2014: A Year in Review

by Brenna Holeman


 In San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

This time last year, I could have never predicted where I’d be at this exact moment: sitting on the patio of my family’s rented casa in Nicaragua, a spiced rum and coke beside me, the sun dipping low in the sky before it sinks past the ocean’s horizon and out of sight. I thought that 2013 wasn’t a very big year for me, but it was; it was one of transition, of finally moving to London. 2014 started off slow, with almost no plans – soon it grew into a year of travel, a year of accomplishments, and a year of maturing (both in numbers and in mindset). Here’s a little review of the past year. Note: all of these photos are from Instagram, and there are a lot more on my account… so follow along if you’d like!


Porto Red

Porto, Portugal

I started off the month in rainy, cold London. Although I’d just spent the Christmas holidays in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Austria, I craved another adventure; on a whim, I booked tickets to Porto, a city I’d always wanted to see. Visiting reconfirmed what I already suspected: that Portugal is my favourite country in Europe. Full of beautiful buildings, delicious food, and wonderfully kind people, I hope to visit again. It was my favourite solo trip in 2014.

Favourite Blog Posts:

Sailing From San Blas

The Long Way Round: Taking Yangon’s Circle Train



Gdansk, Poland

Also on a whim, in February Beverley and I booked cheap tickets to Poland. Although it was freezing, the city of Gdansk (and Sopot) was gorgeous. We spent our days taking photos and walking from one café to the next, which isn’t a bad holiday if you ask me.



After my weekend in Poland, I had another weekend away, this one a bit closer to home: Newcastle. I had never been to the Northern city, and, when the opportunity to visit emerged thanks to Traverse 2014 (a travel blogging conference), I jumped at the chance. The conference itself was both interesting and fun, but more than anything it left me with a desire to see more of the north of England.


Newcastle, UK

Favourite Blog Posts:

A Mysterious World: Scuba Diving in the Galapagos

You Will Discover Wanderlust

Finding Footing in Paraty

The Best of Winnipeg: Festival du Voyageur



London, UK

March was the only month in 2014 that I didn’t leave London. As my mum was living in the city for a few months at this point, I spent most of it with her; we discovered new parts of London together, including the colourful streets of Notting Hill. The mild weather also meant lots of time outdoors along Regent’s Canal.



With Ali in London, UK

Favourite Blog Posts:

Finding Mount Everest: A Story of Travelling and Loss

That Time We Went to San Agustín, Colombia

The Story of El Camino Bracelets



At the Shard in London, UK

The beginning of April was filled with even more family time; my sister came for a visit from Tel Aviv, and it was the first time my mum, sister, and I had been on the same continent in almost two years. I also finished my first year of my full-time Master’s degree, which felt like a pretty good accomplishment.


I then fulfilled a lifelong dream: for my 30th birthday, I took a solo trip to Africa in order to see African elephants in the wild. The trip started in Cape Town, South Africa, then took me through Botswana before ending in Zambia.



Cape Town, South Africa





The Okavango Delta, Botswana


Chobe National Park, Botswana



Livingstone, Zambia

Favourite Blog Posts:

Four Years of This Battered Suitcase: What Next?

Help a Girl, Period: Femme International



In May, I celebrated my 30th birthday. I’ve never really cared about age, but it did feel monumental. I was so happy to spend the day with great friends in the Kentish countryside, followed by a party at my flat.


Kent, UK

At the very end of the month, I got the opportunity to visit Paris for 36 hours; my dad was in town, and I took the Eurostar to meet him. Although we only had a short time together, we managed to eat our way through many incredible meals and even do a bit of sightseeing.




Favourite Blog Posts:

The Last Time I Saw You: London Edition

30 Things I’ve Learned in 30 Years

When you Hand Over Your Camera to Kids in Botswana


June was a huge month for me: I moved into my own flat in London, I visited Italy with Hello Basilicata, I managed an entire campaign for Expedia, and I presented on a panel at City University about blogging and social media. I was often incredibly stressed, but it taught me a lot about time management and about my own abilities. I also got to go zip-lining in Italy, so there’s that.






Basilicata, Italy

The Stigma of the Travel Blog

Vietnamese Baby




London, UK

July was also a stressful month; my work was really picking up speed, and I was trying to balance that with a social life in London’s beautiful summer. Despite all of that, I decided to take another solo trip, this time to Alicante, Spain. As I only booked it a few days in advance, I had no idea what to expect, but it was a very relaxing and beautiful holiday.



Alicante, Spain

Favourite Blog Posts:

Places I’ve Sworn I’d Leave Tomorrow

Morning Gloryville: London’s Early Morning Rave


This was yet another busy month with work; the Expedia Pioneer boot camp was in full swing, and I was involved in every step. I also ran a seminar at Expedia for over 30 people, which took a lot of preparation (AKA a lot of wine-fuelled nights to boost my confidence). At the end of the month, after Boot Camp, I flew back to Canada to see my family. That trip also included a jaunt to Phoenix for some even stronger sunshine.



