I think we can all agree that 2020 was an absolute shitter of a year and we’re all sat at home optimistically hoping for bigger and better things for 2021.
I wrote a blog post this time last year, ‘20 things I want to do in 2020‘, and I actually did do most of them! But there are some things on the list that make me want to cry. I had so many plans that never happened.
We all want 2021 to be better, but how many of us actually think it will be better? There are whispers that ‘Easter time’ could be the magic date when our lives start returning to what they were pre-Covid. But if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we should set our expectations low, really low, then maybe lower them again, and we won’t be disappointed.
I’m sorry if this sounds a bit doom and gloom. I’m just trying to be realistic and not get excited about possibilities that will never happen.
I have to admit that my hopes and dreams for 2021 are somewhat smaller than they have been for previous years. I’m usually all about dreaming big. I love setting New Year’s resolutions and making grand plans for the upcoming year.
The quote, ‘Shoot for the moon. If you miss, you’ll land among the stars’, pretty much sums up how I live my life, but it doesn’t feel quite right for 2021!
The uncertainty of 2021
If someone told me that we’d have another year like 2020 then I’d be OK with that, I could plan for that. But it’s the uncertainty of the year ahead that I find difficult.
I actually wouldn’t mind another year at home. I feel so lucky to have an energetic family who keep me very, very busy. Living on the edge of the countryside definitely makes things easier as we always have somewhere to escape to.
But we just don’t know what kind of year to expect.
Should I be planning overseas adventures for the summer? Will my work return to normal by the spring? Will my kids remain in school all year or will I be back to homeschooling?
Without answers to these questions I feel like I can’t plan anything. It’s not just about whether or not I can book a holiday, it’s also about work. Most of my work is travel related and while people can’t travel, I don’t have much work!
The reality of being self employed
My income dropped by about 90% this year. Yes 90%! I basically lost my job. Not only because there was less work out there but also because I had three kids at home with me for a significant portion of the year and I found it almost impossible to get any work done. I planned to work each evening when Sam came home from work but I was utterly exhausted by 6pm!
As my stats plummeted I lost all my enthusiasm and motivation to do any work which led to a downwards spiral that I struggled to get out of.
I thought changing the name of the blog would help but, realistically, it didn’t change anything!
I love being self employed and I still wouldn’t change it for the world. I’ve looked at full time jobs and even came close to applying for one job but I couldn’t do it. After so long working for myself, I think I’d struggle to go back to full time employment.
I guess I’m still a travel blogger!
Despite changing the name of this blog, I’m still a travel blogger.
Who was I kidding?
The penny really dropped when I bumped into a lady in Chester a few weeks ago and she was a Travel Hack fan! She had The Travel Hack Backpack and everything and she recognised me immediately. Yes, I was elated! As a travel blogger, it’s not very often you get recognised!
‘Ooooh, you’re The Travel Hack!’ she said to me!
‘Well, yes, but I’ve changed the name of the blog and it’s Monica Lucy now….’
‘Yes, but you’ll always be The Travel Hack!’
It was a longer conversation than that but that’s basically how it went!
During the peak of the pandemic I couldn’t think of anything worse than travelling but I’ve got my travelling mojo back and I can’t wait for another adventure – whenever that might be! I’ve also noticed that just by changing the name of the blog, nothing else has changed.
So there may be the chance of The Travel Hack returning in one way or another. I’ll keep you updated….
The most important thing I learnt in 2020
I’m not going to be a bore and say the most important lesson from 2020 was realising the importance of our health or our mental wellbeing, or how much beauty we have on our doorsteps or yadda yadda yadda. We’ve been saying it all year and I’m bored of it.
Let’s be real here. We’ve always known how important our health and wellbeing is. We’ve always known there are beautiful places close to home! We’ve always just had much more interesting things to talk about and more exciting places to visit until now!
There is one thing I’ve really learnt in 2020 due to Covid and lockdowns, and that’s the fact that to create memories you have to actually do something.
When you don’t do anything, you don’t remember anything.
Does anyone else have a complete gap in their memory from late spring/early summer? I know I do. Many, many, many weeks passed and I have no recollection of what we did. My memory is just a blank. If I didn’t make a couple of videos during this time then I’m not sure what I’d remember!
