2020 has been a challenging year. Find out my highlights, a few low moments, plus my 2021 travel predictions. This is my blogging appraisal of 2020.
If you’ve followed me for a while you’ll know that every year around this time I write my blogging appraisal. It’s always a juicy read filled with personal insights into the year.
December is a good time to reflect on what’s taken place over the previous 11 months. However, as I’m self-employed I don’t get one of those awkward boss-to-employee appraisals where you discuss your year in detail. To be honest, I’d love a chance to chat about career development, things I need to improve and to celebrate a few successes too.
Despite 2020 being a year most people would like to slam the door on and forget forever, I decided it’d still be good to take a quick glance back at the year as a whole. Surely it hasn’t all been awful, or has it? So, let’s sit down with a cuppa, or a nice warming gluhwein (‘tis the season eh?) and see how 2020 shaped up.
A QUICK OVERVIEW
In my blogging appraisal of 2019 I declared that I’d finally listened to my heart and started to slow the pace of my travels and cut down on flights. Pah – well, that was nothing compared to this year!!
In numbers 2020 looks like this: 3 different countries visited (England, Wales and Germany!!) and, errrr, 2 flights. As I write this I feel shocked looking at the screen. What a crazy year! Back in 2019 I visited 14 different countries (including some really exotic places like (Thailand, Dominica and Oman) and travelled on 36 flights.
In a way, the comparison of my 2019 / 2020 numbers tells the story of my year. Most of those flights last year were for work, so you can probably tell in an instant how many jobs I’ve had this year.
It’s been an incredibly challenging year. Heartbreaking at times. Painful at others. And damn frustrating for the majority of the bits in between. But then again, it’s been a tough year for everyone. We’ve all been affected by the pandemic, but very few of my friends lost 90% of their work overnight. I’ll talk a little more about some of those challenges in a moment.
This year I published over 75 blogs on this site and more than 50 on our new site the Great British Bucket List. This was a lot more than previous years, but hey, it turns out that writing about travel can fill a tiny bit of the gap left by being stuck at home.
Personally, it’s been tough too. Last year we were buzzing from our engagement, this year we were drowning our sorrows after having to postpone our wedding. However, we did finally buy a flat – something that was also looking tricky mid-pandemic too! We got the keys last week and are excited to settle into our first proper home together.
That’s a mini overview, but now it’s time to get into the gory details and reflect on 2020. Don’t worry though, this isn’t a blog post full of doom and gloom. In fact, I’m going to kick off with a few highs…
THE HIGHS OF 2020
Launching The Great British Bucket List
Macca and I have chatted about setting up a blog together for a few years, but we had never had the time to focus on it. Towards the end of 2019 we decided to really go for it. We had grown more and more passionate about travelling in Britain, particularly with our trips as Visit England ambassadors, and so the Great British Bucket List was born.
To be honest, we had no idea it would be quite so timely! We set it up pre-pandemic… then the world ground to a halt. As all of our international travel campaigns disappeared and we were told to “stay home”, we buckled down and worked really hard on producing content for the new site. We realised we had so many photos and stories from trips around the UK that we’d never written up for our own blogs.
Traffic for the new site has grown at a crazy rate, already hitting over 50,000 page views per month. We’ve adored working on it too. It’s one of those passion projects where we can see a direct correlation between the hours we put in and the success of the site. By the summer we received a bit of a boost as regional tourist boards started to invite us to collaborate on campaigns.
Then we received the news that Teletext had named us the Best Staycation Travel Bloggers Of 2020. This meant we’d be put forward for the British Travel Awards ‘best blog’ award. The BTAs took place on Monday. We couldn’t believe it when we scooped 2nd place! WOW!
We’re really proud of what we’ve achieved in 2020, in a particularly difficult year for the travel industry. Fingers crossed 2021 turns out to be even bigger and better!
Shameless plug – if you’re looking for travel inspiration for trips in England, Scotland or Wales for 2021, take a look at the Great British Bucket List here.
Setting Up The Travel Print Store
Our other big focus this year has been the Travel Print Store. We launched our Etsy store in June to sell prints of our travel photography. It gave us a great focus while we were cooped up indoors, and has been a very rewarding experience so far.
Sales have picked up throughout the year, and we’ve had a surge in orders in the last month as people shop for gifts online for Christmas. You can read about how it all started here.
I was really excited when Closer Magazine contacted us last month about featuring our business. They were working on an article about women who had diversified during the pandemic. They thought our pivot from being travel bloggers to print shop owners was really inspiring.
It’s been a creative and rewarding journey so far, and we’re looking forward to developing our range of prints, particularly once we can start snapping photos around the world again!
If you’d usually shop for Christmas presents on big websites like Amazon, consider looking on Etsy instead. As well as finding beautiful and unique gifts, you’ll be supporting real people too, helping them make ends meet in a difficult time. See, it’s good for your conscience too!
Work campaigns and collaborations
Can you believe I’m coming up to the 6th birthday of my blog Wanderlust Chloe?! I still can’t believe it’s that long since I launched it (especially as I had no idea what I was doing at the start!) This year has been a slower time for my blog. In March I had a lot of international travel campaigns lined up, but they have been postponed to next year.
