It’s 30th December 2022. I am currently at home, sat on my bed with my laptop and a big mug of Yorkshire tea - a must for this Yorkshire girl. It’s raining outside and I can hear my son playing downstairs with his Dad. It feels nice to step away from the Twixmas bubble for an hour or so to write this blog post. A bit of time for me, and for reflection on the year just passed. It’s been a while since I’ve posted a longer, more personal blog, so here goes!
My year at a glance
1 new house
4 UK short breaks
9 countries visited
4 international campaigns
3 tourism board / DMO campaigns
3 new countries with my son; Cyprus, France and Italy
1 award-nomination; best travel blog at the Yorkshire Blogger Awards
I quit my job
I think the biggest headline for my 2022 was that in July I quit my job and returned to being a full time travel creator. I like to think this shows the positive recovery of the travel industry in a post-Covid world, but also my determination to get back to doing what I love. Before the pandemic, The Travelista had been my full time job since 2016. The pandemic and its lockdowns had a huge impact on my earnings, so in 2020 I took a job as a Comms Officer for a UK charity.
At the time, this job was exactly what I needed. A guaranteed income and an opportunity use my existing skills in a totally different industry. But I knew I needed to keep creating content for my blog and social channels if I ever wanted to return to doing it full time again (which I absolutely did!). So I worked on my blog in my spare time, starting with evenings and weekends and then increasing to 1 day a week when my son could do an extra day in child care.
Fortunately, the blog work began to slowly pick up again, to the point where it felt as though I was working 2 jobs. I began to struggle to meet campaign deadlines. Between the comms job, trying to keep The Travelista going, trying to buy a house and being a Mum, I became mentally stretched and close to burn out. In May of this year I decided it was time to hand in my notice and take the leap back into self employment. Once you have that set and secure income, it does feel quite daunting to walk away from it, especially when you’ve got a new house and a big new mortgage to pay. But do you know what? I haven’t looked back once.
Since leaving the job I now have 4 days a week to work on The Travelista, and this in itself is liberating. I have so much more mental head space to come up with new ideas for expansion (watch this space) and to create quality content I feel proud of, rather than rushing something out at the end of a long day, just to stay active. The Travelista will celebrate its 10th Birthday in March of 2023 and I have been planning something big to mark this. Coming soon!
Finding balance between local and global
This year I also launched a new angle for The Travelista, which is
‘inspiring your local and global adventures’.
I chose this strapline as I feel it authentically reflects how I now travel as a Mum, whilst still allowing me to capture and create the travel content I love. Not all my trips can be to international or long-haul destinations now, nor do I want them to be. I want to share a nice balance of local and global travel, and to show people that adventure and escapism can also be found close to home, as well as internationally. I think realising this can be really liberating, especially for parents of little ones. One thing that is for sure though, is that The Travelista will always remain a travel blog. That is a promise.
So in 2023, there will continue to be a mix of UK short breaks and getaways, combined with some European and long-haul trips. In 2022 I travelled overseas to Abu Dhabi, Cyprus, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium and Holland, but we also had some UK family breaks to the Lake District, Whitby and Edinburgh. I am really happy with the balance I created this year and hopefully you will see this reflected in my content.
I was especially proud to work with Visit Leeds, Visit England and the Newcastle Gateshead Initiative this year, as I love promoting tourism in my nearby cities, as well as overseas.
Learning how to travel as a family
Although my son is now 4, I feel as though we are only now learning how to travel as a family, rather than child-free. Because of the pandemic and my son’s premature arrival, it took a lot longer than I expected to start travelling together. In 2022 I realised how different it is to travel with a child in tow and how it brings an entirely new set of challenges and requirements. Of course, when they’re a baby, they have basic needs and can just ‘come along for the ride’. But thanks to Covid, we missed out on that part entirely.
No longer do we slowly walk 20,000 steps to explore a city on foot, no longer do we sit al fresco in a cafe for long chats and people watching, no longer do we indulge in fancy 3-course dinners. I would be completely lying if I said I didn’t miss these aspects of travel and being in a new place. I absolutely do! And I hope to still enjoy these things again in the future.
But for now, instead, we are actively seeking out activities and attractions that will engage our son, looking out for hazards, grabbing quick lunches and thinking of ways to entice him to walk an extra 100m without asking to be carried. If you know, you know.
