A year of travel blogging
in the books on the screen!
On October 10th, 2014 I sat at my laptop having written my first Wanderlusty post. I was just getting ready to hit “Publish” but I was stalling. My pits were sweating and my heart was pounding faster than it was that time I hung off the side of a 2,000 foot cliff by a piece of dental floss. I knew I wanted to hit the button but I was terrified. I was borderline vomiting at this point.
365 days later (give or take a few since I was in Disney World on my actual blogaversary, shit cut me some slack), it is much easier to hit the publish button. Now, I wonder what freaked me out so terribly a year ago. I mean, literally sweating. I thought I would faint. But, if I can make it through eating a chicken foot, I can make it through anything.
Putting your thoughts/opinions/deep, dark secrets out there into the world for the judgment of all is a frightening thing. Now, I don’t know what I was so scared of. I’ve never put too much weight on the opinions of others – I just want to brighten a few days if I can.
I started this blog without any knowledge whatsoever of how the internet works. You will still find terms like, “What is Twitter?” in my Google search history. I am literally (not literally) the old man from the commercials with the pigeons. Other things you will find in my search history: “Andre the Giant beer can,” “German song swim swim,” and “Ken’s boom boom sauce.” I just checked.
When I posted on Facebook, “I think I’ll start a blog?” I bet every one of you was like, “Oh Ashley, starting another random project, I see?” Maybe you thought it was a fleeting idea I wouldn’t stick with very long. Well guess what suckas, I’ve only just begun.
Here’s a short breakdown of my first year in Cyberspace:
Where my first year of travel blogging took me…
Before the sweaty publishing of the first post but after the “I think I’ll start a blog?” Facebook status update, I took a trip with four friends. Well, a husband and three friends to be exact.
In Iceland, we rode tiny horses through the worst weather possible and mine took me on a detour through the mud and up a hill all on its own accord. I thought I might die. We toured the Golden Circle and saw waterfalls, rainbows, geysers, boiling water on the earth’s surface that smelled like eggs, and something from Game of Thrones but I’m a season behind so I can’t elaborate. I spent three glorious hours at a geothermal spa with milky blue water next to my friend who was in a RENTED bathing suit.
After the world’s worst layover in Copenhagen, we made it to Germany for a little bit-o-merriment at Oktoberfest where we prost!-ed ourselves silly and ate a lot of radishes. We celebrated a couple of birthdays at Munich’s Hofbrauhaus with a special serenade from the oompah band and watched some surfing? Yeah, surfing. We pretended to be princesses at the world’s most famous fairytale castle. OK, that was just me.
From there we went to Switzerland where I did some things that made people think I was finally off my rocker. And I can’t wait to do it again! I finished a hike I started two years prior and fell even more in love with Switzerland.
I ate too much cheese and chocolate. Ha! I couldn’t even get that out with a straight face. There’s never enough cheese!
One month later I was in New York City for my annual Manhattan weekend. The Cloisters in the fall is a beautiful thing. A squirrel with a boner is not. Must’ve been a really good acorn.
The next week I traveled around the entire world in one day. I’m talking about my day at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival aka Best. Day. Ever. While in Florida I hopped on the Hogwarts Express and paid a visit to some wizards at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry and a dragon in Diagon Alley.
I spent the shittiest winter of all time writing about all of the places I wish I was and crocheting too many scarves. Literally, I couldn’t leave my house. You’re welcome, neck.
Come March I made my long-awaited return to Italy, the land of cappuccino, talking too loudly, and Autogrills. God bless the Autogrill. I punched a guy in Milan, got hit in the face by a pigeon in Venice, paid a visit to the police station in Florence, bought way too many cans of tuna and beans at the grocery store in Assisi, listened to the Easter choir rehearsing inside St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in Rome, and got lost in the maze that is Pompeii. All of this followed by a 300-seat commercial plane all to myself for the flight back to Boston. They even played Lord of the Rings for the ride home. If all of that doesn’t make you want to travel more, I don’t know what will.
As per usual, Memorial Day weekend was spent not in America. This year it was spent eating snails and listening to French blues in Québec City, Canada. I ate my weight in poutine and drank some of the most delicious beer I’ve ever tasted. I bought some really warm socks and dreamed of scaring the shit out of some new friends on my next via ferrata.
I visited Spain for the first time this year with my amazing traveling girlfriend. I took a lot of heat from a lot of jealous people for flying to Spain for just four days. It’s amazing what people will find to talk smack for. In Barcelona I ate some of the best food I’ve ever had, had my mind blown at a flamenco show, helped fight off a mugger, celebrated something that had to do with soccer?, fell down some stairs at a monastery and scared an old cheese salesman with my boob. I fell in love with a man named Antoni. Gaudí, that is.