In some ways I enjoyed the change of pace as it gave me time to focus on our new businesses, but I also really missed the variety of jobs and visiting so many cool destinations. I set up my blog because I absolutely adore travel. It’s how I get my kicks. To not be able to experience something I’m passionate about has been tough!
However, there were still a few extra special campaigns which did take place in 2020.
I’ve absolutely adored being a Visit England ambassador, and I kicked off 2020 with two fascinating trips. I learned all about stargazing in the South Downs – one of the best places in Britain for clear night skies. I also spent a few days in Norwich getting to grips with the creative scene there. One of the things I love about these trips is they differ from conventional “holidays”. The trips are designed to showcase a destination through the things that makes the place unique.
Another dream collaboration popped into my inbox towards the end of the summer. Wanderlust Magazine asked me to collaborate on a special project all about one of my favourite countries – Costa Rica. It’s a destination I already fly the flag for regularly, but to get to shout about it on behalf of a legendary magazine too – wow!!
I created blogs, videos and even chatted about my time in Costa Rica at a virtual live event a few weeks ago. I loved how varied this collaboration was and hope to work on more multi-angled campaigns in 2021.
I also visited lots of gorgeous spots including a super cute glamping staycation in 1066 Country, a foodie trip to the stunning Ribble Valley, a lovely seaside day trip to Whitstable and a very romantic few days in Nuremberg. In a year when travel has been reduced, I’m really happy to have fit in a few adventures.
I also finally got to hold a copy of The Rainbow Atlas – a book featuring 500 colourful spots around the world. Last year I wrote over 50 entries for this beautiful book, as well as submitting numerous photos. To see it for sale in the shops was really special!
It’s a lovely coffee table book, full of inspirational photos. If you’re fed up with not being able to travel, it’s a great way to fuel your wanderlust. You can order a copy here.
2020 was supposed to be a big year for us. We were hoping to buy a flat and get married. I’ll admit that trying to do two pretty big things in a year seemed intimidating, so perhaps it was for the best that our wedding ended up being postponed.
However, we DID get a little luckier with the flat. We started looking in March just as lockdown hit. After months of delays, followed by a handful of viewings of pretty dreadful places, we eventually found somewhere we loved.
Our offer was accepted in July and we hoped we’d move by September. But this was 2020… the year nothing went smoothly! But hey, no time to dwell on negatives as we moved in this week! Yep, it only took 5 months to get to this point.
As a little aside, after a great experience when we moved out of our old flat, Fantastic Services offered to take care of the removals process again. It was so slick! The team were speedy, efficient and friendly too. Great news – they’re offering £10 off any of their services (which include cleaning, gardening, handyman jobs and removals) if you use this special link which will automatically add the code ‘wanderlustchloe’.
We’ve only been in our new pad a few days but we already adore it! On the night we moved in, we celebrated with rosé champagne and a takeaway curry. Well, why not eh?! Got to try out the local!
We’ve been busy getting everything sorted this week – you know, loo roll holders, washing up bowls, various lights and a variety of random things we never imagined we’d need to own. Our Christmas lists are also full of the most practical gifts – colanders, tea towels, bedding, tool boxes… the list goes on. Yep, we’ve become that couple that get excited by the prospect of DIY!
THE LOWS OF 2020
The pandemic has ripped a lot of people’s lives to shreds. It’s been utterly devastating. Friends have lost parents, purse strings have tightened, businesses have fallen to pieces and whole industries have been left crying out for help.
Sometimes I let myself think back to the start of 2020. How excited and hopeful I was for the year. Perhaps you were the same? 2020 was going to be our year. Our businesses were growing, the wedding was around the corner and we were just about to start the house hunt.
Back in March, I felt like I could track the spread of the pandemic just by looking at my website traffic. First, the traffic to my Bali content disappeared, then views to my Italy and Spain blogs plummeted, then it all went quiet. Our diaries that were full of travels around the world were suddenly empty. Emails went silent. It was scary.
Psychologically, this period was tough. Yes, we learned from it and kicked ourselves into action to work on our two new businesses, but watching everything we’d spent years building up crumble away was extremely hard. With no one travelling, the 500+ informative and inspiring travel posts on this site seemed utterly redundant.
I questioned so many things. Why I’d specialised in travel, what else could I do, should I just go and get a regular job again… all of that!
My blog earns money via advertising and commissions (when you book tours or hotels). That’s money I use to pay my rent and bills, so to see pages of cancelled bookings was also tough.
Things picked up a little in the summer and I’ve noticed an increase in the last few weeks too, perhaps since news of the vaccine rollout. I think this graph is a handy little visual. It shows you what this year has looked like in terms of traffic. 2019 is in orange, 2020 in blue. You can see when the pandemic hit in March. The lowest point was a whopping 87% down versus the previous year. It’s not back to pre-pandemic numbers, but it’s getting there.
Despite this brutal reality check, there have been a few positives. Several clients have continued to work with us on inspirational “travel later” style content , plus we did squeeze in a few trips when restrictions lifted. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that after being cooped up for much of 2020, 2021 will be a bumper year for travel (once we’re all safely vaccinated that is…!)
