Looking back on 2021. We had such high hopes, didn’t we? Surely, we thought, it couldn’t be as bad as 2020. It turned out 2021 proved to be just as challenging in its own right. If anyone thought we’d be done with Covid-19 by the end of the year 2020, they were sadly disappointed. At least here in the Divided States of America.

A Big Question

We recently participated in an interview with an editor from Kiplinger’s Retirement Report. We were pleased to have been asked and enjoyed our conversation. The last question the editor asked actually threw us for a loop and we couldn’t answer. It was somewhat hilarious because it wasn’t anything earth shattering, but we should have been able to immediately answer. A few hours after the interview I sent an email to her in which I revealed the answer to the big question. Keep reading if you want to know #1, what was the question and, #2 what was our answer. UPDATE: Kiplinger has updated the interview and the mystery answer is no longer there. However, if you keep reading you’ll find the answer.

Looking Back on 2021

It’s been my practice, around this time of the year, to look back on the year and share a few thoughts, travel memories, and hopefully, a few lessons learned along the way. Lessons such as stop planning for the long term and make it happen today. And, make health your #1 priority.

We fooled ourselves in to believing hoping that having survived the contentiously ugly presidential election of 2020 the political shenanigans might subside a bit. Wrong. This has been the year of what’s known as the big lie. It’s relentless. It’s exhausting. And, not surprisingly, the big lie has further divided this country, if that’s even possible. None of us know how this will all play out, but the politics of 2021, and the politicalization of vaccines and mask mandates, has made the 2020 presidential election look like a walk in the park.

Vaccinations and Milestone Birthdays

Both of us celebrated milestone birthdays this year. I am firmly planted halfway through my sixties and Abi stepped out of his. Along with the celebrations, there were a few vaccinations we needed to complete. Covid vaccines, three each, along with flu and pneumonia shots, as well as shingles vaccines were all checked off the list. Human pin cushions, but grateful just the same in keeping to our pledge of making health a priority.

What Did Travel Look Like in 2021?

What did travel look like in 2021? We actually took a month-long road trip to Massachusetts and we continued to explore our backyard so-to-speak taking day-trips within one hundred miles of home. It felt good to dust off our travel gear, while also packing the necessary precautions of how to stay healthy on the road, in this continued time of Covid-19.

With both of us fully vaccinated we felt confident we could road trip safely. In our car we carried (we always leave the house well-supplied) multiple masks, plastic gloves, anti-bacterial wipes and hand sanitizer. We booked hotel stays where appropriate precautions were taken seriously. We are long-time members of Hilton Honors so whenever possible we book a stay with one of Hilton’s brands. At each property we found our booked rooms were clean and sanitized. TV remotes were bagged or wrapped in plastic, and the room doors were sealed with a large sticker to show it had not been opened since having been cleaned. Breakfast service was grab and go, which was fine with us. There was no daily housekeeping, but anything needed was readily delivered.

A Month in Massachusetts

Our first destination in Massachusetts was Martha’s Vineyard where we stayed for two weeks. Interestingly, but not altogether surprising since it is a small island, Martha’s Vineyard dealt with Covid-19 quite well. Indoor masks were mandated everywhere so we didn’t feel particularly vulnerable anywhere we visited on the island. We were fortunate in that we stayed in a family-owned vacation home so we were able to prepare meals at home. We dined at restaurants with outdoor seating and ordered take out. Many restaurants are now using contactless menus. Just scan the QR code with your phone.

We divided the next two weeks between Boston, Salem and Cape Ann. It had been many years since our last visit to Boston. We loved Boston and we kept asking ourselves why did it take us so long to return? It’s a beautiful pedestrian-friendly city, packed with American history. Salem and Cape Ann were new to us and they did not disappoint. What a beautiful region. It was as if we were traveling through the pages of a Norman Rockwell coffee table book. Much like Martha’s Vineyard, we found the same Covid-19 protocols in place on the mainland.

Does Anyone Read Travel Blogs Anymore?

It’s not difficult to grasp the notion that the travel and hospitality industries have been hit hard by the pandemic. Travel came to a virtual stand still, as did booking accommodations and dining out. Its been brutal. A consequence of the travel and hospitality stand still is obvious at best. People stopped traveling, and people stopped reading travel blogs. Many of our colleagues have stopped publishing new content. I’ll admit it’s been a struggle for us as well, but we’ve been using this break from international travel to bulk up our local Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia content. We’re working to ride out the storm, because we love what we do.

Quite frankly, the pandemic may turn out to be a bit of a silver lining for the industries. Over tourism, Instagram “influencers” and less than authentic social media overload crushed travel blogging. Too many fake poses, too many promises to deliver good quality content in exchange for say, a couple of train tickets, which never came to fruition contributed to the downfall. There were also too many travelers who just kept right on traveling, ignoring the mandates, which only served to darken the cloud over travel blogging. It’s a shame, but we’re hoping the pandemic will clean house so-to-speak.

Is Youtube the Next Big (old) Thing?

I recently had my biggest “duh” moment in 2021. We’ve had a Youtube Channel for years. Seemingly, many people are turning to Youtube videos to learn more about travel destinations, retirement, homesteading, RV life, etc. Including me; I definitely have my favorite channels. It made me think more deeply about our channel and how best to update it.

The Duh Moment

That’s when the “duh” moment hit. I’ll spare myself the embarrassment and I’ll just say that I had misunderstood a section of the Youtube guidelines and now I know why our channel has never really taken off. With that being said, I’ve been madly updating our channel in hopes of getting back on track. We have a new 1-minute channel trailer, which you can watch below, and we’re hoping to glean new followers, including you! If you have a gmail account, just link to our channel and hit that subscribe button, here. Please and thank you!

Our newly published 1-minute Youtube Channel Trailer video.
The Big Question… and answer

As we wrapped up our interview with the editor from Kiplinger’s Retirement Report, (story to be published January 2022) she asked us what our dream destination would be. A fairly straightforward question, right? But, we both just looked at each other with a blank stare and laughed. I told the editor we’d have to get back to her with our answer. Fast forward a few hours and one email later, the answer was… our ultimate dream destination/trip would be to travel on the Orient Express from Paris to Istanbul.

The trip is extraordinarily expensive so we may just continue to dream of such experiences, but that was our answer. If it never happens it’s okay because we’re always cognizant of how fortunate we are to have come this far taking One Road at a Time.

While waiting at the Salzburg Hauptbahnhof station, we happened to find the Orient Express parked. Look at that shine!
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