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As 2016 was coming to a close, I was rattling my brain about what to write to commemorate the end of one year and the beginning of a new one. I had a few ideas, I saw many other travel bloggers who posted their end of year posts, but I really wanted to mark a new chapter in the journey of this blog. There have been many things on my mind and on my heart about the direction I want to go not just with this blog, but with life in general, and how I want this tool, this blog, to reflect it.

Before I get ahead of myself, I do want to reflect back on 2016 and celebrate the moments, accomplishments and count our blessings.

2016 Travel in Review

Last year we rang in the new year in Moscow, Russia with my uncle and aunt. It was a great time, and right after we headed off to St. Petersburgh which was stunning!

Over the course of 2016 we did (starting with Russia) 9 countries together, which included a second trip for me to Barcelona and Budapest, but first time to the following:

  • Greece
  • Portugal
  • Qatar
  • Slovakia
  • Poland
  • Czech Republic

Between 2015-2016, we have done a lot of Europe, and our love and fascination for this continent grows with every country. As a couple we hit 17 new countries, for me personally I’m at #27! My goal is to reach 30 before my birthday in July since I didn’t get to 25 for my 25th, so that should be doable. Other than Israel and Jordan planned for summer, I still haven’t figured out what the third and final new country will be, so far it’s toss up between Croatia and Iceland! Let me know in the comments below what you think I should do!

2017 Travel Goals

As a couple we’re starting to look beyond Europe and start taking advantage of our strategic position in Egypt. We’ve set our eyes to South East Asia and Africa, though it will be hard to not do any Europe at all!

We want to try other forms of travel too, like renting a car to be more mobile and flexible. Since we have done a lot of city travel, we’re starting to itch for more nature-oriented locations and activities like hiking, and maybe (gulp) even camping!

We also want to explore more of Egypt, since our time in the land of the Pharaohs is not permanent, and we want to leave with no regrets. I still have a post coming up about our time on the North Coast and visiting Alexandria so stay tuned for that!

Blog 2016 in Review

This has been a growing year for the blog, which has been very exciting! It was also A LOT of hard work. Early 2016 I took a risk and switched from Blogger to self hosted and using WordPress. It was a great decision, but it took hours upon hours of figuring things out until things finally looked good and the site functioned the way I wanted it to.

The next step was to focus on content, both writing and photos. There were days where I spent a good 4-6 hours just editing photos. My photography skills are still nowhere I want them to be, but they’re decent. The writing has gotten easier too, and based on my stats, people are finding my posts useful!

Accomplishments

Because of the switch from Blogger to WordPress, from .ca to .com, I don’t have stats from the beginning of the year, but they still tell a story. I finished the year with 91 subscribers and a record-breaking views for the month of December! Just over 4000 views, which is double what I had in November! Traffic is growing, especially from Pinterest, and I want to hone in on that this year, and hopefully see 2017 end with a couple hundred subscribers and about 10,000 views per month!

While it’s been amazing to have had done little to no work over the last 2 months on my blog (due to my full time job as a teacher) and seeing it grow and grow, it just shows me how all the hard work and effort I put in the first half of the year paid off. But I don’t want to slow down, or even stay where I’m at, I have big dreams for where I want to go with this blog. Which brings us to the final part.

Blog Goals for 2017

This is where I get to the title of this blog post. Being real in 2017. As the blog is growing, I now have the time to sit back and think “where do I want this to go?”. I want to continue to blog about travel, of course, but lately I have been struggling with truly using the blog for the original purpose I had in mind.

This was always meant to be a travel AND lifestyle blog. While I have been first and foremost focusing on the travel aspect of it, I have always wanted to get more personal with this blog. Whenever I had started writing a new blog post that was not related to travel, more personal, I either ran out of inspiration very quickly, or I was too afraid of how my readers would accept it. So I would leave it aside, unfinished, or even delete it, but as the year went by the less ‘free’ I felt with my blog to be myself and express myself. Recently I felt like I was at a crossroads and I wasn’t sure what to do. But recently I realized something.

While in Prague, we had a beer tour, and our guide had asked us our “life story”. I felt like we told it a million times over this recent holiday whenever we introduce ourselves to new people. Where are you from? What are you doing in Egypt? I’m usually the one who answers this question, but this time I let my husband take the reigns. Since she asked for his life story, he went back to when he was a kid, then fast-forwarded to when we met, how we became a couple, then fast-forwarded again to how and why we moved to Egypt and a quick summary of all our adventures since then.

Throughout the story, our guide kept saying “Wow! You guys are so exotic!” and she seemed genuinely interested and surprised by our story that seemed so regular to me. Just the day before, we had a similar conversation with a Jewish couple from California who were much older. They too seemed very surprised by our story and encouraged us to keep up our lifestyle.

It suddenly hit me that our story WAS rather unique. That we, as a couple, were rather out of the ordinary. And I realized that what I really wanted out of this blog was for readers to come and find a different and unique voice that they can relate to on a personal level. Not just a place to find good travel advice.

I want to relate to curvy females who struggle with self-image and health, to young wives still discovering what marriage is all about, to bi-racial girls who don’t know where they fit in, to Christians who know the struggle of being Christ like, and of course, to those with an unquenchable thirst for travel and an adventurous life. In short, I want to be REAL with you.

How will this happen? Well, needless to say, there will be some changes coming to the site this month! What will it all look like, I’m still figuring out. I’m excited and nervous but definitely ready for a change.

Fear not! Travel tips, advice and adventures will continue to be a big part of this blog! I hope you enjoy the new content as well 🙂

So, how did 2016 treat you? What are your dreams, goals and aspirations for 2017? Is there something you’ve accomplished that you’re particularly proud of? Or a project/goal that you’re super excited about? How do you feel about my direction change for more lifestyle content? Please share in the comments below! Let’s get a dialogue going!

Elizabeth

The author Elizabeth

Christ Follower. Wife. Traveller . Chocolate chip cookie lover. Day dreamer.

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