Presenting on behalf of Expedia in London, UK



Phoenix, USA

Favourite Blog Posts:

When Your Blog Goes Quiet or: How to Get Over Writer’s Block

When Settling Makes Sense


I returned to London in the second week of September, just in time for some late summer warmth. I started to make even more of an effort to explore London itself; there’s no doubt that it is a city filled with things to do. A highlight was climbing over the O2 arena with my colleague Kelly!




London, UK

Favourite Blog Posts:

Cheap and Easy Souvenirs to Collect

The Music of Basilicata


October was another extremely busy month; I first visited Cyprus with Visit Cyprus, and then attended TBEX (another travel blogging conference) in Athens. It’s a very good thing I like feta.




In and around Nicosia, Cyprus



Athens, Greece


I also visited southern England – Eastbourne to be exact. Once again I realised just how much of England I haven’t seen, and how much I’d like to explore more of it.


Beachy Head, UK


My first football game in England – Brighton, UK

Favourite Blog Posts:

The Best Food in Nicosia, Cyprus

Adventures of the Burmese Bicycle Gang



Poppies at the Tower of London, London, UK

November was a month of writing; I had a big deadline for my Master’s looming, and a lot of new freelance opportunities came my way. I visited Limerick, Ireland, and the article I wrote about it in December became my most viral article to date; it was viewed nearly 30,000 times in three days. I was even featured in the Limerick Leader (twice!) and was interviewed on the radio station Limerick Today.



Limerick, Ireland

Favourite Blog Posts:

Why I Love London or: Why London Feels Like Home

Those Nights in the Mongolian Ger



The Christmas Lights of London, UK

The month of December flew by in the blink of an eye. Work was still intense, freelance articles were piling up, and my Master’s was suddenly more than half over. All the hard work was worth it, however, when I got on an airplane and met my family in Miami Beach, where we’d then fly together to Nicaragua. It was over two years since we had all been together, and it has been incredible.


Miami Beach, USA






Favourite Blog Posts:

Why I Love Limerick (and Why You Should, Too)

What to Wear in India

All in all, it was an amazing year. When I scroll through my photos and write it all down, it almost seems like a dream: a busy life in London, a fun and travel-filled career in the travel writing world, lots of family and friends, lots of writing, and 14 countries (four of them new). Not bad for a year with no plans. 2015 is once again a blank slate – but if 2014 is any indication, it might be a wild ride. I know with certainty it will be filled with more love and laughter, more adventures, and one of my biggest life achievements to date: the completion of my first book.

Follow my Instagram for more up to date photos!

How was your 2014? Where did you go? What plans do you have for 2015?

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Ashley December 28, 2014 - 2:48 am

What an amazing year you’ve had! Thank you for taking us along on every journey and for sharing your travel stories through such eloquently written posts. If this blog is any indication, I’m sure your book will be fantastic!

Brenna Holeman December 28, 2014 - 5:43 am

Aw, thank you so much Ashley! I really appreciate it.

Sky December 28, 2014 - 4:48 am

2014 does look like it was an amazing year for you – thanks for sharing all your photos and stories! I moved to Pittsburgh and more or less stayed there in 2014 but 2015 is going to be an entire year of adventure as I travel from Costa Rica to Mexico!

Brenna Holeman December 28, 2014 - 5:42 am

Thank you, Sky! And wow – what an amazing adventure you have lined up for 2015.

Ruth December 28, 2014 - 10:56 am

Wow! What an amazing year, Looks like you’ve had some fantastic opportunities to build your travel writing career! I’ve really enjoyed reading all about your adventures – I love how much your blog has evolved since your travels around south-east Asia (I found you when you were writing about Cambodia!) Looking forward to seeing where 2014 takes you! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Brenna Holeman December 28, 2014 - 3:44 pm

Thank you so much, Ruth! That’s so awesome that you have been following along for so long, I really appreciate that. Sometimes I miss the old days of blogging, which is why I want to write a lot more personal stuff again.

Anyway, thanks again and Happy New Year to you, too! I hope 2015 is an excellent year for you.

Emy December 28, 2014 - 5:55 pm

I am so impatient for your book! I haven’t commented in a while, but I’m still reading and your blog still puts a smile on my face everytime I visit it! I wish you all the best for 2015!

Brenna Holeman December 29, 2014 - 6:54 pm

Aw, thank you so much! It’s always nice to hear from you. All the best to you, too!

Camille December 28, 2014 - 5:57 pm

I’ve loved following along this year, here’s to another great one in 2015!

