Before I started to write this 2019 year-in-review post, I actually went back and reread the article I published exactly one year ago called 2018 in Review: About Travels, Career and Personal Changes. It’s been pretty interesting to look back on the thoughts and memories I wrote down last year and to realize how some things stayed the same, while other things turned out very different than I expected at the beginning of 2019.
I’m trying to summarize my personal year 2019 for you by not only talking about the trips and travels I did throughout the year, but also by giving you some insights into my personal and professional life. So – where do we begin?
My travels and trips in 2019
I just mentioned that I don’t want this year review to be only about my travels. However, I’m a travel blogger after all and my trips around the world were a big part of my 2019. So, let’s just get over it fast before focusing on the more personal stuff!
In 2019, I made it to 21 countries in total. Wow, I’m a bit exhausted just by writing down this number. Some of these trips were work trips (blogging campaigns and conferences), others were some personal bucket list destinations which I wanted to visit for a long time and I’m glad I finally did. Because in 2019, I didn’t want to let my blogging collaborations define where I would go, but rather chose self-paid trips to the places I really wanted to visit as well.
In case you’re curious, these are the destinations I visited in 2019: Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Antigua & Barbuda, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Italy, The Bahamas, San Marino, Canada, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, the UK, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Japan.
However, I also want to be honest with you and be clear that my trips are not holidays anymore as they used to be before working in tourism professionally. Whether I was on a press trip or on personal travels, I found myself many times focused on getting the perfect picture or writing down notes, rather than fully enjoying a destination. This is actually something I already mentioned in my 2018 review post and it didn’t change – I guess that’s just inevitable when running a travel blog.
I’m especially glad I made it to Uzbekistan, the Caucasus region, Israel and Jordan this year – places which were on my bucket list for a long time. Then again, it’s also been great to revisit some countries I hadn’t been to in a long time and explore them more in-depth, such as Canada and Japan. It’s impossible for me to pick a favorite since all of these trips were actually pretty fun. A year ago, I certainly would have never dreamed of road-tripping through the Yukon in northern Canada or island hopping in the Caribbean, but it happened in 2019 – and it was epic!
Some of these trips were solo adventures. Some were press trips and blogging campaigns. And some were travels with friends – a great mix! One thing I certainly realized in 2019 was that by now, I’m enjoying trips with friends much more than solo travels. I guess the saying “happiness is only real when shared” is true after all. And that’s why one of my favorite moments of 2019 was probably celebrating my 27th birthday at the Traverse blogging conference in Trentino, Italy – surrounded by so many of my fellow bloggers, who have become good friends along the way in experiencing this journey together.
My ups and downs in travel blogging in 2019
Without going much into the details, I probably went through all the normal highs and lows of running a website and a business in 2019. While I was busy finishing my master’s degree in 2018, this year was finally the time to fully focus on my travel blog and make the jump from a hobby blog to a professional business. Sure, with so many travels it sometimes wasn’t easy to catch up on all the work that is required, but I still scheduled enough breaks in between my trips whenever possible. Although I’m terrible at getting anything done while on the road, I’m spending every minute from morning until night working on my website when at home in Germany.
While I’ve seen the fruits of all this invested time and work in the first part of the year by constantly increasing website traffic and income as well as awesome campaigns, I also experienced the cruel reality of being solely dependent on the mercy of ever-changing algorithms, which can raise or destroy your business overnight. This year showed me once again how unstable an online business – dependent on external factors such as Google – is after all. I’m sure my blogger friends reading this can relate!
But then again, running a travel blog (and every business for that matter) just comes with ups and downs and I’m recalling the first thing my good friend Dave told me when I asked him for advice on starting my blog – “it’s a marathon and not a sprint”. And looking back on 2018, when I enjoyed some sponsored trips but hardly made any money from my website, I still came a long way in 2019. Sometimes I just wish things would move faster – but I guess that’s normal.
Hello 2020 – What’s next?
Predicting what a new year might bring is getting more and more difficult for me. Exactly one year ago I said that I will write applications and aim for a corporate career by summer 2019 and it didn’t happen yet. That’s why I wrote in my 2 Years of Travel Blogging Review post in fall 2019 that I won’t set myself any deadlines or guidelines anymore and I want to stick with that.
There were moments in 2019 where I was so convinced and confident with my website that I believed I could make this work in the long run, but there were also moments where I was close to giving up immediately and entirely. So frankly speaking, with so many ups and downs in the last year, I’m just not sure at all what 2020 might bring.
However, I do already know that I will escape to Southeast Asia again throughout January and February (who likes winter in Europe anyway?) and I can’t wait to spend a month living and working remotely from Bali. I’m also planning on doing some island hopping in the Philippines, before returning home at the end of February. Besides that, there are no other confirmed travel plans yet, but lots of ideas. I’d love to do more trips in the Middle East and Central Asia, such as Iran, Oman, Lebanon and Turkmenistan. Possibly more of Africa as well. I’m still open for ideas and inspiration!
So, let me know if you wanna plan a fun adventure in 2020!
Summing it up: How was 2019?
Looking back, it’s pretty difficult for me to describe how I’m feeling about 2019. I’d probably agree on saying that it was a pretty good year, but I wouldn’t say that it was “the best year ever” because it feels like there was something missing. And it actually took me a long time figuring out what it was.
Don’t get me wrong – my year was full of incredible moments and I feel very grateful about my freedom to travel the world. But I guess my main point is that 2019 was missing any big changes or milestones.
After spending 8 months in Latin America and starting this website based on a crazy coincidence in 2017, after giving up my apartment in Germany, finishing my master’s degree and fully jumping into travel blogging in 2018 – this year 2019 just felt a bit low-key. There were no crazy, life-changing moments. I didn’t get an apartment and settle. I didn’t make millions with my website (surprise!). I didn’t start a corporate career. I didn’t have any unexpected eye-opening experiences which changed everything. But I kept traveling and blogging – and it’s been a lot of fun!
My main topic in my 2018 review was talking about all these professional and personal changes that happened in this year. Comparably, 2019 just felt pretty stable in review. Which is ironic, since throughout the year, I always felt like stability is the one thing I was (and still am) missing most in my life. But somehow I feel like going on all these trips while crashing at my parent’s place in between when in Germany for a few day somehow became my routine.
No matter what, life was mostly good in 2019. I had awesome trips to places I never dreamed of visiting, I made wonderful friends along the way and kept working for myself on my passion project – this website. And these are the things I’m focusing on when starting in 2020.
Let’s see where the journey goes from here!