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As Laura and I ring in the New Year with the Edinburgh Hogmanay Celebration, we’re well into our plans for 2020. This past year was interesting, to say the least. This next one is pure excitement and we have so much already worked out.
Wrapping Up 2019
2019 was my fifth year of traveling the world. I visited nearly 40 cities in 14 countries around the world, bringing my total number of countries up to 51. I lived in Chiang Mai – Thailand, Rotterdam – Netherlands, Edinburgh – Scotland and the Lake District – England. Unfortunately, I only made it to three new countries this year – Myanmar, Switzerland and Luxembourg. I might also have to amend my total number of countries slightly if I’m going to stick to those recognized by the UN.
On the blogging front, my website received 50% more views over last year. Dozens of companies have reached out to collaborate, including Godi Gummies, Tesalate Towels and Godiva! Laura and I also just got back from an amazing adventure through central Europe visiting dozens of Christmas markets and working with several tourism boards and companies to help promote their cities.
Easily the best thing that happened to me this year was meeting Laura. We spent the second half of the year together having great adventures. I just love how much we have in common. We’ve got quite the future planned, but more on that below.
The other great part of my year was the monetization of my blog. I write for the joy of it and to help others out, but I still need to pay the bills. In 2019, I acquired three primary income sources which now are covering the bills and cost of travel. I should have done this far sooner in my travels, but working for money just isn’t a motivation for me.
This year wasn’t entirely smooth sailing. I had some trials and tribulations earlier on in the year, including running into a couple unscrupulous individuals I accidentally put my trust in. I helped one with blogging advice, only to see them spend their time copying articles and social media accounts of others, and spreading discord and lies among fellow bloggers. But that’s in the past. When you’re on the mission to help and stray dogs are barking and nipping at your heels, just keep moving forward. That’s what I’ve done, and the future is amazing!
New Year’s Resolutions
Honestly, I don’t have a lot of new New Year’s resolutions this year. I do have some resolutions, but many were already embarked upon in the past few months, while others are sadly carried forward from previous years. For Christmas, I got a small home-gym set, a pair of running shoes and a yoga mat, and I plan to keep my daily exercising in but more of it.
This past year saw me cutting out most alcohol from my life (not that I was ever a heavy drinker). Now I plan to get even healthier with my diet, removing much of the carbohydrates and junk food I eat and consuming more fruits and vegetables.
With travel, I need to finish visiting my remaining 8 countries in Europe, especially since I’ve had that on my list since I’d nearly visited them all in 2015. Five of the countries will be visited in the first few months of 2020, and then we just have to book our flights to Norway, Belarus and Malta. The resolution connected to this is to be traveling more, rather than getting stuck in one place at a job making money when I could be earning the money online (as I’m now doing). We do plan to set up a base in Asia at the end of the year, but we’ll still be traveling.
New Year’s Resolutions are interesting things, as they can quite often be a challenge to put into motion. I believe there are actually prior steps before you can put in a guideline for behavior. If you’re interested in learning about the other five steps, check out the third episode of my newly launched podcast!
Plans for 2020
The aforementioned podcast was a huge part of my plans for 2020. Well, it’s been a plan of mine for far too long, but it’s launched now and a new episode will be coming out every Saturday. I’m starting off with just some ruminations and then I’ll be moving into all kinds of content over the next few months.
Another big plan that Laura and I have is a tiny home, which is just days away from coming to fruition. We had a van available for purchase, but it wasn’t quite what we wanted and so we held out for something better. Well, better is now in view and within a week we’ll be in our new home and embarking on our first road trip of 2020. I say first road trip but current plans have us traveling for the next sixth months around southern Europe. We already have over a dozen tourism boards working with us along the way. The excitement is palpable!
There are more plans connected to the tiny home, including building up the family. We can’t wait to pick up a puppy to travel with, although our chosen breed – a Goldendoodle – might be a little hard to acquire. We’ll also be installing a mobile studio in our tiny home, which brings me to our other ventures.
Laura and I both plan to move into a more audio-visual medium. The podcast was just the first step. As I write this, Laura is upstairs recording a new song and we will both be focusing on YouTube heavily this year. My film school and a new Dell laptop are my biggest assets at this time for my video production. Now I just need to get the new GoPro and a drone for more footage (to add to the hours of 4K footage I’ve picked up in the past year), and then you’ll be seeing all kinds of content coming from us.
I know I’ve said this before, but I’ll also be finishing a couple of e-books, all in the name of helping other travelers. It’s interesting. I’ve met several individuals in the past five years who have said that I would burn out from all my traveling. I disagree. The more I travel, the more I want to travel, as everything I do is to help others. I learn from my mistakes and tell others so they don’t have to make the same mistakes. I like to help find the best places to eat and sleep and the best activities to take, and pass on that knowledge. But more than anything, I love making people happy.
