birthday in Martinique
Happy Birthday!
This was actually at the surprise party for my 23rd birthday in Martinique <3

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, one of the things I appreciate the most about this blog is all of the people who read my posts, leave comments and send me e-mails. It’s amazing to be able to build a community around something that is, in my case, a hobby. I’m really thankful for all of the opportunities that I’ve received and all of the great people I’ve met as a result of this blog.

But enough of the sappy stuff! As a thank you, I’ve partnered with some awesome brands to bring you 3 – yes, THREE – prizes! I’m sure you’re dying to know what they are…

$200 Travel Voucher

Flying over Reykjavik, IcelandAir wing
Flying over Iceland

My blog is here to help inspire and promote travel, so I thought this was a very apt prize! Offered by Aussie and Kiwi online travel agent Webjet, this voucher will get you $200 AUD off any flights or hotels booked through their website. In the meantime, check out their website for cheap flights and hotels! P.S. The flights can be from anywhere to anywhere, not just Australia!

Ron Zacapa 23

Ron Zacapa 23, Alexander & James

As a tribute to my time spent in the Caribbean, and my interest in rum, newly launched drinks website Alexander & James has offered this 700mL bottle of Ron Zacapa 23. Alexander & James is backed by Diageo and they offer high-end spirits with exceptional knowledge and service. If you have someone in your life who loves their tipple, they have an emphasis on gift giving (hence their gift here!) and offer complimentary cards, engraving, and really nice packaging. Please note this can only be shipped to the UK and Germany.

Rum jam, Rhum J.M, Rum maple syrup, Wray & Newphews
All my rum…paraphernalia

The Alchemist

Of course this is probably one of the most meaningful prizes for me, and I’m offering it from my own means. This book is one of the things that pushed me to travel, and do what makes me happy. It’s part of the reason I’m here and that I can do this for you all, so I’m offering up the graphic novel version of one of my favourite books. Don’t worry, I’m not going to sign it or anything, it’s not like I’m famous!

So, how can you win one of these lovely prizes? Easy:

1. Share this post via your favourite social media channel (Facebook, Twitter, G+). Don’t forget to tag me!

2. I have a tattoo on my wrist in Latin that means ‘Always Learning’. So, answer this question in the comments below: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in the past year? How did you learn this lesson? Also, let me know what would be your favourite prize!

This giveaway is now closed.


Congratulations to the winners of my one year blogiversary giveaway! I put names in a mug for each prize and my colleague drew the names, so blame him if you’re disappointed! 🙂

$200 Travel Voucher – Kelsey

Bottle of Ron Zacapa 23 – Fredi

The Alchemist (graphic novel) – Kim


43 thoughts on “One Year of Alyssa Writes!”

  1. Congratulations on your first year of blogging! I eat up travel blogs and have quickly fallen in love with yours.

    I think that the biggest thing that I’ve learned in the past year is to not be afraid to take a leap of faith — sometimes you’ll fail, and sometimes you’ll create a world of endless opportunities. Every day when I work out, I push myself to accomplish things that I never have before — lift heavier, run faster, jump higher — and sometimes you fail. And it’s okay, because while I often found myself failing along the way, I was always driven to accomplish even more impressive goals. While I followed this philosophy vehemently in my workout regiment, I wondered why I wasn’t applying this to my career aspirations. For a long time people were pushing me to pursue a degree in Chemistry because of job opportunities following college, but I realized that in order to create a meaningful life, you have to pursue your dream, not everyone else’s. So, as a rising senior in college, I decided to change my major to philosophy and environmental studies to pursue a career in international environmenta policy. Making this change was terrifying because I had to learn to become comfortable with uncertainty; I had no idea how this change was going to pan out for my future. Changing my major has been a failure — and a success. I’m no longer going to be the next Marie Curie and discover an element, but I can join the Peace Corps in order to assist developing nations in making sure that every person has access to clean drinking water. I may not make millions of dollars, but I can make a comfortable living and continue to travel the world. Step out of your comfort zone, take a leap of faith because it is important to learn to be comfortable with the uncomfortable in order to create a life of which you can be proud.

    The travel voucher would definitely go to good use with me. I have Iceland lined up in the spring, and am deciding where to travel next in order to obtain my scuba certification so I can be an even more competitive applicant in the environmental conservation field!

    1. That’s a great lesson, Selina! Every time I leave home, it’s a leap of faith but London was definitely the hardest one because it was the first time I was coming without a job. Thanks for the compliment and good luck – I hope to see you back here soon 🙂

  2. I have learnt sometimes it’s just a lot of hard work that will keep my family going. My husband has finished work to to health reasons, so I have been working crazy amounts of hours to cover the bills. I have also learnt that the more you work and earn, the more that will be spent, kids sports, dentists whatever! I have learnt this by watching my working hours go up and my bank account staying the same (or going down slightly).
    Congrats, I haven’t travelled as much as I would like, but I want to take the kids to The Snowy Mountains to see snow one day, so I would say that The voucher would be awesome, but I would love the book too, I have wanted to read this one for years.

