I’m not big on end-of-the-year posts about what I did or what I’m going to do in the next year. There a lot of those posts and the Internet has enough of them that I would probably just repeat a lot of the things that were said. However, last night I sat down and went through every single photo I took in 2011. As I did, a strong sense of gratitude came over me as I realized that I put a LOT into 2011, making it the best year of my life to date without a shadow of a doubt. I traveled with strangers, road tripped across the U.S., traveled abroad, hiked volcanoes, lived as an expat, and moved 2,500 miles away to San Francisco. Yet with everything I did, I was a sponge. I experienced the world and even my home country in ways I never have. That childlike wonder of my early life returned and there was a certain beauty to life that I experienced this year that I never have. It was through the act of travel that I learned so much. To celebrate, I give you 11 things 2011 taught me about travel with some of my favorite travel photos from the year.

1. Travel doesn't heal me. It just doesn't and I didn't travel so that it would. 2010 was the hardest year of my life, yet I didn't want to use travel in 2011 as a form of escapism. Nonetheless, I evolved in 2011 like I never have before. The person at the beginning of 2011 ringing in the new year in Coco, Costa Rica isn't the same person writing this from his apartment in San Francisco. Travel doesn't heal, but that's something I'm alright with when I see the effects of travel over the last year on all aspects of my life.

2. Travel can be a vehicle for finding my true passions. Last year at this time, I was writing to support my travels. At the time, I wasn't sure what the expiration date was on it. Turns out, I'm not sure if there is one. Traveling helped me pursue my passions in writing. However, it also showed me that I'm not meant to be a full-fledged travel writer. While I haven't officially announced it and don't have the website up yet, I've launched a new business just this month to be a strategist/consultant for the travel industry.

3. While empowering my passions, travel can also delay them. Traveling for nine months was life-changing, but while it empowered me, it also kept me from pursuing my passions to a certain extent. When I settled down in San Francisco last June, the opportunities started to flood in like never before and I truly believe I wouldn't be in the position I am now with my work if I hadn't decided to change the way I travel to have a home base.

4. Technology has enhanced my travel experiences. Technology has forever changed how we interact with one another and the world. From arranging meetups using Twitter to finding people to travel with to talking to friends back in the states on Skype to taking and sharing photos, technology was a major influencer of my travel experiences. Not to mention it kept me from getting lost more than once.

5. I need frequent tech sabbaticals to disconnect from the world to reconnect me to reality. Like Kip from Napoleon Dynamite, I love technology. However, I have to put it down sometimes. Some of my favorite travel experiences from the last year were from taking days at a time to be disconnected from my phone, computer, and the Internet. In disconnecting, it allowed me to reconnect with myself and the world around me.

6. I don't have to step foot onto a plane to travel. When I decided I needed to change the way I travel last spring, I wanted to move somewhere that I felt like I could still have unique experiences, but without having to get on a plane. San Francisco has been that place. In as little as a 10 minute walk or 30 minute bus ride I can be in a completely different culture, eating and talking with people from a different country. I love traveling abroad, but I can have unique experiences in my own city or state without boarding a plane.

7. Traveling solo made me do things I wouldn't do when traveling with others. I hadn't done much solo travel up until last year, despite how independent I am. However, I soon realized when starting to travel by myself that if I wanted to have great experiences, I was going to have to do things I wouldn't normally do. I would have to trust strangers, depend on locals for recommendations, and be comfortable with going out to a restaurant or bar by myself. I came out of my comfort zone like never before and it's continued to follow me as I've settled down in San Francisco.

8. I like traveling solo, but I love traveling with others. This is pretty new. I really enjoy traveling by myself on my own schedule and hadn't been very open to traveling with others because I'm so independent. However, I then traveled with others a few times toward the end of 2011 and found that I love it. I've resolved that my next long-term trip should be with someone else.

9. I travel for change. That is my own personal philosophy of travel. I travel for change of scenery, in addition to change that happens within. Who I come back as after traveling is always different than the person who starts the trip. This alone is reason enough for me to travel and to travel frequently.

10. The world is as beautiful as I let it be. A couple years ago I lost sight of the world and myself. After making 2011 a year of travel, I found myself falling back in love with life and the world. The world hadn't changed - I had. What I found was that the world was absolutely stunning. However, that was something that came to me over time, reaching its height in a place I've been too more than ever: Atlanta, Georgia. Sometimes the greatest revelations come in the least likely of places.

11. I long for a sense of home. After beginning this post with a sunset from Costa Rica (Where I was on January 1), I end it with a sunset from San Francisco (Where I am now and will be December 31). I love to travel, but I also like having a home. My home now is San Francisco. I like having my own bed, roommates, a favorite food truck where they remember me, and a coffee shop, even if I don't drink coffee. There will be a lot of travel in 2012, but as much as I'll look forward to traveling, I'll also look forward to coming home.