There’s just too much negativity in the world, spewed out by the few haters within our society. I want to balance the scales and spread the good news. And I want to thank all my readers from the bottom of my heart for being along with me for the journey.
Well, I’ve spent the past week deleting all mention of Laura from the blog (for reasons which will become clear in a moment), and then ran across this article. At first, I contemplated deleting it entirely, but perhaps this is a good place to mention what happened without making a big deal out of it (as who reads these yearly planning posts?).
So, since the beginning of the year, I’ve basically been living at Laura’s parents’ house as she was building a new studio there and didn’t want to leave. We did make it on a three-day trip to Bordeaux (which I paid for and set up), and then two house sits (which I also arranged). Otherwise, Laura had almost no desire to travel (despite being a travel blogger).
One huge milestone we had was the purchase our van at the beginning of January, which we split the payment on evenly, although I then paid for the road tax and most of the fuel costs – except for the times she was using the van to hang out with her friends, which I demanded she pay for.
Starting around the middle of February, Laura started expressing doubt on our relationship, saying she just wanted to stay with her small circle of friends in the Lake District, and her parents who might not be around for much longer. She went as far as to abandon me at the first house sit, but then came back the next day. It also needs to be mentioned that three times last year, she left me but came back each time begging me to take her back, and promised she would never leave again after the third time.
Fast forward to March 19th, and after a rough house sit in Doune, Scotland during which I had to walk six miles in the middle of the night to rescue her after the van ran out of fuel in the countryside, we were back in the Lake District so she could be near her family again. They had claimed to have contracted the virus and were under self-isolation, but that didn’t stop her from going to spend the nights there instead of sleeping with me in the van, which was slowly getting converted into our tiny home.
That was the day when we went to go get my driving full UK driving license. After nearly two and a half hours of driving to pick up the rental car and then get out to the test center, we were notified the test had been canceled (literally 8 minutes before the test). That night, Laura dropped me off with the van in an empty parking lot in her village and went home. I wasn’t about to go into the home myself, due to some difficulty I’d had with invalidations from her father, and both parents being under quarantine.
The next morning, I woke up and found all my devices were dead. I also really had to use the toilet, and we didn’t have the materials yet for the porta-potty in the van. I waited for over two hours until I couldn’t hold it any longer. I drove the van to the closest available toilet (a nearby library) and told Laura where I was.
At some point, I noticed that van was no longer in the parking lot, but I had a magazine article to finish and I assumed Laura was doing her shopping. Two hours later, she came in with her uncle who was demanding to take my key of the van. When I asked what was happening, he said the van was at his property and I had two weeks to get my possessions or he was going to trash them (criminal acts of theft and criminal destruction of property). Apparently, when they had taken the van, they had left a couple odds and ends (non-essential clothing, my tent, toiletries and a tarp) on the side of the road in a trash bag.
Laura would barely talk with me, saying she had made her decision, and literally left me on the side of the street as the library closed. I then had to hitchhike my way up to Edinburgh where I had a place to stay. I’ve since been re-planning my life without Laura, teaching English, exercising, helping my dad and upgrading the blog.
I did have a fascinating text conversation soon after the incident where Laura claimed that her actions definitely did not amount to leaving me stranded. I told her I would pay for her half of the van and get it transferred up to Edinburgh. She then had the gall to ask for more money, despite all the times I bailed her out when she overdrew her bank account from buying too much chocolate and nicotine gum, the times my dad and I paid for her fuel to get to her parents, all the accommodations I’ve arranged and paid for in the 8 months we’ve been together, etc.
In a nutshell, she’s shown her true colors. I’ve been in touch with the police and Citizens Advice Bureau on legal proceedings. To make matters worse, the UK was put on lockdown only a couple days after her stunt, so all my food, most of my clothes, and nearly all my other possessions are hundreds of miles away from me in a time when I need them most. Despite my usual relaxed countenance, I’m quite furious over the whole matter, partially with her complete and utter betrayal, but also with myself for being duped by her for 8 months. I really should have listened in the first week we met when she said she had no intention of committing to a long-term relationship. She was right!
So now I’m waiting for the lockdown to end so I can get the van and my possessions, at which point I will finish converting it into a tiny home and then begin the next phase of my travels. In the meanwhile, I’m forever thankful to the dozens of friends who have giving me a tremendous amount of support during this time. If you did happen to read this update, I’m sorry for having to relay the bad news, but I needed to get it out.