    1. Hi Kim, I’m impressed with your tenacity – with that attitude, things will undoubtedly get better. Thanks for entering and I wish you all the best!

  3. Hey Alyssa!

    I found your blog off of Travel Junkette’s ’50 Female Travel Blogs to Follow in 2014.’ Congratulations on your success! I recently moved to Finland from the US to be with my boyfriend who I met while he was studying abroad at my university. I’m not really sure how to sum up the most important thing I’ve learned in the past year because there are SO many options… but I guess that’s a good thing 🙂

    I think I have to go with fear. I’ve learned that fear of the unknown, other people, etc. can be so crippling that it can rob us of even TRYING whatever we want to do. I actually had an interaction involving this today when I was calling a manager about a position that I want. I’ve put it off for so long for no apparent reason…except fear. Basically, I’ve learned that fear only leads to worry and where is the joy in that? We should always try because even ‘failures’ lead to growth. My life has taken a completely different path than anything I had planned a couple of years ago and I couldn’t be happier or more thankful that it did 🙂

    I found your blog from searching travel blogs, thus I consider myself an adventurer and would put the voucher to good use! I’ve pretty much been obsessed with airports since I can remember and completed my first backpacking trip last summer. I’ve been searching for good reads, so the Alchemist is officially on my list now after your review and all the other comments!

    P.S. I loved your Iceland post. My boyfriend flew through Iceland on his last trip back to Finland. I told him about the layover option, and we decided that’s definitely something to think aboutnext time we visit America!

    Thank you and keep up the great work!!

    1. Hi Kelsey, thanks for your thoughtful comment. Once, in university, this guy on my wrestling team observed that I let fear dictate my choices. I had never really thought about it, but he was right, so I definitely relate. I’m inspired to hear that this has made a difference to your life! Definitely do that, Iceland is a beautiful place and I’ve heard nothing but good about it (except that the Blue Lagoon is overrated…but ah well!).

      Good luck!

    1. Lesson learned: Don’t make typos when you’re trolling 😛

  4. Great post! I find your article very informative; I’ve been following your blog for an elongated time. Where did you get your wordpress theme? It looks stunning!

  5. There are a lot of things I learned in the past year especially as a mother. I learned that it isn’t easy to take care of a child and above all, it is very challenging to mold her into a good person especially that the “molding” stage is NOW. I also learned to value life even more when a super typhoon came to our place here in the Philippines. I saw that what is really important is family and God. All the material things are worthless and that if you trust in God fully, even the most impossible thing can happy. I am grateful of the second life we were given. By the way, congratulations for your blogiversary! About the prize, the travel voucher would be nice but I think I won’t be able to use it in our country lol.

    1. Much respect to the moms out there! It’s very inspiring to see how you’re pushing through after the difficulties in the Philippines. I’m wishing you all the best, and thanks for your thoughtful entry! Good luck 🙂

  6. My favorite prize would be the travel voucher as I love to travel! The most important thing I’ve learned this past year is definitely don’t hold back, take risks and just go for it 🙂

  7. Carpe Diem… I got this tattoo when I was in Spain traveling abroad a few years ago. I LOVED being in Spain: the people, the language, the experience, everything! Spain made me want to travel more. So after I graduated, I decided to move on to Korea!

    Now fast forward a few years… I’ve been in Korea now for two and a half years. I haven’t even been home for a visit! But suprisingly I’m not homesick because…

    Less than a year ago, I gave birth to my baby. Baby was born all natural with a midwife (who didn’t speak any English) in Korea! I learned from this experience that I don’t have to sacrifice travel to have what I want. I wanted to travel, so I came to Korea. I wanted a family… but that seemed like it would be hard to do… You know cause I’m overseas. But actually I met and married my husband in Korea (his family is actually from the same state as I am in America). And we had our baby exactly how we wanted!

    So life is good! You can also I have learned so much by being a new parent, too. But I think most of all, I can have it all… travel, happiness, and family. I hope to be able to encourage others to do the same!

    So… my favorite prizes are the travel voucher and the book. I would definitely love a travel voucher… you know to travel! And I would also love to read that book. I’ve heard great things about it, but have yet to have a chance to read it.

    1. Congratulations on your new baby, Brittany, and happy first Mother’s Day! That’s a great tattoo, and it seems like you’re living up to it. Thanks for entering and check back next week to see if you’ve won!

