Happy Blogiversary – The Travel Lush Turns One!

A little over a year ago I was sitting on my bed in a beach bungalow on the island of Gili Trawangan, Indonesia. With my laptop balanced on my legs I started tinkering around on Wordpress.com and began scrawling a list of possible blog names in my notebook.  After mulling it over I finally settled on The Travel Lush, created a Wordpress account and launched my very first blog.

Gili Trawangan - Indonesia - The Travel Lush
I guess this place just made me feel inspired!

I’m not exactly sure what inspired me to start blogging.  At the time I had been backpacking around Southeast Asia for over six months and was just about to fly across the world to Colombia.  I had come to rely on travel blogs almost exclusively during my travels, and reading them became not just a necessity but something I thoroughly enjoyed.

For the first time I realized that there is a whole community of people out there who are as passionate about exploring the world as I am.  For the first time I realized that I’m not alone, that there are so many others who have quit their jobs, sold everything and hit the road.  I suppose I felt inspired to join the conversation.

At the time I didn’t even fully comprehend what a travel blog was.  And I clearly had no grand plans for this site (I’m still not exactly sure what I’m doing with it).  All I know is that I’ve poured a lot of time and energy into this site during the past year and I can’t imagine quitting.  It has become such a large part of my daily life.  It’s crazy to think that this blog has seen me through 18 cities and 6 countries, from being a backpacker to being an expat.

I have to admit that I was terrified to start this site.  I’m not the type of person who likes to draw attention to myself or voluntarily put myself out there.  Honestly, it makes me kind of uncomfortable to know that people are reading what I write (although I’m starting to get better about this).  I realize this makes no sense.  After all, I did go to school for journalism.  I have written for magazines and newspapers and worked as a freelance writer on and off for a few years.  In spite of this, I have never gotten used to the idea of people reading my words, in print or on screen.

Suffice it to say that hitting the publish button on my very first blog post was a slightly anxiety-inducing task for me.  It would probably be pretty comical to see just how many times I revised that post, obsessively checking for typos…Oh no, there are probably typos in it.  Don’t read it!

Looking back I’m pretty sure only three people read it.  Back then I didn’t have any blogger friends.  I wasn’t yet a member of the travel blogging community.  I remember getting a grand total of one person who commented on that post and while I cringed at the thought of someone reading it, it felt unbelievably cool that they actually took the time to respond.

Back then I couldn’t possibly have imagined how involved I would become in the world of travel blogging and the incredible people who inhabit it.  In the past year, blogging and bloggers have become a huge part of my life.  That idea might sound weird to some, but I know my fellow bloggers can completely relate to me when I say that one of the biggest rewards of blogging is connecting with other people.

Starting this blog has also given me a whole new outlook on my career and the possibilities that are out there, possibilities I was either clueless about or had completely given up on 12 months ago.  The act of writing again and reading all of the inspiring stories of bloggers, freelance writers and digital nomads has opened my eyes to the fact that maybe there is a career out there that fits me and my love of travel and writing.  Seeing that other people are doing it has made me realize that maybe I can do it too.

At this point I’m still trying to figure my career out – a feat I’m not sure I’ll ever actually accomplish.  I’m still pondering what to do when I leave Indonesia at the end of the summer.  And I’m still trying to decide whether this blog will remain a hobby or become some sort of money-making venture.  Regardless of my indecisiveness, I do know that blogging will remain a part of my life.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past year it’s that in order to stick with blogging you really have to love it.  And I do.  I don’t make money off of this site (perhaps someday I will, but not yet) so this is truly a labor of love, one that has been so incredibly rewarding both personally and professionally.

