I’ve celebrated my birthday in a different city for the 18th year in a row — take a look

Playa Del Carmen Gay Travel

Happy birthday to anyone born today, January 28!

I was going to write a post on how I’m celebrating my birthday with 11 friends (and 2 kids) in Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, Mexico (for my full review of Palmaia, click here), but a curious thing happened.

In order for it to make sense, let me take you back to 1999.

In 1999, I decided to write down everything I did for the day. This is different from a journal or diary, because with a journal or diary, you write things when you feel emotionally charged, and you write about your thoughts or joys or frustrations or pains. You won’t necessarily write down what you did every day, and people tend to stop writing in a journal or diary at some point.

Since 1999, I have written down literally *everything* I did on a calendar day, so essentially, every day of the past 21 years of my life have been documented. This is pretty interesting, because if I can’t remember who I saw a movie with, I have my notes I can refer to. If I can’t remember what hotel I had an amazing massage on, say, March 20, 2003, I can go back to my notes. I rarely go through my notes (which I call “dailies”), but when I do, it’s fun to see who I dated in 2005, or the trips I went on in 2013, or the crazy nights I had in March 2009.

Matt and me in San Pedro De Atacama, Chile on January 28, 2011.

In the past few years, I got in the habit on going on these south-of-the-border, friends-filled trips—but it turns out I have been going away for a birthday trip with friends every year since I moved to New York City in 2002 (except for 2003 and 2010).

Take a look. 

January 2003- NYC

January 2004- Miami

January 2005- Amsterdam 

January 2006- Falkland Islands/Argentina

January 2007- Rome, Italy 

January 2008- Atlantic City 

January 2009- Santiago, Chile

January 2010- NYC

January 2011- San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

January 2012- Playa del Carmen, Mexico

January 2013- San Francisco, California

January 2014- Aspen, Colorado 

January 2015- Punta Mita, Mexico

January 2016- Oslo, Norway

January 2017- Puerta Vallarta, Mexico

January 2018- Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

January 2019- Philadelphia

January 2020- Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Like every “daily” in the past 7,665 days I’ve documented, on January 28, I have recorded who I went with, what I did, and to a degree, how I felt. After looking back at every birthday vacation I’ve taken since 2003, the biggest takeaway is that I’ve been surrounded by friends… and I love to experience a different destination when I turn a year older.

Christian and me in Oslo, Norway in 2016.

That said, I’m incredibly grateful for the life that I have lived so far and the people I know. I have experienced some amazing cultures, beautiful attractions, true friendships and unforgettable birthdays. Travel is important to me, so it’s exciting to show my world to many friends when I can, and in a sense, these birthday trips are also celebrating travel.

Puerto Vallarta birthday, 2018.

Now, I’m excited to be in Playa del Carmen celebrating my big 42nd birthday with 11 friends, many that I have known for 15-25 years (in fact, with me are 2 friends I have known since I was 18, and one of them brought her 2 kids, so this trip has been incredibly special). We’re also celebrating my birthday at a brand-new property, Palmaia, The House of Aia, so there’s a lot to celebrate here. And, of course, we all know I love a good spa 🙂

Birthday dinner at Su Casa, Palmaia Resort, in Playa del Carmen, January 2020.

If you have the opportunity to travel for a birthday vacation, I highly recommend taking it. You’ll reach a new level of excitement in a different location, and everyone will be in “vacation mode.” Traveling with friends is a great way to bond in a different way. Another plus: You sort of have two birthdays celebrated this way: one on your trip, and another with your other friends when you get back home.

If you’re planning a trip for your birthday, click this link or banner below to get the best airfare. Booking Buddy scours the top booking engines to get the cheapest flight, and it’s definitely worth it (they basically do all the work for you).

I’ll have a full report on Palmaia when I return. For now… shots! And a huge Happy Birthday to my fellow Aquarians who are also celebrating their birthday today!

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Happy travels!

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Jimmy Im has traveled to 113 countries, stayed in over 600 hotels and has flown a million airmiles. He lives in New York City.

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