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The Blog Turns One and Exciting Travel Plans

My fellow Scouser John Lennon, once said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” I disagree. Life is what happens when you’re busy blogging!

Exactly one year ago today, I pressed publish on my first ever blog post. What started out as a hobby, soon became a passion. Minutes, hours and days disappeared as I read, wrote, researched and responded to readers. I even managed to fit in a bit of travel, starting off with a trip to Paris, then to Brighton for my 33rd birthday, the US for a California/Vegas road trip, Ireland for Bloghouse and TBEX, Belgium with work, Berlin for a huge travel trade show, as well as trips all over the UK both for work and pleasure! Considering I work full time (and not in the travel industry), I think that’s pretty good going!

Paris Disneyland Street Art Eiffel Tower

Paris, France

In fact, I’m currently writing to you from my hotel room in Kiev in the Ukraine. I’m here for a wedding, so you can expect some posts soon. But I’ve also been busy making exciting travel plans for the rest of 2014 which I’ll get to in a moment.

Brighton Pavillion Tulips Beach Huts Hove

Brighton, UK

It’s been an incredible journey of a year, with many ups, but unfortunately, you know the old saying “what goes up, must come down“, so it’s not all been holidays and plain sailing – I’ve probably worked harder than I ever have in my life.

San Diego Bob Hope Memorial Unconditional Surrender Submarine Palm Trees

San Diego, US

Now, it’s kind of a challenge to remember those carefree days when a plug-in was just something you did to, well, a plug – you know, like for a lamp, or your hairdryer and a widget was something you found in cans of Guinness (sorry for none bloggers or techie folk reading this – plugins and widgets are website speak for things that do stuff on your website – like the about me box to the right – widget, the Facebook box… plugin, in a widget – confused? Yeah, me too).

Sunset Los Angeles Venice Beach Santa Monica Street Art Hollywood

Los Angeles, US

God knows what I did with my time before this… relaxed, revelled in my good posture, exercised… I’ve no idea?

PCH Santa Cruz Big Sur

The Pacific Coast Highway, US

But eventually the hard work started to pay off. People actually started reading (thank you) and 2014 started with a bang when I was named as one of Viator’s Top 25 Travel Bloggers, in the Solo Female category. They liked my story about taking the train across Africa and I made them laugh when I let a Malawian guy called Cheese on Toast style my hair. But I really couldn’t believe it when I saw my little blog in between lots of travel blogs I looked up to.

Golden Gate Bridge Street Art Painted Ladies Haight Ashbury

San Francisco, US

I’ve put my heart and soul into getting Helen in Wonderlust up and running and I felt proud of what I’d achieved so far. But there’s a long way to go! Working so flat out has meant that for the last year I’ve barely slept, exercised or eaten properly. This is neither good for confidence or creativity and there have been times when I struggled.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park, US

In my New Year post, I talked about finding balance so my biggest blog resolution for year 2 is to try to take a step back and just breathe and perhaps go a little easier on myself. I’m notoriously bad at resting, but I think it’s something I need to learn to do so that I don’t burn out! I’m in no rush anyway!

Caesars Palace Paris Bellagio

Las Vegas, US

Thankfully there’s been a few people who’ve been incredible this year and who’ve picked me up when I needed it.

The Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland Galway Hooker Westport

The Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland

A Few Words of Thanks

My blogger friends/advisors/brainstormers – Backpacker Becki, Brenna from This Battered Suitcase, Megan from A Passport Affair, Lance & Laura of Travel Addicts, Ed from Rexy Edventures, Brendon from Nerd Travels, Indiana Jo, Jac of The Occasional Traveller, Julika of Sateless Suitcase, Kami of Kami and the Rest of the World, Murissa of The Wanderfull Traveler, Beatrice of Eille la Cheap and Andrew of True Travellers. There’s so many more wonderful bloggers I could mention too, but it would take all day… but thank you guys for all of your advice and friendship, you rock. I’m so glad my blog brought me to all of you!

