We didn’t go to Tegal Wangi beach unprepared. With two backpacks full of camera’s, tripods, filters and whatnot, my friend and I were ready for the perfect sunset shot on that hidden beach in Bali. There was nobody, except for a couple having their wedding pictures taken, and we’d had to walk for over an hour and even face some angry cows to get there. It didn’t take long before I was looking for the perfect angle and trying to find an original title for the blog post. Checking the lighting and thinking about the best hashtags for Instagram.

Let’s sit down for a couple of minutes, we’re too early anyway…

Two hours of non-stop chatting later I realized it was dark. I’d hardly even seen the sunset, let alone taken a picture of it. No article, no perfect Instagram shot, nothing to show to my followers on Facebook and Twitter about what I’d been doing that day.

Then I realized I didn’t give a fuck…

That time I decided to enjoy the moment rather than sharing it with the world - Taking a break from blogging and a holiday from traveling

 

FAST REWIND TO HOW IT ALL STARTED

1st October 2015, the official launch of Lili’s Travel Plans.

Wanna know a secret? I had no idea what I was doing. Not. A. Clue. Before starting my own I hardly ever read blogs and I didn’t know any other bloggers. I knew I wanted to share my stories and maybe meet some like-minded people but I think I didn’t even suspect half of what I was in for…

So it started as a new hobby, but one I was passionate about. One that I wanted to be good at. In order to learn as fast as possible, I threw myself at it. Literally. Every free second was spend on the blog. Whether it was writing, networking, promoting on social media or keeping up with how everybody else did it, I was always busy.

The first three months, that’s what I did. And my blog sucked. Honestly. It wasn’t good.

Then I decided to STOP keeping up with how everybody else did it.

To start writing what I wanted to write about – my stories, my adventures, my journey – and use my own voice. To drop the filters and focus on the reality of travel and how it makes me feel. To stop informing people and start inspiring them instead. To figure out for myself which social media strategy worked best for me and which of my 475 Facebook groups for bloggers were most beneficial rather than follow some crap article about ‘how to gain 400k followers overnight and get rich by blogging just 10 minutes a day Monday to Thursday’.

And it worked. In the next 4 months I multiplied my blog traffic by 5 and my social media followers by 3. I was also counting followers every two days and in the morning before even opening my eyes I was already checking my stats to see how many people had visited my site overnight… 

In the third month I had a complete burnout and had to stop working but simply didn’t know how to actually stop and stand still. I HAD to keep busy, I HAD to have goals, I HAD to make myself and everybody else proud. Because that’s what I’d been doing for the last 10 years. Because I simply had no idea how not to… Because I knew reality was gonna hit me like a bomb as soon as I would stop and I had no idea how to handle it. Blogging became my new focus, it was the perfect distraction.

By the end of month 4 I think it’s safe to say I’d become a blogging nut job!

That time I decided to enjoy the moment rather than sharing it with the world - Taking a break from blogging and a holiday from traveling

d

INDONESIA ON A WHIM

Skyscanner – everywhere, part 2.

I was 2 months into my sick leave, it had been a few weeks since my first solo trip to Cinque Terre and I needed another one, a longer one this time. In my search for one of those I-can’t-believe-how-cheap-this-is tickets to somewhere in Europe, suddenly there it was… the I-can’t-believe-how-cheap-this-is ticket to Jakarta. Everybody knows Jakarta is in Europe, right? Right? Guys?! A few clicks later I had booked it, and 2 weeks later I was off on my first real solo adventure in Indonesia.

I’d made plans, and I even had a list of things I definitely didn’t want to miss. It got shorter with every step I took… I was exhausted. From the 40 hours’ journey to get there (you can have cheap or short, but rarely both at the same time…) followed by a 10 hours’ train ride in a third class train, and what I think was my first jetlag ever – I tried to sleep for days after my arrival but I just couldn’t.

