It’s that time of the year: the time to look back and reflect on the good, the bad, and the ugly in the hopes that you are now older and wiser and can eliminate some of those not-so-good bits for the next year (insert snort laugh here). I love doing these little wrap-ups and while each year I have plenty of great moments, it’s usually my fails and the bad bits that end up being the most entertaining. Because, while they are craptastic at the time, they always end up being funny in the end (check out my 2017 misadventure roundup here).
This year, however, is different. Maybe because I had so many amazing things happen. Also possibly because my ‘bad’ was actually really bad, not at all funny, and just over-shadowed anything else that would usually fall into that category. I guess, looking back, that 2018 really was a year of extremes on both ends.
It was also a year of slower and less travel for me. Not because I planned to slow down (sorry, mom!) but because of where I went, what I spent, and therefore what I had to save. Yes, I work in travel as a blogger and a writer but if you follow me on Instagram (ahem, @hannahlogan21) you’ll have read my super blunt and honest posts about how much travel I actually do pay for myself (spoiler alert: almost all of it). That being said, I did manage to spend a little over 3 months on the road and visit 10 countries, 5 of which were new to me. This is what my 2018 looked like:
May: Quebec City, Canada
June: Washington DC
September: Hawaii, Fiji, Tonga
November: Paris, Israel, Palestine, Jordan
Within all that travel I managed to complete my second year working for myself. Both the blog my freelance writing hustle also had some pretty exciting things happen this year. Normally, I focus my roundups on just my travel adventures but since I’ve started actually working in the industry as well, I think it’s fair to include some of those moments too. So, from the good to the bad to the mishaps, here are my stand-out memories of 2018.
I (Finally) Monetized the Blog
I’ve been blogging since 2012 but it wasn’t until 2014 that I changed from a diary-type website to the type of content that you find here today (although I still have some old ‘gems’ if you do some digging). However, I’ve never really looked at my blog as an actual business until 2018. Sure, I made a little bit off of it through partnerships and got a few comped experiences but it was always more of a hobby to help get to do what I really wanted: work as a writer. 2017 was my first year freelancing and I focused on building a portfolio and networking. With a few regular clients under my belt, I decided last year that 2018 would be the year to re-vamp my blog a bit and turn it into a business.
I installed ads which I was nervous about at first but was soon relieved when I got no complaints (although since every friggin website on the internet has them I don’t know why I was stressed. Ads are nothing new) and I also took the time to add affiliate partners. I chose brands that I use and love including hotels.com, booking.com, and Get Your Guide tours. As well as a few clothing and shopping sites; two of my favourite clothing brands: Diane Kroe (promo code: HANNAH10) and encircled, and the beloved megalith that is Amazon. While I’m not raking in the dough (yet) I’ve been pleased with the outcome and hope that these monetization methods continue to grow. It’s definitely helped add a bit of financial security and has encouraged me to continue building a business for myself. So, for anyone that has purchased or booked something through one of my links- thank you! You are the best!
I Registered Myself as a Business
The weirdest thing that happened in 2018 is that I registered to become a business.
That’s right. Yours truly- aka the accident-prone, clumsy girl who regularly takes the wrong train- has somehow become a business and I have the number to prove it.
While this is super daunting it’s also pretty exciting. It means that I have reached a point in working for myself that I am legit (thanks random business number!). Which will definitely help in the freelance aspect of my work. As much as I hope my blog grows as an income source in 2019, I hope that this development will help me grow as a freelance writer as well. I’m quickly learning how finicky this business can be (let me tell you, chasing after payments SUCKS) but again, I do love the freedom and I enjoy the challenge.
I Started a Second Blog
Apparently, I’m kind of insane because in January of 2018, I decided that I didn’t have enough work (what?) between this blog and my freelance work and decided to start a second niche website: Ireland Stole My Heart.
In case you didn’t guess from the name, Ireland Stole My Heart is all about Ireland which is still my favourite country. It’s been something I’ve been debating for a while. I love Ireland so much and visit so often that I have a ton to write about, but since Eat Sleep Breathe Travel is about my adventures everywhere, I didn’t want to bombard everyone with Ireland content. That being said, I’d get daily emails from readers and followers asking for tips, advice, and recommendations. So, one cold January day I bit the bullet and created a whole new blog. It’s small but I’m really happy with how much it has grown within the past 11 months and can’t wait to see how it continues to go.
So, if you are thinking of planning a trip to Ireland (DO IT!) then be sure to head over to Ireland Stole My Heart and see what I have there.
I Spoke at my first Conference. As a Keynote.
Yep. That’s me on the left. On a stage. In front of a huuuuuge crowd.
Weirdly enough, I’m one of those strange people that actually doesn’t mind speaking in front of a crowd. I actually won a bunch of public speaking awards when I was a kid (pats self on back). However, while I’ve always been open to the idea of speaking about travel I never expected to be invited to be a keynote speaker on a panel at WITS (Women in Travel Summit).
The conference took place in Quebec City in May and our panel was the closing keynote session. I took the stage with three other fabulous women to have a discussion about one of the most relevant topics of 2018: the #MeToo movement. After all, it’s something that affects every spectrum of a woman’s life including travel.
It wasn’t the easiest thing to talk about, especially in front of hundreds of strangers. But as we each shared our stories (stories which I have also shared on this blog) that feeling of nervousness dissipated. There was no judgement or criticism, and we were given a huge round of applause and standing ovation at the end.
It was one hell of an introduction into the world of speaking on travel, but I really enjoyed the opportunity and hope that I get the chance to do it again in the future.
My Childhood Indiana Jones Dream Came True
I GOT TO PRETEND TO BE JUST LIKE INDIANA JONES IN PETRA.
Childhood dream accomplished. I can officially die happy now.
