2015 turned out to be memorable year of travel. It was also a year of soul searching, change and discovery. We weren't sure how it was going to turn out since Dave spent the first couple of months recovering from breaking two vertebrae in his back. This time last year we thought our lives would be forever changed. I think about how far we've come. It took four months for Dave to recover from hospital stays in both the Peruvian Amazon and Canada. He had to learn how to walk again but after his ordeal in hospitals, home care and physiotherapy he was back in action exactly four months after his fall. As a matter a fact, we were already on the road again in March 2015 doing a cross Canada media tour discussing travel health. A very fitting and timely subject.
By April we were ready to start our travels again, and started with a Caribbean Cruise. We thought that would be a light enough travel that wouldn't affect Dave's tender back too much. We looked at the as a way to enjoy tropical weather and some much needed pool time. But we weren't prepared for group travel, the crowded ports or the poolside parties. We had made the wrong choice and instead of having a positive experience for our first time back in action, we felt numb and uncertain of the future.
Enjoy our Best Adventure Video Round up of 2015
After the cruise we set off to Costa Brava, Spain where we spent two months getting our travel feet back. While there, we realized that we may have pushed things a little too soon. We weren't there mentally yet. Dave's back had healed, but both of us never dealt with the trauma we faced. We couldn't motivate ourselves to get out and do things. A hike downhill caused Dave to remember the feeling of falling in the Amazon and he lost the joy of being outdoors. I had spent the past four months caring for Dave and stopped taking care of myself. In Spain, we were both mentally unprepared and had a lot of physical strength we had to rebuild. We didn't know how to balance travel and work anymore.
All we wanted was to go home, start over and create a healthy routine. But that routine would have to wait. While in Spain, we had many offers on the table and like so many things in life, one feels that they have to “make hay while the sun shines.” A TV show offer came our way that we couldn't pass up. So we flew home to Canada only to have that sweet deal fall through. We were bummed, but we realized that this was probably a blessing. We weren't camera ready after gaining a lot of weight by sitting on our butts for four months. We weren't prepared to face a gruelling shooting and travel schedule and now that we were home, we could start to focus on the future.
A little while later an Instagram trip came our way and we decided we wanted to take it. Instagram had turned into the hot thing of 2015 and we wanted to be a part of it. It turned out to be another wrong choice for us. We had already done group press trips at the start of our travel blogging career and quickly learned that wasn't for us, so starting over again on a group Instagram trip was a mistake. While an Instagram trip allows you the chance to get photographs of all the hot spots, we don't feel it gives you a good sense of the destination. We didn't have a moment to catch our breath, talk to the people or learn about the little things. It felt empty, even though it looked gorgeous.
Travel Blog to Tell a Story
I didn't have time to find the story I wanted and I felt like a third wheel being there capturing videos and taking notes while everyone else focused on snapping photos. Even though Dave is the photographer, he is also a storyteller and always looks for more than just a pretty shot. He likes to capture the true to life moments, to think about what story we will tell on ThePlanetD, and discuss the camera angles and script we will use on our videos. (as well as capturing his gorgeous sunrises and sunsets through the lens.) We like to travel alone, on our own schedule and hand pick the activities we want to do and the sights we want to see. While our photographs let our readers see the beauty of South Dakota, we felt that we never couldn't get a story beyond a Top 10 or Photography round up. That was our mistake. We should have done what we always do when invited to a destination. We should have said, we'll come on our own and do what we do best.
So we came home from that trip discouraged. Is this the future of travel media? A series of snapchats and Instagram photos creating an endless stream of noise? We wanted more, so we decided to refocus on our travel blog and put more emphasis on our travel videos. We want to dig into the good, the bad and perhaps the not so glamorous side of it all. Because like every day life, travel isn't perfect. How many vacations have you been on where you have had a huge fight with the one you love? How many times have you chosen the wrong hotel room, or the wrong side of the island? We've made so many mistakes in our travels. We've overpaid, gone at the wrong time of the year, missed out on visiting something because we arrived too late or stood in line too long. It's never perfection. It has its ups and downs and that's the way we like it.
So the rest of the summer was spent doing short and sweet trips, attending conferences, and catching up with friends and family while we “found ourselves” again. We've always said that you should never run away from life to find yourself. We've never encouraged people to use travel as a crutch to find themselves. You can refocus and reinvent your life exactly where you are. At home. And that is what we did. While home, we had the peace and calm to decide what the next chapter of Dave and Deb would be.