But even more so from stuff… From checking my Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blog stats every morning before my eyes were even fully open and from planning my trip around my online presence. From not knowing what to do next and the feeling of turning in circles. From telling myself I needed at least some kind of life plan and putting way too much pressure on myself. From trying to always stay busy, aiming to do it all and not even having time to breath anymore. From constantly searching for the perfect shot and the most inspiring story instead of enjoying the moment. From missing out. On fun, on friends, on laughter and tears, … on life…

I realized what I needed wasn’t to travel or to add as many things as possible to my been-there-done-that-list. It wasn’t 20.000 extra social media followers or blog readers. What I needed right then was to slow down and take time off. From everything. There was no way around it anymore…

I spent days doing NOTHING. It was the best feeling I’d had in a long time.

Reality didn’t scare me anymore and I was finally ready to make some decisions. Shortly after coming home I ended my relationship of 8,5 years and put my house up for sale. It was time for a new start and this was the only way that was possible.

That time I decided to enjoy the moment rather than sharing it with the world - Taking a break from blogging and a holiday from traveling

 

ROAD TRIPS ARE THE BEST TRIPS

A burnout? But then how come you’re laughing?”

I’ve heard it about 700 times, ever since day one. Apparently you need to actually look miserable for people to believe you’re not doing that great… Apparently, as soon as you’ve had 2 good nights of sleep, you’re considered good to go again.

Let me tell you MY version…

I have a burnout. I’m not ill and I don’t suffer from depression or any other mental or physical condition. Yes, I’m still able to smile. Yes, I still think life is worth living. No, I’m not crying all day every day. I’m not ready to jump in front of a train as soon as you turn your back and I don’t spend my days in bed, hiding. For sure, I’ve waited too long to admit certain situations in my life simply didn’t work for me anymore, but now that I did, I also just want to feel better. How am I supposed to do that if I have to spend my days acting miserable? 

A burnout doesn’t end where fun starts again. It isn’t over as soon as you manage to sleep again or simply don’t feel bad 100% of the time anymore. Being able to have a laugh from time to time doesn’t mean that you’ve got your whole life figured out. Realizing there can be another focus than the one you’ve imposed on yourself for so long is only the start. It’s only the beginning of learning to live your life differently and seeing the amazing effects it has on you.

So in the Balkans I smiled. Hell I even laughed my ass off. And I realized I hadn’t had fun like that in a long time. It made me happy and sad at the same time, but it was enough to convince me I had made the right choice.

That time I decided to enjoy the moment rather than sharing it with the world - Taking a break from blogging and a holiday from traveling

d

AND THEN SUDDENLY, I FELT LIKE BLOGGING AGAIN

In those 3,5 months between May and mid-August I have to admit I did NOTHING for my blog. I published a grand total of 3 blog posts in 3 months, buffered up some tweets and pins when I felt like it and that was basically it.

And you know what? My blog traffic DIDN’T suddenly drop to zero. My social media channels kept on growing at almost the same speed as before. Sure, I lost a few monthly visitors, but I definitely realized that all those hours of work put into social media might just have been unnecessary… I realized it was perfectly doable with a lot less effort and stress. My cut-the-crap blogging and social media schedule was born.

A few days later my desire to write came back.

In September my blog traffic went up with 42% again. With not even half the effort I did before… And I was able to just relax about it again. To actually enjoy it. Once the pressure was gone, blogging had become fun again. 

That time I decided to enjoy the moment rather than sharing it with the world - Taking a break from blogging and a holiday from traveling

d

WHAT’S UP NEXT

Honestly? I’m still figuring it out. Besides the personal part, there’s a part concerning my work that I won’t be discussing here and for which I don’t have all the answers. All I know is that from now on I’ll be focusing on living the best life possible. On using happiness as a starting point, not what I ‘need’ to do or what society’s expecting. On experiences and adventures, not belongings and job promotions.

