Fly Stay Luxe has only been up and running for a year and a half now but writing a yearly recap has started to become a little bit of a tradition (click here if you're interested in reading my 2018 recap).
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I’m not big on writing personal posts. I much prefer to write travel tips, destination guides, and food guides, that help you, my readers, to research and plan your own trips to the destinations I have previously visited. But in the interest of allowing you all to get to know a little more about me and how my blog/business is progressing, I am hoping to write at least one or two personal update posts each year.
In this post, I outline what worked for me in 2019, and what didn’t, the amazing places I visited, as well as my personal and professional goals for 2020.
If I’m completely honest, I questioned whether or not to write this post this year. With everything that is going on in Australia right now with the bushfires, it seems inappropriate to sit down and write about my wins over the last year when there is so much devastation that is happening around me. However, if you read on, you’ll learn how I personally plan to do to limit my impact on the environment at home and wherever my travels take me in 2020.
Looking Back at 2019
Overall, my aim for my blog and business in 2019 was to achieve my first profitable year if blogging. If you’ve ever written a blog, you’ll know that making money from it is a long game. It takes a lot of time and effort, writing content, building up your readers and working on search engine optimization.
I’m happy to report that my blog did become profitable this year. I focused mainly on affiliate marketing and also got invited on my first ever press trip (wahoo)!
My Biggest Milestones in 2019
- I was invited on my first ever press trip with Europcar, Accor Hotels and Tourism Tasmania.
- My blog traffic increased by more than 8 times what it was at the end of 2018 – thanks to Pinterest and my SEO efforts.
- I achieved my first year of profit on my blog. Most of my income for 2019 was made through affiliate sales, sponsored posts, selling my photos and working on content creation projects for clients.
- I was interviewed by We Are Travel Girls, The Herald Sun and House of Wellness about three very different topics, but are all close to my heart – travel, responsible blogging and my melanoma diagnosis (click the links above to read).
- I started doing sponsored posts on my blog and Instagram with brands that I use and love.
Where I Travelled This Year
In 2019, I actually only spent about 10 weeks travelling in total. The rest of my time was spent at home, supporting my husband with his business and working on my blog. Unfortunately, I didn’t spend as much time on my blog this year as I wanted to, but at this point, it is still a side hustle and is not yet earning me a full-time income. So, my priorities still currently lie with supporting the family business that does earn a full-time income for me.
Countries Visited: 10, including 4 new countries I hadn't previously visited.
Flights Taken: 28 in total (8 domestic and 20 international flights).
Total Time Travelling: 10 weeks, including a couple of weekend trips within Australia.
In February, my husband and I booked a trip to the Maldives on a whim. It’s been high on our bucket list for a long time and when we saw a good deal pop up on Luxury Escapes, it just so happened to coincide with a quiet period for the family business, so we couldn’t resist. We also managed to snag a great deal on flights through Skyscanner.
Germany & Austria
Every year, I join my favourite girls travel community, We Are Travel Girls, for a girl’s getaway. In March 2019, I flew to Austria to join them for a European ski trip.
I had always wanted to visit Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany. Given that both myself and @BeckyVanDijk (founder of @WeAreTravelGirls) were both flying into Munich, we decided to meet up and spend a few days exploring Neuschwanstein Castle and Salzburg, before meeting up with the rest of the group for an epic week of skiing and Aprés ski parties in the Australian Alps.
On my way home from Austria, I booked a stopover in Abu Dhabi. I was flying with Etihad Airways, who offer a free two-night stopover in Abu Dhabi when flying between Europe and Australia. I couldn’t resist the opportunity and spent two days exploring the city on my own!
Read More: Stopover Guide: 48 Hours in Abu Dhabi
In June, I was invited to go on my first ever press trip! I spent one week on a girls winter road trip on the east coast of Tasmania with my friends Sarah and Amy from @MooskiCreative. We attended the Dark Mofo Festival, MONA Museum, tried our hand at clay target shooting, hiked to Wineglass Bay and took a boat ride along the coastline of the Bay of Fires. It was such an action-packed week of amazing experiences and shooting epic photos and videography. Click here and here to watch the two videos we made!
Read More: Tasmania Itinerary: 6 Day Winter Road Trip
We booked a trip to Jordan in September/October which included a two-day stopover in Hong Kong to visit friends. Unfortunately, soon after we booked our flights, the violent protests began. After speaking with our friends that lived there, the protests appeared to be confined to certain areas and only on weekends (at the time). We were visiting during the week, so we decided to still visit but keep an eye on the situation day-by-day and alter our plans if we needed to.
Thankfully there were no protests during the two days that we were there, and all the tourist attractions were literally empty. I’ve visited Hong Kong before and there were far fewer people around this time and our flight to Hong Kong had a lot of spare seats. A few weeks after we left, we saw on the news that violent protests had broken out on the streets right outside the hotel we had stayed at, so we counted ourselves lucky.
