2020 has been MENTAL!
A true rollercoaster of a year, filled with plenty of low moments (*ahem* Coronavirus), but also some really positive moments too.
It’s easy to be doomy and gloomy about this year, ESPECIALLY if you are a travel blogger (more on that below).
However, there are positives to be had as well.
Which is why I wanted to put together a quick post looking back some of our favourite experiences from this year and seeing just how much Covid has affected our business as well.
We also have some big plans for the near future, so I will share those with you below too.
Let’s dig in …
Believe it or not, we actually managed to visit 3 new countries this year!
Compared to the 17 we visited in 2019, this is definitely a HUGE drop; but at the same time, it’s a heck of a lot more than most people.
So for that, we think of ourselves as being very fortunate.
Back in January, we spent 3 incredible weeks living and working at an all-inclusive resort just outside Marrakech.
Our plans for the first 3 months of 2020 was just to work solid and then have a slightly relaxed time for the next 9 months of the year where we would travel more.
Our feelings were simple: it was almost as cheap to live there for 3 weeks as it was back home in England.
At the same time, at the resort we stayed (The Aqua Mirage) we would have sunshine, people cooking for us and have the chance to visit Marrakech.
In the end, this trip was everything we hoped for and MORE!
We got tonnes of work done, enjoyed amazing Moroccan food, met so many friendly locals AND had the chance to fulfil some pretty epic travel experiences.
Check out these guides we wrote from our experiences in Marrakech:
Following on from Morocco, we then flew over to the island of Malta where we rented an apartment for a month.
Again, the plan here was to work most days but also take time to explore the island, as well as heading over to Gozo.
And, well, that’s exactly what happened!
We rented a super nice flat (with its own hot tub!) and got busy working and having a truly wonderful time.
Covid really kicked off a few days before we were due to fly home, in fact, our flight was one of the last few to leave before the whole world seemed to go into lockdown.
The highlight of our trip here was definitely the few days we spent driving over the neighbouring island of Gozo.
Check out our experiences in Malta here …
After converting our campervan (more on that below) we managed to spend 2 months road tripping almost all of Scotland (avoiding high-risk areas of course).
The beauty of having our van is that we can isolate really well while travelling, and can ensure we only go to areas where travel is recommended.
Well, Scotland was the obvious choice if you’re from the UK, and I am SOOOOO happy that we went in October/November.
By this point in the year, almost every tourist had left and we were one of the few van lifers left up there.
In fact, for about 3 weeks all we saw every day was maybe one or two other campers. BLISS!
We also had some unforgettable travel experiences, notably our stay on our own private lighthouse island.
Check out these posts here to learn more about our time in Scotland … (more posts going up in the next few weeks)
One of the biggest highlights this year was becoming an Uncle again!
My sister gave birth to a beautiful baby boy called Alfred, and it has been wonderful watching him already start to grow into a fantastic kid.
He is one of the happiest babies I have ever met; he is perfectly content to sit there sucking his thumb and I think I’ve only heard him cry once!
For the last 5 years, Cazzy and I have slowly grown to the idea of one day buying a van and converting it into a campervan.
But if we are being realistic, with our hectic travel schedule it’s unlikely we would have made time for this anytime soon.
Well, one benefit of Covid is that it forces us to stay at home and fulfil this dream of ours!
After 13 of the most stressful weeks of our life we were down and I am so incredibly proud of the finished product.
We honestly worked so bloody hard to get it completed within our 3 month deadline, and I honestly think it's the perfect tiny home for us.
We have HUGE plans with this van (stay tuned for a big announcement in the next few weeks) and can’t wait to see what the future holds.
I know, how cheesy am I!
But seriously, we spent 3 months in lockdown with Cazzy’s family in Northern Ireland, followed by 3 months with my family in England.
Sure, being in close proximity for family members for so long does have its strains, but it meant spending time together that otherwise wouldn’t have happened.
