Welcome to 2023 everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and that you’re still basking in the glow of that glorious, hope-filled time of year. It can be tough to sustain that warm, fuzzy feeling through the cold, gloomy month of January, but I’m hoping it lingers for a while.
Those of you who have been around a while might be a little surprised to see that this post is being published now rather than in early February. Historically, I have waited to post my annual roundup until closer to the anniversary of the blog’s launch on February 1st, but since this year is our FIFTH BIRTHDAY (!!) I have some other plans 🙂
2022 was an incredible year for Full Life, Full Passport, and I’m excited to share the highs, lows, most popular posts, and other fun odds and ends with you. I do this each year not only as a fun way to celebrate the previous twelve months but also because you, as a reader of this blog, play such a big part in making so much of it possible! So grab a hot drink and read on to see what we got up to in 2022, as well as what you can expect from 2023 🙂
Travel is Back!
While the travel industry certainly began to bounce back in 2021, the floodgates really opened in 2022. Over the course of the last twelve months, I’ve helped more people travel than ever before and was delighted to see people start to feel confident about leaving the country again. My number of clients almost doubled this year, and revenue from the vacation planning side of the business was up over 99%. In fact, I was so busy putting together vacations and honeymoons that I actually fell a bit behind on the blog! (More on that later.)
Many of my 2021 planning inquiries were for tropical vacations; I think we were all looking for a way to relax and disconnect after the stress of 2020. While I definitely planned a lot of trips to Mexico and the Caribbean in 2022, it was also great to see people starting to venture further afield again. Alaska was back in a big way, with lots of people looking to take an Alaskan cruise, see the interior, or a little bit of both. I also bid bon voyage to my first trans-Atlantic voyagers since before the pandemic, and it was so fun to get back to planning European vacations again.
I’m so grateful to everyone who entrusted their vacations to me this year! Where can Full Life, Full Passport help you travel in 2023?
Where Did FLFP Clients Travel This Year?
Here are some of the vacations I planned for 2022:
- Outer Banks, North Carolina
- Caribbean cruises
- Virginia wine country
- Maui and Oahu, Hawaii
- American West/national parks road trip
- Dewey Beach, Delaware
- Key West, Florida
- Virginia Beach, Virginia
- Tulum, Mexico
- Puerto Morelos, Mexico
- Berlin and Munich, Germany
- Rome, Italy
- Alaska (cruises and land only)
- San Juan, Puerto Rico
Two Short Winter Getaways
While 2022 didn’t end up involving a lot of personal travel, I was able to sneak in a couple of wintry weekends in Pennsylvania‘s Pocono Mountains. First was a January trip to our friend’s family cabin with two other couples, where we took the kids sledding and sliding on the frozen lake, watched the Olympics by the fire, and ate lots of yummy food.
Then, in February, my mom, sister, sister-in-law, and I headed a little further north to the Lake Ariel area for a girls’ weekend. The continued unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic had caused us to cancel our planned mother-daughter trip to Aruba out of an abundance of caution, so we consoled ourselves by getting snowed in in the cutest, coziest cabin ever. It snowed around eight inches that first day, making it easy to stay in our pajamas, build a roaring fire, and relax with a day full of food, wine, movies, conversation, and naps. The next day we ventured out to some of the local restaurants, antique shops, and a winery. While it was no week in sunny, Aruban paradise, it was the perfect rejuvenating getaway and we were so grateful to be able to go!
Achieving a Major Industry Accreditation
Perhaps my biggest professional achievement of the year was finally obtaining my IATAN accreditation. IATAN, or the International Airlines Travel Agent Network, is a major trade association in the travel and tourism space, and joining their ranks gave me instant credibility, contacts, and direct booking abilities within the travel industry.
While I had been able to partner with a number of brands without accreditation – namely major cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Princess and hotel booking engines like Booking.com – my new status allows me to work directly with almost any hotel/resort group, tour operator, or other tourism brand on the planet. I even had major brands like Marriott reaching out to me to establish a relationship! These new partnerships have enabled me to provide a much better experience for my clients, including access to direct booking portals, increased availability of travel deals and competitive pricing, and the ability to earn commissions that allow me to keep planning fees at a rate where they’re accessible for almost anyone looking for help traveling.
