With a new year fast approaching, we've taken the opportunity to take a quick look back on the last twelve months which have led us to new destinations, returned us to a place we never thought we'd visit again, and saw Along Dusty Roads have to make home back here in the UK for about the fifth time in our lives.
Here's what happened in 2017.
where we've been in 2017
Trips taken | 14
Number of countries visited | 8
New countries visited | 3
Besides a fantastic few weeks in Morocco, 2017 saw us sticking firmly to our home continent - and realising that there is so much more to Europe than we'd ever really considered.
We visited Spain four times, Germany twice, Portugal twice and set foot in three new countries (Ukraine, Latvia and Lithuania). We discovered a real love for road trips, decided we need to learn Italian and German, and that we really do genuinely want to live in Spain (Brexit's probably buggered that one up though). We've explored more of the UK (although not nearly enough of it), have disappeared into the countryside almost as much as we would have liked and made a little bit of effort to see more of London beyond our Stoke Newington bubble (well, the coffee is rather good here...).
Compared to a 2016 spent almost entirely on the road, our travels slowed down quite significantly. Settling back into living and working in London has however presented us with many wonderful opportunities. We've found a new group of friends who share many of our passions. We've been able to spend more time with family and an endless supply of tea. We've had a routine, Netflix account, stable wifi, steady income, a wardrobe to unpack into and a place we could call our own.
This change has meant it's been a year of a different type of travel; more short trips and weekend breaks than long-haul adventures to far-off places. Slow travel has still underpinned much of what we've done, but less time to dwell has inevitably meant our pace has been quicker than we'd like in some places.
What's clear to both of us now however is that we were born to be on the road more often than not, and we need to do everything in our power to make that our reality.
Our Five Favourite Trips of 2017
We've both visited Italy on a few occasions, but it wasn't until September this year that we fell head over heels for the country - and all thanks to one little region, Puglia.
The prettiest cacti, the most Italian looking Italians we've ever met, stunning coastline and hidden coves, charming little towns and superb local food. Puglia was made for a road trip, and we know it won't be our last over there!
Back in 2012, before Along Dusty Roads was even an idea, we took one of our very first holidays together to Morocco. Ten days, some spectacular photographs and several horrendous experiences later, we swore we'd never return.
And yet, early this year, that is exactly what we did. Maybe it was an awareness of all the issues that exist here, a harder shell or a growth as travellers, but 2017 wouldn't have been the same without having seen those orange dunes or road tripping through this undeniably beautiful country.
Morocco is not without its problems, but we are so happy we gave it a second chance.
We've written lots about about Morocco already, so if you fancy getting inspired(and better prepared for travel there), then check out our Morocco page.
Before this year, we'd never really considered Latvia as a destination. That's not to say that we'd heard bad things, or put it in the 'no interest in travelling here' column, it was simply that we knew so very little about it.
But now, after a wonderfully festive few December days spent in Riga and road tripping through the wintry countryside, it's a country we honestly can't wait to return to to see more of in spring/summer.
Our little fingers are busy typing up our Latvia articles, so keep an eye out on Facebook or Instagram for them in January.
When we were invited to Menorca, along with 50 other influencers (many of which were or have since become good friends), we knew it was going to be all sorts of fun. Little did realise quite how much!
The opportunity to eat ALL the food, visit stunning beaches, explore country roads on the back of a motorcycle and wander pretty streets - not to mention indulge in a little too much of the island's gin - means that it's a part of the world that will forever hold a very special place in our hearts.
We've even spent a good amount of time back here in London seriously planning out whether we could move to Menorca in the next few years. It's still very much a pipe dream, but this is a place that we both instantly felt could be our home.
Hamburg has been on our radar for quite some time. After all, this is the city we keep being told is the new Berlin and a home for hipsters that is so very up and coming.
And it didn't disappoint.
We spent a fantastic July weekend here enjoying the best of its bars, exploring the coolest neighbourhoods, navigating the water in a kayak and sampling a very German rave. It was a fantastic way to spend Andrew's 30th and giving us more reasons than we can count to get back there in 2018!
We actually haven't written much about Hamburg - but we shared an article about why we have to return. Check it out here.
our year as travel bloggers
We asked our followers on Instagram if they wanted this review to to share more about our blogging year 'behind the scenes', or to focus more on our travels.
The response was overwhelming and clear; you are way more interested in our travel stories and insights than blogging. And we couldn't be happier with that! Along Dusty Roads was always about sharing the wonder of travel, and not to simply become a blog about blogging - so we're glad you want us to keep it that way.
However, we are going to just share one number with you: 1.9 million.
That's how many page views we've had this year, and we are both quite flabbergasted. Never in our wildest dreams did we think that sort of figure was possible, and we just want to say thank you to all of you who come back each week or month to Along Dusty Roads for some travel advice and inspiration. We get e-mails every week from people saying that we've helped them to plan their own adventure, and it truly means the world to us to know that.
One message we picked up when we landed in Italy, sent by a reader from Romania who was in a remote village in Ecuador, really sums it up best:
"Just wanted to let you know that I'm sitting at the table in Isinlivi with 10 people confirmed following the blog and [it] being so helpful on their travels in South America. Keep up the good work!"
Here's to 3 million next year?
Our Five Most Popular Posts from 2017
Looking over our end of year stats, a few things become pretty obvious, pretty fast. Firstly, pinterest users are CRAZY about Valencia and Swedish coffee shops, and secondly the entire world seems to want to go to Colombia.
Yeah, we understand, we totally want to go back too.
some of our Favourite Posts
The posts loved by google and popular on social media aren't always the ones that we've enjoyed writing the most, or that we're most proud of. In fact, they might not have been read much at all - here's a opportunity for some of our favourites to get another go in the limelight!
What does 2018 hold for Along Dusty Roads?
2017 may have been the third year that Along Dusty Roads has existed, but it's the first when we've both agreed that what this little corner of the internet holds is much more than simply a hobby.
We strongly believe that travel can be a force for positive change in communities, economies and the empowerment of individuals, as well as being a beautiful, fun and engaging learning experience. If you've read our travel philosophy, you'll know that this approach has always been central to what we do here at Along Dusty Roads.
We want to continue to help people to travel more and to travel better, and share stories from parts of the world which may surprise you. We also want to encourage travellers everywhere to have a more positive impact on the places they visit.
We have some exciting projects and collaborations in the works for 2018, alongside our own independent adventures, and we'll be sharing more about them in the weeks and months to come. Whilst London will remain our base until the end of summer, we can share with you that we will be heading back to Latin America at some point this year to discover some new dusty roads...
maybe we'll see you there for a few cervezas?
We hope you all achieve what you want in 2018 and have a year full of adventures!