Awesome Travel Bloggers Friends

Awesome Travel Blog Friends

Then there’s my Bloghouse mentors – Ayngelina, Michael, Dalene, Pete, Craig and Linda. Thank you so much for your continued support and constant inspiration!

The South of England Christchurch Oxford London St Pancras

London & Oxford, England

My friends and family who have shared my work, given me encouragement, been understanding of my lack of time and listened to me pipe on about blogging for the past year – even though I’m pretty sure they have no idea what I’m on about. Thank you especially to my friend Chloe, who I think has shared every single post I’ve ever written. Apparently her office are big fans of the blog!

The North UK Liverpool Manchester

Liverpool & Manchester, England

Thank you to my wonderful (and patient) husband and best friend, Matt, who proof reads everything I write, discusses ideas with me and keeps me supplied with endless cups of tea (and makes sure I eat)! I love you.

Brussels Beer Chocolate Tin Tin Stella Artois

Brussels, Belgium

But the biggest thank you is to you. My awesome readers! All of your comments, thoughts, discussions, shares, likes, are so appreciated!!! So thank you for all that you’ve done and all that is to come.

If there are any topics you want covered, just let me know! This blog is as much about you as it is me!

Berlin

Berlin, Germany

So What’s Next?

For the blog, I’ll still be keeping an Africa focus. Africa is my heart and soul and I have hundreds of stories to tell and tips to give! But I’ll still continue to throw in posts from elsewhere! You guys seemed to love my posts on California road trip itineraries and how to make the most of a day in Brussels. Plus, I have plenty more Africa destination guides to share.

As for future travel plans… well, I’ve spent a lot of time in East and Southern Africa, so when I was thinking about where to go this year, I decided it’s time for a little change of scenery. I was going to go to Kenya and Tanzania again, but instead I shall be heading to a part of the world I’ve never been to before – West Africa. I’ll be spending a month exploring Senegal, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, The Gambia and Sierra Leone. I’ll be travelling overland with a group for the most part but also exploring Senegal and Sierra Leone solo. I am super, mega, majorly excited!!!! My mother, not so much!

Wales

Criccieth & Port Meirion, Wales

In the next couple of days I’ll also be launching my first ever giveaway, so be sure to check back as the prize is pretty cool. It’s something I have, but also something I want more of. Any guesses?

Oh, and I still need to figure out how to take a lone selfie without looking super awkward. It’s a skill I just cannot master! Help me. Please.

If you have any suggestions or feedback for the blog let me know in the comments below, or feel free to email me privately! I’d love to hear what you want to read!!

Thank you again – here’s to lots of new adventures for YOU and ME!

 

 

About Author

I'm a travel blogger and tour operator with a passion for Africa travel. I love the great outdoors, going on epic trips around the world and helping others travel!

46 Comments

  • matt
    May 8, 2014 at 7:18 am

    Congrats on one year! I’m glad to follow along and look forward to continuing to do so!
    matt recently posted…Journey to: Osaka and Kyoto, JapanMy Profile

    Reply
    • Helen
      May 8, 2014 at 10:26 pm

      Thanks so much Matt! Love your comments! 🙂 Hope your travels are going amazingly well!!! x

      Reply
  • Lisa - Wee Wanders
    May 8, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Congratulations, how exciting! I’m only a newbie with my blog being just 2 months old but I am looking forward to documenting my travels through Asia and making lots of new friends (hopefully) along the way 🙂
    Lisa – Wee Wanders recently posted…Tiny Tighnabruaich and Scotland’s Lost Street ArtMy Profile

    Reply
    • Helen
      May 8, 2014 at 10:26 pm

      Thanks Lisa! I remember the two month stage well!!! It goes in stages… but my biggest advice – don’t give up. It’s awesome. But, if you feel like you need to, give me a shout and I will talk you through it! You will 100% make loads of friends in Asia and have the most amazing time! I will check out your blog tomorrow!!! Looking forward to reading about your travels too!!!!