Getting this accreditation was a lengthy process, requiring plenty of research, documentation, and time to get all of the necessary materials, insurance, bank statements, business licenses, and other details in place. But I’m so happy I did it, and so proud that Full Life, Full Passport is now recognized as a legitimate industry partner!
A Long Weekend in New Mexico
Following some home renovations in January, the cancellation of our Aruba trip in February, and a big change in M’s career in April, it didn’t look like travel was going to be in the cards for 2022.
But then, my friend Molly called. Southwest Airlines was running a sale and she had found a fantastic price on flights to New Mexico – the last state she needed to visit in order to have crossed all fifty off her list. Her husband wasn’t going to be able to take off work, so would I want to come along?
Considering we had visited 32 states together during our two-month cross-country road trip in 2011 and then two more during a long weekend in Iowa and Nebraska in 2017, it seemed only right that we cross this finish line together.
And we did! In late October, we jetted off for a quick trip to Santa Fe and Albuquerque. We toured artists’ galleries, wandered the historic streets, ate tons of New Mexican food, hiked at Petroglyph National Monument, and took an aerial tram ride to the top of the Sandia Mountains at sunset. And I got to watch one of my best friends fulfill a travel dream.
There’s a lot of New Mexico content in the works for 2023 – including why it wasn’t such a great trip at times – so I won’t spoil it all now! Stay tuned for more from the Land of Enchantment!
Other Fun Stuff from This Year:
- After over three years of hard work, M was able to leave his full-time corporate job in April and become completely self-employed at his own business. He and his business partner have worked so hard to grow this company and I couldn’t be more proud. It also has been a game-changer for our family, with tons more flexibility and Dad time!
- I created a super useful, super free “10 Tips to Help Simplify Your Travel Planning” document for my email subscribers. If you haven’t downloaded yours yet, make sure to join our email community using the form at the bottom of this post or in the sidebar!
- I took a year-long hiatus from Instagram that was so great for my social media-weary soul. The initial goal was only to pause for the first quarter of 2022, but I was well into Q2 before I even thought to miss the platform. And with all the work on my plate, it was easy to just keep on not posting! Taking a break in 2022 gave me time to rethink my Instagram strategy, so I’m heading into 2023 with a renewed sense of purpose. I hope you like the new approach, too; don’t forget to follow me @full.life.full.passport if you don’t already!
A Caribbean Cancellation
As I mentioned above, 2022 started out with a bit of disappointment as our biennial mother-daughter trip – planned this year for the sunny island of Aruba – was canceled amidst the continuing COVID-19 chaos.
While we were considering where to go for our next trip together, a fantastic travel deal crossed our paths and turned our attention toward the southern Caribbean. Soon, we were buying a voucher for the new, all-suite Radisson Blu Aruba and planning out how to divide our time between Aruba’s world-famous beaches, charming towns, shipwreck snorkeling sites, and rugged and adventure-ready national park.
Unfortunately, it was not to be, as the surge of the omicron variant and continued restrictions on international travel had us wondering if planning such a trip was the best financial decision. By January we had pulled the plug and consoled ourselves with the mid-February weekend in the Poconos I mentioned above.
This story has a happy ending, however, as we have rescheduled our Aruba trip for this March! We’re no longer staying at the Radisson, but I’m even more excited about our new hotel and all we have planned for our time on this “One Happy Island.” Be on the lookout for tons of Aruba content upon our return!
A Neglected Blog and Website
With an ever-increasing queue of client vacations to plan, my quest for IATAN accreditation, the not-so-small task of raising two kids under four, and other life events, writing for the blog really fell by the wayside in 2022. Although it may not have been overly noticeable to many of you, I was really disappointed in myself for missing my own self-imposed deadlines. My bimonthly Flashback Friday series stopped abruptly mid-year, September was completely quiet, and there were a couple other points in 2022 where a blog post just didn’t happen when it should have.
In addition, I had gotten into a good rhythm of updating old blog posts regularly to keep them relevant and accurate, which had to stop to accommodate other demands. A planned website redesign was put on the back burner, as well.
Even though I’m disappointed that I couldn’t keep up with everything this year as well as I might have liked, I can’t help but be happy for the reason: the time that, in the past, I would have spent carefully crafting or updating blog posts was now completely taken up by the vacation planning side of the business.
