Happy 2021, everyone! I hope that the past month has treated you better than 2020 ever did 🙂 Even though last year wasn’t one that many of us are eager to look back upon, I still enjoyed the process of putting this reflection together. It was a difficult year, to be sure, but there’s always something to celebrate even during rough times.
While many blogs publish year in review posts in December, I like to save mine until early February. The timing coincides with the anniversary of the blog’s launch, and it also gives me a chance to spend the month of January reflecting on the past year rather than getting distracted by the hustle and bustle of the holidays. I hope you enjoy this look back on 2020, and don’t miss the sneak peek of what’s coming during the rest of 2021!
(Note: some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which means that I may earn a small commission from your purchase at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Full Life, Full Passport! You can find the full disclosure here.)
Hitting My Vacation Planning Goal By Early February
At the end of 2019, I set a goal for how many vacation planning clients I wanted to serve in 2020. To my delight, even though I thought the goal was aggressive, I hit it by the first week of February. It was looking to be a busy year, and I couldn’t have been happier with how that side of this business was growing. My clients were headed to some truly exciting places: a few Alaskan cruises, a mother-daughter trip to Machu Picchu, a romantic getaway to London and Paris, a big family vacation to Punta Cana, and a Hawaiian honeymoon, among others.
As you can imagine, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench into literally all of those plans. (More on that later.) But I still need to celebrate the big wins that were happening before March.
An Amazing Mother-Daughter Trip to Puerto Rico
Can you believe I almost forgot to include this in my year in review? It’s been so long since we were able to travel that I almost completely forgot that our awesome girls’ trip to Puerto Rico actually happened in 2020. I’m so grateful that we were able to take this vacation before the lockdowns started in earnest. (We got home on March 6, so we just snuck it in.)
Mom, Brooke, and I had a fantastic time exploring this Caribbean paradise, from the empty and idyllic beaches of Vieques to the delicious food kiosks in Luquillo and stunningly colorful streets of Old San Juan. If you haven’t already, make sure to check out my post on how to spend a week in Puerto Rico to read all about our adventures!
Re-Designed Pages and Behind-the-Scenes Work
Despite the professional challenges of COVID-19, taking a break from vacation planning and posting blog articles gave me the chance to do some much-needed updates around the website. The Destinations and About Me pages got major overhauls, with a smaller redesign on the Travel Tips and Tricks page and a lot of behind-the-scenes work and improvements. This is the kind of stuff that tends to get pushed aside in order to stay on track with posting schedules and client deadlines, so it was nice to have a chance to spend some time making things look nicer and work better around here.
Consistent Posting and Traffic, Despite COVID-19
Last year, one of my lowlights was that the blog experienced long periods of silence as I failed to post new articles regularly. I was deep in the throes of new motherhood, new home-ownership, a busy freelance schedule, and more, and I was really disappointed with how content creation for Full Life, Full Passport suffered as a result.
Who would have thought that 2020 would throw some even crazier curveballs at me!
While it was certainly difficult at times to motivate myself with the travel industry dead in the water, I’m really proud of how I have continued to push forward with posting new content and trying to provide relevant updates on the state of the industry. In fact, I managed to publish just shy of 60,000 words on topics ranging from the pros and cons of taking a cruise to how to spend a day in Amsterdam to tips for planning your first Disney World vacation.
A Weekend Getaway to Hershey
In late summer, M and I got the opportunity to take a kid-free getaway to the “Sweetest Place on Earth”: Hershey, Pennsylvania. Hershey is a little over halfway between our house and my parents’ farm in the middle of PA, so they met us at Hershey’s Chocolate World to pick up E for a couple of days’ worth of grandparent time.
Despite COVID-19 precautions and restrictions, M and I were able to have a great, relaxing time in Hershey. It was such a blessing to be able to spend time as a couple, and we enjoyed everything from our beautiful bed and breakfast to the excellent Hershey Story museum and fabulous dinner at Devon Seafood and Steak. Be on the lookout for a full recap of our time in Hershey – with lots of tips for planning your own trip, of course! – later this month!
