Hi everyone! Can you believe that we already have a month of 2020 under our belts? I hope you all had a wonderful January. Ours was that good kind of busy, the kind where your days are full of fun celebrations (lots of January birthdays!), planning meetings, goal-setting, and conversations with potential new clients who turn out to be awesome people.
Throughout January, I also took time to reflect on what 2019 meant for Full Life, Full Passport. Those of you who have been around a while may remember that last year I chose to publish a retrospective post in early February to coincide with the first anniversary of launching the blog. This year, I decided to do the same. Not only is it fun to celebrate the milestone of another year blogging with FLFP, but I also really appreciated the extra time that January gave me to reflect on everything I’ve accomplished.
In this post, you’ll find a short, candid list of the highlights and lowlights of the past year on Full Life, Full Passport, as well as some fun glances back at popular posts and photos. To close, I’ll give you a sneak peek at my goals for the year and what you can expect from FLFP in 2020. I hope you enjoy!
Oh, and PS: If you missed last year’s post or just want to see how far we’ve come, you can always check out the 2018 Year in Review!
Launching the Custom Vacation Planning Service
The most exciting thing to come out of 2019 was the official launch of our custom vacation planning service. Helping people take incredible vacations had been a goal of Full Life, Full Passport since its inception, but I didn’t go public with the service until February 13. After spending 2018 doing research, planning strategy, and putting together trips for a few brave
guinea pig pioneering clients, it was so exciting to let the world know we were officially open for business!
Since the launch, I’ve worked with some wonderful people to book vacations to places like Scotland, Iceland, and Alaska. If January was any indication, 2020 will be even busier! I’m thrilled that people are starting the new decade by planning some great vacations, and I’m honored that they would trust me to help make them stress-free and special.
A Complete Site Redesign
This update had been a long time coming! To be honest, I had never really been happy with the look and usability of Full Life, Full Passport. Both of the iterations of the site – the one I launched and the most recent (and admittedly far superior) design – failed to convey the aesthetic and professional look I wanted. I didn’t like the way that the design made it difficult to browse blog posts, and I didn’t like how limited I was in adding branding and customization.
In late 2019, I finally took the plunge and devoted a ton of time to redesigning the website. I invested in a new theme with more functionality and customization options, reworked the home page, added more branding, created some new landing pages, and updated a lot of posts. While there are still little bugs to work out and lots of work left to do, I am so, so happy with the result. I hope that you have found the site to be more attractive, engaging, and user-friendly as well.
Finding Time to Post
This one is more of a personal achievement for me. Last year was unlike any I’ve ever experienced and in many ways one of the busiest of my life. When 2019 began, we had just bought a house and welcomed baby E. Before we knew it, we were juggling house projects, M’s skyrocketing workload, and my busy freelance schedule – all while trying to learn how to be parents!
By no means did I do as much with Full Life, Full Passport as I wanted to this year. I’ll admit that I spent a lot of time beating myself up over missed posting deadlines, writer’s block, social media silence, and other goals that fell short. I do, however, have to acknowledge what I was able to accomplish. I published fourteen articles – over 40,000 words – in addition to planning multiple client vacations and making some modest gains in my number of email subscribers and social media followers (particularly on Pinterest). I also made some big backend improvements. Best of all, my readership grew significantly despite publishing far fewer posts.
That’s certainly something to celebrate.
2019 was a much more low-key year for our family travel-wise. This wasn’t surprising. We knew last January that we had a lot on our plates and that travel might have to take a backseat for a little while. (Thank goodness we took our pre-baby vacation to Paris and Amsterdam last summer – one last hurrah as a childless couple!)
As we suspected, we ended up staying much closer to home last year. The thing is, though – you don’t have to get on a plane to spend quality time together experiencing a new place. One of the highlights of the year was our little family vacation to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where we introduced six-month-old E to the seashore for the first time. E and I, especially, were able to spend a decent amount of time in southern Delaware this summer, which was a lot of fun.
M and I also managed to take an overnight trip to New York City to celebrate our fifth anniversary in October. E had a great time with his grandparents, and we were able to relax, enjoy the city, eat fabulous food, and see the incomparable musical Come From Away. (Seriously – go see it. It was incredible.) We also slept, which any parent will tell you was perhaps the best gift of all.
Most Popular Posts from 2019
- Wheels, Windmills, and Wooden Shoes: Biking from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans
- Travel Career Snapshot: The Olympics
- How to Stay Healthy While Traveling: Tips from Frequent Travelers
- Introducing Baby E!
