A Year In Review

Preikestolen, Norway

Two thousand ten was a spectacular year.  A year that told the world, “Yes, you’re really in the 21st century and no, it’s not going anywhere”.  It was a year which history looked to with grand aspirations, dreams and expectations. It was a year that brought great strife, both in the form of economic and military struggles as well as brutal natural disasters. Yet, it was also a year that brought a sense of economic recovery, fantastic new milestones in science and reminders that the future will always be bright for those who choose to shape their destiny.

Professionally – On a more personal level 2010 was a spectacular year for me.  Many may be wondering why I’m writing a year in review post nearly two weeks into 2011. Well, the answer lies in just how busy, adventurous and enjoyable 2010 was.  The truth is, this is the first chance I’ve had to sit down and type out my thoughts or even to truly reflect on 2010 as a whole.

On a professional level I saw significant growth.  I was able to continue to weather the tail end of the financial recession in a workplace I enjoy with people I have the utmost respect for despite being in an industry that was nearly obliterated by the great recession.

I continued to grow my web-based projects and launched http://travelresourcelist.com which has been well received and supplements my http://ultimatepackinglist.com resource site which has also continued to grow and receive widespread praise.  In addition to these projects I launched http://youtube.com/travelanswers which has been an enjoyable side project.  All the while, these projects further supported the continued growth and health of this site, VirtualWayfarer.com.  2010 saw VW pay for itself and turn a small profit, as well as increase its web presence and following. Not bad for a side hobby!

From a personal branding point of view 2010 saw me rank in several top 100 travel personality/blog lists, quoted on MSNBC Travel, and across a variety of major travel oriented web blogs.  The year also provided an opportunity to return to Ignite Phoenix and deliver a second presentation to a sold out, 700 person audience. This time on the power and advantages of solo travel.  The year also presented me with the opportunity to return to Arizona State University where I gave three guest lectures. Two on Global Communities and Virtual Worlds and one to Journalism students on the value and benefits of blogging and social media. Lastly, the year provided the opportunity to meet a wealth of local travel professionals and bloggers through the Arizona Travel Tweetup series which I organized, launched and hosted.

2010 also saw me begin my preparations and exploration into a return to school in the pursuit of a Masters and PhD.  With 8 applications in to top tier schools last year set what I hope will bring new adventures, challenges and great growth in motion. Exciting!

Alex in Patagonia

Travel/On The Road – I could not have asked for a better series of trips.  2010 offered me a rare opportunity in which I enjoyed both summer solstices (northern and southern hemisphere) in near polar locations.  In the northern hemisphere I enjoyed it in Central Norway, in the southern hemisphere I celebrated it in Tierra del Fuego Argentina, often referred to as ‘el fin del mundo’ or the end of the earth. These locations offered long days, short nights and amazing memories.

In 2010 I added 5 new countries to my list.  Though two of those (Chile and Peru) were only quick airport layovers I experienced Norway, Denmark and Argentina thoroughly for the first time while revisiting Ireland, Mexico and Germany which have become old travel companions and friends.

In total I spent approximately 38 days in 2010 abroad.  This was split between a 20 day trip and a 18 day trip.  Where I welcomed 2010 on a sandy beach in Playa del Carmen, Mexico I bid the year goodbye from a steamy rooftop terrace in the Palermo district of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

In addition to my trips abroad, I also realized the opportunity for some regional domestic tourism with extended weekend trips to Northern Arizona.  While there I re-visited the Grand Canyon for the first time in years while enjoying a spectacular sunset, photographed the painted desert, explored Flagstaff through the eyes of a tourist and re-visited Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon.

The year also brought the opportunity to connect with old friends. Some of whom I hadn’t seen in years, others of whom I’d met last year on the road during my travels.  They hosted me, entertained me and shared their native culture, cities and lives with me, which was a pure delight and incredible gift.  Similarly, my adventures presented the opportunity to make a wealth of new friends from the world over who I look forward to hosting or visiting in the not-so-distant future.  On a related note, I hosted my first two couchsurfers in 2010 which introduced me to two delightful people, while meeting up with several others for coffee.

Sunset at the Grand Canyon

In Review – There’s no doubt a lot which I’ve left out or overlooked, but in truth it’s just icing on the icing on the cake.  This past year was an incredible one. One which I will remember fondly for the rest of my life.  So, while I’m sorry to see it go, given all the great things it offered I cannot wait to see what 2011 brings.  The promise of new discoveries, new adventures, new growth, new experiences, and new people with powerful lessons and incredible insights.

Goodbye 2010 and welcome 2011.  Let the adventure continue!