Jessica in Mt Etna Crater
Journal

2020 sucked…but also, it didn’t

It’s safe to say that for pretty much every person on the planet, 2020 was a different year than expected. There were a lot of bad things, so much so that I think if a couple bad things happen again, that 2020 will be referenced. It was the year when one thing after another would happen to the point that remembering anything that happened the month before, felt like years ago.

The thing is, through the fear, lack of travel, and stay-at-home orders that came and went, there was a lot of good, too, for some people. Sean and I are some of those people. But, I’m not here to lessen the impact this pandemic has had on millions of people. We are all individuals and handle situations differently based on many different factors. If you had a hard time, I am so sorry and empathize. I’m simply sharing my journey.

When it all went to hell and my friends were in worse (and sometimes better) positions, nothing seemed fair to talk about. I felt bad that I didn’t see my mental health decline. I felt bad that, although I wasn’t making an income (hello travel blogger life!), we were in a stable position. It took months to realize that I shouldn’t feel bad that we prepare and there’s no way that I would work for myself with the uncertainty it carries without knowing that we could live off one salary. I shouldn’t feel bad that I’m in a good place with mental health. I shouldn’t feel bad that we have a space to call home that we love and happens to be perfect for two people working at home.

Sean and Jessica in their new house

That’s growth. There’s a little luck involved in all of those things, but there’s also a lot of foresight. I’m a worst-case scenario person and I thrive on knowing if XYZ happens, we’re okay. Emergency preparedness is my jam. Weird, but hey, we all have a thing.

Don’t get me wrong. 2020 still sucked, there were gallons of tears throughout the year. I couldn’t do everything I wanted to do and I certainly wasn’t getting paid. My stats on the blog plummeted, so the little bit that I was making on ads, went away. I lost all desire to care about it because nobody else seemed to.

But, my YouTube was doing well and I saw this as an opportunity to go all-in on it. I invested in an online course and then invested in a mastermind/coaching class with personalized live coaching. It changed everything. Even in the middle of a pandemic, we were able to keep up with a video each week AND do #vlogmas. That feels insane!

Vlogmas day 12-2020 Thumbnail with Sean and Jess licking batter from the bowl and spatcula over 2 round, filled cake pans

Granted, rules were pretty relaxed here for much of the year (now we’re in semi-full lockdown), so we would still go out and about while being as careful as possible. I’m terrified of getting the virus so we only took calculated risks where we felt we could control almost everything and only did things if we felt safe doing them (for us AND others). That meant we did some great staycations in the Netherlands and even flew to Italy twice!

Tuscany collage

Let’s talk about those trips for a second. I know people who would say that it was irresponsible. I was on the fence, too. We went to Tuscany when numbers were very low, we quarantined before and after the trip, wore masks indoors everywhere, ate outside almost exclusively and sanitized like crazy. This trip was important to us, and was cancelled in the spring. We went because we worked with a company we’ve wanted to work with for years, and it was finally possible. Their main clientele couldn’t travel there, so we went to create content so that people could see how incredible it is and book their trips when they were able and it’s safe. We spent a lot of money in an area that needed tourism money. AND we created a FULL 8-day all-inclusive trip with this same company, KM Zero Tours, so you can join us in October 2021. Read the full details here.

Was it a risk? Yes. However, due to quarantining for weeks prior to our departure and Italy having stricter rules than the Netherlands, we felt much safer there and even tried to figure out if we could stay longer. Sadly, it didn’t make sense to, so we didn’t. We came home.

Jessica in Mt Etna Crater

At the end of September, we went to Sicily. Remember the trip we had to abruptly leave in March? Yeah, we went to finish it. Numbers were just starting to spike again in September and it was a hard decision whether to go or not. Again, we quarantined for weeks before going and after we got back, and Italy was doing better than us in the Netherlands. We created a TON of content for the wonderful people from Sicily Activities and had such a wonderful time with our guides and everyone made us feel safe.

When we got home, we knew it would be a long while before we left the country again. That’s okay. Let’s let the world heal.

This was a year of surprises. Of growth. I’ve learned a lot about myself (I don’t need to leave the house much but I LOVE going into the woods when I do). Local businesses are fragile and I want to help support them as much as possible! And there are people who can accept me as I am (quarantine-junkie, and all) and some are even like me.

It’s been really helpful to have friends with similar mindsets here in Amsterdam. Where we can meet outside when we need to see each other, and will quarantine before attending Thanksgiving. Sean’s mindset is similar to mine as well, so we stay home, we order in, and have some epic meals for date nights.

I don’t know. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I feel like I embraced this year with all of its uncertainty and found a little more of myself in the process.

I’m still working on a full retrospective and my goals for 2021 but it will include more YouTube (SUBSCRIBE HERE), more discovering my own adopted city and country, and growing A Wanderlust For Life in ways I didn’t see coming.

I am devastated at the number of people who have been affected by this virus and I can’t wait until we can get it under control because we all need a little break.

Until we can all travel again, I hope you can travel from home through food, reading, and watching travel YouTubers. That’s what we’re doing! Until we’re on the move again, we are wishing you tons of JOY!