Most Popular Posts from 2020
- A Complete Guide to Vieques, Puerto Rico
- 12 Tips for Taking the Ferry to Vieques
- Travel Career Snapshot: Flight Attendant
- Your Guide to the Best Beaches on Vieques
- 8 Books About Travel to Read While You’re Stuck at Home Due to COVID-19
Most Popular Posts Overall
- A Long Weekend Getaway in the Finger Lakes
- 10 Reasons Why You Should Visit a Working Sheepdog Farm in Scotland
- A Guide to Hiking in Watkins Glen State Park
- The Best Things to Do in San Ignacio, Belize
- Wheels, Windmills, and Wooden Shoes: Biking to Zaanse Schans, Netherlands
Let’s Start With The Obvious…
As should surprise no one, COVID-19 was devastating to our year here at Full Life, Full Passport. The impact of the pandemic on the travel industry has been unparalleled, and FLFP was certainly not immune. Every single one of my clients’ vacations got canceled or postponed, website and social media traffic plummeted, and affiliate income dried up. The result was a lot of disappointment, uncertainty, and a significant financial hit.
Worst of all, as the months went on, my optimism that things would return to normal sooner rather than later also shriveled. 2020 ended with continued uncertainty as to when we would be able to live our lives normally again, let alone return to traveling the world. The fact that multiple vaccines have been approved and are beginning to be administered is encouraging, but it’s still disheartening to know we’re not out of the woods yet.
Friends, you don’t need me to tell you that 2020 was tough. While I’m incredibly grateful that overall my close friends and family have been healthy and safe, I admit that I struggled emotionally at different points during the year. It’s gutwrenching to see something that you’ve worked so hard to build virtually collapse through no fault of your own. It was also painful to watch so many people suffer in the industry I love. I swung back and forth a lot; it seemed that I was either in a writing and working frenzy or stagnant and unmotivated because what was the point. Thankfully, I was able to push through for the most part, but it definitely won’t go down in FLFP history as the easiest year.
I’m still bad at social media.
It’s a tale as old as time: Instagram and I still aren’t jiving, I’m not great with Facebook, and Twitter? Forget about it. Let’s blame this year on COVID and continue to hope for better.
Most Popular Instagram Post of 2020
Looking Ahead to 2021
In early December, I sent out a survey to my email and Facebook communities to help inform the direction Full Life, Full Passport would take in 2021. I wanted to know what you enjoyed and what wasn’t working as well as it should, and boy, did you come through! I got lots of great feedback that will help me make this website more helpful and engaging in the coming year.
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Based on your responses, you can expect to see more of the following in 2021:
- How-to articles and tips and tricks
- Stories from my personal travels, including the continuation of the bi-monthly Flashback Friday series
- Commentaries on current travel trends and topics
- Posts highlighting unique things to do in specific places
- Ideas and itineraries for short trips (2-4 days)
- Information for budgeting and planning travel
Unsurprisingly given the COVID-19 situation, you overwhelmingly asked for more content from the United States, including national parks and road trips. Happily, I already had some posts underway or planned for places like Hershey, Pennsylvania; Rehoboth Beach, Delaware; Puerto Rico; Alaska; and Maui, Hawaii, so we’re off to a promising start! Other frequently requested destinations included Ireland, Alaska, Canada, and Europe in general, so I’ll be keeping those in mind as well as I plan the posting schedule for the rest of the year.
(PSS: If you didn’t get to participate in the survey and want to offer some feedback to help shape 2021, feel free to leave a comment below or contact me! I’d love to hear your thoughts.)
I’m also hopeful that 2021 will bring the ability to travel safely again, and with it a renewed life for the vacation planning side of the business. I’m looking forward to helping folks navigate post-COVID travel, whether that involves short, localized trips or longer vacations to more distant places. I know so many of us are itching to hit the road again (or just see someplace that’s not our living room!) and hope that 2021 is the year we get to do it!
Right now, M and I are hoping that we can finally take the Canadian road trip vacation that has had to be postponed the last two summers. We are also planning to spend some time at my parents’ house at the Delaware beaches and have a few other ideas for small trips if COVID allows.
I know that I have closed the past two year in review posts with sincere expressions of gratitude, but this year “thank you” doesn’t even begin to cover what I’m feeling toward the FLFP community. In a year full of so many disappointments and setbacks, each article read, social media post liked, vacation planning request submitted, and encouraging message received has meant more to me than I can express. I am truly grateful to those of you who have stuck with me through 2020, and especially to those who reached out with words of encouragement or just to check in.
Thank you for continuing to support this career and industry that I love so deeply. Thank you for allowing me to be a small part of your hard-earned vacations and travel dreams. Thank you for giving me a reason to keep pushing forward, to strive to be better than I was the day before.
Here’s hoping that 2021 is our best year yet!
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