The Year I Learned to Have An Opinion

It’s no secret that travel has changed me. It’s made me smarter, braver and more confident. Equally, when I look back on the past year, I can see that travel blogging has changed me fundamentally as well.

As I said last week , I really can’t believe I’ve been doing this for an entire year. When I started this blog I just wanted an outlet to write about my trips and maybe encourage a few other people to travel as well. I honestly had no idea what I was getting into and how blogging might actually change my own life.

The surprises have been amazing. For so long I thought that I hated to work. I’ve never had a job I enjoyed, and I figured I was just inherently lazy. How depressing. Then I started this blog and I discovered the crazy kind of motivation that comes from actually being passionate about what you do. There’s work that I love so much that I will work for free! Work that I will stay home on a Friday night to do, joyfully. Apparently there was a secret workaholic in me, just waiting to come out!

Where the Magic Happens

I wanted to be a writer, I’ve ended up becoming an editor, a saleswoman, a social media addict. Somewhere along the way I became a businesswoman. Business cards and everything. This blog has grown to heights I really never expected, and every month it continues to surprise me.

Knowing you guys care about what I have to say has made me bolder. It’s made me more confident. I like to think it’s made me a better writer (you can go back and check the early archives for yourself).  I have opinions, things to say. In September I’m speaking on my first panel where I’m sure I’ll have all sorts of keen insights to share (maybe).

From someone who is usually too shy to answer the phone, I’ve become a social networker. I organize tweet-ups (and don’t even laugh at the world tweet-up anymore). I haul myself up to New York to karaoke and socialize with people I’ve never met before. I’ve got connections all over the world.


Blogging has even changed the way I travel. I’m probably more daring, more inquisitive. The fact that I will be writing about my big trip in September gives the journey a structure and makes it seem far more meaningful than it would otherwise. I can’t wait to share my adventures with everyone.

The opportunities that have come from blogging, the ideas I’ve gotten and the people I’ve met have been the greatest rewards (although seeing myself published in a Lonely Planet guidebook was pretty sweet too). This blog has taken me places, both literally and figuratively that I never thought possible.

So I’m emboldened now. I walk a little taller, I talk passionately at parties (whether people care or not).  The truth is starting this blog is the only thing that’s gotten me through the past year of waiting, and I’m so excited to see where we go next!

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48 thoughts on “The Year I Learned to Have An Opinion”

  1. congrats! you live a wonderful life and I hope I can catch up! being in lonely planet is pretty sweet! that’s my preferred travel guide book too – and I recently challenged that decision but alas, Lonely Planet it is again! Look forward to hearing about what you’re up to next – esp your next journey.

  2. I’m with you. I’ve only been blogging for around seven months, but the number of people I’ve met from across the world has been nothing short of incredible. I’m very similar to you in terms of (not) enjoying work – I would get really bummed out thinking I’d need to work another 30 years doing things I disliked. It made me sick to my stomach.

    But since I’ve re-engaged my creativity and put it on the track of travel, something I love dearly, I feel like there’s no limit to what I can accomplish. Cheers!

  3. You definitely have changed over the past year – in the most amazing way. You are definitely more confident and really happy. I’m so glad you are pursuing your passion (and I also liked the picture – “where the magic happens” – i noticed a few familiar cards there….). I can’t wait to hear more about your soon-to-be around the world adventure!

    1. Aww, thank you Susan! Couldn’t do it without you guys.

      And yes, you have a special place in my heart AND my office 🙂

  4. Damn! You always know what to say/write! It’s so nice to hear you say how traveling and travel blogging have changed you. Well said, as always!

  5. awesome! i agree with you, writing, if you are passionate about it, has a way of making purpose come to life. i am with amanda above-my blog is nowhere near as popular as yours. but that’s ok! this time last year is when i gave myself the following lecture: “ok claire, you are either going to do it or not, but just stop talking about it!!” once i started, i have found it makes me happy, it makes me feel productive, and i love hearing from readers. so excited for your big trip and looking forward to lots of good stories. i just started following along here on your stuff, and so far, def enjoying it!

    1. Glad to have you here! It’s definitely been persistence more than anything (which, knowing me, is a miracle in itself).

  6. I am new to your blog – found you through a ReTweet on Twitter from a mutual travel friend. I noticed your tweet the other day (Saturday) about your 1 year blogiversary, and I remembered because that same day, 7/24 is my blog anniversary. Just turned 6. Blogging is amazing. I look forward to more posts from you, and I like to hear that you already bought “ThirtysomethingTravel” 🙂 Best wishes.

  7. I can relate to so much of what you’re saying here… blogging has really helped me give a purpose to my travels and the odd jobs I’ve been picking up along the way. I can tell you there have been a whole bunch of times these past months of working on a farm and now on a boat that I’ve thought, “Why am I doing this? Shouldn’t I just go home and hang out on my parent’s couch? Wouldn’t that be so much easier?” And then I remember the blog… and how writing about my parent’s couch wouldn’t make such a good blog entry!
    Keep up the awesome work!

  8. Happy Anniversary!! I have to say that reading this post has me inspired all over again. I didn’t know the travel blog world was out there until I found your blog and I have to say it’s the ultimate reason I started my own. I hope in one year I can write at least a similar post about what I have learned (even if the traffic doesn’t increase). So glad to hear that you have found your own and best of luck in the next weeks until the big trip, a whole new adventure is about to start!!

    1. That makes me so happy to hear! I’m sure you will find it just as rewarding as I have. Thanks for the well wishes.

  9. Congrats on coming into your own, Steph. Life gets better from here. There’s nothing quite like realizing growing up isn’t scary.

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