Four years is a long time.
It’s 1460 days. It’s 35040 hours. In minutes and seconds, it’s a number that I, as someone who dropped Maths as a subject in Year 11 (at the age of 16), can barely comprehend.
It’s the difference between being 10 years old, firmly a child, or 14, when you’re flying through puberty and 18, when the majority of the world considers you an adult (although you yourself can barely wrap your head around the idea).
Four years ago, I was twenty five years old and in the UK, my fourth home of the year after living in two cities in Australia and Doha in Qatar. I was unemployed and suffering a fair bit of anxiety about my situation which was not at all helped by the gloomy skies that descend upon London during the month of November.
I decided I needed a creative project and so, started this blog. Fast forward those 1460 days and 300-odd posts and here we are.
It’s mind boggling to realise how much has changed in the last four years. I don’t think if I’d stopped to properly contemplate it, that I’d expect to be living back in Australia and certainly not in Melbourne.
It just goes to show that the best-laid plans of mice and (wo)men often go awry and there’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t ever have moments where I regret moving back to Australia and consider Melbourne a dream city to live in.
It was a bit of a bumpy descent back into life here, but things really came together in this year, 2018 and for that I am most grateful.
That being said, I took a few month’s break from blogging this year, which gave me time to reflect on the last few years and think about where I wanted to take blogging in the future.
So, I thought I’d list a few of the reasons why I inevitably decided to continue with blogging (mostly just in case I need some kind of reminder in the future).
It makes you a better traveller
I didn’t start travelling internationally until I was twenty and I know I was super naive. Part and parcel of being in one’s twenties.
I think blogging about my travels really helped me sit back and think about my actions – particularly where the environment and my impact on the world around me is concerned.
I wonder if I would be as interested in sustainability if it weren’t for blogging. I’d hope so, but it’s something to ponder on.
I also feel like I… do more when I travel now. I seek out the weird and wacky and I will admit, I’ve often done things because I feel like there’ll be a great story behind it (better than doing it for the ‘gram, I suppose!).
Yet, it’s positive when considering my style of travel used to be a bit more “fly by the seat of your pants” and I’d miss out on things as a consequence.
Now I take more time to research and prepare and travel better as a consequence.
It spurs you on to make goals.
I think blogging aids greatly with goal making.
I’m not so sure I would’ve pressed on with giving up plastic for a year, if I hadn’t been blogging. It gave me the opportunity to check in and keep myself accountable.
I also like the fact I could take what I learned and share it with others.
It also means my archives on Australia are fattening up, which is lovely as I’m very fond of my native country and wish to constantly demonstrate that it’s not in fact a boring place to visit and anyone who thinks otherwise isn’t a very imaginative person.
It gives you a place to reflect
This ties in with the two previous points, in that blogging can allow for personal reflection.
It’s a bit like having an online diary in many ways, although I try to be careful to not overshare too much (and probably fail miserably).
I like the fact that pretty much my entire time abroad is documented on this blog and I can go back and reminisce whenever I like.
Plus, as someone who enjoys returning to the same countries, it’s nice to go back and compare how I first felt about a place with how I feel on subsequent visits.
It inspires creativity
This is perhaps the point that I am most grateful for – my blog forces me to be creative.
Blogging gives me an outlet in which to write and I feel over the last four years, I’ve really got in touch with my “voice” (perhaps to the point where I can’t escape it!).
It’s encouraged me to get out and take more photos, something I’ve always had an interest in. It’s a hard slog, but I think my photography has improved greatly and putting them here seems less aimless than just sharing them on Facebook.
And, it’s inspired me to pick up the pencil (or tablet as it were) and start drawing again – an activity I find very rewarding and meditative.
It teaches you skills that can be applied in the offline world
Beyond the creative side of things, you pick up other skills from blogging that are completely unexpected.
I’ve had to learn about social media (grudgingly and I don’t put much effort in, to be honest), SEO and HTML. It’s taught me a little about branding, although it’s taken me years to figure out what my brand is.
I’ve learned a little bit about marketing and working in a professional capacity with other companies. I’m starting more and more to think about my blog less like a hobby and more as a portfolio and small business.
You make friends!
The best bit of all! Connecting with likeminded people from around the world… particularly when you get to meet them!
Most popular posts
This is my favourite part of these posts – crunching and comparing numbers and seeing what did well. The results are generally always surprising and unexpected, mostly because they’re often spur-of-the-moment ideas.
I’m a big fan of small towns in Australia and they certainly need all the support they can get. This is a compilation of some of the nicest in the country, put together with the help of other bloggers.
People have routinely told me that the Thai capital is just another big city, or has been done to death. I decided to seek out some more unusual things to do in Bangkok and feel the endeavour was indeed a success.
Moving to a new city by yourself is really difficult. Here are some things you can do to avoid feeling lonely.
Did you know Australian summers are actually the worst time to visit the country? Here’s why.
My most “Buzzfeed-esque” post of the year – a rundown of what happens when you move to Melbourne.
Got a hot date in London and looking for something other than your standard “dinner and a movie?” Here are some ideas.
I also re-wrote a bunch of old posts and my two week road trip itinerary for Ireland tends to get eyeballed a fair bit. It took a whole day to research and write, so yay for that.
My favourite posts/posts I wish people would read
I didn’t dare write a where to stay in Melbourne post until I’d lived here for over a year – I think the result is both thorough and extensive.
Would you survive a zombie apocalypse? I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t!
One of the nicest travel memories I have from 2017 is seeing a volcano erupt at four in the morning in Hawai’i.
Christmas is one of the hardest periods to live through as an expat. Here are some survival tips.
Was moving overseas just a big mistake?
My beloved dog Bentley died in January 2018. This is his eulogy, my tribute to his 13 years of life.
Thoughts on the future
One thing that always helps inspire writing is travelling. I had about ten million blog post ideas spring to mind in New Zealand and I’m excited to see what my time in India will bring.
The biggest task I’ve set myself for this summer is making this website more navigable. Frankly, at the moment it is a bit of a mess.
I’ve been working on a new Destinations page (Click here to check it out!) and I’m going to set up pages dedicated to countries I write a lot about (like Oz and the UK) to help people access posts on specific topics far quicker than they can at the moment.
I would like my page views to keep increasing (what bloggers doesn’t haha) and am a bit frustrated at the slow rate so far in which this has been happening. But, I don’t write SEO juicy posts a lot of the time, which is my own fault.
That being said, I plan to just keep writing what I want to write. I find it to be a far more interesting endeavour and I’d lose patience with the blogging process otherwise.
My blog at the very least, finances itself now and I like that it can do that without it losing the essence of what I want it to be.
I’ve heard people say blogging is a marathon, rather than a sprint and I agree. Sometimes I think I accidentally signed up to a route that takes you over many mountains and through twisting roads. But, I feel pretty satisfied when I look at my blog now – I think there’s a range of interesting content on there that will hopefully be a bit more accessible when I sort out the damn navigation!
As always, I will end this post in the style of an Oscars’ speech – thank you to everyone who has stuck around, particularly through the three or so month break earlier this year. I’m grateful for every (positive) comment, email and friend made due to this blog… it’s what brings me back to it time and time again.