Since the middle of December, I’ve been thinking about this 2023 goals review blog post and the subsequent 2024 Goals post. As someone who’s alway been on their own schedule, it’s now January 2nd as I finally sit down at my desk to write. Before scribing the coming year’s goals, I read over the previous ones to take stock and reflect. What a marked contrast 2023 was compared to last year! At the end of 2022, the majority of what I felt was relief and shock. I had checked off a 5-year goal by buying and starting to renovate a campervan. I also finally left the province and country for the first time in 3 long years. Life was tentatively back to normal and big dreams came to fruition.
But why talk about 2022 in a 2023 goals review blog? It’s all connected. Time starts and stops, though the lines blur, blend into, and stack alongside one another. Last year I used the word “upheaval” to describe the overall energy. It was a great shift (not the fun Irish kind). In a completely different direction, 2023 has felt uplifting and full of positive forward-facing momentum. I stuck with my intention to fill the days with joy, splurging on music festivals, international live music gigs, and spending time with people I cherish. I embraced the year’s green vibes of “growth, life, prosperity, calm, positive energy, the environment, my family heritage, and even one of my favourite musicals” – which I just booked tickets to since it’s returning to Toronto this year!
The end of 2023 wasn’t at all what I thought or hoped it would be. For the last week, I’ve been under the weather, at home without much energy. It was a very anti-climactic end to an unexpectedly magical month. Today is the second day glass shards are no longer inhabiting my throat and my mood is improving. Not quite the exciting, productive, or fun end of one year and start to the other, but we’re making lemonade, folks!
- Read 24 Books – I’m starting behind the ball with this one. It’s the 2nd year in a row I’ve tanked this goal. I’ve also done something quite uncharacteristic. Over the last 12 months I have started several books and finished only 3 of them. This has never ever been my habit! Leaving a book unfinished feels wrong to the core, let alone starting several before another’s completion. Here are the books whose back covers have yet to turn: Braiding Sweetgrass, Return: Why We Go Back to Where We Come From, Free Food for Millionaires, The Vagina Bible, Confessions of a Pagan Nun, Perennial Seller, and NPR’s Podcast Start Up Guide. The books I did finish and enjoy were: Small Things like These by Claire Keegan, Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri, and In a Thousand Different Ways by Cecelia Ahern.
- Health – As per my 2023 Mid-Year Goals check-in, there was relative consistency in getting enough movement each day. When I’m at home it’s a mix of yoga classes, HIIT and strength workouts, and running. When I’m on the road it’s a mix of walking, which I don’t always do enough of at home, and the odd run, which I’m looking forward to incorporating more into trips for 2024! The capped bed times worked decently and my water intake was pretty average. I didn’t attend a yoga or vipassana retreat, so those are back on the docket for 2024 as well. I met someone in the last quarter of the year who attended a vipassana retreat in Canada and got a lot out of the experience, so I’m looking forward to researching that further.
- Spanish-Speaking Country – I’m SO pumped to say I went to 2 Spanish-speaking countries this year! To provide some context, I started learning Spanish in high school and minored in it in university. I adore the language, yet have spent little time living in and travelling with it. Until now, the only Spanish-speaking country I’ve visited was Spain and that was way back in 2013! I find it exhilarating to communicate in other languages, even with limitations and fumbles. In fact, for me they are very much a part of what make learning languages so exciting. My perspective is, as you can gather, someone with the privilege to choose to speak in another language for enjoyment’s sake. I recognize that language obstacles are not always fun and that communicating in another tongue can be quite stressful and exhausting. For the purpose of this blog, I will speak from my own experience. The first place I visited was Puerto Rico in May for the WITS conference, followed by work with the campervan company Van del Sol. The second was an amazing impromptu weekend getaway in December in Mexico’s Puerto Vallarta. Here’s to travelling in and learning about even more Spanish-speaking countries in the future!
- Newfoundland – This goal did not pan out and that’s okay. I had hoped to work with the tourism board with this one, however 2 speed bumps popped up: the van build wouldn’t be complete in time and my blog traffic isn’t big enough to work with the desired partners. I would rather do this trip properly than rush it, so it’ll go onto the list for future travel explorations.
