The 10-Year Anniversary of The Well-Travelled Postcard, and What Next?
10 years ago today, on 13th June 2012, I published my first handful of posts on the The Well-Travelled Postcard. Here is the very first post. It was the sunshine-filled summer following my final exams at Uni, I was at my grandmother’s dream-like house in West Sussex, and I could finally sit down and turn my ideas into reality. My late granny and I discussed the blog’s name over and over, and she was incredibly excited about the project, as she was with all my endeavours. She also loved to travel, and she’d amassed a great many postcards both from her own far-flung travels and from her huge circle of friends, scattered all over the globe. I’d inherited her travel bug and my grandfather’s knack for foreign languages.
I had very few expectations of this blog back in summer 2012. Bloggers hadn’t yet become influencers, and I didn’t even have an Instagram account back then. I certainly hadn’t pictured myself 10 years hence in June 2022, nor stopped to wonder what I might be doing with my life at age 32. 22-year-olds rarely think that far ahead! The next 4-5 years were a whirlwind of travel and photos and writing, a real heyday for the blog: living in London for the first time; a graduate scheme with travel perks; a posting in Madrid; a sabbatical spent mainly in Nepal, with periods in Berlin and St Petersburg; my Masters in the Netherlands and Sweden; free trips and even some income thanks to the blog.
Moving back to London in autumn 2017 probably marked the end of the blog’s heyday. I still travelled: a bit in the EU with work, in my own time to the Philippines, New Zealand, Australia, Kenya, and all over Europe. But I dedicated most my spare time in those first two years back in London to finishing the Masters and writing my thesis, alongside my full-time graduate scheme in the Civil Service, which made it very hard to write the blog on top. By the time I finally completed the Masters in August 2019, I’d turned 30 and needed a well-earned rest! And then the pandemic came along in March 2020, with its own challenges (as we all know), at the same time as I got a work promotion, a really challenging job in the UK-EU trade negotiations, and a role leading the UK’s G7 Youth delegation.
Amidst all that, I worked stupid-long hours throughout the rest of 2020, which practically gave me an allergy to sitting indoors in front of a laptop, so blogging was the lowest thing on my priority list for my spare-time. I wanted to be outdoors, active, and screen-free! In 2020 I did make an effort to launch The Well-Travelled Podcast and I documented my venture into painting – both experiments that I loved trying out. Separately, I’ve observed that the Civil Service doesn’t exactly encourage individual blogs, personal brands or strong public-facing identities among most of its civil servants, a context which might have also contributed to silencing my voice, compared to the very publicity-friendly private sector where I’d begun my career back in 2012.
In parallel, readers had long switched from following blogs to following Instagrammers and TikTokers, and there was a lot less incentive for us old-school travel bloggers to invest time and effort into our blogs for much less reward. I blame an Instagram shadow ban (due to fake & duplicative accounts set up by an impersonator) and my own perfectionism, for not growing my Instagram account’s reach to its full potential. At the same time, I’d fortunately never depended on my travel writing or ‘gramming for an income, so I didn’t feel the same urgency to carry on trying, despite the shifting winds. Given how many travel bloggers were forced to give up and find other income sources during the pandemic, I’m now glad that I’d always kept pursuing my full-time career elsewhere outside of travel. But to those few travel writers/creators that made it and are still thriving in that most wonderful industry, my sincere admiration and applause to you!!
The blog has been in peaceful retirement now since my annual review of 2021, published in January. In reality I ceased writing about travel almost 2 years beforehand, in early 2020. Since then my posts focused on wellbeing, volunteering, my podcast and paintings, and my other interests. Sometimes I feel disappointed that The Well-Travelled Postcard isn’t still active and buzzing with new travels and postcards, new readers and comments, and I miss it being a more central part of my identity. I still share links with friends who are travelling to places I wrote about, and the blog still gets regular traffic from Google Searches. And I will always enjoy a nostalgic look through my annual reviews. But the effort and time the blog needs to continue actively, is now disproportionate to the audience and reward it’ll attract, so it is high time to gracefully bid the blog adieu and retire it gracefully once and for all, to save my energy for other projects.
In my most recent post I wondered whether I might carry on using the blog to showcase my other projects (paintings, any future series of the podcast, etc) but 5 months have passed and the urge to use the blog hasn’t seized me yet! Never say never, but it’s unlikely… For anyone who does want to follow along from now on, head over to my Instagram @vstuarttaylor instead, if you haven’t already, or my LinkedIn Virginia Stuart-Taylor. I keep both of those up-to-date (I barely ever use Twitter or Facebook).
So what’s next?
My big longstanding travel goals remain: to live abroad again; visit 100 countries before I turn 50; visit Antarctica (to complete all 7 continents); backpack around South America; heli-ski; sail across an ocean; hike a seriously long trail; and a long list of to-visit countries. Simultaneously, I’m trying to climb the rungs at work in diplomatic roles that allow me to represent my country internationally, I’d like to develop my painting into more of a side-hustle, and I’m getting increasing responsibility in my volunteering roles (having been a charity trustee, I’m now looking for a school governor role). I’m also moving in with my boyfriend, so I need to factor his travel goals and work plans into my own. We’ve both travelled and lived abroad lots, but to very different places, so that takes some planning!
The core threads weaving through my life over the past 10 years and into the future, however, remain:
- my international (particularly European) focus
- my passion for foreign languages
- my love of travel and exploration
- having a creative outlet of some form
- volunteering and mentoring to support others’ careers
- standing up for equality and equal opportunities (particularly regarding gender and youth)
Alongside those big ticket items, I’m working on overcoming my perfectionism and my FOBO, on keeping active and healthy through my sports, on spending time with increasingly far-flung family and friends, on being more present and building a day-to-day life I love. I’m writing this post on the south-west coast of France, while on my annual digital detox, and it’s done wonders for soaking up and appreciating the present. Having said that, I’m a planner at heart and my favourite book of the past few years has to be ‘The 100-Year Life’ by Lynda Gratton & Andrew Scott, as I still believe it’s important to focus on the long-term, alongside treasuring the present. In that vein of thinking ahead to the future, I recently wrote a letter to my 52-year-self in the year 2042, pondering what she’ll be like, and what I need to do now to make her happy. Reflecting now on what the future may hold, feels like a fitting moment to end this very final post of The Well-Travelled Postcard, after 10 whole years.