Wow. 10 years. I can’t even believe it.
For those of you unaware, I started this blog after a personally meaningful trip to Israel with my brother in 2012. It was also a mistake fare, so the roundtrip cost was only like $370. When I got back to the states and made it back into the office, people did the usual “hey, how was the trip” thing and I responded with the usual “good” response and then we went about our days. I wanted more though.
I wanted to tell the full story of what actually happened on these trips but not overshare to those who didn’t want the details. I decided to start a little travel blog, since I’ve always enjoyed writing. I went to WordPress, clicked the Start A Blog button, and they asked what my blog was going to be called. I didn’t really have any creative or punny ideas (man, to think of how much blog titles have done for the Pun Industry) so I just called it Andy’s Travel Blog, fully intending to change it later (oops). I wrote out my first post and was off to the races!
Here’s how the site looked way back then, with a generic WordPress theme:
I had so many cool ideas for what I wanted to write about and, to be honest, it took me a long time to find my voice. I looked up to people like Gary Leff, Ben Schlappig, and Brian Kelly, who were the titans of miles and points blogging back then (and still are today!), but I found that my blog wasn’t much different than theirs, only theirs were much better! I wasn’t a very good miles and points blogger but loved writing about the trips I took and how I booked them. I settled into my voice now: an optimistic, hopeful travel blog documenting the travels and thoughts of a professional traveler.
The biggest moment in my blogging career
The biggest moment in my blogging career was an email exchange with a gentleman named Randy Petersen, the godfather of frequent flying, founder of Flyertalk, and leader of the legendary BoardingArea network of travel blogs.
I firmly believe that if you want something in life, you should ask for it. I had been getting some good traffic on my blog and wanted to take the next step, so I sent in a blind email to the BoardingArea generic contact email:
“Good afternoon, what sort of traffic are you looking for bloggers to have before bringing them onboard? My writing style is a mix between An Idiot Abroad and Ernest Hemingway and I often think too highly of myself. All the best, Andy (www.andystravelblog.com)”
Never in a million years did I imagine that I would get the following response:
“Andy…don’t worry about Hemingway! A great day and week to you. I’ve continuted to read your blog since you contacted us and think it would be a great add to our expansion of BoardingArea. I think you’ve got a nice writing style, unique attitude and something that could really grow with exposure to more readers.
I can answer any questions you have and at this point am wondering of your interest to join our current family of bloggers.”
My life would never be the same. The support I’ve received from the BoardingArea team, past and present, has been incredible and it’s allowed me to, as Randy always says, “just write and be the best blogger you can be”.
Since then, it’s been steady growth as I found my voice, took up photography, and settled in to what I think is a good blogging cadence. Sometimes I write more often, sometimes I go for a little bit between posts, which I know can be frustrating for my readers. So many of you have given me the room to write what I’m passionate about and to blog from my heart. I cannot tell you how much that means to me.
By almost sheer coincidence, today marks what I believe to be my 1000th post on this blog, which sounds CRAZY to me (what’s crazier is that’s a slow month for many of my peers!). I’ve written about miles and points, destinations to which I’ve traveled, and you’ve all gotten to see me fall in love with puffins. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride along the way!
Over the past 1000 posts, I’ve shared:
- 5946 pictures, almost every one of them taken by me
- Roughly 5000 comments have been shared on this blog
- I average roughly 1600 words/post, which means I’ve written 1.6 million words on the blog!
- Over the past 10 years, more than 1.7 million people have visited this blog, generating around 2.5 million pageviews!
I’ve written a lot of stories I’m proud of, and some have even taken off and gone viral! Here’s my current list of greatest hits, loosely in order of pageviews:
- They Will Fly Again: an Aerial Look at Grounded Jets across the USA
- Delta paid me $4500 to take a later flight!
- I lost my Executive Platinum status and couldn’t be more thankful
- Singapore Airlines Suites Class: What It’s Really Like
- To the people of Singapore, Reddit, and the rest of the world: THANK YOU! (written after the author of a mega-viral story about Singapore Suites Class blatantly plagiarized my work and Reddit went crazy on him)
- EXCLUSIVE: Details of Casey Neistat’s FAA investigations
- What I Use to Take Pictures and Why None of it Matters
- I Stayed at the Marina Bay Sands Just to Swim in the Infinity Pool, was I insane?
- Did Saturday Night Live just make the most accurate travel expectations video ever?
- My $28000 First Class Trip Around the World
I know I say thank you a lot (in my defense, I mean it a lot). This blog is mine, but it’s also yours. YOU keep me going. YOUR kind words are the fuel that causes my fingers to hit the keyboard for you. The thing about blogging from a first-person perspective (like I do here) is that you end up being kind of similar to Jim Carrey’s character in The Truman Show. You invite people into your life, into your wins and your losses.
Over the past decade, you’ve watched me grow up. You were there as I found my voice and learned how to write. You were there in 2014 when I bought my first camera just before an incredible trip to Machu Picchu, fostering a love for photography that will continue for the rest of my life.
I look back to who I was back then and it’s hard to put into words all the ways I’ve grown. The heart behind it all has stayed the same, though, and I’m so happy to read that joyful and optimistic heart in just about every post. The world is smaller to me because of this blog, which has helped me make friends in countless countries across the world. I’ve learned how to connect with people and root for their success, helping any way I can.
I think, most of all, I’ve learned that we’re all on our own journeys. A friend said to me a few years ago “with all the kids’ activities we took a break from traveling for a few years but we travel vicariously through you!” To that friend, I say that I’d love having a fleet of kids someday, so I’m living just as vicariously through you. We are all on our own journeys. There will be happy moments, sad moments, beautiful scenes, and sometimes just “the usual”, but, no matter where you are in the world, there’s beauty in all of it. Just keep going. Write that next post, go on that next trip, or maybe even just reach out to people who mean the world to you and tell them you love them.
I do not have the words to describe how grateful I am for each of you who visit this blog. The memories of people recognizing me are great, but even more than that the emails I’ve received saying that a post of mine helped someone with a crucial detail of a trip make me feel like this effort has been worthwhile.
And I’m not stopping yet. Here’s to the next 10 years!
Congrats, getting past one year is huge in blogging, let alone 10!
Congratulations and please keep up the good work! Your blog is approachable, knowledgeable and fun. I look forward to more.
Congratulations Andy! And of course thanks for all the great posts. You’ve been a true inspiration for me to write my blog. Looking forward to reading your blog for many more years.
As an amateur photographer myself, I always particularly enjoy the photo aspect of your travels. You have been a fast learner with the photos. I also enjoy the gear and technique discussions as much as the travel. Keep up the great work although I hesitate to encourage you to break a leg. You had a couple of harrowing experiences already.