Setbacks in the Southwest
It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten sick while traveling, but boy did I get walloped on our trip to New Mexico. I started feeling pressure in my left ear during dinner on our second night in Santa Fe, and by the time midnight rolled around I was in significant pain. An ear infection seems like such a small thing, but it was probably the worst pain I’ve felt since I delivered S last year. It got so bad during the night that I actually started praying for my eardrum to burst just to relieve the pressure.
I was able to see a doctor at an urgent care facility the next morning, though the resulting mix of pain, pressure, antibiotics, allergy medication, and a complete lack of sleep the night before meant that I was down for the count for most of the rest of the day. I couldn’t keep my eyes open for the scenic drive from Santa Fe to Albuquerque, went immediately to bed after checking into our Albuquerque hotel, missed sightseeing in the historic downtown with Molly, and overall just watched one of the few precious days I had in this new state go right down the toilet.
(Unfortunately, this mishap also came after a flight cancellation had already caused us to lose the first day of our trip. Where we were originally scheduled to arrive in New Mexico in time for lunch, instead we didn’t make it to our Santa Fe hotel until after 8 PM.)
Thankfully, I was able to rally myself enough to join Molly for a short, non-strenuous, late afternoon hike to see the petroglyphs at Petroglyph National Monument and to take the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway to the top of the Sandia Mountains at sunset. Those were the two things I was most looking forward to in Albuquerque, and I’m glad that I at least got to get a taste of them. Still, the trip overall was one of my least successful recent travel experiences.
Most Popular Instagram Post of 2022
Not much competition for the crown this year! I only posted on Instagram once for the entire year, and it was to announce that the ‘gram and I were breaking up for a bit.
Most Popular Posts from 2022
- Knoebels Amusement Resort: Pennsylvania’s Best Kept Secret
- Summiting Mount Washington on the Historic Cog Railway
- A Family Road Trip Through New England
- A Quick and Simple Guide to REAL ID
- 10 Things to Know Before Visiting Alaska
- 10 Questions to Ask Yourself When Planning a Cruise
- Three Days in the White Mountains with Kids
- The National Museum of the United States Air Force: Dayton, Ohio’s Best Free Activity
- 15 Reasons Why Belize Should Be on Your Bucket List
- The Pros and Cons of Group Travel
Most Popular Posts Overall
- 20 of the Best Things to Do in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
- 25 Perfect Mother-Daughter Trip Destinations
- An Unbeatable One-Week Itinerary for Puerto Rico
- The Pros and Cons of All-Inclusive Resorts
- 12 Tips for Taking the Ferry to Vieques
- The Pros and Cons of Cruising
- The Ultimate 10-Day Alaska Itinerary
- 25 of the Best Restaurants in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
- A Complete Guide to Vieques, Puerto Rico
- Alaska Cruise FAQ’s: All the Alaska Cruise Tips You Need to Know!
Looking Ahead to 2023
Full Life, Full Passport’s FIFTH birthday! On February 1, we’ll celebrate the fifth anniversary of the launch of the blog. We’ve come a long way, baby!
A personal return to international travel! That Aruba vacation we had to cancel last year has been rescheduled for this March, and I can’t wait to head off on my third mother-daughter trip with my mom and sister.
Lots of New Mexico and Aruba content to start the year, along with plenty of the travel tips you love, a couple of fun interviews, and more wanderlust-inspiring destination guides, itineraries, and listicles.
Tons of great client vacations! I’m already plan 2023 trips to Alaska, Italy, New Hampshire’s White Mountains, Florida, Mexico, Costa Rica, and a few different areas of the Caribbean. I can’t wait to see what else comes my way!
I’ll be back on the ‘gram! I have a new strategy, new resolve, and a better attitude! Here’s hoping 2023 is the year I fall in love with posting on Instagram… or just learn to tolerate it 🙂 Don’t forget to give us a follow and see how it goes!
As the sun goes down on my fifth year of running this blog and business, I am constantly reminded of how grateful I am for each and every person who has joined me on this journey. From the world’s best husband and marketing expert who supports me every step of the way to the person who checked out a single post for help with a trip, you’ve all played a role in making Full Life, Full Passport what it is today. I am amazed by how far we’ve come together, and I can’t wait to see what the next five years have in store.
Need some help planning your 2023 vacation? Full Life, Full Passport offers customized planning services for all kinds of trips and budgets!
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