Any rookie travel blogger looking to spread their tentacles and earn some quid doing what they love, knows how important it is to keep traveling. Travel keeps the country-count up, it ensures that experiences remain fresh, it keeps the literary juices flowing, the scenic pictures rolling and traffic to the site moving.
It gets pretty nightmarish when you book trips then find yourself following up with a lot of cancellations and ‘no-can-dos.’ Part-time travel blogging is alot like playing a game of chess, or piling up a stack of dominoes..trips have to be just right in the short periods they are taken…one wrong move and everything comes tumbling down. When things grind to a halt, you may be reduced to penning down thoughts of your never-ending staycations occasioned by neighboring cityscapades, travel advice and the “10 things to do when you are in…” kinda posts.
I begun 2014 strong. I attended the TBEX conference in Athens, Greece; covered a little bit more of South East Asia when I visited Singapore, Cambodia, and Thailand; and spent summer in the Balkans; specifically Croatia and Bosnia. Apart from a couple of missed flights, everything went better than I had anticipated; typical of any start-up where beginnings are full of excitement because you have just birthed ‘the baby.’
2015 was a whole new ball game. Though I had promised to continue strong, I struggled with getting off the ground. This baby begun to have teething problems.
My first trip was to the Baltics: Latvia. While I’m all for experiencing winter in all it’s glory; if that experience doesn’t include reindeer, huskies, northern lights, snow fights, skating rinks, short days and all that jazz; it means we’ve been short changed a wee bit and it’s not worth freezing our bums for. The mind-numbing cold we felt in Latvia and the ensuing flu I had, made us prisoners in our hotel room for a couple of days..and we lounged about, noshing on the continental breakfast buffet offered by Islande Hotel and overdid a common winter-time passion in the Baltics; saunas and spas. I went on a tour on my way out, but didn’t get to see as much of Riga as I wanted to. The train trip to the nearby town of Jurmala gave me a wild wild west feel made better by the solicitousness of the hotel staff at Baltic Beach hotel and the mud-spa. A return trip is something I should do, to properly see Riga and probably get to sample Latvian cuisine.
The next trip was to Kenya, for a working holiday in the summer. Right after landing, I tottered about, awash with waves of nausea, aches and pains as I battled with the change of altitude, but didn’t let that stop my weekender to Maasai Mara as it was part-complimentary and had taken months to prepare. The dusty windy roads we took in pursuit of wildlife, and the change in weather meant that I got back to Nairobi with a horrible flu and high fever.
I came close to canceling my Mogadishu trip which was to follow the next day, but decided to down paracetamols and rough it. It was a wise decision. Mogadishu‘s pleasantly hot weather, the coastal breeze, fresh food and drinks served by the uniformed waiters at Hotel Makkah al-Mukaramah made me feel much better. Mogadishu was a bucket-list experience and I came away triumphant, for having done a trip that I had dreamt about for a good part of my life.
The rest of the year found me booking trips; even managing to snag sponsorships but quickly following up with cancellations. Not one, not two but a flood of them including a trip to the down-under.
I canceled my one-week trip to Prague, Czech Republic when my daughter came down with waterpokken (chicken-pox). The Bohemian rhapsody would have to take a back-bencher.
I canceled my trip to Warsaw, Poland because a friend wasn’t available to care for my child during the time I would be away. The pub crawls and communism days tour would have to wait.
I had planned to move to Asia at the end of the year but canceled last minute because there were too many things to be sorted out; handing over the apartment, sorting out my insurances, payment for damages, change of address and shutting down everything that involves relocating from one country to another. It was more difficult than I expected and I felt I had to take more time and plan better. I had gotten rid of ‘my stuff’; loads of clothing, books, cutlery and furniture so my apartment looks a little bit empty but I realize I love it this way. It’s easier to clean.
I canceled Singapore and lost the paid-for hotel stays, the Marina Bay Sands tours and the chance to feature in a clip with Insider TV Singapore As I have been to Singapore twice before; this time I had reached out to locals and expatriates based there, asking them to hold my hand so that I can view Singapore differently…through their eyes. I was surprised at the warm-hearted responses, and will take up their offers later on this year.
Bali, Indonesia was to follow suit, and naturally it came down. The Komodo dragons, great food, culture and pristine beaches would have to wait.
Melbourne for Christmas, camping out in Canberra, and New Year’s Day in Sydney didn’t happen; big gaffe especially since I would be hosted, and wouldn’t have to pay a dime for the hotel stays, beach homes, camping trips, Christmas with an Australian family etc.
Hongkong went down the drain..Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam followed suit.
Let’s just say that if this travel blog was a corporation, the annual performance was dismal..there were more losses than profits..it was a struggle to keep things afloat and many times there was the temptation to sink ship and walk away.
But it’s hard to drop off a baby you’ve created and nurtured. So I will try hard this year to plan really well so that I don’t have to cancel any trips. I hope to do more of the Netherlands, I will visit nearby Germany and Luxembourg. I will be off to Poland, Slovakia and Czech Republic early this year. I hope that later on in the year I can head to East Africa, and probably return to South East Asia. If I am able, I will try to venture out to the Americas. I have a feeling that this baby will grow..fast.
How was your year? Was it profitable or did you experience losses? Did you visit as many countries as you had planned to?