  8. Omg! this is such a nice treat! i congratulate you on your first year! 🙂
    and to answer your question… last year, i actually got over with having low self esteem! i know, that sounds lame but for me (obsessed with books, nerdy looking and shy person), that was such a big deal! i learned to get out of my comfort capsule and was able to perform in two theater plays! i was so happy! and now… i learned to believe in myself and also share what Ive experienced!

    your giveaway is so awesome! I would love the travel voucher! really!! i never been abroad! and this is a nice opportunity 🙂 or also… i would love the book. thanks! happy blogging!

    1. That’s awesome – I love theatre and being in a musical definitely helped me come out of my shell too. Those are great lessons to have learned and thank you for sharing them here. Good luck!

  9. Congratulations to your first year! Hey those are great prizes. I hope many would join in and I wish them good luck!

  10. I thinks it is very important to love what you do! I would like to be able to travel round the world so hopefully one day will be able to 🙂
    I read The Alchemist and it is one of my favourite books – I can highly recommend it to everybody!

    1. If you want to travel, just start small! Thanks for commenting, and good luck, Erzsebet!

  11. Such a great giveaway. You’ll be an inspiration to people who love to travel and I can say that I’m one of them. The Alchemist is an inspirational book that will be loved by everyone when they read the book.

  12. Congrats on your first year. I like how you got a tattoo that says always learning so. It just means that you have an open mind and you take each opportunity to learn something new.

  13. The Alchemist has spurred many it’s readers to find their destiny and I suppose it’s indirectly pushed me to the direction I’m now headed. Travelling and blogging sounds like buckets of fun and I wish I had more time for both… throw in a good book and that sounds almost perfect.

  14. Me and my family love to travel a lot and we’ve had amazing experiences. I am a first time mother, too, so I learned that being a mother is not really that easy and indeed I appreciate my mom more than before.

  15. In the last year I learnt that the only feasible career for me was one in football. After countless hours spent watching the game on TV, reading books about it, coaching young ones, visiting football grounds around Europe, scouring for articles on the internet and playing on the pitches of London I realised it had become my lone passion and sole obsession.

    Having worked numerous “safe”, dull jobs I could no longer muster the enthusiasm for them. The days spent behind computer screen performing tasks I did not care about for people I despised left me deflated. Circumstances freed me from any commitments and I’ve now started the adventure.

    I learnt what it is that I wanted in life and I learnt how to go and get it.

    Oh, and rum.

    1. You gotta do what you love! I think it’s awesome that you’re mentoring and following your passion – I’m all for that. Thanks for entering, and good luck Fredi!

  16. I just found your blog from Chillisauce, it’s really cool. I learned recently that if you care about someone, you should always tell them. You never know when it might be last chance. I lost a good friend last year and it made me realise that I should follow my dreams and travvel. Of course the voucher would be awesome, but failing that I think the bottle of rum would be cool too!

    1. Hi Sam,

      Thanks for entering the competition. I’m sorry to hear about your friend. Good luck to you!

  17. Thank you for posting this give away! In the past year I’ve learned to let go of things that aren’t under my control. It’s a tough lesson to learn, and I continue to practice it every day. I would love the travel voucher as I’ll be moving to the UK this year! Or the book!

  18. I have to say that your tattoo quite aptly sums up what I have learned this past year though I worded it differently and might have a slightly different perspective than you.

    Learning is another way to say you are alive. Whether you are sitting back or grabbing the wheel, so long as you are observing yourself, others and the world, you are going to learn something about one of those or all three.

    I came to this realisation in this past year as I finished what has been five crazy years of two degrees plus my accredited Royal Conservatory teacher’s certificate for piano. Combine that with a tendency toward perfectionism and an inability to relax because relaxing feels like I am being lazy and average and melting my brain cells away, I ran myself to the ground physically and mentally. As I’ve been building back up from that crash landing I realised the only times I had felt alive was when I was learning something on the go. In other words, I was alive when I was experiencing, I was observing and engaging. Whether it was digging clams for an Indigenous Education class or trekking the Turkish countryside for a Classics field school program, I learned more doing things than just doing as I had been told by parents, teachers and society. Then I read The Alchemist and lost it (in the sense that I am not sure I actually want to apply my degrees in English or Education to the typical Monday to Friday job). I’ve got a UK visa in the works but if that falls through, I’ve got plans to trek across Canada and start seeing the world by learning my own country, one step at a time (and probably quite a buses).

    As for your lovely prizes, thank you for being so generous to run something like this. My favourite of those prizes is a bit of a toss up between the travel voucher or one of my favourite books, but as a graphic novel. That’s brilliant!

    Keep trekking. I love following along! (Another fantastic way to learn!)

    1. Hey Alyssa,

      Thanks for your thoughtful entry! I think there’s a difference between learning and being educated. You can learn anywhere and any time; education, I think, is more what you talked about – doing what you’re told my parents and teachers and such. At least, that’s my opinion on it! In any case, I’ve always wanted to via rail across Canada, I think it would be an amazing experience, with beautiful views!

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