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Looking Back on 2016: A Year in Review

posted by Courtney Jones January 5, 2017 18 Comments
Looking Back on 2016 - Jet Set Brunette
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It’s now January 1st in Australia, so 2017 has officially commenced!

I love the start of a new year, because it reminds me of all the opportunities yet to be realised that will take place over the coming months. It’s also a great opportunity to reflect back on the year that has passed.

2016: Travel Experiences

2016 was an amazing year from a travel perspective. I was fortunate enough to get to go on four international trips, two domestic trips and a handful of road trips. My favourite part is that I went on all those trips while working a full-time corporate job, hopefully inspiring others to think of ways they can balance work and travel!

Here’s my travel summary, by month:


Kayak El Nido - Jet Set BrunetteI rang in 2016 in El Nido, Philippines. I say ‘rang in’ loosely, as John and I fell asleep, and only were woken up by the sound of the fireworks. So we rang in the new year, though we did come close to missing it due to falling asleep early!

The best thing about El Nido is the sheer beauty of this place: limestone cliffs, crystal clear water, private beaches – it’s an untouched secluded paradise, and amazing to experience.


Melbourne - Jet Set BrunetteA business trip to Melbourne, Australia. Short and sweet, but reminded me that I really do like the city. Also, I stayed at the Sofitel on Collins, which is an absolutely fantastic hotel!


Lake Tekapo - Jet Set BrunetteMarch was a full month, with two separate international trips. The first was a trip to the South Island of New Zealand, which ties El Nido for the top two most scenic places I’ve experienced! The lakes are a surreal blue colour, and everywhere you look is stunning. I took nearly 1000 photos in five days!

My third international trip of the year was a business trip to Austin, Texas, the live music capital of the world. Austin is such a fun city, and definitely one to put on your U.S. Bucket List! The culture and vibe is just so awesome. I also ate my body weight in queso, which is basically the most amazing thing to eat evvvvver. I can’t even find a Mexican restaurant in Sydney that serves it, so I’ve been meaning to learn how to make it. Since March. Maybe I’ll learn before March 2017…


Travel PlansA weekend getaway to the Hunter Valley, a wine region just a couple hours north of Sydney. The Hunter is a special place for me, as it’s where John proposed to me back in 2012!


Jet Set BrunetteA business trip to Canberra, Australia for the first time. I learned very quickly that it’s really not an overly interesting city.


Bondi to CoogeeThe winter months were quiet from a travel perspective, as I didn’t leave the city. Lots of local hikes, long lunches and just plain being a Sydneysider.


Fiji - Jet Set BrunetteSeptember kicked off with a week of sun, sand and cocktails at an adults-only resort on Malolo Island in Fiji! If you don’t have kids (or if you do and you’re trying to get away from them for a few days) DEFINITELY consider an adult-only resort. It was life changing. Seriously, that good.


Opera Bar - Jet Set Brunetteplayed tourist in my own city when my university roommate came for a visit. The fun part about showing someone else around is that it reminds you how good Sydney can be. I mean, check out that sparkling ocean – not a bad backdrop to enjoy a glass of rose!


Sydney - Jet Set BrunetteI took two road trips in November: one to Mollymook, a beach town down the south coast, and the second to Mudgee, another wine region just a few hours from Sydney. Both were areas we’d never been, and I highly rate both areas. Sometimes you just need to get out of the city!


Jet Set Brunette 2017For the first time in a loooong time, we didn’t take a trip over Christmas. The reason being that we’re heading to Japan in a few weeks, so needed to save our leave day! We spent NYE on our balcony, which has an amazing view of the Sydney harbour – giving us free front row seats to one of the best firework shows in the world!

2016: Jet Set Brunette Blog

I’ve had this blog for just over a year now, and I think (hope) it’s been improving with time! I’ve posted more than 150 articles since inception, some of which were older articles that I wrote years ago, but never published, and many are new posts.

Most Popular Post of 2016

I Have a Full Time Job But Still Visited Four Countries in Four Months 

Most Popular Instagram Photo of 2016

I was actually surprised by my most popular Instagram photos, as I feel I’ve posted so many other photos that are more interesting! But, according to my stats, this is my most popular post of the year:

2016: Published Work

In 2016, I had articles published on some big sites the first time! I had articles published on Huffington Post (front page), Thought Catalog, The Culture Trip and Elite Daily. I also made the Rise – Top 1000 Travel Blogs, breaking into the top 100 – all very exciting for a new travel blogger!

