2022 has been another weird and wonderful year. Find out my highlights, a few low moments, plus my thoughts on how 2023 is shaping up.
If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll know that every year around this time I write my blogging appraisal. It tends to be a bit of a juicy read filled with personal insights into the year.
December is the ideal 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. But hey, over the years you guys have become my sounding board, so hopefully you’re happy to do that again this year?
While 2020 was a really hard year for pretty much everyone, things started to turn around in 2021, and that has only increased in 2022. For me there have been a few lovely moments to celebrate both professionally (hello shiny award!) and personally (hello cute little bump!)
So, let’s sit down with a cuppa, or a nice warming cup of gluhwein (non-alcoholic for me!) and see how this year really shaped up.
My Blogging Appraisal of 2022
I just had a little re-read of my 2021 blogging appraisal. It was the year we got married (after various Covid delays), started travelling internationally a little and properly settled into our London flat. After a heart-breaking 2020 watching our businesses pretty much dissolve, things started to turn a corner in 2021.
We successfully launched our quiz website Ultimate Quiz Questions, our UK travel blog, the Great British Bucket List, went from strength to strength, and we started planning our honeymoon for 2022. So that’s where we pick up the story! Here’s what happened next…
Our Dream Honeymoon
We got married in August 2021, but with so much of the world still in lockdown, we decided to delay our honeymoon to the start of 2022. Even by this time it was a challenge figuring out where to go. A lot of countries were still in lockdown or had strict quarantines and entry requirements.
With our original plan of a multi-leg trip to The Philippines, Indonesia and South Korea looking impossible, we organised a pretty incredible Plan B! In February we spent 5-days in The Maldives followed by two weeks in Sri Lanka. Two brand new countries for both of us! It was time to create some new memories.
The pandemic definitely made us appreciate our overseas adventures more. You probably felt the same when you took first trips post-pandemic? We’d definitely taken the ease and accessibility of travel for granted. But when travel was snatched away overnight, we realised what a massive part it played in our lives and our happiness.
For me, travel has always felt like a lot more than a career path. Travelling has offered an insight into the way people live and communicate. By diving into other cultures, I’ve learned about myself in the process. During the pandemic I felt like I drifted. I felt disconnected from a major part of myself. The honeymoon reminded us both of everything we LOVE about travelling!
We started our time in pure bliss, spending our days relaxing, snorkelling and stargazing on pristine islands in The Maldives. It was as dreamy as the photos show! I’d always wondered if The Maldives would live up to the hype. I’ve been to amazing islands around the world – what was so special about these ones?!
Everything! It really is a magical place. Seeing the sandy drops of islands from the seaplane, surrounded by shallow turquoise waters was super special. It’s somewhere we’re already dreaming of returning to!
Sri Lanka provided a wonderful contrast. Filled with culture, delicious food, wildlife, and varied adventurous experiences, we fell in love with the rawness of the country. One of the highlights was the hot air balloon ride we took near Sigiriya at sunrise. While it definitely falls into the category of being a cliched honeymoon experience, it was so unbelievably special. A real celebration of being away as a married couple!
We also adored the safari we booked in Udawalawe National Park. This area is one of the best places in the world to see elephants in the wild. I treasure this experience so dearly. We booked a private jeep safari and visited so many spots where the elephants were metres away, without a single tourist nearby! At one point we stopped for lunch (enjoying some yummy Sri Lankan curry of course!) and watched as the elephants had their mud baths! What a beautiful memory!
The honeymoon reignited my passion for travel. I’d really missed experiences like this and I was excited to travel for work again. I’m also pleased that, while a little delayed, we didn’t rush past this special time of being newlyweds without enjoying all the warm fuzzy feelings that go with it!
I think the pandemic made most people re-evaluate how they feel about their jobs and lifestyles. I barely know anyone who hasn’t come out of the last two years with an adjusted work / life balance. For many that has involved working from home more, but some have changed careers completely.
I also feel like travel blogging changed a lot in 2022. Many, including us, are being more entrepreneurial, with multiple strands to their businesses. If the pandemic taught us anything it was the need to diversify.
We set up the Great British Bucket List and the Travel Print Store in 2020, as well as our quiz website Ultimate Quiz Questions in 2021. They’re bringing in more revenue than we dreamed of – it’s been quite a huge step up.
While we still spend the majority of our time producing travel content and working on travel campaigns with tourist boards, it’s been fun to see how our skills transfer to other areas of the internet! It turns our we’ve learned a surprising amount over the years, about websites, SEO, design, business and more. We have ideas for new businesses all the time, so let’s wait and see what happens in 2023!
The biggest news of the year came in July when I found out I was pregnant! You can read more about how I felt and how the future might look in this post.
I’ve just reached the 6-month mark, so we have 3 more months to wait until we get to meet our little boy! Looking back at the last 6 months, I think I’ve had a pretty positive experience. I was quite nauseous in months 2 and 3, and I’ve suffered from insomnia throughout, but none of it has held me back from enjoying life!
We found out a few months ago that we were expecting a baby boy. Judging by his strong kicks, I think he might be a future sportsman! I’ve been fascinated watching my body change as the baby grows. I don’t think I’d ever appreciated just how amazing women are until now! We’re pretty awesome really, aren’t we?!