- A Foodie’s Guide to Tokyo and Kyoto
Most Popular Posts Overall
- The Essential Belize Packing List
- 10 Reasons Why You Should Visit a Working Sheepdog Farm in Scotland
- The Death and Rebirth of Vang Vieng, the [Former] Party Capital of Laos
- The Best Things to Do in San Ignacio, Belize
- Wheels, Windmills, and Wooden Shoes: Biking from Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans
Long Periods of Silence
As I mentioned above, I was pretty disappointed that there were long periods of time in 2019 in which I didn’t publish any articles on this blog. The most obvious gap was from January to April, which to be fair made complete sense considering I was a sleep-deprived new mom, traveling a lot for my freelance gig, and generally just trying to keep up with life on the home front.
I got back in the swing of things in the spring only to stall again in the summer. This was much more frustrating, but thankfully I was able to get my act together and finish the year strong with a regular schedule of content. Even so, consistency is one of the most critical improvements I’m looking to make in 2020.
My Continued Struggle with Social Media
As I mentioned last year, the social media component is perhaps my least favorite part of this business. I won’t bore you with my grumblings again this year, but suffice it to say that my relationship with social media remains complicated.
In 2019, I largely ignored Instagram in favor of Facebook and Pinterest, which I find to be much more engaging, enjoyable, and valuable to use. This proved to be a boon mentally; I genuinely liked spending time on Pinterest and it was a relief not to worry about Instagram. In this business, however, people – both readers and potential business partners – can put a lot of stock in your follower count on the ‘gram. And, since I had done very little to cultivate it, I gained a grand total of ten followers all year. Not exactly a marker of success.
Most Popular Instagram Post of 2019
View this post on Instagram
I’ve been fortunate to visit a lot of beautiful beaches, but Ao Phra Nang took scenery to another level. Gorgeous water, soft golden sand, a rugged sea cliff just offshore, and a row of iconic Thai longboats made this beach the stuff of dreams. Many of the longboats doubled as walk-up restaurants, where you could order delicious Thai staples like fried rice and fresh fruit to help fuel your day of sunbathing and swimming. I can’t wait to go back! 🌴 Winter weather got you feeling the blues? Maybe it’s time to plan your next vacation! Did you know that Full Life, Full Passport offers custom vacation planning for all kinds of trips and budgets? Whether you’re looking to jet off to somewhere exotic like the incredible Ao Phra Nang beach in Thailand or stay more local, I can help! Check out the link in my bio to learn more.
Looking Ahead at 2020
So now that 2019 (and FLFP’s second year) are behind us, what’s in store for 2020? Here are a few of my goals and added features for the new year:
More vacation planning! January started out with a bang as people turned their attention from holiday busyness to dreaming about summer vacations. I’m loving working with my current clients and can’t wait to see what adventures I get to plan this year. Where can I help you travel in 2020?
Consistent posting. My most important goal for 2020 is to avoid the periods of silence that this blog has experienced at different points over the past two years. As much as I am able, I intend to make sure that quality content keeps coming your way on (at least) a bi-weekly basis.
More content focused on South America, Southeast Asia, and the United States. With the exception of Belize and New York’s Finger Lakes, all of my recent travels have been to Europe. Unsurprisingly, the content on this site has skewed heavily in that direction as a result. This year, I want to get back to writing about some of my favorite places located away from the European continent, including right here in the good old USA. Throw in a girls’ trip to Puerto Rico at the end of the month and a family vacation to Canada this summer and it should be a great year for non-European fun!
A monthly newsletter for email subscribers. On January 31, I launched a new monthly email newsletter aimed at creating a more personal connection with readers. Remember the Three Things I’m Loving Lately series that I published through most of FLFP’s first year? This newsletter is similar but better: it features personal recaps, a list of my favorite recent travel articles, a sneak peek at the next month’s blog posts, and more. (Not an email subscriber yet? Join the fun using the form at the bottom of this post!)
A renewed focus on social media. Despite my grumblings above, I am looking to engage more with Instagram in 2020. For that, I humbly ask for your support in following Full Life, Full Passport if you don’t already. I’m sure having some friendly faces in the comments will make a big difference! <3 In addition, I aim to continue being very active on Pinterest and Facebook… and to do it all with a more positive attitude 🙂
Building my network. One of the best parts about attending TravelCon in 2018 was meeting so many fun and engaging fellow travel bloggers. It was exciting to feel like I was a part of a community and to network with people who were facing some of the same joys and challenges that I was. Unfortunately, a lot of those folks have either left blogging or taken a long hiatus, so I want to spend some time in 2020 regrowing my tribe. I’m looking forward to diving into some new travel blogs (any suggestions?) and hopefully making connections with some fun new people!
Once again, I find myself full of gratitude for those of you who have come along on this journey with me. I truly appreciate every article read, comment left, social media post liked, and message received. Thank you for trusting me to help you travel more often, more meaningfully, and more enjoyably. It means the world to me.
Here’s to a great 2020!
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