And for that, I am grateful.
I’ll talk below about how Covid has impacted our business (this blog you’re reading is our main income).
And sure, overall it’s not been great, but the time stuck at home has meant we have spent a lot of time updating the blog.
Reviewing old posts and making much-needed design tweaks.
As well as this, we finally committed to starting a YouTube vlog, something we just haven’t made time for over the years.
We are committing to new videos every week, and so far have stuck to that through the second half of 2020.
If you’re not already a subscriber, you can follow us here.
We will be taking you on the road with us for all our crazy adventures, so be sure to check us out and subscribe!
Just after my birthday in February, I managed to squeeze in a week of skiing in France!
It was a trip I took with one of my closest friends, but Cazzy chose to stay at home as she isn't as big a fan of skiing as me.
It was only my second ever ski trip, but I had an amazing time! I like to think I'm getting half good at skiing now, and I also took the chance to give snowboarding a go.
Next time I take a ski trip, I think I will spend most of my time snowboarding ... what a rush!
Covid has absolutely decimated the travel industry. It is that simple.
Sure, there have been some signs of recovery, particularly for domestic travel.
However, in the grand scheme of things, the industry as a whole is a fraction of what it was in 2019.
For us, the first major impact was us needing to cancel all of our plans for 2020. This included:
Across the last 6 months of 2019 and the first 2 months of 2020, Dream Big, Travel Far was averaging somewhere in the region of 150,000 pageviews a month.
This was substantial for us, and we were able to enjoy a slightly better standard of travel to countries we couldn’t previously afford (notably our 3 month trip around Scandinavia).
We were by no means making life-changing amounts of money, but for once it was nice to pay a little extra for the nicer restaurants and to go on a few extra tours.
Well, fast forward to December 2020, our monthly traffic is roughly 25% of what it was this time last year.
And financially, we’ve taken a hit even bigger than this.
In case you haven’t been following us for long, our travel blog is our main source of income. We make our money largely through ads and affiliate commissions (none of which means our readers actually pay anything).
But building an income through travel blogging is all about large numbers of people.
Well, with no one travelling, it means an immediate fall in income. And those that are still checking out the blog are doing so mainly for inspiration and wanderlusting; very few people are actually booking hotels or tours.
It's not all doom and gloom.
In fact, I would consider myself and Cazzy to be extremely optimistic people!
I look at our position like this …
We live in a country where the government will never let us starve, and we have two wonderful families who have given us a place to live throughout the entire pandemic.
There must be billions of others out there who have felt the sting of Covid so much worse, and my heart really does go out to them.
We also have the benefit that the UK is the first country to develop a Covid vaccine.
This is amazing news for us, particularly Cazzy who is extra vulnerable to Covid due to her type 1 diabetes.
I can’t wait for her to get the vaccine and to know she is that much safer, so that’s something to look forward to in the next few months.
Though I will need to wait probably till nearer the end of 2021 to receive mine.
No matter what happens, we now have an amazing campervan ready and waiting to go once the government lets us!
It’s unclear as of yet when and where this will be, but for now, it serves as a perfect office.
That’s right, I am currently writing this article, whilst sitting in a van on my parent’s driveway.
Take that how you will!
But the Christmas decorations are still up, the heating is on and I’ve got a nice hot cup of tea.
I honestly believe things can’t get any worse for Dream Big, Travel Far (I hope I haven’t just tempted fate).
Once the vaccine rolls out around the world and restrictions start lifting, I expect everyone will be keen to take some much-needed trips abroad.
When that time comes I am confident that the blog will be in a position to do extremely well, perhaps even better than before.
I live in hope!
If you’re reading this in 2020, then I hope you have a wonderful New Year.
If it’s 2021, then I hope I was correct when writing this and that the world has started to slowly get better.
I hope you had a great end to 2020 and that you are also feeling positive for the year ahead.
That’s about it from me, over and out ...