      Reply
  • kami
    May 8, 2014 at 11:30 am

    I’m so glad we could meet in Berlin (and I’m hoping to many more meetings to come!) and I’m really excited about all your upcoming trips! You make me more and more curious about Africa travels and I just loved seeing this spark in your eyes when you talked about that! Keep writing awesome stuff, you know I’m your huge fan 😀
    kami recently posted…cool, fun-loving side of JerusalemMy Profile

    Reply
    • Helen
      May 8, 2014 at 10:23 pm

      Kami!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m soooooooooooooooooooooo glad to have met you at ITB!!!!!!!! Thank you so much for that gorgeous comment! Ha ha, can you tell I like Africa a little? Let’s go there together sometime, that would be so much fun! xx

      Reply
      • kami
        May 9, 2014 at 6:45 am

        oh, just a little bit 😉 that would be awesome if we could go to Africa together! Let’s plan that for an upcoming year or so! And after visiting Kiev (I’m so curious how you find it!) you should definitely travel in my part of Europe more often, with me as a travel buddy! 😀 xx
        kami recently posted…cool, fun-loving side of JerusalemMy Profile

        Reply
        • Helen
          May 9, 2014 at 8:09 am

          Yes!!! I am really liking Kiev! Especially the food and the beautiful architecture. Interesting time to be here though… I’d love to come over and travel with you in Europe!:) x

          Reply
          • kami
            May 9, 2014 at 11:26 am

            I told you it’s a wonderful city! Have you already seen Mother Ukraine statue 😉 ? the food (and the beer!) is awesome there! xx
            kami recently posted…cool, fun-loving side of JerusalemMy Profile

          • Helen
            May 10, 2014 at 6:48 am

            Seen Mother Ukraine and sampled the food, beer and vodka. Loving it all! Off to a wedding today! 🙂

  • Beatrice
    May 8, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    I’m very happy with how life turns out sometimes, and that we were able to meet at BlogHouse. I think our little group will remain friends for a LONG time! I’m still hoping that I can make it to WTM in November, and if I do – drinks are in order!

    Reply
    • Helen
      May 8, 2014 at 10:21 pm

      I’m so happy we met at Bloghouse. Sometimes life throws some shit at us. Other times, some amazing opportunities. But it brought me to you guys and for that I will be eternally grateful!

      Yes WTM November! I will try and go to some, but it’s around the time I get back from Africa so need to weigh up! Want to come to Canada at some point! need to see you!

      Reply
  • Jac
    May 8, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    ROOOOMMMIIEEE seriously your blog is just one year old? You feel like a more seasoned blogger than that! Happy one year blog birthday whee! Like Bea says I think the BlogHouse Ireland is gonna be tight for a long time!

    I know how crazy sometimes it is to be working full time and juggling a blog – I sometimes wonder what I used to do before blogging seriously (ok I know exactly what, watch a lot of TV and play computer games :P), but keep at it, you’re doing great! I am looking forward to your Africa posts ahead – I’ve never really planned to go to Africa, but if I do I know just the right person to consult 🙂

    Reply
    • Helen
      May 8, 2014 at 10:18 pm

      Thank you Roomie!!!!! It feels like forever! I miss our days at Bloghouse!!!

      Yeah, I agree, our Bloghouse group are amazing!!! If you go to Africa, I can plan your trip for you!!! You’d love it and it’s easier than you think!!! 🙂

      Reply
  • Amanda
    May 8, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Congrats on your one-year blogiversary, Helen! And here’s to another great year ahead!
    Amanda recently posted…24 Hours in BangkokMy Profile

    Reply
    • Helen
      May 8, 2014 at 10:15 pm

      Thank you so much Amanda! I loved your blog ever since I started blogging so that is a lovely message! Still finding my feet, but still enjoying it all! 🙂 x

      Reply
  • Vicky
    May 8, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    One year! You’ve done loads in that time – congratulations and happy birthday! Awesome that you’re going back to Africa – hope you have a brilliant time. I know you will. x
    Vicky recently posted…Festival Fashion from BANKMy Profile

    Reply
    • Helen
      May 8, 2014 at 10:14 pm

      Thank you gorgeous!!! How was US of A???? I cannot wait to hear all your stories. What is this Coachella all about??? Everyone seems to love it. Compare to UK festivals???

      xx

      Reply
  • Brenna
    May 8, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    Congratulations! What an amazing year it’s been for you. I’m so happy you started blogging, as it led to our friendship.