Brenna Holeman December 29, 2014 - 6:51 pm

Thank you so much, Camille!

Madeleine December 28, 2014 - 6:10 pm

What an incredible year! Your blog has really inspired me to just get up and explore! With only 6 more months to go of my degree (which means only 6 more months in London – there’s still so much to see and do!) I’ll be graduating and moving to a new job in Bristol which will give me a whole new part of England to explore. It’s going to be interesting! I’m looking forward to reading about what 2015 has in store for you, and I’m looking forward to reading the book! Enjoy the rest of the holidays!

Brenna Holeman December 29, 2014 - 6:54 pm

Aw, that’s great to hear! I’m sure you will love living in Bristol, I’ve heard really good things. I definitely need to visit! Thanks a lot for your nice comment…

Arianwen December 28, 2014 - 6:54 pm

Your year looks incredible. One of the travel highlights of my year was San Juan del Sur. I spent about ten days there. What a beautiful and incredible place! – especially those little turtle hatchlings! I hope you have an awesome, travel-filled 2015 too!

Brenna Holeman December 29, 2014 - 6:53 pm

Thank you so much, and same to you! I agree that San Juan del Sur is amazing – the beaches nearby are fantastic. I especially loved Gigante…

Scarlett December 29, 2014 - 3:48 pm

What an amazing year you’ve had! I especially loved your posts on Italy and Cyprus this year – the photos were so beautiful. I’m also excited about your book and reading your posts next year. I hope your New Year is enjoyable wherever you spend it!

Brenna Holeman December 29, 2014 - 6:52 pm

Thank you so much, Scarlett! There are many more posts coming up on Italy and Cyprus, so I’m glad you’ve liked the ones so far. I hope you have a great New Year as well!

Christine December 29, 2014 - 9:57 pm

I can’t wait for your book Brenna! What an amazing 2014! and I’m sure next year will be even better 😉

Brenna Holeman December 29, 2014 - 11:54 pm

Thank you so much, Christine! Happy New Year 🙂

Amy December 30, 2014 - 1:32 pm

What an amazing year, I look forward to reading about what you get up to in 2015 – Happy New Year 🙂

Brenna Holeman December 30, 2014 - 8:31 pm

Thank you so much, Amy! Happy New Year to you, too.

Zalie December 30, 2014 - 9:04 pm

Even though I knew of all your 2014 adventures, when I look at them all together it seems crazy that you did all of this in just one year! I can’t wait to see what 2015 will bring you, although I know that it will be as wonderful as you are! I love you sister xoxo p.s. what is that O2 thing you did in the month of September?

Brenna Holeman December 31, 2014 - 2:11 pm

I can’t wait to see what 2015 will bring you, either! I’m sure it will be an exciting year for us both. I should edit the post to say that I walked over the O2 arena in London, it was a pretty cool experience!

Leanne December 31, 2014 - 10:30 am

Hi Brenna, happy new year! I’ve been reading your blog for a couple years and it’s been awesome following not only your travels, but your evolution as a writer too. I especially love how you have never allowed any advertising to appear on your blog and have always stayed true to just writing this blog for the love of it – it really shines through and makes reading your posts a personal, authentic experience. You’re a big inspiration to me, so thank you for that! Here’s to loads more writing and adventure in 2015!

Brenna Holeman December 31, 2014 - 2:13 pm

Thank you so much, Leanne! I really appreciate all of your years of reading and all the lovely comments you’ve left. I am glad that you’ve seen my writing evolve… hopefully it only gets better! And I have no plans for any advertising or sponsored posts any time soon, I am trying to make my living elsewhere and keep this as personal as possible.

Thanks again, and Happy New Year!

Ceri January 2, 2015 - 4:43 am

What a year, Brenna! I hope 2015 is just as adventurous and wonderful for you. 🙂

Brenna Holeman January 2, 2015 - 4:54 pm

Thank you so much, Ceri! Happy New Year 🙂

Anna @ shenANNAgans January 8, 2015 - 9:43 am

What an amazingly wonderful year you’ve had! Was fabulous to join you on your adventures and journeys, thanks for bringing me along. May your 2015 be even better! 🙂 I am planning a month in India, a few weeks in Thailand and a month in South Africa this year, all of which involve meet ups with blogging buddies. I heart the blogging community muchly! 🙂

Brenna Holeman January 8, 2015 - 11:02 pm

Thank you so much, Anna! I hope you have a fantastic year, too – it sounds like you have a lot of amazing adventures planned.

Lois January 10, 2015 - 12:50 am

Your 2014 rocked Brenna! I’m currently based in Europe now too. I hope our paths will cross one day!

Brenna Holeman January 12, 2015 - 4:58 pm

Aw, thank you so much! Your year looked amazing, too. 🙂 I hope we get to meet up soon!


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