2016: Personal Life

John and I realised this year that, after six years abroad, we are ready to leave Australia. We came to Australia on a backpacking trip back in 2011, and never expected to stay longterm. I love Australia, and Sydney is truly an amazing city, but this gal is getting homesick!

Expat life is amazing, but it definitely has it’s downsides. The hardest part for me is feeling like I’m missing so much back home. I’ve missed so many weddings, milestone birthdays, holidays, funerals, births…the list goes on. I miss my friends and family, and it’s hard to be a part of things when you’re 27 hours away!

Malolo Island, Fiji - HD Video

2017: What’s to Come

I’m really excited for 2017!

From a travel perspective, I’m heading to Japan in just three weeks, and can’t wait to explore Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and ski Niseko! I haven’t seen snow in six years, so should be an interesting experience! Fingers crossed that I don’t hurt myself on the slopes.

From a blog perspective, Jet Set Brunette will always have a travel focus, but I’m starting to incorporate lifestyle posts as well. I’m hoping that my readers will enjoy the blend of content!

As I mentioned above, John and I are starting to plan our departure from Australia, which will probably be around mid-year. This will be a monumental change for us from a lifestyle perspective, and also opens up our travel options, as we’ll be much closer to different destinations later in the year!

What are you excited for in 2017? Comment below 🙂

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neha January 9, 2017 at 8:45 am many places to explore. Looks like it was an awesome year of travel for you. Hope 2017 will be even better

Courtney Jones January 9, 2017 at 9:16 am

It was definitely a fun 12 months – looking forward to this year!

Suma Jain January 9, 2017 at 10:36 am

What a great travel year it was in 2016! All the best for the new adventures in 2017 and have a great time in Japan :). Are you guys planning to move back to Canada or will be moving to someplace new?

Courtney Jones January 10, 2017 at 9:55 am


Hendrik January 9, 2017 at 2:21 pm

What a look back, what a year. One Location more spectacular and beautiful than the other.
Especially for New Zealand I envy you 😉 How much do I want to see this place…
But my personal highlight here in your review is the 2016 spark-made picture, thats a really cool idea 🙂

Courtney Jones January 10, 2017 at 9:54 am

Thanks! Sparklers are so fun to take photos with!

Katie January 9, 2017 at 6:07 pm

Sounds like you had a fantastic year! I want to visit Philippines over Christmas this year and would love to visit Australia and swim in the Great Barrier Reef

Courtney Jones January 10, 2017 at 9:54 am

Both are great places to spend some time!

Maja Mexatia January 9, 2017 at 6:12 pm

2016 was a rich travel year – may this one be the same! I am excited to see how your adventures will continue out of Australia. Be careful in Japan 🙂

Courtney Jones January 10, 2017 at 9:53 am


Claire Summers January 9, 2017 at 8:54 pm

Looks like you have had a great year! I love following you on Instagram and seeing the places you visit. I had no idea you worked full time and travelled. That’s so cool! I’m in the states at the moment and find it hard to believe they don’t get statutory holidays! Hope you have a fantastic 2017 and I look forward to following your travels 🙂

Courtney Jones January 10, 2017 at 9:53 am

Thanks, Claire! It’s been great following you all year as well! Bring on 2017! 😀

Jean January 9, 2017 at 10:08 pm

What a wonderful year you’ve had. Glad that you got to come and enjoy a little bit of Melbourne. It’s a great city to live in.

Courtney Jones January 10, 2017 at 9:52 am

It’s such a great city!

The Travel Ninjas January 10, 2017 at 2:13 am

What an amazing year! You had so many great journeys and accomplishments. Congratulations and thanks for sharing. Looking to hearing about your Japan trip.

Courtney Jones January 10, 2017 at 9:52 am

Thanks! Looking forward to exploring Japan!

Ticking the Bucketlist January 10, 2017 at 4:39 am

Wow…you have had such an interesting year…with so many beach vacations…I am missing beaches! So, would you be heading back home soon? Wish you a great 2017!

Courtney Jones January 10, 2017 at 9:52 am

I do love a good beach! All the best for 2017!


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