The hotels and destinations I would pick for myself when child-free are completely different to the places I would be seeking out with my son. It truly is a big adjustment and to be honest, it comes with some major sacrifices. But travel with a young child also comes with some moments of pure magic; seeing them experience things for the first time and seeing them meet people from around the world. Some of my favourite travel moments of 2022 with Theo include;
- Seeing dolphins in the wild in Gibraltar
- Dancing on the deck of a cruise ship in the Mediterranean sea.
- Seeing his wonder as we caught the Metro in Barcelona - his first time on an underground train
- Watching him meet the wildlife in the Bio Dome in the Granada Science Park.
I have also loved seeing how adaptable Theo can be when he is in an entirely new place, doing an entirely new thing. And this is despite being a lockdown toddler who barely went anywhere between the ages of 1 and 2. He definitely takes after me!
Where I travelled in 2022
No year in review is complete without a recap of where I traveled to. Click the links in each paragraph to find Instagram and blog content from each of the trips.
February - Abu Dhabi - An Instagram travel campaign with Visit Abu Dhabi.
March - Cyprus - A family holiday to Columbia Beach Resort in Cyprus with Jet2Holidays.com. Read; An Indulgent Family Escape at Columbia Beach Resort
April - Marbella - A personal holiday with friends to mark my friend Clare’s hen party
May - European Cruise - A creator campaign with Princess Cruises, travelling with other creators to Bruges, Amsterdam, Guernsey. Read; The Ultimate Cruise Ship Guide to Enchanted Princess // 9 Reasons to try Cruising with Kids
June - Lake District - A family glamping trip to Howbeck Lodge with Feather Down Farms. Read; Family Friendly Glamping in the Lake District.
June - Newcastle - A weekend away with my friend Fi, returning to our university town of Newcastle, a content campaign with Visit England and Newcastle Gateshead Initiative. Read; 10 Unique things to do in Newcastle on a city break
August - Edinburgh - A trip to Edinburgh with my extended family to visit my Grandma. See my Edinburgh Insta reel.
August - Whitby - A coastal staycation with Scott and Theo to stay at Raithwaite Estate. See my Raithwaite Insta reel.
September - Lake District II - A mother and son visit to the Lakes to stay with my friend Naomi on her Dairy farm. We visited Beatrix Potters house at Hill Top and the Haverthwaite Railway. See my Lake District trip in photos.
September - Almuñécar - A family holiday returning to our favourite Spanish town in Andalusia. Read; 7 Reasons to visit Almuñécar
September - Mediterranean Cruise - An additional campaign with Princess Cruises, this time with my son and partner in tow to highlight the family-friendly aspects of a Princess cruise ship. Visiting Barcelona, Gibraltar, Marseille, Rapallo, Florence. Read; Visiting 6 ports in 7 Days; Our Mediterranean Cruise Itinerary // 14 Child friendly things to do on Regal Princess cruise ship
Conclusion and goals for 2023
Writing this post has really helped me to take stock of the year just passed and appreciate what I have achieved. I am really proud of myself for taking the leap back in to full time travel blogging and I am excited for the new opportunities I know this will bring in 2023. Lots more travel, both in the UK and abroad, with my family, and also sometimes solo! I want to show regular women like me can continue to travel after having a family.
In 2023 I hope to keep evolving and expanding The Travelista, and to also set up a secondary publication to run alongside it. I would love to also run my first group trip in 2023, which would be an opportunity to travel alongside like minded people who are part of my online community (if you’re reading this, that means you too!).
As well as my travels for work, Scott and I have both agreed that in 2023 we are going to cherry-pick our own family holiday next summer that has zero work commitments for myself, so I can properly switch off. We’re thinking Greece, Majorca or Portugal. If anyone has any great family resort recommendations in these destinations, let me know.
This brings me to the end of my 2022 year in review. Whether you’re new here or you’ve followed my journey for years, thank you so much for being here, for every blog visit, like, comment and share. It is this amazing, supportive and loyal community that has enabled me to quit my job this year and return to blogging full time. Onwards and upwards!
Wishing you all a healthy and happy 2023.
Yes! So important to have a holiday without work. It’s hard to switch off sometimes as you constantly think ohhh I should write about this, I need to get this on film but a little break also helps to reignite your creativity too.