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!
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.
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.
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).
God knows what I did with my time before this… relaxed, revelled in my good posture, exercised… I’ve no idea?
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.
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.
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!
Thankfully there’s been a few people who’ve been incredible this year and who’ve picked me up when I needed it.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!