So for the personal part and the part considering the blog, I know where I’m headed. All it took was time, dear friends and a couple of trips. And suddenly it came back. The ability to forget about everything, be careless and just feel happy. The inspiration to write and the urge to capture all that beauty. The energy to share my stories and not seeing it as a burden or an obligation anymore. So of course I’m continuing this blog! But maybe a bit differently. I won’t be stressing over page views and follower numbers anymore, I probably won’t be posting twice or three times a week, and I definitely won’t be writing just because ‘I have to’. I’ll write when I have a story to tell. I’ll take pictures when something moves me. And I’ll put my pen and camera away whenever I feel like just enjoying the moment…

Don’t get me wrong, this is not an article about ‘if you want to enjoy the moment, you can’t take a single photo of it’. It’s not about ‘how blogging has ruined travel for me’. It’s not and it hasn’t. They’ve both helped me to see things differently. To appreciate things more. To see new angles and to not only look at the main subject but also notice and fully take in its surroundings and all those tiny details I wouldn’t even have noticed before. Most of the time I don’t need to think for hours about how I’m going to turn an experience into a story, I just need to open my eyes and wait for the story to write itself.

But there’s moments I need to forget about sharing my whole life with the world and just think about me. There’s stories that I just want to keep to myself… I think we’re all entitled to having those little moments – or even more, I think we NEED to have those little moments for ourselves – but in times where things seem to never have really happened unless we post them on some kind of social media for the world to follow along, we tend to forget about that a bit too often…

We tend to forget that sometimes, we are allowed to just have a moment – or a whole week or month or even 3 or 4 – to ourselves without telling everybody everything about it. That sometimes we are allowed to take a break in order to have fun and get our lives sorted out when we need to. That no job or hobby should take up 100% of our time, leaving us no space for ourselves anymore. 

Sometimes perfect sunsets on hidden Balinese beaches aren’t made for taking hundreds of pictures of them… sometimes they’re just made for great fun and long talks with dear friends…

Here’s to new beginnings and happiness! I’m excited to see what year 2 of Lili’s travel plans has to bring. It’s been a hell of a ride so far and I’m sure it’s only gonna get better!

d

To all you guys who read my blog, thanks for sticking around while I took my little break from blogging, and for your lovely messages over the past couple of months. To my dearest friends and family – you know who you are – THANK YOU! I don’t know what I would have done without you…

d

Photo credits: Header, pictures 1 and 3: Dan Flying Solo / Pictures 2 and 5: Jones Around the World

That time I decided to enjoy the moment instead of sharing it with the world - Looking back at a year of blogging.That time I decided to enjoy the moment instead of sharing it with the world - Looking back at a year of blogging.That time I decided to enjoy the moment instead of sharing it with the world - Looking back at a year of blogging.

100 thoughts on “THAT TIME I DECIDED TO ENJOY THE MOMENT INSTEAD OF SHARING IT WITH THE WORLD – Looking back at a year of blogging”

  1. Great post! Loved the “….just need to open my eyes and wait for the story to write itself.” I think I’ve been feeling that same pressure you described, totally obsessed and focused. This weekend I stepped away and I think it’s healthy. Balance is necessary but sometimes difficult to find. Welcome back!

    1. Hi Andi, thanks for your lovely comment! Stepping away from time to time is always good, and I think we kinda always know when it’s time to do so, but we should probably listen a bit better to our own bodies and minds 🙂 I’m guilty of this too, I let it go way too far and then it becomes indeed difficult to find that balance again. But I was lucky I could take some time off from everything and and fully ready for another year of blogging now! 🙂

  2. Great article hon! We’ve also been feeling the same way. I no longer participate in every FB group share post and surprise surprise, our views are still on the rise. In fact Sept was our best month ever. Good on you for writing about this topic as not many bloggers do.

    1. Thanks dear! 🙂 Indeed there’s lots of things like sharing and commenting groups that seem useful at first but then when you stop doing them, you realize that actually they aren’t. I think it’s also about what you want to focus on. I focus on ‘real’ traffic and ‘forced’ comments from other bloggers just doesn’t fall into that category… Also, yay on your stats, keep up the good work!!