    I’m into my fifth year of This Battered Suitcase but my goal is the same as yours – for me, I know my blog will never be MASSIVE – so I’d rather just enjoy what I have and how I blog and not worry about the numbers so much. Just breathe, as you said.

    Can’t wait to see you soon xxxx

    Reply
    • Helen
      May 8, 2014 at 10:13 pm

      Thank you darling! Thank you for taking me under your wind and being such a great friend to me. You are awesome. I look up to you so much! I am happy just to enjy what I’m doing, that is the way forward! Can’t wait to see you soon too!!!!! xxxxx

      Reply
  • Sorin
    May 8, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    Congrats for your 1 year anniversary and have a excellent trip in West Africa!!!
    Sorin recently posted…13 Things You Need to Know Before Traveling to North Korea (DPRK)My Profile

    Reply
    • Helen
      May 8, 2014 at 10:10 pm

      Thanks so much, I can’t wait!!!!

      Reply
  • Jayne
    May 8, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    Happy anniversary! And well done for everything you have achieved in one year. i hope you find that balance you speak of (and let me know where to find it too!) Keep blogging, keep travelling but most of all keep enjoying it 🙂
    Jayne recently posted…London Photoshoot With FlytographerMy Profile

    Reply
    • Helen
      May 8, 2014 at 10:10 pm

      Thank you so much Jayne! Can’t believe we haven’t met yet! I will let you know if I find the secret to balance… whoever does will be very rich! Either financially or spiritually! 🙂 Hope to meet you soon! Heard lots about you!

      Reply
  • Faye, Andrew and Arya
    May 8, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Well done Helen!! We are all so proud of you for the long hours and the hard work that has gone in to making your blog a success. Keep going, keep blogging and most of all Matt keep the kettle on!
    We love you lots, like jelly tots
    Faye, Andrew and Arya xxxx

    Reply
    • Helen
      May 8, 2014 at 10:08 pm

      Thank you! You guys are my world! Love you more than words can say! x

      Reply
  • rebecca
    May 8, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    congrats on your success! love reading your blog from the first guest post I read in Africa. Keep up the great work 🙂
    rebecca recently posted…Chapter 57: Quarter Life CrisisMy Profile

    Reply
    • Helen
      May 8, 2014 at 10:07 pm

      Thank you Rebecca! Love getting your comments! Hope all is going well for you too!!! x

      Reply
  • Kate C
    May 8, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    I wanna come!!

    Reply
    • Helen
      May 8, 2014 at 10:06 pm

      Come! Let’s discuss!!!! 🙂

      Reply
  • Catherine
    May 8, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    Congratulations on one year of blogging! I can’t believe how much you’ve done over the last year, no wonder you need to take a step back! Sounds like an exciting year coming up though 🙂
    Catherine recently posted…The Quiet PlaceMy Profile

    Reply
    • Helen
      May 8, 2014 at 10:07 pm

      Thanks so much Catherine!!! Ha ha, I need to slow down a little, but the next year should be a lot of fun!!!!

      Reply
  • Rachel of Hippie in Heels
    May 9, 2014 at 2:26 am

    your blog was a later find for me, but it’s never too late! I need to take some time going through your archives, I just love reading about africa. Yay for turning a year old! congrats.
    Rachel of Hippie in Heels recently posted…The Hippie’s Guide to Shopping in GoaMy Profile

    Reply
    • Helen
      May 9, 2014 at 8:05 am

      Hi Rachel, same here with me to you! Need to go through all your acrchives about India! Somewhere I would LOVE to go! Thanks so much!!!