I remember those first few weeks of lockdown in March so clearly because it was all so strange and frightening and, dare I say it, kind of exciting? We travelled home from Tenerife during lockdown and I remember this so clearly.
But we quickly adjusted to lockdown life and settled into a strange and monotonous routine where everyday was exactly the same. Sunday melted into Monday and quickly became Tuesday and then it was Saturday and….where did half the week go? Lockdown was a blur of lazy mornings, craft activities, household chores, games in the garden and counting down the time to Wine O’Clock (which got earlier and earlier as the weeks ticked by).
It could have been a week, it could have been a month, it could have been 4-5 months. I don’t really know. But there’s this weird, blurry gap in my mind where nothing really happened and that scares me.
It scares me because life is so short and so precious and I hate to think that I wasted a whole year not doing anything worth remembering.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that raising three incredible children isn’t ‘doing nothing’ and it’s totally worth remembering! But I really don’t remember the days when we just potter about the house. I remember the days when we went out and did stuff like when we went to Alton Towers or to Magical Woodland. I remember spotting dolphins in Abersoch and taking the boys on a jet ski that Sam won at the start of lockdown (worst time to win a jet ski!) but there are whole weeks I don’t remember.
My goal for a memorable 2021
Following on from this, my main goal for 2021 is to make sure we have a weekly ‘activity’. OK, I know an ‘activity’ sounds like a boring school trip but I basically want to do something each week that is fun and memorable. A day out, a mini adventure, a hike or just something exciting at home.
I know this is going to be a little more difficult at the moment because we’re currently in Tier 4 and it looks like we’ll be heading back into another nationwide lockdown. So I’ve got my work cut out for myself but I’m sure we can make it happen!
My blogging plans and goals for 2021
My main goal for the blog is to get it back to where it was at the start of 2020.
For the past 6-7 years, this blog generated enough passive income for our family to live on, so I’d love to get back to this level.
Passive income is the most wonderful way for a blog to earn money. It comes from the adverts on the website and any affiliate sales made through my recommendations. I know ads are annoying (sorry about that guys!) but they make it possible for me to keep blogging with minimal brand collaborations. Don’t get me wrong, I also love working with brands but having passive income as a backup income stream means I can be very selective about the brands I work with and this blog doesn’t turn into one big sales message.
Usually, passive income is a very secure income stream. I’ve been able to take months off at a time when I had each of my babies and it didn’t affect my income.
But then along came the huge wrecking ball known as Covid-19 and it stopped people travelling, stopped people researching travel, booking travel, reading about travel and spending any money on anything travel related! And yep, that income stream dried up pretty quickly!
But through diversifying my content so it’s not 100% travel related, I’ve been able to claw back some of those precious pageviews and my passive income is slowly climbing back up.
Seeing those stats rise again is bringing back my confidence in myself as a blogger and giving me the motivation to keep going.
Hopes and dreams for the future
I always like to leave space to dream big and I think it’s important to put big dreams down on paper so we don’t forget them.
My big dream – maybe not for 2021 but for sometime in the future – is to buy a small campervan. I’m dreaming about driving it around Wales and then maybe even around Europe during the summer holidays with the kids.
Sam and I had a campervan in Australia and the freedom it brought was incredible. I genuinely don’t know if it will work with three children and a dog though! Will a campervan make us feel free or will it be like a prison on wheels? I’m not sure so I’m planning to hire one for a few weeks to see how we get on before I dive in and make a big purchase.
I’m going to be writing a ‘highlights from 2020’ post this week so keep an eye out for that!
Clazz - An Orcadian Abroad
Tuesday 29th of December 2020
Great post, Monica. 2020 has certainly put life into perspective, hasn't it? I too hate the uncertainty that 2021 is bringing, but equally I feel lucky that I don't have kids to worry about, I've got a stable job, and that my biggest concern long-term is when we can travel again, which feels pretty trivial in the grand scheme of things now. (My biggest actual concern is whether our already-postponed wedding will go ahead, but that's another kettle of fish altogether!!) I love your goal for doing something exciting every week - it's pretty much what we did in July-September and it made such a huge difference for us - as it turns out, I was VERY glad to make the most of those months! I have a similar goal for 2021, but like you say, being in tier 4 doesn't really make that easy! Hope 2021 is a better year for you, and for us all.