  3. Thank you for sharing! This is how I have felt the last 5 months being on my big trip – the constant pressure to share and take pictures can take the joy of the moment! It’s good to know that someone has felt the exact same way!
    All the best for the future,
    Sibylle

    1. Hi Sibylle, I’m glad you can relate! I guess it all comes down to making choices – and of course if you want to turn a blog into a business then it becomes an actual job and there will be some kind of pressure – but no matter what it shouldn’t start dictating every second of our lives! I know it’s difficult because we work hard to build our following and then we’re afraid to loose it again if we take some time off, but sometimes you just have to put yourself and your health and wellbeing first!! I wish you all the best too!! Liesbeth

  4. Wow! Congrats! I felt really touched by reading this. You were so honest and even though my blog is starting out and sometimes I feel it is not going well I feel some of your pain of trying to write because you “must” to. Somedays I go without putting anything on social media because I’m just too busy with a side of my life I don’t want to let go of. I wish you the best of luck with your new decisions and may your second year of blogging bring you happiness!

    1. Thank you so much Catia! I think we’re all very busy, either combining a full-time job or full-time travels with a travel blog and sometimes it becomes more about what HAS to be done rather than actually enjoying it. It’s too bad because it makes us miss out on a lot of good moments!

  5. I feel the same right now! So many thoughts and things what I want to do and sometimes even don’t know where to start 🙂 When all social media accounts takes more time that writing new blog post sometimes really annoying 😀 But I concentrated now on finding out what I want to do next and then I hope it will help me to keep my path and avoid all those gaps that I have in blogging 🙂

  6. I love your honesty in your writing… I’ve started so many projects in my life where I’ve gotten so carried away by doing them, that I burn-out because I stop having fun and enjoying them for what they are. It’s hard to balance finding the joy in something, and developing some level of competency to make it. But I think when you let go out of the outcome, and just enjoy it for what is, you naturally shine.

    Thanks!

  7. Wow! What an honest and fun-to-read post! Congratulations Lili for NOT doing what so many other bloggers do! I’ve been browsing through tons of travel blog posts all morning and this is the first one that actually captured my attention right to the last word. And you are absolutely right with “no job or hobby should take up 100% of our time, leaving us no space for ourselves anymore.” We used to blog on OpenUpNow.net (for 3 years), but then last year due to some serious technical problems of our hosting service, we lost everything. It was a disaster for us: we spent every minute we had on trying to “repair” it, and trying not to lose our followers by staying super active on social media platforms. But at a certain point it made us crazy and we decided to STOP. During a couple of months we took time for ourselves, we traveled and enjoyed not having to take pics or immediately post them on Instagram, nor blogging about those new destinations. We then took a few months to create a completely new travel blog from scratch with a new hosting service, a new title, new posts, and a new concept. And from now on we’ll blog whenever we really have a story to tell! And to hell with Facebook group threads, and must-do posts! 🙂

  8. Great info and thankful that your start sounds similar to mine. New to the blogging thing and not at all tech savvy nor a skilled writer, I begin my journey to try something I have never had the confidence to do, but did want to try. I know nothing about followers, counts, or any of the other mentions. That may be a good thing since I tend to overthink everything. Now on the downside of life I am doing this because I can. Because I want to. Just because.

  9. Thank you so much for your realness in this article. I really appreciated being able to see both sides of blogging as we are just getting started with longterm travel and blogging and vlogging about our experiences. It can really be a lot of pressure and I really resonated with what you said about just being able to relax and enjoy the moment instead of immediately spinning it into the next blog post or social media share… sometimes it’s okay to actually just feel and be in the moment. And its true too that the best stories are ones that you let write themselves because you are in tune with all of the details of the place/person/situation. I think that the ability to be a keen observer and soak in the moment only adds that much more to your writing. It’s almost like meditation, it takes a gentle concentration and it’s such a healthy practice. I will keep this mind as we move forward! If you want to see what we’ve started our website is: http://www.nativenomadlife.com
    Thanks so much again for your honesty and realness – I am looking forward to reading more from your awesome blog!
    -Cassie

  10. I loved reading this. I feel like I go through the same things sometimes and you’re right, the stories right themselves. The sincerity comes when you’re writing the experiences you’ve actually enjoyed

  11. Thank you for sharing! This is how I have felt the last 5 months being on my big trip – the constant pressure to share and take pictures can take the joy of the moment! It’s good to know that someone has felt the exact same way!
    All the best for the future,

  12. its amazing feeling when you don’t know that what you will do on your travel . when you see mountain snow lush greenery than you think now i have achieved the whole world.