This was most definitely one of the highlights of the year for us (other than the Maldives). My husband had been wanting to live out his childhood Indiana Jones fantasies for so long and in 2019, we finally got to do it.
Unfortunately, we were a little underwhelmed by the lost city of Petra and a little saddened at the mistreatment of animals we saw there. But the rest of Jordan really took us by surprise. It is such a beautiful country and the people are exceedingly friendly. Staying in Martian Tents in Wadi Rum was an absolute highlight for me, as was floating in the Dead Sea!
Cyprus was a little surprise destination for us last year. We had no plans to visit, but with an extra week up our sleeves after visiting Jordan, we opted to visit a destination where we could get the cheapest a flight from Jordan and Cyprus happened to be it.
We actually really fell in love with Cyprus. There was a huge Greek Islands kind of vibe to the place, but far less expensive, and fewer tourists. We literally spent 5 days eating amazing Greek food, swimming in the warm seas off Ayia Napa and exploring the nearby national parks in a dune buggy.
Our last international destination for 2019. We stopped by Bangkok for four days on our way home from Jordan and Cyprus. I’ve been to Thailand several times, but never stayed in Bangkok.
If I’m honest, I didn’t love Bangkok. There are far more beautiful places to visit in Thailand, in my opinion. But it was really nice to finally see the city and visit some of the beautiful temples and experience it’s amazing rooftop bars!
Looking Ahead to 2020
What Destinations Are on the Horizon This Year?
At this time of year, I usually have firm plans in place for the year ahead. But this is actually the first year that I don’t have any plans at all. I decided that 2020 is the year to be a little more spontaneous and see what opportunities come my way.
In saying that, I do have a few destinations that I would love to make happen. My husband and I are planning to spend some time in Europe during the Summer, visiting friends, and hoping to get back to Italy – one of my favourite countries of all time. I have been learning Italian so it would be good to practice with some native speakers.
I would also love to visit Finland towards the end of the year, see the Northern Lights and add a trip to visit the Christmas Markets somewhere in Europe. I’ve never been able to do this before because Christmas is the busiest time of year for our family business, so it’s really hard for my husband to take time off. Fingers crossed it might work out this year.
I also have a few potential new and unique destinations in mind for April, but I’m not committed enough yet to reveal where, somewhere in the Middle East and Africa – stay tuned!
My Blogging Goals for 2020
In terms of my business and blogging goals, I have five main goals I want to achieve this year:
- Rebuilding my website – I’ve had some site speed issues for a while now, mainly attributed to my theme. I’ve decided that it’s finally time to redesign my site and speed it up. I plan to have the rebuild finished by February 2020.
- Create a more regular blogging schedule – 2019 was a year of testing what types of articles work for my readers. I tried a few different things – some of them worked, some didn’t. I already have a plan in place to make some changes in this space and have spent the last few weeks developing an awesome content plan for 2020!
- Qualify for Mediavine – for the benefit of those who don’t know, Mediavine is an ad management network for big-time bloggers. A blog needs at least 25,000 unique views per month to qualify for Mediavine and unfortunately, I didn’t quite make the cut in 2019. Though I’m pretty sure I will smash this goal in the first half of 2020.
- Growing my email list – this is one area that I really haven’t focused on until now. I’m looking to add some very valuable eBooks and other resources to grow my email list in 2020 and offer you (my readers) with even more value.
- Increase my blog income and add a few new revenue streams – at this stage, I have a few strategies in mind that I’m planning to implement throughout 2020. My main goal is for my blog to be earning enough that it changes from being a side hustle to my main hustle!
How I Plan to Reduce My Impact on the Environment in 2020
The current bushfire crisis in Australia has really hit home for me. There is not one person in Australia who isn’t somehow impacted by the bushfires, directly or indirectly. It's really made me think more about my carbon footprint.
In previous years, I’ve been aware of my environmental impact as a traveller and have started to make some changes. But I plan to take it to a new level in 2020. And I hope this might inspire some of you to also make a few changes:
- I currently travel with my own reusable water bottle and coffee cup to reduce my plastic waste. In 2020, I’m going to be also travelling with a reusable straw, reusable zip-lock bags and my own cutlery.
- I’ve started using refillable toiletry bottles, rather than buying travel-sized ones each time.
- I plan to offset the carbon on every flight I take this year and opt for public transport, walking, cycling or scootering as much as possible.
- I plan to start choosing hotels and accommodation that focus on sustainability.
- I vow to only support and visit ethical animal sanctuaries – and fully research them before I visit.
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations – that was a long one. Whether you’re a newbie blogger looking for some inspiration from someone who’s been through the ups and downs of the current blogging climate, a regular fan who reads my articles often, or a friend or relative reading this to get a life update – I want to thank each and every one of you for your support this past year and I hope you found this post interesting and inspiring in some way 😉.
If you have any comments or blogging questions, please leave them below.