- Cross-Canada Summer Road Trip – Ditto above on it not panning out and being alrighty rooney with the situation. A cross-Canada road trip wasn’t a super big wish anyhow, so no harm in not ticking off this loose goal.
- Visit 4 New Countries – Eeeee! Mission accomplished, just in the nick of time! Talk about a 4th quarter comeback. Up until September, I had visited one new country (Puerto Rico). Before you come at me, yes I know that Puerto Rico is an unincorporated U.S. Territory and technically not an independent country. However, while its citizens hold American passports, they are barred from participating in US presidential elections and when natural disasters strike they are often left to fend for themselves. Many Puerto Ricans refer to it as their country and so, in the spirit of the passionate Boricuas, and for the unofficial purposes of this goal, it shall be deemed a country. Moving on!
In October, shortly after returning from an impromptu trip to Ireland, I was reminiscing about another wonderful visit, only to realize I hadn’t attended any gigs. There’s no better place in the world for live music than Ireland. (Skip the castles and soak in the tunes.) Sitting in my living room, conversing between my ears, I decided that if there was a desirable gig in the coming months I might just fly over for a couple of nights. I kid you not, in the next moment I opened up Instagram to a post from Northern Ireland’s Ryan McMullan saying the 2023 shows were selling out. Blown away at the timing, I screenshot it before buying my concert and $150 return-trip plane tickets. If you’re new here, I saw RM open for another favourite Irish artist, Foy Vance, years ago and have been listening to his music ever since. To my surprise, he was even my 2023 Spotify Top Artist. But wait, Ireland is not a new country for me. In fact, it’s the country I’ve visited most over the past decade!
- Visit 4 New Countries (continued) – I’ve had another travel goal for about 11 years: to visit Europe’s Christmas Markets. Well, I thought (again in my head), if I’m already going to be in Europe for December, I might as well visit some Christmas markets too! I didn’t want to visit a country I’d already been to or any of the major destinations, so France, Switzerland, Italy, and Germany were automatically out. I compiled a spreadsheet of the lesser known markets, which included: Tallinn, Riga, Bucharest and Craiova, Prague, Budapest, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Gothenburg, and Gdansk and Krakow. Then, based off of flight availability, hostel desirability, and a few other factors, I eventually landed on Tallinn in Estonia. That only brings the tally to 2 new countries for the year…and that’s where YOU, dear reader, come in! When I revealed on Instagram where I was going, family friends and other fellow travellers messaged to tell me that Helsinki (Finland) was a short 2 hour ferry ride away and a worthwhile day trip. SWEET!
But wait, that’s still just 3 new countries… Don’t you worry, I may be a language nerd but I speak math too. In November, I did another uncharacteristic thing. Well, uncharacteristic while living in North America. I booked a spontaneous trip for the following weekend to a new country. It was thrilling, from the booking, to the lead-up, to the trip itself. Where did I go? Puerto Vallarta, Mexico! BOOM! That’s 4 new countries – goal checked!
- Feel the Ground of a New Continent – Phew. That last recap was a little long-winded, but lucky for me, I’m the head honcho at TwTMc, so I get to be verbose. Lucky for you, I did not visit a new continent this year, which means this goal recap is uber short.
- Spend More Time by Water – Wow. Without centering any trip plans around this last travel goal, it was checked off with nearly every 2023 trip and in the most spectacular ways too. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Sometimes all you need to do is write to the universe and she’ll open doors and present you with opportunities. In Puerto Rico I was fortunate to experience 2 different bioluminescent bodies of water, including the most magical night swim in one of them on my birthday. Throughout the summer while working on the van and spending time with the fam, I soaked in Northern Ontario’s stunning Lake Superior waters. In the fall, I attended the Beach Road Weekend Music Festival in Martha’s Vineyard and strolled between the Atlantic Ocean and the magnificent Gay Head Cliffs. I also drove along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way and went for an unplanned surf! In December I swam on a beach in Mexico, went for a polar dip in Ireland, and took a ferry from Europe’s Baltic region to its Nordic region. Goal resoundingly and joyfully checked off.
