Wow! What a year for The Vacation Gals. Marking our third year of business together, 2012 brought a host of highlights for Jen, Beth and me. Here are just a few top moments for The Vacation Gals in the past 52 weeks (in no particular order):
Kara went to Australia as a Queensland Blogger Correspondent: I was shocked – truly shocked – to learn I was chosen as one of the 10 Queensland Blogger Correspondents to spend almost a week in beautiful Queensland, Australia. More than 700 bloggers applied to travel with and learn from ProBlogger Darren Rowse. It was a whirlwind trip — one spent scuba diving, kayaking, ziplining through the Daintree Rainforest, learning about Aboriginal cultures, feeding kangaroos and helicoptering to remote islands in and around Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef. Yes, it was as awesome as it sounds, and I am so grateful to have had that experience and to have made new friends. Truly, special.
We helped raise $100,000 to build much-needed wells in Haiti: Since our blog’s inception in 2009, we’ve supported Passports with Purpose, the worldwide travel bloggers’ fundraiser. Through our prize sponsorship and social-media sharing, we helped to raise more than $100,000 for this year’s recipient, Water.org, through which five community wells will be built in Haiti next year. We are so proud of this endeavor and so pleased to be a part of it year after year.
Beth conquered her fear of snorkeling: On a research trip to the luxurious Viceroy Riviera Maya, Beth tackled a longstanding fear: snorkeling in the ocean. She did it, and loved it! (She also wrote a fabulous feature about Mayan sites in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula for the St. Paul Pioneer Press – a great story illustrated by her photos.)
Beth’s travel writing book was published: While we’re giving huge props to Beth and her travel-writing prowess, we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the debut of her book Teach Yourself: Break into Travel Writing. The UK print version is available now, and the US Kindle version can also be downloaded. The US print edition is for sale come February.
Jen crossed the pond for a stellar European Vacation (nod to Clark Griswold): One of Jen’s favorite trips in 2012 was her vacation in France and Germany. The Miners’ travels took them from a high-end, gourmet meal in the Eiffel Tower to poignant museums in Berlin. She especially enjoyed her guided bike tour of East Berlin with her tweens.
We won the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award for Best Travel Blog: The Lowell Thomas awards are akin to the Oscars of the travel-writing industry, so we are are incredibly proud of our Gold win in the Travel Blog category for 2012. We also made it to the finals in the annual Bloggies’ travel blog category, and picked up a couple NATJA travel-writing awards, too.
We met up in Keystone, Colorado: It had been months since the three of us had all been in one place together, so our reunion in Colorado was extra sweet! We had a ball at the annual TBEX (Travel Blog Exchange) conference, which just happened to be in my backyard. Here’s hoping we can all meet up at Toronto’s TBEX conference in June. (If not sooner!)
Then there was swimming with whale sharks in Mexico, a fun partnership with Expedia and Jen’s trip to Spain to talk travel blogging at TBEX Europe… Oh, Beth also spoke at the PRSA conference in Columbus, we were featured in USA Today, and the three of us landed a steady gig writing for IgoUgo. Again, what a year!
As always, when we look back at another fine year in business, we are so thankful for our friends and colleagues in the travel industry and writing field. We are so appreciative of all of the opportunities that come our way, and we know we certainly couldn’t do it alone. So, to our readers and friends, thanks for being so wonderful, inclusive and inspiring.
We are absolutely fired up about 2013, and the travel and business opportunities on its horizon. Cheers to a prosperous and peaceful 2013!