Happy New Year all! That's 2021 over and done with and we are feeling rather optimistic about 2022. After a wonderful Christmas and New ear with family, we really feel that this might be the year that things start creeping back to normal.
This year, while it started off in another lockdown (3 months!!!), actually turned out to be a brilliant 12 months with regards to our van Osprey, travel, paid work and some really cool collaborations. Let's look back!
We spent the first lockdown converting our van!
From taking out the passenger seats to making blackout curtains, we spent January and February fitting out our van. We love the fixed bed, plenty of room underneath for bodyboards, clothes and our Thetford loo!
We travelled to 6 countries (3 new)!
We weren't allowed to sleep away from home until April because of Covid restrictions, so in May we took Osprey to Pembrokeshire, Wales for a week.
In June we ticked off a real bucket list road trip, Scotland's NC500! We did the entire loop in a week, camping in Osprey. From John O Groats to the Applecross Pass, thundering waterfalls, the Isle of Skye and even dolphins, this was a real adventure with some truly epic landscapes.
In August, foreign travel was permitted again at last and we flew to Albania. We hired a car and spent a week exploring this amazing country. Albania only opened its borders to the outside world in 1992 after 47 years of oppressive Stalinist isolation, and you can still see glimpses of its communist past in the capital city Tirana and the concrete bunkers scattered throughout the countryside. Albania has some amazing UNESCO World Heritage sites like museum cities Gjirokaster and Berat, the Roman ruined city of Butrint, and some absolutely stonking beaches!
In September we had hoped to travel to the USA but their borders were still closed, so instead, we took Osprey on the Channel Tunnel, across France and into Switzerland! We spent 10 days visiting Geneva, Lausanne, Montreux, Zermatt, Lauterbrunnen, Zurich and Bern before crossing into our 5th country of the year... Liechtenstein!
We collaborated with 2 more tourism boards!
Following last year's partnership with Dubrovnik's tourism board, on our Swiss roadtrip we teamed up with Geneva and Lausanne's tourism boards to help promote their city passes. We have a similar collaboration lined up for Chicago in January 2022 and hope that we can do lots more in the future.
We partnered with 15 other brands throughout the year.
This is a nice growth from last year's 9 collaborations, so here's hoping for even more in 2022!
We helped One Gin promote their new G&T cans and took them on a road trip to Norfolk to make the most of a mini heatwave. You can see the post we created for them here .
UIN footwear gifted us both a pair of beautiful colourful walking shoes and on our NC500 road trip we were invited on a fantastic day tour of the Inner Hebrides with West Coast Tours in Oban, exploring Mull, Iona and Staffa.
Over the summer we enjoyed a lovely long partnership with the Imperial War Museum, visiting and reviewing three of their sites as they slowly reopened: the HMS Belfast, IWM Duxford and the Churchill War Rooms.
We also did several collaborations with Tog24, a fantastic clothing brand who have sent us lots of lovely things to take on our trips throughout the year, from t shirts to swimming trunks, raincoats, wellies, shorts and jumpers. We love Tog24's gear very much and look forward to working with them more this year!
In the summer we travelled down to Bath where we were gifted a free day out at Carter's Vintage Steam Fair which you might recognise from the film Rocketman.
In August we teamed up with an absolutely stunning Albanian hotel, the Giulia Albergo, in Durres, and a fabulous Tirana restaurant, Mullixhiu, where we were invited to try their 8 course tasting menu of exceptional Albanian food.
Between trips, the Adventure Challenge sent us their scratch off couple's adventure book to try, our first of three paid collaborations this year with different brands!
We also partnered with Bird Blend Tea to promote their delicious summer cocktail products, and they very kindly sent us on of their scrummy tea bag advent calendars to try over Christmas.
We had our first paid writing work!
We were paid to write some travel itineraries for itinsy.com and Atlasguru.com , two really cool websites where you can read trip reports by real travellers and get ideas and recommendations for your next trip. You can also upload your own itineraries to help inspire others! We really hope to get more paid writing work this year.
Let's take a quick look at last year's travel wish list, how did we do?
"We'd love to visit our friends in Dubai (our 2020 trip was cancelled), take Osprey over to Europe, and if we can make it to South East Asia by the end of the year we'll be laughing!"
Well we never made it to Dubai as travel was off the cards until mid April, by which point they'd moved back to the UK. Humph. We did get Osprey into France, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, so that was a massive tick, but still no South East Asia! Come on 2022...
So that's our recap of 2021, not a bad one all in all!
And 2022? We are starting this year in style with a trip to Washington DC and Chicago from January 4th, and hopefully the Republic of Ireland in February. Our New Year's wish list for 2022 is to do lots more exploring in Osprey - we'd love to take him to Portugal, and also through Spain to Morroco. We have a planned trip to Colorado, Wyoming and Montana that we cancelled in 2020 and 2021, so hopefully 2022 will be our year! Oh and we'll roll over last year's wish to get to Vietnam... watch this space!