This actually came around pretty randomly. I didn’t think I’d get to Jordan this year but after I impulsively took advantage of a seat sale and booked a flight to Europe, I got thinking about where I could go. Which led me to think maybe the Middle East again since I loved Egypt so much last year. I ended up partnering with an Israeli tour company called Abraham Tours who took me on one hell of an adventure through Israel and Jordan. It was really fascinating and I shared a bunch on my IG stores (@hannahlogan21… really guys, you’re missing out) and will soon be sharing here on the blog.
I Swam with Whales, Dolphins, and Bull Sharks in the Wild
My trip to the South Pacific was one of the best adventures I’ve had. Partly because I got to share it with one my best friends, Chantae from Chantae Was Here who I met in Thailand in 2015 and is currently living in Fiji, but also because I got to cross off all kind of amazing activities off my bucket list.
I ended up spending a month between Hawaii, Fiji, and Tonga. It cost me a fortune (part of why 2018 wasn’t as travel filled as previous years) but it was oh so worth it.
In Hawaii, I took a day trip out to the west coast where I joined a small group in search of a pod of friendly spinner dolphins. While they didn’t stick around long while we were in the water, watching them swim and play right beside me was pretty incredible.
Then, in Fiji, Chantae, her partner and I went to Pacific Harbor: home to the world-famous bull shark dive. We geared up and descended 30m to a small platform where we watched 25+ full grown bull sharks swim around us. I even had to dodge a couple of fins. It was AWESOME and I have a whole post about the experience that you can check out here.
While the dolphins and the sharks were incredible, it was swimming with the Humpback Whales in Tonga that really stood out. This was something Chantae and I planned to for a couple of years now and we totally lucked out with our 3 days. We swam with a curious calf, an incredibly playful juvenile female, and even got in the water to see a heat run of 5 massive males swim by us. Honestly, I can’t even describe what it feels like to be in the water with these animals To see how playful they can be and their sheer size. It’s unreal. If you love whales or the ocean though, definitely add it to your list. You can find out more about my experience and how to do it yourself in this post.
I Reached my 50 by 30 Goal Several Months Early
I didn’t start travelling until I was 22 years old, but after living in Ireland and exploring so much of Europe I quickly formed a visit 25 countries by the age of 25 goal. I reached and beat that goal. Next, I aimed for 50 by 30 which I’m pleased to report I completed seven months early. Jordan, which I visited in November, was my 50thcountry which worked out pretty darn well I think since I also got to cross off my Indiana Jones dream there as well. I’m sure I’ll get to a couple new places before I turn 30 in June of 2019, but I’m pretty stoked on what I’ve done so far. Not too bad for a girl who only started travelling 7.5 years ago!
I was Sexually Assaulted in Tonga
Remember when I said this year had a lot of good but a really stand-out bad part? This was it. Chantae and I were told by our accommodation hosts that hitchhiking on the island was normal and that we would be offered rides by the locals. So, when we were, we thought nothing of it. But then things were downhill fast and our driver ended up masturbating with us sitting beside him. We’ve both written about the experience. You can find my story here and Chantae’s story here.
To make matters worse, after I shared my story I got a few messages from people- a couple of which were women- who told me that I was wrong to claim I was sexually assaulted because I wasn’t physically attacked. After explaining at least 3 times that, in Canada, sexual assault does NOT have to include physical contact, I finally bit the bullet and added a disclaimer to the post including the legal definition of sexual assault here in my home country. Pretty sad.
I Forgot My Wallet at Home When I went to Quebec City
While the above story definitely took over 2018 for the bad, I couldn’t end this roundup without a couple of funny fails, and this one was the definite winner. That travel conference that I went to in Quebec City, you know, the one I just told you I was a keynote speaker for?
Yeah. I left my wallet at home for it.
How’s that for a ‘professional’ traveller?
I only realized when my mom, being a mom, asked if I had enough cash in case I wanted to buy snacks as she dropped me at the train station. That’s when I realized that my wallet, full of my own cash, cards, and passport, was sitting on the couch at home thanks to a last-minute purse switch.
Whoops. Thankfully, I was just taking the train to another Canadian city so no passport was required, and my mom (and brother who was also in the car) passed me some cash and a credit card just in case.
Needless to say, I now check for my wallet before I walk out the door.
Border Security Thought I was a Teenager
Another hilarious moment was when the US Border security at Toronto airport asked me if my parents knew I was travelling to Minnesota (which was a work trip). I know it was 7am and I was in full airport attire (t-shirt, leggings, zero makeup) but still, I don’t know how that randomly allows a 29-year-old to suddenly look 16. Since he had his passport in my hands (with my age) I just kind of stared at him like an idiot and said “um, yes”. But I did laugh, a lot, later.
Plans for 2019
So what’s on the radar for 2019? Well, as I’m writing this I’m procrastinating setting my work-related goals. I want both blogs to continue to grow in a way that benefits me and my readers. I’ve been playing around with being more personal, especially on Instagram (@hannahlogan21-third times the charm right?) which a lot of people seem to really enjoy so I’ll be keeping that up. I have tons of adventures from 2018 including Jordan, Israel, Palestine, and Hawaii to write about so I’ll be busy for a bit for sure. That being said, I always love hearing from readers so if there’s a type of article or something you really enjoy reading (or hate reading) and would like to see more (or less) of, please let me know. You can email me or drop a note here.
As for travel… who knows. I do have a trip to Morocco booked for the spring (found a super awesome seat sale in October) but other than that I have nothing set in stone. You know me though, I’ve constantly got my eye out for seat sales, so stay tuned. I’m hopeful that 2019 will be another good year with plenty more (mis)adventures for me to share!
Happy New Year everyone! I hope 2019 brings lots of travel and adventure for all of us!