We’re currently flitting between feeling like we need to pack lots into our lives right now and really make the most of being independent, and really wanting to enjoy a bit of relaxation before things change forever.
We’ve barely bought anything for our new-born yet, but we’ll figure all of that out in the new year (hello January sales!) In some ways we’re really daunted by the next life stage… it throws up so many questions about how our lives will work – careers, our time in London etc… but we also feel ready to embrace the change! A lot of our friends have had kids in the last few years, so hopefully we can learn from them as we go!
We don’t have a clear picture of how our careers in the travel industry will evolve, but I’m hopeful we can still work with some great clients in 2023 and beyond, to show our first steps into the world of family travel. We know it’s a different market, but many of you guys are of a similar age, and looking for tips on how to maintain your passion for travel, as you adapt to having little ones to share that with!
I can’t see us going full #vanlife, touring the world with our bubba, but we’re not going stay at home for years and live in a bubble! One thing that’s for sure – it’s going to be our greatest adventure yet!
I was just looking back at my calendar from this year and one of the glaringly obvious things is that my travel style was a little different this year. It involved a lot of short trips around the UK, peppered with some really chunky international trips.
We continued our National Rail ambassadorship, with trips to York and Bristol. There were two trips to Kent, a summery trip to Folkestone and a Christmas adventure in Canterbury. Plus, relaxing breaks in Wales and Sussex working with Dylan Coastal Resorts and Classic Cottages.
Within Europe, highlights included our food trip in San Sebastian with Original Travel – a destination we’ve both had at the top of our bucket lists for years! It was amazing to do it in style! We also enjoyed a 5* break in Rhodes at the Ixian Grand.
We also hopped over to Florida for an incredible sunshine-filled week in Fort Myers and Sanibel. Compared to places like Miami and Orlando, this is a much quieter and relaxed region, but it still has lots to shout about. I was devastated to see the effects of Hurricane Ian a few months ago. It hit a lot of the beautiful spots we visited. I’m sending all my thoughts and best wishes to the communities there, and hoping for a speedy recovery.
All of our biggest trips have fallen in the last few months, with a real focus on lesser-visited destinations. After a bit of a hiatus, it really feels like travel is back!
We worked with the Greek National Tourism Organisation on an amazing campaign showcasing the lesser-known islands close to Athens. The islands were stunning and I fell in love with Athens’ cool urban side too.
Next, it was off to Italy for a 10-day adventure around the Marche region. Spending days visiting Medieval towns, eating amazing local cuisine and sharing content from a part of Italy that isn’t very well known, felt like such an honour.
Then at the end of October we jetted off to Australia. This was my first time down-under and wow did I love it! We spent two weeks exploring South Australia on an epic ocean to outback road trip. I saw my first kangaroos and koalas in the wild (and totally lost it – there were tears!!) and experienced the vibrant city of Sydney too.
I get what the fuss is about now. For years I’ve wondered why so many Brits love Australia so much, but experiencing a little of the lifestyle, the outdoorsy-ness, the food, the weather… it just makes sense. If only it wasn’t SO far away!
It felt like 2022 started with a few building blocks of travel campaigns, and gradually it’s picked up as the year has gone on. Travel brands had budgets slashed during covid, but they’re definitely starting to ramp up, meaning there’s a bit of scope for people like me to create sponsored travel content again.
Travel Influencer of the Year
How could I forget this momentous moment?! In April I won the award for Travel Influencer of the Year at the TravMedia Awards. After a few years of being cooped up, the travel industry was finally reunited in a glitzy ballroom in Central London. The night felt like a real celebration of the travel world. Everyone was in high spirits!
I glammed up in a sequin dress and enjoyed being in a room full of trave lovers once more. Hearing my name read out on stage was a moment I’ll never forget! I couldn’t believe it. Despite being a travel blogger for over 7 years and being shortlisted on several occasions at a variety of prestigious awards, I’ve never won an award just for me! To be recognised by the travel industry judges at this point in my career felt particularly special.
A Dose of Reality
This year has had some pretty hard times thrown in too. I won’t dwell on it for long, but a few close family members have gone through tough times medically. It’s got very dark over the last few months for one of them.
I know many of you will have gone through experiences like this yourselves. It’s hard to put into words how it makes you feel. I have days when I feel like I’m dealing with it ok, feeling strong and able to cope. But there are other days when I just dissolve. I cry, I blub, I panic, I feel anxious. I comprehend a life I’ve always known, but with a big hole in it.
Grief is love in a different shape. It’s the hardest part of life. Nothing can make dealing with these emotions easier, but I’m sure time will help. I think the next few months will be very challenging, but I’m grateful to have an amazing family and husband around me, and a new bundle of joy arriving soon.
2023 AND BEYOND
We’ll be easing into 2023 in a pretty relaxed manner with a few UK trips, a potential babymoon, and a ski trip for Macca. We have plans to work hard on content at the start of the year to make sure there’s plenty to keep our sites going while we take our maternity and paternity leave.
We’ve worked really hard over the last few years to future-proof our businesses. It’s something good that has emerged from the pandemic, as we had time to really think about our options. We’re hoping to put the money we’ve earned towards spending a lot of the first 4-6 months together as a family. After that, who knows!
So that’s the end of my blogging appraisal for 2022. I’m hoping 2023 brings with it a big fat dose of positivity and lots more happy times! Stay safe and well this Christmas and see you in January.