    Thanks for your blog its nice.

  13. its amazing feeling when you don’t know that what you will do on your travel . when you see mountain snow lush greenery than you think now i have achieved the whole world.

    Thanks for your blog its nice…

  14. Hi Lili, thank you for such an honest post, it’s true as heck that we should enjoy our life travelling instead of working all the time which can make us feel exhausted, a balance between working and enjoying the moment is a must. 😀

  15. Love this. It’s really hard to find that balance between putting on a show and actually living the awesome, free life that you set out to live when you first decide to start blogging. I’m glad that your pushing towards creating that medium for yourself!

  16. Hi Lili

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. Do you know when the ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) for New Zealand will come into effect? Is it July 2019 or October 2019 ?

    Thanks

    Varun

  17. What a wonderful story. So real & interesting. I’m on my way to doing what you do. Getting ready to start my own blog as well too. I just hope it’s as successful as yours. So many sink now days. Also, dropping this link, thought you may want to take a peak. http://bit.ly/2LFMYVY

  18. Enjoy the moment… So true… I love the part when you say:” Apparently, you need to actually look miserable for people to believe you’re not doing that great.“ Your burnout description is so well done. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

  19. Hi, I Like your article, its amazing feeling when you don’t know that what you will do on your travel . when you see mountain snow lush greenery than you think now I have achieved the whole world.

  20. I really enjoyed reading your article. I couldn’t agree more about living in the moment and truly taking in all that these places have to offer.

  21. O wow I just found your blog through searching for the blogs to follow and love this post as it is what I needed to be honest. I just started a new blog and while I have a pretty popular foodblog I all of a sudden find myself in a whole new world (of pain sometimes) but loved reading this article. I know it’s not recent but still wanted to let you know it helped me!

  22. “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
    I’ve been surfing on the web for more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any stunning article like yours. It’s alluringly worth it for me. Wishing you always a safe journey and a relaxing vacation when you arrive! “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

  23. Wow so impressional and impressive. Thank you for sharing all your adventures! Traveling is so important and is always more valuable than material things. I hope more people see the light of traveling through your blogs. If you ever come down to Costa Rica please let me know! Have a great surf camp you should check out on us for the weekend! Let me know!

  24. Hey, i just wanted to tell you, your articles are really inspirational. Thank you for sharing. i would be interested how you promote your blog. Funny, I know it is not the purpose of this article, but ou did mention that you do not do all the activities that you did in the beginning. I am curious which ones worked for you. Also as a side not, I loved your article ‘8 TIPS FOR GETTING TONS OF TRAFFIC TO YOUR BLOG AND MAKING LOTS OF MONEY WITH IT – and why I’m not following them’ – this made me laugh so much especially being in your 20s and wearing bikini. You are funny and inspirational!

  25. Incredible post! Adored the “… .simply need to open my eyes and trust that the story will keep in touch with itself.” I think I’ve been feeling that equivalent weight you portrayed, completely fixated and centered. This weekend I ventured away and I believe it’s solid. Parity is important yet here and there hard to track down. Welcome back!

  26. It¡¦s actually a cool and helpful piece of information. I am satisfied that you shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

  27. I don’t usually read blogs (much more of commenting on ones). But this one is really impressive! Thanks for sharing! “Why you should enjoy the moment instead of sharing it.”

  28. I can totally relate to blogging being a roller coaster of emotions. Some days I can be so motivated and then the next I need a three month break. It is so important to stop like you did, and relax because that is what life is all about. Looking back at your life, you won’t remember all the work you did, but the fun memories. I just wrote an article with 8 questions you should ask yourself before starting a blog, check it out if you’re interested, https://maptrekking.com/should-i-start-a-blog/

  29. I truly appreciate it and I could envision myself in there. I work in wellbeing the travel industry and I accept this sort of sites are helpul for solo wellbeing looking for traveleres moreover.

    Much obliged for your post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.