My 2018 review: a quick look back at what I’ve learned from blogging and a summary of my adventures & travels over the past 12 months…

My Year in Review: 2018

~ 2018 Review Part 1: The Blog ~

2018 has certainly been an eventful year; with a lot of changes, the launch of this blog and, of course, more travelling! Having left my hellish (read: awful, truly awful) job in winter of 2017, I began the year in ‘funemployment’ thinking about whether to stay in the legal profession (spoiler: I did, for now).

With this free time I no longer had an excuse not to sit down and get on with designing and creating this blog. After what seemed like a thousand different ideas later, I finally settled for the design you see now. Getting to grips with wordpress, plugins, SEO, social media, etc has been a steep learning curve! 

BurchAbroad.com Screenshot

It was February, just as I was ready to go live, I had my first ‘oh shit’ moment. After preparing a handful of initial articles about Norway,  I realised that my original blog title was very, very similar to a pre-existing blog. After my initial ‘throw toys out of pram, what a waste of time, I give up’ moment I went back to the drawing board. 

Picking a name proved to be the most time consuming part of the design phase. A name is ever so important: it’s your brand and, unless you’re mad enough to want to change it down the line, it is something that you’re going to be stuck with. Not, then, a decision to be taken lightly. I finally decided on Burch Abroad – a lot of people I know call me ‘Burch’ (short for my surname, Burchill – original, I know) and I like being abroad… after all, this is a travel blog.

So, ten months on, what have I learned?

Firstly, blogging is damn time consuming. Any bloggers out there who are reading this, give yourselves a big pat on the back. Blogging takes a lot of perseverance and is essentially a full-time job. God knows what I used to do with all my free time before this blog.

I launched this blog with visions of grandeur, naively assuming that I’d make it big in the first twelve months. I was looking forward to thousands upon thousands of monthly visitors, more Instagram followers than I could count (don’t get me started on the issues with Instagram… that could fill its own post!). Nope, it’s not happened yet… baby steps. 

Reader numbers are slowly growing and it’s always great to beat the statistics of previous months and reach new milestones. To anybody who has actually clicked onto my little slice of the web, to read an article or peruse some photos, a massive, massive thank you 🙂 If this blog inspires just one person to go take that trip they have been thinking about put putting off, I’ll be happy. Likewise, if any of my guides prove helpful, great.

I love it. I’ve said previously, on my ‘about me‘ page, blogging has allowed me to rediscover my love of all things creative – design, writing, photography. Creatively, my day job can be suffocating – law by its very nature is prescriptive and bound by rules. It’s not a subject that encourages and harbours creativity. The creative nature of blogging is a great counterbalance. 

~ 2018 Review Part 2: The Trips ~

I must say, it’s been a pretty good year for travelling. Whilst it hasn’t quite hit the heights of 2017 (Singapore/Indonesia/Malaysia, Bolivia/Peru, Norway and Morocco), there have been plenty of memorable moments and many good times had. 

January: London

Whilst I didn’t head abroad in January I did head down to London to spend my birthday playing tourist with my friend Phoebe, who was over from Singapore. The crisp winter’s day was prefect for a warm cup of coffee (or three) and strolling around Kew Gardens (which I’d never previously visited). I loved the look up shot from inside the Hive.

2018 Review - the Hive

February: Hong Kong

In February I accepted a job offer and, with a couple of weeks to kill before I started, hurriedly booked my first trip of the year. My mate Bloomers was travelling through Australia and Asia and was headed to Hong Kong. I thought ‘why not’ and booked a return ticket. 

Despite my previous whistle stop tour, during which I didn’t fall in love with Hong Kong, I decided to give it a second chance. Thank god I did! Spending 10 days in Hong Kong allowed me to really get to grips with this true wonderful city. Of all the articles I’ve written so far, I’ve enjoyed writing about Hong Kong the most. My highlights? Obviously the food – I’ve never eaten such consistently delicious food. The other, as the 3,000+ photos will attest to, was exploring the city for days on end with my camera in hand. I must return.