If the engagement was our biggest high in 2019, it’s fair to say the wedding was going to be our biggest moment of 2020! We’d found the venue, chosen a caterer and trawled our way through wedding band demos and picked out a really cool, funky group. I’d even bought my dress.
I wrote about the dilemma of whether to postpone our big day or not in my post 2020 was going to be our year. Back in March we’d assumed the pandemic would have disappeared by the summer. Oh, how wrong we were!
By July, we faced no other option but to move it to 2021. In a year where it felt like a lot of things were going wrong, it was that one little bean of happiness. I don’t think I’d realised just how much space the dilemma had been taking up in my brain! To say goodbye to it for a year was tough, but also a relief. Thankfully, we didn’t lose any money and all of our suppliers were able to make the new date.
We’ve set a new date for 1st August 2021. We still have no idea if it’ll be safe to have the wedding we’ve dreamed of by then, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed. Boris Johnson said in recent update that he believes that with mass testing readily available and the vaccine rolling out, life in the UK should be returning to normal by Easter. I’m not taking his word for it (he’s hardly been a shining light through this pandemic!) but I’m staying positive.
2021 AND BEYOND
I usually round off my annual appraisal by looking forward to the next year. 2020 was a mammoth curveball, so who knows what 2021 will bring. Here are a few tentative predictions… don’t sue me if I get it wrong!
My Travel Predictions For 2021
1. Staycations will continue to boom. I’ve been flying the flag for travel in Britain for a long time, but it’s been amazing to hear friends and family talking so passionately about what we have right here on home soil too.
With so many unknowns surrounding travel in 2021, I think people will continue to plan UK adventures until there’s a bit more clarity on international travel.
2. It’ll be a long road to recovery for international travel. Even with the vaccine rollout, life won’t automatically return to normal. It’ll be a long time before all travel restrictions lift, borders reopen and the general public feel ‘safe’ to travel abroad again.
When you consider the fact that flight schedules have reduced, airlines are struggling and a lot of hospitality businesses are in trouble, it won’t be an easy 2021. I hope that trust rebuilds fast though, and I’m very excited to start travelling again as soon as I feel it’s safe and responsible to do so.
3. Holidays will mean more to us than ever. After an insanely challenging 2020, I think more emphasis will be put on the benefits of holidays. If reports are true, many are saving money by working from home, so you can expect some ‘bucket list’ style holidays to trend once international travel reopens.
The honeymoon you never took…? That trip to Australia you always fancied going on…? What about that Antarctica cruise? If nothing else, this pandemic has taught us that life’s too short and it’s important to make the most of your time on this planet.
4. Travel demographics may shift. Over 70% of those who have sadly passed away from COVID-19 have been over 65 years old, and in many countries, those in older generations have been sheltered from society as much as possible throughout the outbreak. It’s a dangerous disease for all generations, but it’s far deadlier for those in their later years.
So, how likely is it that those in this age group will travel actively post-pandemic? Will those who have been shut away for months be dreaming of crowded airports and planes, or just fancy exploring places closer to home, without the stresses attached to travelling abroad?
I know my friends (mostly in their 20s and 30s) are excited for travel restrictions to lift. They’ve felt gutted to cancel holidays that they’d spent months planning and saving up for. Many have taken holidays in the UK this year because it was all they could do, and while most of them loved their trips, they’re still excited to venture abroad once they can. As one said to me recently “Cornwall just doesn’t compare to Santorini!”
5. It’s time to shine a light on responsible and sustainable travel. Sustainable travel has been a buzz phrase for the last few years, yet things have been slow to change. With this big fat reset button being pressed, it’s a great opportunity to examine how we travel, and how to do it in a more eco-conscious and sustainable way.
With so much evidence of the positive effects that the lack of travel is having on the planet, will more people be swayed into making more responsible travel plans? Will people switch obvious destinations for alternatives or stay closer to home? I hope there is a shift, and a I know I have an important responsibility to encourage this too.
6. Brexit isn’t going to be pretty. Oh yay, we start to feel like we’re turning a corner with the pandemic just as Brexit starts to impact on our lives here in the UK. I was devastated when it was officially announced that the UK would be leaving the EU. I voted to remain, as did pretty much everyone I know.
Travel is about to get a whole lot more complicated for UK nationals, and several of the perks we took for granted when we hopped on a flight to Spain or Italy will be removed in the next year. I’m dreading it. Fingers crossed some kind of deal gets put in place to make things as simple and hassle free as possible.
7. It’ll be a poignant year for families. 2020 has starved us all of celebrations, happy times and memories. It’s prevented families living abroad from seeing their loved ones. Even those in the same country have been limited to meet ups outside in small groups. When families can reunite again, there’ll be a lot of making up to do!
Just think of the hugs! I didn’t realise how much of a hugger I was until COVID stopped me from getting within a 1m distance of my friends and family. Personally, I can’t wait to cuddle up to those I love again. I’m sure you feel the same.
So that’s the end of my blogging appraisal for 2020. I’m hoping 2021 brings with it a big dose of positivity and lots of happy times!
Stay safe and well this Christmas and see you in January.