- Write 3 Blog Posts per Month – Though I’m writing this in January, it will be included as a 2023 post, making it the 34th for the year. At only 2 behind the projected tally, it’s an alright finish. The monthly vanlife expense posts I began in April of 2022 helped keep me on track, as well as several work assignments with various tourism partners. I wrote other blog posts as well, including a few for the Ontario Cider Trail series and profiles of my favourite Harvest Host locations, a super detailed piece about how much campervans cost in Canada, an FAQ on what Travel Coaching is (you know you want to find out!), a newsworthy intro to Canada’s newest smallest bar, and a few location-specific pieces on Ireland, travelling Puerto Rico by campervan, and Martha’s Vineyard.
- Send 1 Newsletter per Month – I sent 5 monthly newsletters bookending this year, along with a few emails about travel promotions and travel coaching services. Let me know in the comments below if you prefer monthly or quarterly newsletters. I’m curious to see what works best for readers.
- Social Media – At the beginning of the year, I said I’d publish 10 Instagram posts and 2 reels per month. The breakdown looked more like this: January (5 reels + 1 post), February (1 reel), March (9 reels + 1 carousel post), April (5 reels), May (4 reels + 1 carousel post), June (5 reels + 3 carousel posts + 1 post), July (4 reels), August (12 reels + 1 carousel), September (8 reels), October (4 reels), November (1 reel), December (13 reels + 2 posts). This brings the year’s numbers to 71 reels (out of a projected 24) and 10 posts (out of a projected 120). That’s a bit of a flip-around from the goal, but I think it was a smart move overall! As of today, January 2nd, there are 3,005 of us hanging out on the Travel with TMc Instagram page. Welcome to the new 645 fellow travellers on Instagram!
- Increase Travel with TMc Income – If you’re new to the blog, hello and thank you for reading thus far! Everyone wants to know how I make money as a travel blogger, and fair enough. It’s still an unfamiliar industry unless you’re a part of it. Every minute you peruse the blog, every affiliate link you make a purchase through, and every time you share Travel with TMc with others, or donate a tea, YOU help the blog to grow. As with any business, numbers matter. The bigger and more engaged the website and social media numbers are, the more attractive Travel with TMc is to future partners, which then allows me to provide you with even more travel tips! Do you know what comes before those growth numbers? My end of the bargain. I get to provide you with quality travel tips, ideas, and entertainment, which hopefully make you want to subscribe, share, and so on. So here we are – you now know how this cycle works and I’m even more excited to put together another year of travel tidbits for you!
In addition to travel writing, I coach Canadians how to Pay Yourself to Travel through the proper use of points and miles with my online course. It’s the perfect option for learners to go at their own pace and have access to all of the PDFs and notes in one convenient place. There are also a ton of discounts available for many of the travel services that I personally use and recommend. Another way I bring in income for Travel with TMc is speaking engagements. In 2022, I spoke at the inaugural Travel Summit on points and miles for beginners. I’m speaking again in April 2024 and would love to see you there. (Discount code TRAVELWITHTMC!) In the last 12 months I ended up investing more into Travel with TMc, updating camera equipment (it was long overdue) and adding in podcasting equipment. I enrolled in a business development program and applied for a few grants, one of which I’ve already received confirmation of success. While the company’s income didn’t increase this year, there was a lot of time and energy preparing it for the next stages. I feel equally as good about this improvement. Sometimes you have to spend money to make money!
- Write at least 10 Ontario 160 Blog Posts – Nope! Next.
- Start a Podcast and / or a YouTube Channel – I am so excited to say that I’ve got some shiny new equipment to use for both of these. Let it be known that shiny new equipment isn’t necessary to start a podcast or a YouTube channel, but I was long overdue for the camera upgrades and I want to do the podcast correctly. Throughout December I’ve been experimenting with the new gear and it’s been a blast. I have a pretty decent outline for the podcast too.
- Build a Camper Van and Document It – Still in progress, but I can put a check here too!
Did You Make a 2023 Goals Review of Your Own?
Reflecting and look back on the year is one of my favourite traditions. Did you make your own 2023 goals review? As always, thank you so much for being here and sharing the journey with me.