As if it’s Christmas day.
The turkey’s in the oven, Die Hard – the greatest-ever Christmas film – is on the television and the presents just keep on coming.
I’m not religious, at all, and Christmas has never been anything other than a celebration of friends, food and festivities for me. But this time of year is a period of reflection and a chance to assess and evaluate the past 12 months.
On a personal note, 2017 has been good to me. I graduated with a masters degree, I started a paid internship at a travel company which, upon completion of my contract in January, I’ll be kept on at, I visited my 50th country and, most importantly, I’ve enjoyed myself.
This December signifies the 24th-straight month in which I’ve travelled to another part of the world, starting in Oslo, Norway in January last year and continuing through to the present and my most recent trip to Moscow, Russia. Over the past 358 days I have taken 31 flights and visited 20 different countries, seeing amazing places and making some amazing memories with awesome people along the way.
I lived in London for two weeks and worked at Lonely Planet, which was an absolute pleasure and resulted in some of my work being published in Lonely Planet Traveller magazine. I saw Jordan Speith win The Open and lift the Claret Jug on the 18th at Royal Birkdale and finally witnessed my first international football game – Liechtenstein versus Israel. I stood shoulder to shoulder with flare-bearing ultras in Sofia and rode a snowmobile across Iceland’s second-largest glacier. I passed my driving test and got my second degree. All in all, the year has been a success.
But while 2017 has been full of cheer and good times, it’s not always been a bed of roses. One of my disappointments is how my lifestyle has become unhealthy and I’ve started to gain weight. Too much junk food and not enough exercise have been the two main catalysts, and that starts and ends with laziness. The past couple of months I have been making a conscious effort to go to the gym regularly and to change my diet for the better. It’s a start, but I need to change and that philosophy has to carry on into the New Year.
But the change I want to see isn’t limited to my lifestyle, because I believe it runs much deeper. Diet and exercise is one thing, but this blog, the very same one you’re reading this post off right now, has not progressed as I’d either hoped or expected.
The beginning of the year was probably the pinnacle of this journey so far. I’d been on my first press trip to Hamburg, closing out 2016 on a high, and I had organised collaborations with the tourist boards of Ljubljana and Reykjavik, as well as tour operator Gray Line, who operate various tours around the world, including ones in Iceland. It was great, and I was reaping the rewards of my hard work. But since returning from the Land of Fire and Ice, I’ve not worked with any travel companies in any of the countries I’ve visited since. Whether it’s been rejected or ignored pitches, or just a failure to even make one at all, I just haven’t been consistent or as successful as I was hoping.
I have continued making pocket money and that has been a steady amount, but sticking to a regiment of one blog post a week and neglecting my YouTube channel after what was a decent start to my rebirth as a YouTuber really hasn’t helped my cause. I’ve also fallen off the wagon when it comes to Travelling Tom’s social media game, and racking up the trips while not following them up with all the relevant content has left me with a ridiculous backlog that, quite frankly, needs torpedoing.
It has been both disappointing and frustrating that I haven’t utilised my time more effectively, but it has also made me realise what I’ve been doing and forced me into taking action. So, in amongst my lively start to 2018, I’ve decided to take a few days out for a blogger’s retreat to Krakow – a trip which I hope will help me re-focus, re-organise and get back on the path to success.
I’d also like to extend my gratitude to those who have supported me over the past year. Whether it’s my regular visitors, people who have like, commented on or shared my content, the interviewees who helped me create a major project that I can be proud of and those who have assisted me in any other way, I want to say thank you.
But for now I’m going to indulge in my favourite day of the year, and hope that you all have as much of a good time as I know I’m going to.
Merry Christmas and all the best for 2018! Let’s make it one to remember.