On 16 July 2010 I pressed publish on my first article for the Pretraveller travel blog, which was also my first ever publication of any content on the internet. It is amazing to think that I have now been blogging on a part time basis over a period of 4 ½ years with 148 articles now having been published. It is worthwhile therefore to reflect on that journey as we come to the end of 2015.
Over that period I have learnt so much about operating in the online space, however I have definitely struggled with the concept of whether my blog is a hobby or a business – at this stage I still fit within the ‘hobby’ definition. I experimented with monetisation over 2014, doing a range of activities including sponsored posts and one sponsored trip.
I somehow managed to conduct these blogging activities on top of working full time, studying a demanding part time university course (four challenging subjects per semester!) as well as fulfilling my family obligations to help raise our three young children.
The net result was that in January 2015 I realised that I had burned out and that something had to give and that something was my blog. As a result I decided to scale back and put my blog into ‘maintenance mode’ by planning to publish article every month or so as well as to keep my social media ticking over using a mostly automated approach. This was a good decision as 2015 has also been a very full on year at work, so trying to do more with my blog over 2015 would have absolutely been an overload situation.
My Travel Experiences in 2015
On the flip side I have managed to do a reasonable amount of travel during 2015!
We kicked off the year by doing a great mini road trip from the Gold Coast to Sydney via Waterfall Way just after New Years Day. I wrote up one article from our trip – Gondwana Rainforests of Australia: Exploring Beautiful Natural Bridge, but I never ended up writing about the rest of our journey along Waterfall Way, which was a great area to visit.
I then quickly transitioned to a one week work trip to the USA in early January 2015 where I visited Atlanta and Washington DC. I had a great day exploring Stone Mountain outside Atlanta where I had a great time having my first attempt at snow tubing and going up to the top of Stone Mountain (which I also never wrote about…). As you can see below it was a bit chilly, especially after flying from the hot Australian summer…
I also met with the lovely Karisa Klee from the Flirting With the Globe travel blog for lunch. Karisa went on to be awarded the 2015 Best Travel Weblog by the Weblog Awards.
I managed a quick few hours of sightseeing in Washington DC which I wrote up as How to Explore the National Mall in Washington DC Without a Guidebook. I had not expected to have any time to explore so for once I had to wing it as I went which is pretty unusual for me. I did also manage a quick visit to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum but again have not written about it…
I got home and we finally decided to book our long planned trip to Japan – there was great airfare deal on at the end of January so we booked our flights for the September school holidays. We had been saving for this trip for several years so it was great to finally see it come to fruition. Planning the trip helped to keep me sane over the next busy period, and I published a couple of articles about that planning process.
A key issue was whether I wanted to try to get any sponsorship for our Japan trip, but after my experience in 2014 with a sponsored trip I was reluctant to commit to this option. I knew I was going to have a very busy period leading up to the trip to get my university studies in control so that I could actually be on holiday, and expected to have a busy time finishing my studies after we returned. We subsequently agreed that I would not seek any sponsorship and this turned out to be a very good decision.
Travelling on a sponsored trip has a whole weight of extra responsibility to get the ‘right’ photos, to produce articles to meet deadlines and to write them at the right level of quality and to also promote them. We wanted a trip where we could relax and just enjoy a big trip with our children so this was a good decision. Our only pressure on the trip was that imposed by ourselves.
Across the year we also visited the Blue Mountains and had some time on the beach in North Narrabeen. I also went to Canberra with Girl Guides for the 100th anniversary of Anzac Day. We went to the Dawn Service and the March, and on the way back to Sydney we drove through several storm fronts and that afternoon I saw my first ever mammatus clouds – and was amazed to drive through an area where the hail had been prolific enough that it looked like snow on the ground. We were happy that we missed the main event…
I also spent a week in inner city Sydney for work where I was also able to enjoy the Vivid Festival of Light and had multiple trips to Brisbane and Canberra for university and work. Again with Girl Guides we went to the overnight sleepout at Taronga Zoo.
We subsequently headed off on our Japan trip in late September and we re-learnt some travel lessons on our first day in Tokyo which I captured in 5 Top Tips on How Not to Start Your First Visit to Japan (Plus Bonus Tip). We had a great time and our children absolutely loved the experience. Some of my favourite photos are below.
But when we returned I was exhausted and returned to a full on work and study environment, so it has taken several months to catch up. I have many articles planned about Japan and hopefully I can progressively publish them in 2016.
Looking Ahead to 2016
Where to for 2016? I am about to commence my Christmas break and we are really pleased that we decided to stay home this year – we have both had a full on year and it is great to not have to travel anywhere. We are booked in to see the New Year’s Eve fireworks in Sydney which should be fun, but apart from that we are just going to take a well-deserved break and make good use of our season passes to Wet’n’Wild Sydney.
I am about to commence my final year of my university course so I intend to keep my blog in ‘maintenance mode’ over this period and focus on getting through the year at both work and university. I will also be moving to a new work role at the end of 2016 and look forward to seeing which job I will be moving to – and hopefully being able to stay in Sydney.
I have an international study tour to North America for my university course which will be happening in May 2016. I will definitely be squeezing in some sightseeing where I have time available on the trip.
We are now starting to save money for our planned big trip to the USA in 2019 – with maybe a smaller local trip in 2017. I know that seems a long way away but it takes time to save the money without compromising our savings goals and travelling from Australia with five of us is a much more expensive trip.
We will also be travelling back to Brisbane and the Gold Coast to visit our families next Christmas so there should be an opportunity to get creative on our routes again.
Overall 2015 has been a very busy year but I have also managed to squeeze in a lot of travel. 2016 will also be busy but the end is in sight for my university course, and I hope to better re engage with my online activities once I am finished.
I wish you all the best for 2016 and hope you achieve your dreams!