Why We Are Travel Bloggers
We got into this business for the love of travel. It was a way for us to spend more time together and build something out of our passion. We got into this because ever since our first trip in 2000 we always yearned to show people the beauty of this world. We often said “If only others could see what we are seeing right now.” Eventually that became possible and our travels felt complete. We found that we had purpose. We could inspire people to visit new destinations, try new things, and travel together with the one they love.
So when the final half of 2015 began, we started taking projects that excited us. We have already travelled extensively independently and we will continue to do so, but we also want a fulfilling career. We thrive to be creative and to work. For the first time in our seven years of blogging, we are in a confident place where we can pick and choose. We don't need to take projects that don't inspire us and we don't need to jump on every opportunity that comes our way. Once we focused on what was important, the latter half of our year was filled with working on the right projects with the right people.
Visit Nova Scotia
We loved working with Pam of Visit Nova Scotia where we travelled the province showcasing the South Shore. We met the people of the East Coast TMAC chapter through Pam and talked about photography and videography with them. We were excited again and it showed. Our content from Nova Scotia went crazy around the Internet. Dave's photograph of Lunenburg went wild in social media and sales offers of his photography from that destination have gone through the roof.
Nova Scotia was followed by a fulfilling and creative collaboration with Visit Britain. We loved capturing travel moments from our time in Wales. We can't tell you about it yet as it hasn't launched yet. But our travels through Wales are going to be a part of one of the most creative campaigns we have seen from a tourism board yet.
We then flew to Greece to explore the lesser known destinations of Skiathos, Pelio, and Meteora and met one of our favourite new men in travel, George of Visit Meteora. All this time we thought we were working with the Greece tourism board, but when we landed in the country, we learned that George is an entrepreneur who has put Meteora on the map. He and his brothers have opened a travel agency that is determined to draw tourists to this fascinating destination. And with good reason. It is one of the most interesting places we have been to on earth. We'll be writing about it more in the coming months. Seeing the photographs of these three destinations will inspire you to add them to your Greece itinerary.
We slowed down a lot in 2015. And after Greece we took time to relax, speak at a conference and visit my parents in Florida. We went to Key West, a destination we have wanted to see for years. We combined that trip to partner with IHG rewards Club and learned that we could travel on our own terms and find people to work with along the way. We enjoyed the feeling of what it's like to travel again.
Our final chapter of 2015 travel took us back to Alberta where we worked with our friends at Banff and Lake Louise. This was a magnificent winter campaign that was as fun as it was creative. It was a year in the making. We had phone calls and meetings with Kym and her team discussing the best activities that would suit our audience and fulfill their needs. We talked about how we would promote and support each other and we created an editorial schedule for both social media and content. This planning will now become the blueprint for our future campaigns as we have never worked so intimately with a tourism board before. And it paid off. We had so much fun and it shows in our content. We loved every single moment in Banff Lake Louise and our followers and readers will love it too. When you have fun in a destination, you can't help but inspire others to go.
What's Next for 2016
Last year, we both decided that it was time to slow down, scale back and only do things that inspire us. A paycheque isn't worth feeling unfulfilled. So we are excited to continue to work with companies that spark our creative side. We are continuing to work with TravelSmith as Travel Advisors through 2016. We feel that they are a strong travel brand offering amazing gear and clothing to travellers but we also love the creativity that they bring to the table. They have carefully and slowly picked travel advisors that we are honoured to be along side. Each person is doing their own thing focusing on their own strengths and creating their own campaigns with the company.
Like TravelSmith, TripIt is another company that has let their travel representatives keep their own identities and focus on their strengths. Everyone that works with them does so in a different capacity bringing their travel experiences and media expertise individually to the table. We were excited with our final quarter of American Express pulling together creative ideas and thinking outside the box and are looking forward to our conversation in January to brainstorm 2016 ideas. And we are thrilled to take our relationship with Quark Expeditions to larger scale. Keep an eye out for another polar adventure in 2016!
I think that 2016 is going to be the best year yet. It has been 7 years of travel blogging here at ThePlanetD. After 5 years we reached all the goals we had ever dreamed of, and the past two years were about working to find a balance between life, travel, and making a living. We feel that we are in a comfortable place to speak our minds, and take our readers on a journey with us around the world. So stick around, it is going to be a wild ride.