2020 For The Top Ten Traveler – Year Summary

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2020, oh 2020.
So much has been told and so much more will be told about this crazy year. The year that has flipped our world upside down, turned it inside-out and changed the life that we had once known.

For most people, it has been a hard year – financially, professionally, or personally (And I am not even talking about health issues and complications). I struggled with the same this year, especially on the financial side. However, as I sat down to summarize this year for The Top Ten Traveler, I was putting a lot of effort to focus on the positive things I did this year. It’s easy to be drawn to the negative things, and there have been quite a few, but I wanted to create a positive momentum going into 2021.

Every now and then, it’s good to take a pause from the never-ending chase after completing tasks and achieving goals and to take a look back at what was done and achieved so far. I have been doing this for years on a monthly and yearly basis for all the businesses I had worked for. This time, it’s the first yearly summary for The Top Ten Traveler, and I wanted to share it with you as well. It includes what I was able to achieve through the whole process of building The Top Ten Traveler from scratch and fulfilling my dream of doing that. I hope you will find it interesting and inspiring.

Let’s take a look back to 2020

Launching The Top Ten Traveler

In the last ten years, I have been working in online advertising, mostly in tech companies and most recently as an advisor. Throughout all this time, I was helping others to grow their businesses in the online world, and I really liked my job. When the pandemic hit the world earlier this year, I had less work to do and more free time for myself. Like many of us, I was sitting at home with no option (or desire) to leave my apartment, and that has got me to thinking about where my life is. I am sure many of you were in the same situation at the beginning of the pandemic.

Many questions ran through my head. Have I achieved all I wanted to achieve by now? Did I make my dreams come true? What are my passions and do I live to fulfill them?

Whatever my thoughts were, I came to the conclusion that I want to do something else, something new. It needs to be Something that won’t just keep me busy, but will also have my heart in it.

And that thing, ladies and gentlemen, is The Top Ten Traveler.

Building Up A Website From Scratch

Starting a travel website didn’t sound so complex at the beginning, but once I got into it, I realized how much work was involved. There were a few obstacles that I needed to pass in order to get this going.

I am not a tech person, and I have never learned computer science or coding. However, my experience in tech companies has given me some tech knowledge about the online world, luckily. With that knowledge, I was able to pass the first obstacle – not fearing the techy side. I definitely did not know it all, and the learning process has been long and still ongoing. But, mentally I was prepared with the basics which made it feel relatively easier to make the first move of setting up the website for The Top Ten Traveler.

I read a lot, researched, took online courses and webinars (many of them are free), and I got it going. It started with setting up the infrastructure, deciding on the website theme, writing the first posts, finding the right images, complying with data regulations, and more and more.

The results is the website you are seeing today. It is not perfect, but I am proud of it. There’s still more work to do, but I am feeling pretty content with what I was able to build with my own hands. If you have any tips or ideas for content that you want to have – let me know in the comments below, or through my Contact page.

Learning Marketing

Marketing has many faces.

The idea of marketing might be simple – get your brand name out there. However, the doctrine of how to do it is very diverse. And when you are talking about the online world, it gets more complicated and it adds another techy layer to it.

Social platforms, algorithms, organic exposure, paid campaigns, engagement metrics, and more, are all part of the wide world of online marketing. Moreover, as the online world is rapidly changing and progressing, you have to keep up the pace. Leaning marketing is another never-ending process.

I find content marketing and social media marketing fascinating. I am glad I was able to deep dive into the foundations of online marketing and to grow with it as I learn more every day.

Traveling in 2020

While working on The Top Ten Traveler makes me go back to old traveling experiences and re-live them through writing, I was also able to travel twice in 2020.

In February, right before the pandemic, I was on a half-business-half pleasure trip to San Diego, California. I returned to San Diego after 20+ years and realized that I didn’t really remember it, so it felt like visiting for the first time. Even if the temperatures in February were not warm enough to lie on the beach or get into the water, I was still able to explore the city of San Diego and the surrounding area.

In October, I went on a road trip to New England. Going out on a road trip was something I haven’t done on my own (planning and executing), probably ever. So one good thing that came out of the pandemic-era is that it brought me to imagine a road trip, plan it, and hit the road, to one of my best travels in recent years.

Wolfe's Neck woods State park - sitting on a bench
I was able to travel twice this year. One of them was on a road trip during the pandemic.

Joining Communities and Making New Acquaintances

The online Travel Community is huge, and I didn’t imagine how big it is. This year I started getting to know it, and I became part of a few smaller groups and communities. These communities helped me to start my travel website and to grow it, to collaborate with and learn from other people with similar goals and passions, to share travel stories, experiences, and knowledge with each other, and more.

I met new friends, some I communicate with on a daily or weekly basis, and I love it. Even though it is all online (especially due to the pandemic), there are real people on the other side of the screen. Whether it is you the readers, or colleagues, knowing new people is always fun, enriching, and inspiring.

I want to mention three communities that have become an integral part of my life as The Top Ten Traveler. If you are into travel, travel blogging, and/or travel conversations, you might find them interesting as well:

  • The Nomadic Network – of the famous Nomadic Matt. Sharing travel experiences, listening to other travelers’ stories, and learning business and blogging from Matt and his team.
  • DNW – Making Money From Blogging, is a Facebook group with lots of knowledge sharing about blogging, SEO, and anything else related to building up a travel Website.
  • Global Foodie Friends, is a Twitter community that is all about food and food experiences of travelers. If you are a foodie yourself, search for #GlobalFoodieFriends on Twitter and join.

Personal Development

One of the main things I learned this year is that it doesn’t matter how old I am, I can still challenge myself every day.

Sometimes, looking backward at what I have done and achieved can easily make me want to stay where it’s comfortable. However, greater achievements are waiting for me and I haven’t made all my dreams come true yet. In order to do that, I need to dare. In 2020 I dared again.

Starting The Top Ten Traveler was a big dare, which I am proud of, excited by, and thrilled to continue. Stepping out of my comfort zone was something I did in the past, and not surprisingly, I still enjoy doing it today.

Missing My Family

After mentioning the main positive things that happened to me in 2020, I want to mention one of the harder things I dealt with this year.

When I moved to New York from Israel, I took into consideration that I won’t see my family so often. There will be a few months between every visit, and I knew it. During the first years, I was able to fly back two or three times a year, spend time with my close family and friends, and visit my uncles and aunts. Every visit has strengthened me to overcome the longings for the next few months.

My last visit was in May 2019. I was supposed to fly again in March this year, but you know what happened. I canceled the flight last minute (luckily I got a full refund) and all the plans were delayed to an unknown time.

It’s been more than 18 months since I saw my family and I can’t describe in words how much I miss them; When days were hard and I wasn’t able to go and see my parents; In times that I wanted to chat with my siblings but the difference in time zones didn’t allow it; When I saw them on video calls celebrating the holidays together and I was far away and all alone.

I think it was even harder not knowing when the next time will be. That usually gives some hope, but not in 2020. I can’t wait for the next time I’ll be with my family.

Final Thoughts

Yes, 2020 was not an easy year, and I am sure that everyone, just like me, had their struggles. When I sat down to look back at this crazy year, I intentionally chose to look at my achievements, rather than my struggles. Putting them in writing makes them even more significant, and that’s the vibe I am taking with me into 2021.

I hope you found my thoughts interesting. If they were able to touch at least one of you, I achieved my goal in writing this.

Now it’s time to celebrate the end of 2020, the beginning of the new year, and to raise a glass for much better 2021.

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