Big Travel Nut is two years old today! To be honest, when I started writing the blog two summers ago, I wasn’t sure what would happen, and how long it would last. I’m thrilled that the blog has not only survived but grown in terms of both content and traffic.

BigTravelNut now receives twice the number of (unique) visitors as it did last year and contains a total of 182 posts!

To celebrate this special day, I thought I’d write a retrospective of the 10 most significant blog-related events of this past year.

(Please read to the end as there are some treats for you at the bottom!)

1. Participated in my first comped activity that also paid!

Viator is a company which markets top-rated day and half-day tours around the world. I pitched to them while I was house-sitting in San Francisco in September 2014, and they offered to send me on a segway tour of Golden Gate Park and pay me to write a post about my experience on their blog!

Our segway group

2. Contracted to be a paid contributor on itripd.com

I was asked to be a paid contributor on a new startup site called  itripd.com aimed at travel bloggers and ordinary travellers interested in showcasing their trips. I built three “trips” on there (mostly photos with captions) and promptly got paid through Paypal as soon as I completed each of them. It was great! Unfortunately, the site now seems to have gone stale.

3. Attended my first bloggers’ conference

In late October 2014, I attended the TBEX conference in Athens. (TBEX stands for “Travel Bloggers Exchange”). It was a lot of fun and I greatly enjoyed the workshops, pre-conference activities, and meeting other travel bloggers from all over the world.

Prior to the conference, I was also asked if I’d write a post for the TBEX blog about why I decided to attend their conference (from the perspective of a first-timer). This was my very first guest post.

4. Invited on my first FAM trip

In September 2014, I applied for, and was accepted in one of the FAM trips offered right after TBEX. FAM stands for “familiarization” and those are trips offered to travel writers in exchange for media coverage. I spent three days in a region of Greece called Pelion with all expenses paid, including two nights in a luxury hotel!

The Greek National Tourism Organization liked the post about Pelion foods that I wrote after the trip, and asked if they could use it on their blog. Of course I said yes!

A few of the dishes

5. Featured on the Lonely Planet blog

I became a community blogger with Lonely Planet’s Pathfinder program in December 2014. One of my posts was selected for their May round-up. I’m really proud of this achievement since only five posts out of 60 submissions were chosen (and well, it’s Lonely Planet)!

6. Bagged two more sponsored walking tours

In May I was invited on another Toronto Urban Adventures walk called “When Pigs Fry”. We learned about pig farming history in Toronto (a.k.a.Hogtown) and stopped along the way for three delicious pork samplings. This is the post I wrote after this tour.

Then in late June, during my trip to Halifax, I was the guest of Local Tasting Tours on their “Downtown Halifax Food Tour” . The weather didn’t cooperate, but my group of 10 learned a lot about several eateries in Halifax as we sampled their specialties, as you can read here.

In both cases, I’m the one who approached the tour company, but getting the tour comped was really easy. Perhaps I’m gaining a reputation as a lover of walking tours, especially if they involve food?

7. Started offering services on my “Work with me” page

In April I created a “Work with me” page on the blog offering a variety of ways I could partner with companies and individuals, from promotional services (reviews, advertising, affiliates) to freelance writing and editing, to planning and researching trips.

8. Invited to the UP Express Media Event

In early June I was lucky enough to participate in a media event for the launch of Toronto’s brand new train link to the airport, the Union Pearson Express. The event included a presentation of the UP Express station, and a train ride to the airport and back.

Inside the UP Express (Toronto)

9. Earned my first affiliate income

This past year I became an affiliate for Lonely Planet, Amazon, Booking.com and Busbud in addition to finally making my first affiliate income from TrustedHousesitters (as well as a few dollars from Lonely Planet).

10. Ran my first giveaway

I ran my first giveaway through the Rafflecopter widget this August, in partnership with a New York company called On Location Tours. They specialize in day tours to locations where famous movies and TV shows were filmed in New York City and Boston. (They offered me a free tour as well, but I declined since I didn’t have any plans to visit these cities in the near future.) A lady from New York just won the giveaway: 2 tickets for any On Location tour. I trust that she will put the prize to good use.

These were just the highlights. Here are some more things that happened over the last 12 months:

  • Two more house-sits (San Francisco and Wolfville, Nova Scotia)
  • Joined Lokafy as a host
  • Kept attending Travel Massive events in Toronto (as well as one in the SF Bay Area)
  • Connecting Solo Travel Network linked to my Cuba post from their website
  • Started answering travel questions on the Trippy.com website.
  • Became an advisor on Plansify, an online service that connects you with experienced travellers who can offer advice through email or Skype.
  • Got a free copy of Tim Leffel’s latest book “A Better Life for Half the Price” to review.
  • Started using Pinterest (although I still have much to learn about this social media tool)
  • Registered for TBEX Stockholm in July 2016. (Couldn’t resist the early bird price!)
  • Was interviewed by fellow blogger The Travelling Boomer about “How to be a house-sitter“.

Party treats – special offer!

cheers_polaroid2_smallOkay, enough about me. Now on to you! To celebrate my blog’s second birthday I’m offering a free photo e-book to everyone who leaves a thoughtful comment on one of my posts (any post) before the end of today (that is August 21 at 11:59 PM EDT). By thoughtful comment I mean something related to the article, not just generic stuff like “nice post” or “useful article”. So you should have read the post before commenting. 🙂

The free e-book contains 35 of my best images of Latin America and Southeast Asia. It’s the bonus that normally comes with the purchase of one of my other e-books. But now, for the first time, you can get it without purchasing anything.

So leave a comment right now before you forget. This offer is only valid TODAY!

Why do I care? Comments on blog posts are a measure of reader engagement, and are one thing that companies look at when deciding whether or not to work with a blogger. So in a way, leaving comments is just as helpful as donating a few bucks through the Donate button (although you can still do that if you’d like). 🙂

As well, you can use discount code SECONDBIRTHDAY to get 25% off any of my e-books until 11:59 PM EDT tonight!

Long live Big Travel Nut!

Tags: