Today, Departful is celebrating its first birthday! Like all first birthday parties, after a year of exploring the world around us and learning along the way, we wanted to take a look back and share some of our favourite moments. Unlike many first birthday parties, however, we’re doing so at a cottage in Northern Ontario, with a bunch of beer. One year-olds not allowed.

With that brilliant introduction, here’s a look back at 5 places and posts that helped define our first year online.


1. Oktoberfest Für Dummies: A Guide to the Best Bavarian Beerfest

With a late August launch, we were lucky to kick off Departful with live coverage from Oktoberfest in Munich. While this trip helped us learn a bit about the difficulty of covering one of the world’s biggest beer festivals while fully partaking in the “festivities”, we also found out quickly that the few already following us online shared a common interest in the wonderful world of beer. As a result (and of course purely for the benefit of our readers) we made sure to keep up our hop-trotting with coverage from the world’s largest Oktoberfest celebration hosted outside of Germany, in Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada. We enjoyed covering these festivals so much, that we spent a bit more time across the pond experiencing 5 German Beer Festivals that Rival Oktoberfest. Finally, for those of you who enjoyed the year as much as we did, we made sure to bring our contributors together to share their top 6 International Hangover Cures.

DMZ Sculpture Alex Rathy 2012

2. Cold War Kids: Exploring the DMZ between North and South Korea

While some of us began our year gallivanting in Munich, our contributing writer Alex Rathy used his home base of Suncheon, South Korea, as a starting point to explore some of the unique travel experiences Asia has to offer – beginning with a visit to the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. From there, we explored Beijing in our “I Heart BJ” series, went surfing in Kenting, Taiwan, explored the colonial ghost town on Cambodia’s Bokor Hill, and nearly spent a dangerous night in the Malaysian jungle after an evening run near Kuala Lumpur went horribly wrong. Finally, we finished off our first year partying at the Jindo Sea-Parting Festival back in South Korea.


3. They Draw And Travel: 15 More Creative Travel Maps

Travel is as much a culture and lifestyle as it is an activity. Many avid travelers, as a result, spend a fair bit of time learning about new people, places, and things through the shared words and work of other travelers. At the same time, travel is a great source of inspiration to create works of art. On our end, finding and sharing some of this incredible work has been as much a part of Departful as sharing our own travel tips and experiences. From hand drawn maps, to quirky animations, to stunning time-lapse photography from Canada, the US, Malaysia, Vietnam, and from across Europe, we’ve been lucky to have spoken with and shared work by artists, photographers, and videographers, who love to move around as much as we do.

Travel Alone In Rome

4. How to Travel Solo

While travel can make for some pretty amazing experiences, it isn’t always easy. An extra $100 checked luggage fee or border crossing fiasco can easily put an early damper on any trip. Whether it’s your first time traveling, or your first time traveling alone, we did our best this year to share some of our own tried and testing travel tips to help make the experience run smoothly. Of course, the most important thing to figure out when you’re traveling (at least vaguely) is where you’re going…

Travel to Cucayo

5. Rural Roadtripping in Northern Spain: Welcome to Cucayo

Since we launched last year, our small team has visited 20 countries and shared over 60 posts with some great spots for all sorts of travelers. Of course, 20 countries is only the tip of the iceberg and we’re looking forward to growing our team and covering even more incredible spots in the year ahead. With that said, and as if the links above weren’t enough, we’d still like to leave you with a few quick travel recommendations. If you have a chance this year, we really recommend taking a road trip up Ireland’s West Coast, drinking a cup of coffee in Maastricht’s epic converted cathedral bookstore, catching the parade with a beer in hand at the world’s largest flower festival, and, if there’s still time, spending a night or two “hammocking” in Costa Rica’s Corcovado National Park.

From all of us at Departful, thanks for a great year.

Photo courtesy of Flickr, Will Clayton