access to a bucket and hose to use to clean the car inside and out.

We parked the car in their driveway, they grabbed all the aforementioned cleaning supplies from their house, and I watched them take sponges and nozzles to the car. And because I’m not a complete asshole, I pitched in here and there while suppressing a slew of eyerolls. But hey, now I can say I scrubbed a car clean, hubcaps and all.

Glendhu Bay, Lake Wanaka
Glendhu Bay, Lake Wanaka.

Hitchhiked

If ever there was a place to safely dabble in hitchhiking, New Zealand would have to be it. I’d overextended myself on an aimless walk around Lake Wanaka and knew I’d be walking back from Glendhu Bay in the dark if I didn’t stick my thumb out. To my great luck, a sweet young couple pulled over on my very first attempt and gave me a lift back into town.

malapascua evolution diving

Went Scuba Diving

First, let me say I was stupid for thinking I didn’t ever need to bother with diving after my incredible snorkeling experience off Lady Elliot Island. Even if I never saw another underwater landscape as magnificent as that one, diving itself is such a fun activity. So fun, in fact, that I earned both my Open Water and Advanced Open Water certifications last year and logged 14 dives in Thailand and the Philippines. I’m practically obsessed with diving now and am so glad I pushed myself to try it.

Took a Spin class

When I had a gym membership for two glorious months last year, I dropped into a spin class just to see what the fuss was about. And NOPE. Not for me. Bikes are meant to be ridden on pavement and paths, not in a tiny room indoors.

sydney pole dance class

Took a pole dancing class

Oh come on: if you walked by a sign advertising free pole dancing classes, you’d totally sign up too, wouldn’t you?

As per my love for all things ridiculous, I signed up and spent an afternoon spinning around a pole and bruising my thighs. The sexy moves and poses we had to strike, um, definitely not my style. But working my core on this brand-new apparatus was really fun!

Mooned some strangers

And then there was the time I was hanging out at a penthouse and, completely sober, three of us simultaneously dropped trou on the balcony as a party boat cruised on by. We then got decent and carried on as if nothing had just happened.

surfing siargao

Learned how to surf

Surfing has both fascinated and terrified me for YEARS. I’ll totally admit to watching (and re-watching, all. summer. long.) Surf Girls, the MTV show that aired in summer 2003, and thinking how freaking rad these girls were. Who WOULDN’T want to be tanned, toned, and wearing gorgeous swimwear while surfing in stunning tropical locations around the world? I was obsessed, I tell you. But somehow I never managed to become a surf girl myself.

Last year I said, enough is enough. I live in Australia and I still haven’t surfed?! Not ok. So I signed myself up to stay at a surf resort on Siargao, an island known for its awesome surfing. Basically, there was little chance of me squeaking through that trip without attempting to mount a surf board.

You know how that went down: I conquered the fear and rode some waves! Learning how to surf on Siargao went down as one of the best experiences I had last year.

thresher sharks malapascua

Swam with a shark

Ok so technically I didn’t swim *with* a shark so much as *nearby* one, but it was still my first close encounter with this kind of creature. I spotted a thresher shark while diving at Malapascua and it was SOOOOOO cool, you guys!

Played drinking games

Ummm so this probably should have happened well over a decade ago, but yep – I participated in my first-ever drinking games while at a hostel in El Nido and had SO MUCH FUN! Nevermind that gin and sprite is a pretty gross combo, and that it was my first time consuming soda in like 5 years…

Almost got deported

Another one I would have been very happy to keep off this list, but hey – it happened. Now I get to feel like a badass when I casually mention the time I almost got deported from Australia.

sup yoga hawaii

Took a SUP yoga class

This one had been on my to-try list for awhile, and finally on my recent trip to Hawaii I got to cross it off with a SUP yoga class at Ala Moana Beach. The verdict: very fun, very challenging, very peaceful. I can’t wait to try it again sometime!

hawaii helicopter

Flew in a helicopter

I’ve done several scenic flights at this point, but always in a small plane and somehow never in a chopper. So I was super excited to sign up for a helicopter tour around Kauai last month. You know what’s really great? How there really is no “take off” with a helicopter – instead they just rise straight up into the air. Not so great: I got motion sick in the air. Ugh!

What new things are you planning to try this year? Inspire us in the comments below!

Lindsay Buckley is the photographer and travel blogger behind Frugal Frolicker. She's a New Yorker currently based in Sydney, Australia, documenting outdoor travel experiences Down Under and beyond. Follow along with Lindsay's travel photography on Facebook and Instagram, and be sure to sign up for the monthly Frugal Frolicker newsletter!

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  • So jealous of these adventures! Especially an outdoor bath… were you scared of peepers?! An awesome list, may you carry on the new experiences for 2017

    • hahaha, nah – the backyard was enclosed by a tall fence so I doubt anyone would be able to peep! :P

  • Paddle Partner

    Love that you went Paddling! I go kayak camping alot love being on the water. I love using a Kayaking app When i go Paddling!