The Hong Kong Skyline, Hong Kong trip

April: Italy

In April, my friend Jenny and I took our annual trip abroad. Previously, we had visited Copenhagen in 2016 (definitely one of my favourite European cities) and explored the fjords of Norway in 2017. This year,  we opted for to Lake Como with a bit of time tagged on in Milan. Italy was as Italy is: wonderful. The lakes were relaxed, the views spectacular and the food delicious. 

Lake Como Travel Guide- Varenna 1
Milan City Guide Duomo at sunrise

May: Greece

The trips kept coming thick and fast and in May I headed on my first family trip since 2013, for a week in Rhodes. It wasn’t my usual kind of trip – all inclusive isn’t really my kind of thing. Although I did manage a day of exploration in the Old Town and other in the very photogenic Lindos. The all inclusive nature of the holiday led to me discovering a love of mojitos (seriously, how had I not drank these before?). It also allowed me the time to plan a bunch of blog posts. So not all bad! The downside was injuring my shoulder after getting overly competitive in a game of volleyball. 5 physio sessions later…

I know what you’re thinking: (a) what an idiot for the shoulder injury – yeah, fair point. (b) if you’re not into all inclusive holidays, why go? Fair question, it was my kid brother’s wedding, so it would have been quite rude of me not to attend!

Lindos 1
Lindos 2

June: Portugal

In June I returned to Lisbon. I’d previously visited this great European city in 2016 for a stag do. My second experience was far more cultured, less intense and I actually managed to see some of the city! Lisbon is currently in the ‘to write’ list – sometime in 2019…

Aside from being unseasonably chilly, Lisbon was great. I was most impressed with the fresh, delicious (and cheap) food, the spectacularly beautiful architecture and a day trip out to Sintra. 

Lisbon Rooftops
Belem Tower

August: Slovakia

August saw a trip with Lucy, one of my other travel buddies. We’d been on a trip in each of the previous 3 years: Cambodia/Hong Kong (2015), Singapore (2016) and Bolivia/Peru (2017). This year was a little more low key and we spent a long weekend in Bratislava. Despite the city’s ‘Brits Abroad / stag do / lads lads lads’ reputation that it sometimes attracts, I had a lot of love for this quaint and chilled out city. Read all about it, here.

Bratislava City Guide - Page Header
Bratislava City Guide - the UFO

November: USA

After nearly 3 months without a trip, I was experiencing withdrawal symptoms. You’ve seen the bit in Transpotting where he’s locked in his room to get clean? Yeah, it was like that, but minus all of the drugs! During November I spent a week in Chicago. It was bloody freezing (so much for some winter sun!), but completely worthwhile. Chicago was my first visit to the US in 5 years. It was the perfect excuse to catch up with a close friend, eat far too much food and gaze in wonder at the spectacular architecture on show. Chicago articles are nearly finished and will be dropping in early 2019 – so watch this space! If you do go, be sure to spend an evening in Andy’s Jazz Bar – in addition to great cocktails, the live music is sensational.

Visiting Chicago - architecture and the US flag
Visiting Chicago - the Flamingo

Actually taking  the time out to pause and reflect has made me realise that 2018 has been pretty hectic. Hectic and awesome: 1 new job, 1 new blog, 6 countries visited and 1,000s of photos taken.

~ 2018 Review Part 3: Looking forward to 2019 ~

I can scarcely believe that 2019 is almost upon us. It seems barely yesterday that I was unemployed and wondering what to do with my life. So, onto next year…

2019 is definitely the time to build upon what I’ve learned from blogging this year – I want to be more consistent in creating and posting content. I also want to work on giving the blog a bit more promotion and hopefully encourage more people to visit and give it a read.

At the same time I need to try and balance the whole being an adult thing (trying to get onto the property ladder, etc) with lots more travelling. Otherwise, how else am I going to be able to create new content (once all the old stuff has been written about, of course)?

Tightrope walking in the Salar de Uyuni

Currently, 2019 is a blank canvas. There are a multitude of ideas and potential destinations are swirling around in my brain. I’m excited to find out what will be featured in next year’s review…

So, where have you been this year? What were your highlights? And what’s on your agenda for 2019?

By CHRIS BURCHILL

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