My summer was spent traveling back and forth between Boston and Memphis, Tennessee. A family member of mine and my biggest Wanderlusty fan passed away and though these weren’t “vacations” by any means, it was still good to go home. Especially when your home is Memphis. Soul, southern hospitality, fried chicken, and people who hold doors open for you. On the way back to Boston I swung by Niagara Falls because, why not?
It wasn’t long before my very best friend and I were spending four exhausting and hilarious days in New York City. We looked up the skirt of a very large French woman, had way too much fun at a German bar, almost stole some halal, got trapped in a revolving door, chilled on a yacht, made our billboard debut in Times Square, tried to break into a marionette cottage, and relived history at the 9/11 memorial and museum. A marionette cottage – doesn’t that sound like just the creepiest thing imaginable?
The past year has sent me all over the United States as well from Thanksgiving in Ohio, visiting friends in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Nashville, Rhode Island, and Florida, celebrating and hiking in New Hampshire, spending a day on a boat in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama at the same time, and exploring Boston, the city where I currently live which is about as foreign a country as you can get.
I lived vicariously through my brother who spent three months backpacking solo around Europe and my new besties Shannon and Michael Healey (who I never would have met if not for this blog) as they traveled to Peru and the Galapagos Islands and played in the ocean with some adorbs sea lions. The dream!
What I learned my first year of travel blogging…
I learned some computer stuff, but still not enough to figure out my email server or color printer at work… derrr
I also learned that people are not afraid to share their disapproval of your travels. Whether its jealousy or they’re actually just pissed that someone travels to other countries, I can’t be sure. Either way, the world has enough negativity in it, people. Keep your useless opinions to yourself. It’s cute that you think you’re going to make me change my mind. This obviously doesn’t apply to all of y’all who are reading this because you are awesome.
And unfortunately, I’ve discovered that people Google really gross shit. Like, stuff you couldn’t even imagine people having a fetish for. I guess that’s what I get for writing an article about a toilet restaurant. I’ll just let you use your imagination there.
I’d like to say I learned a thing or two about time management (ya know, having a full-time job, excessive travel addiction, blog obsession, trapeze/gymnastics/boot camp problem, freelance work, and 100k honeybees to care for) but I’d be lying. I’ve come close! But every time I make progress I commit to another project. Whatever, it’s fine. I’m totally making it work.
Why I will continue to blog…
People are misinformed about travel. On so many levels. One of them being you have to have tons of time. I am living proof that this is simply not true. I get two weeks of vacation time at work every year. That’s ten actual days, 80 hours. I know, it’s absolutely absurd the way this country operates. Norway, are y’all hiring?
I like my paycheck, my health insurance, and my couch. I want to show the world that you don’t have to sell all of your possessions and live out of a backpack in order to travel the world. You can have a house, a car, some cats (you should definitely have some cats), hobbies, and a TRAVEL ADDICTION all at the same time.
I love inspiring people and making them laugh. I love sharing my photos and I will continue to blog because someone has just got to hear these stories…
What advice can I give you…
Just do it. Take the leap. Life is too short, what are you waiting for? Do you need help? I will help you! Contact me, I know things.
about travel blogging?
Find a support group. Though I am the only one in charge of this blog, I am definitely not alone. Through Travel Blog Success I have found a close-knit community of top travel bloggers all around the world. I don’t think this blog would be half what it is without everything I have learned as a member of TBS. If you do one thing as a travel blogger, join this group. It is the only travel blogging group I am a member of and I can’t say enough good things about it.
If you’ve ever thought about starting a travel blog, TBS is absolutely the way to go. They are having a fall sale right now until late Friday so definitely take advantage of this membership discount!
I am also a member of their sister group Blogger to Bylines that has helped get my freelance writing career off the ground. Y’all. I am getting paid to write things. With money. Not clams. Not peanuts. Dollars.
Get the best hosting possible so your blog basically runs itself. I’m not going to lie, I still don’t quite know what web hosting is, but I know I have it. And I know that doesn’t matter because the people at SiteGround do it all for me. Seriously, they work miracles. If blogging is in your future, I highly recommend SiteGround for your web hosting (whether or not you know what that means). They have the best customer service / support I have ever worked with. Not just web-related, but EVER. The shit customer service dreams are made of.
This year I was featured in my city’s newspaper – actual paper! Do you know how many dog kennels I am on the bottom of right now? I was given a Liebster Award by some loving fellow bloggers and awarded the title of “Best New Travel Blog 2015” by The Holidaze. So all in all, I feel pretty good about my teeny little corner of the internet.
Thanks to every one of you who have read and engaged with my blogging obsession over the past year. I am so happy I didn’t faint and finally hit the “publish” button. I have no idea where I will be on October 10th, 2016 (though Disney World is a good bet) but I can’t wait to see where the next year of travel blogging takes me!
Don’t go anywhere, y’all. The fun is just beginning.
If you’d like to help me in that respect, my reader survey is still open and I’d love to hear what you think of the site/travel in general. It’s only ten easy questions that will take just a minute of your time. Survey here.
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