      Reply
  • Rebecca Jones
    May 9, 2014 at 4:53 am

    Congrats on your one year anniversary! I’m still trying to figure out this whole blogging thing. I’m only doing a post every other week right now so that I can make it routine, and I figure I don’t want to use all my ideas right away. I have 3 years to pick up the pace and build a following! And I have plans for two trips a year during that time to give me something to write about. 🙂 Two on time posts in a row so far! Have to write my next one soon so I have time to proofread. Last time I put it off and ended up getting up in the middle of the night to fix a math error before anybody noticed. I forgot where I was going with this…

    Super super excited to hear about your west Africa trip! But do take care of yourself. It’s important to stay healthy. 🙂
    Rebecca Jones recently posted…The Tortoise and the Hare: RevisitedMy Profile

    Reply
    • Helen
      May 9, 2014 at 8:07 am

      Hi Rebecca! It takes time but you’ll get there! Join the blogging groups on FB as they can provide all kinds of advice. I can always help in whatever way I can! If I don’t know, I’m sure I’ll know someone who can! I work full time, so I just do a couple of big trips with little ones in between! I’m still writing about California and Africa after I went! 🙂 Plus, once you’re on the road, the new stories will come!

      Reply
  • Kirsten
    May 9, 2014 at 8:05 am

    Congrats! I think the way you feel about Africa is the way I feel about Australia. You’ve done so much in a year – my blog has been a lot slower going!

    I love how happy you sounded in this post 🙂 I have the same problem as you… I can’t look anything but awkward in a selfie…
    Kirsten recently posted…Cities are my BoyfriendsMy Profile

    Reply
    • Helen
      May 9, 2014 at 8:22 am

      Hi Kirsten! Yeah, I think we all have those places we just click with! I love that! Sometimes it feels as though I’ve done nothing in a year! 🙂 I’m just happy to go at a steady pace though as it just takes time I think! It will all level out eventually!

      Ha ha, selfies are the worst! I think our camera(s) must be broken or something… 🙂

      Reply
  • Jo
    May 9, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Ah Helen, happy blogiversary! Thanks in return for all your support along this blogging road and thanks for the mention. It can be tough in WordPress World but it’s good to have you in my support (therapy) network! But most of all congrats on all the recognition and readers. What I like about you and your blog most is you are an example of karma – good things happening to a very nice person. May all your blogging dreams come true in year 2!

    Reply
  • Morgan Siegel
    May 9, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Hey Helen!

    Just wanted to say congrats–I love your blog and get a lot of inspiration from your writing! I’m a new blogger, and it’s encouraging to see that eventually work does pay off—I can’t believe your blog is only a year old!

    Best for the coming year 🙂 I’ll be reading along,
    Morgan
    Morgan Siegel recently posted…May 1st Activities: 3 great hikes near Freiburg, GermanyMy Profile

    Reply
  • Lindsay
    May 9, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    So great that you’re going to West Africa. That’s an area I really want to explore…. soon! What tour group are you using for overland? When will you be there? I’d love to do the G Adventures “Voodoo trail”… Happy Blogiversary!
    Lindsay recently posted…Hotel El Beaterio: The Coolest Place to Stay in Santo DomingoMy Profile

    Reply
    • Helen
      May 10, 2014 at 6:57 am

      Thank you! I’m going with a company called Overlanding West Africa. 🙂 Can’t wait!

      Reply
  • Michael Hodson
    May 10, 2014 at 9:00 am

    Congrats and keep up the great work in year two!
    Michael Hodson recently posted…Great river cruises of the worldMy Profile

    Reply
    • Helen
      May 11, 2014 at 8:10 am

      Thank you Michael! 🙂

      Reply
  • Lance
    June 27, 2014 at 2:13 am

    OK, so better late than never! CONGRATS! Looking forward to reading more about your journeys!
    Lance recently posted…Experience Africa on Foot – A Safari AdventureMy Profile

    Reply
    • Helen
      June 27, 2014 at 6:53 pm

      Thank you Lance! Your support has been wonderful!

      Reply

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