Today is a big day: one year ago today, I bought my website domain name and hosting, and Away With Maja was created! My one-year “blog-a-versary” has crept up much faster than I thought it would, and I still can’t believe how far I’ve come on this journey. I have learned so much since I started blogging about my travels. And since I’ve renewed and paid for my hosting for another year, I know I’ll be blogging for at least another year. I’ve got a lot of things I want to say about this huge milestone, so let’s go!

Cesky Krumlov // Czech Republic

I still love blogging

Yep, I still love blogging and I still thoroughly enjoy it. I originally purchased 12-months of domain hosting, just since I wasn’t sure if I would still be into blogging more than a year down the line. Well, the good news is in and I still love blogging! It is a lot of work, but I do genuinely enjoy it.

Blagaj // Bosnia & Herzegovina

I still love traveling

And obviously, I still love traveling. Visiting new places, exploring, the adventure of it all. It lights my soul on fire. I love it. Once the travel bug hits you, there’s no turning back. I caught the travel bug nearly 7 (SEVEN!) years ago and still crave the excitement of it all. I think that that is one thing that will stay for the rest of my life.

Zambezi River // Zambia

I wish I could take longer (1 week+) trips

While it’s so great to have a salaried job and a stable paycheck, I miss the opportunity to take longer (1 week or longer) trips. Weekend trips are great, and I think this year I will really learn to love the long weekend—but I miss longer trips. I still plan out two-week trip itineraries in my head, even though to be honest, I’ll be limited to those twice a year, maximum (but that’s still about double than standard time off in the US—holla!!!). I miss the adventure of a long trip, the fun of having a whole month and a world to explore. Oh well. I still get about 28 days (paid!!!) off a year, and for that I’m grateful.

Natural History Museum // London, England

Big Ben // London, England

Life abroad // British adventures

My blog has definitely taken a bit of a different turn now that I’m living in England. I talk a lot about life, culture, and destinations in the UK. And I hope that people enjoy reading about my adventures in Britain! England is, and forever will be, my favorite country, and I love sharing it with as many people as possible.

Malham, Yorkshire Dales // England

York // England

Adventures in Yorkshire

England is never going to cease to amaze me. But Yorkshire in particular has so much to see and do! This is such a fascinating part of the country, and I have so much to explore. There’s the spectacular scenery, rich history, big cities, charming villages, and more. I love living here. York is an amazing city (I’m waiting to write more about it once I’ve visited more places/museums/historic sites/pubs/bars here). Every day is a potential adventure! I’m so lucky!

Split Rock Lighthouse // Minnesota, USA

Minneapolis // Minnesota, USA

Sometimes I just really miss Minnesota

Europe and England are great, but sometimes I just really miss Minnesota and Minneapolis. The 612 will forever be my city and every once in a while I get a wave of homesickness that is just Minnesota-based. It’s an amazing state, and Minneapolis is an amazing city. I’m lucky that I can call it my hometown.

Kafue National Park // Zambia

I want to connect with my readers more

One of the things I want to do more of is connecting with my readers (you!). Whether I know you personally in real life, or you’re a complete stranger who has come across my posts, I want to know you better and write the things that you want to read! I want to be more approachable and make it easier for people to reach out to me. So don’t be shy! I love it when people comment on my posts or ask me questions! So say hi!

New York City // USA

I love Instagram

One of the things I talked about in my 6 Months of Blogging recap was how much I love Instagram. I had only been on Instagram for a few months at that point, but I echo 100% of what I said then: I love Instagram, it’s great for blogging, and I think it’s a great way to start (slowly) growing my reach. I’m close to hitting the 1000 followers mark, which just floors me every day. I also put a lot of thought and effort into my photos, and a whole lot of time and energy to the ‘gram every day. It’s paying off, and that’s a great thing to see. You can check out my Instagram here!

Victoria Falls // Zambia

I want to start Twitter and vlogs (and maybe more)

Of the other ways I’ve thought of for growing my reach, I think starting a Twitter (or using the one I already have) is one of my first steps. Hopefully in the next few weeks you’ll see a big Twitter announcement and I’ll start being active on another social media platform! I also want to start making vlogs (“video blogs”). I have tons of short video clips and really want to put them all together into quick videos. I love the visual part of blogging, and so I’ve decided that I want to try my hand at video editing as well! It will be painful and time consuming, I know. But it’s something I really want to start and learn and improve on.

Peak District National Park // England

Sveti Stefan // Montenegro

My photography is getting so much better

Practice makes perfect: my photography has improved by leaps and bounds over the last year. It’s seriously painful to look at pictures I’ve taken in the past, even as recent as the last year. I am continually getting better at taking photos, and learning/teaching myself more about photography. I’m thinking that the time may come to start some real gear (a tripod would be great), and keep experimenting more. Night photography is one area that I’m still working on, and continually striving to make/take better photos. Eventually, I’m hoping to teach myself enough about photography on my point-and-shoot camera to upgrade to a camera with manual settings so I can take even better photos. It’s a journey, but I love sharing my photos with you all!

Hore Abbey // Ireland

I’m sort of at a life crossroads at the moment

I’ve felt this for a few weeks now, but I feel like I’m at a crossroads in my life. In terms of the blog, I feel like there will be either a lot of (international) travel coming up, mainly in the summer—or very little travel. It’s a weird place to be in, but I feel like the next direction my life will take will be a very important one. This might sound cryptic and weird, but I don’t feel like going into too much detail. We’ll see what happens!

Leadenhall Market // London, England

I don’t network or promote my blog anywhere near as much as I should

This might sound strange, but unless you know me really well, I don’t generally bring up or talk about my blog. Part of that is a concerted effort not to come across as too annoying or like one of those people who tries so hard to make themselves sound cool and interesting (because those types of people really annoy me). But part of it is that I’m still just really shy about it. My blog is my baby—it’s hard to put that out in the open, and take the chance that people whose opinions I seriously value would criticize or hate it. I also don’t network with other bloggers or within the tourism industry like I should. I’m still hesitant to tag a page on Facebook, and way too shy to send an email sharing and promoting a blog post. But I’ll take it in tiny baby steps, always.

Dubrovnik // Croatia

My blogging goals for the next year:

I have a lot of goals that I want to work towards in my next year of blogging. I want to improve my photography, and continue to learn how to make and take better photos. I want to improve my voice as a writer, something that I think will take years still but already I can see progress since my first blog posts. As I mentioned above, I really want to grow my reach, connect more personally with my readers, and hopefully show others how wonderful travel can be. I want to connect with other blogs/tourism companies, which I think will be one of the best ways for expanding my reach.

Lviv // Ukraine

Krakow // Poland

I want to continue exploring more of my hometown (York), area (Yorkshire), and country (England/Great Britain/United Kingdom). And most of all, I want to continue traveling to a nice mix of both popular and more “off the beaten path” destinations—my adventures in Eastern Europe will continue this year (Lithuania is up next!), and I hope to showcase even more places that aren’t the tourist hotspots.

Edinburgh // Scotland

And last but not least… THANK YOU!

Neither myself nor this blog would have grown and changed the way it has in the past year if it hadn’t been for all you readers. Thank you for the love and support as I’ve started on this journey! I never would have made it this far if it wasn’t for you. I appreciate you all so much and I couldn’t have done it without you. Here’s to the next year!

Thank you to everyone! I can’t wait to see what the next year of blogging on Away With Maja will bring!