Here’s what I got up to during my first year of blogging:


My yearlong travels took me from Southeast Asia to Colombia – and back again.
Most popular posts:

A Backpacker’s Debate: SE Asia or South America

Boracay on a Budget – Backpacking on $40 a Day

One Year in Jakarta:  Pros and Cons of Living Abroad

My Favorite 6 Places in Southeast Asia

10 Otherworldly Places to Visit in Indonesia

Exploring typhoon ravaged islands near Coron, Philippines.
On travel mishaps:

My Anniversary in Paradise – And How It Went Horribly Wrong

Organized Tours, Why Bother?: Java’s Mount Bromo Sunrise Tour

The Reality of Traveling to a Disaster Zone – Coron, Philippines

Río Claro:  A Disastrous Detour on the Road to Medellín

I’ve eaten my way through a lot of cities, but this meal in Singapore was one for the books!
On being completely gluttonous:

My Epic Quest For the Best Veggie Burger in Jakarta

Feasting My Way through Singapore – Indian Style

3 Reasons Being a Vegetarian in Penang Actually Rocks

A Taste of Bogotá – Vegetarian Style

On my best travel experiences:
I fell in love with Bogotá and its amazing street art scene.

The Best of Bogotá: Touring the City’s Street Art Scene

Motorbiking Bohol: Exploring Natural Wonders & Natural Disasters

Going Local on the Island of Camiguin, Philippines

Gili Trawangan:  Party Island or Island Paradise?

My current hometown of Jakarta, Indonesia.
On expat life in Jakarta:

Moving to Jakarta: 10 Things I Should Have Packed

Life in Jakarta – My Taxi Ride from Hell

5 Quirks About Living in Jakarta

The Trash Crisis in Indonesia

Learning that solo travel is not so scary after all in Bali.
On dabbling in solo travel:

My First Solo Trip:  A Visa Run to Penang

Getting Away from it all in Bali

The Ugly Side of Tourism in Bali: Is Kuta Worth Visiting?

Ubud, I’m Just Not That Into You

Thank you all for coming along on this wild ride with me. It has been a pleasure getting to know all of those out there who love travel as much as I do!

About Justine

Justine Lopez is a California native who always seems to take the unconventional route in life. She also suffers from a serious case of wanderlust. In 2013, she set out on a yearlong round-the-world journey and never looked back. Since then she's lived the expat life in both Jakarta and Phnom Penh. She's now living and working as a freelance writer in Beijing. As she meanders her way through Asia she's always seeking out great vegetarian food, budget travel deals and amazing new travel destinations.

36 thoughts on “Happy Blogiversary – The Travel Lush Turns One!

  1. I can relate to you when you say – “I have to admit that I was terrified to start this site. I’m not the type of person who likes to draw attention to myself or voluntarily put myself out there. Honestly, it makes me kind of uncomfortable to know that people are reading what I write (although I’m starting to get better about this).”

    I remember when I started my blog, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make my site public. I mentioned something similar in my bloganniversay post. 🙂

    But I have to say that you have been great! Just keep doing what you are doing! Blogging is cool!
    Renuka recently posted…7 Things I Miss ‘When I Am Not Travelling’

    1. Thanks, you’re so sweet Renuka 🙂 Funny that I’m not alone in being really shy about people reading my writing. I had no idea a lot of other bloggers felt the same way! I think blogging is much different than my freelance writing too because I get a little bit more personal here. Sometimes I think I share too much…but all in all I think blogging is cool too 🙂

  2. Happy blogiversary! I can completely relate to feeling uncomfortable about others reading what you write- it’s slightly terrifying! You’ve written so many helpful posts, and I will definitely scour your site for tips and recommendations whenever I finally make it to Indonesia!
    Ashley recently posted…The Best Things I Ate in India

    1. Thanks Ashley! I feel like this year has just flown by. It is terrifying knowing that people are reading your personal thoughts and writing. Ha, I didn’t even tell my family or friends about this blog until month six because I was so weird about people reading it! But I am getting better about feeling comfortable about the whole thing. I think after a while you get a little bit more desensitized to it. I hope you make it to Indonesia! It really is an amazing country 🙂

  3. Happy blogiversary!! Lol, it’s amazing how much time we spend on blogging without knowing exactly where it’s taking us, but I agree that connecting with others from all over the world is one of the best things about it. 😀
    Shelley recently posted…Ephemerally Up, Up and Away

    1. Ha, totally! How cool is it to connect with so many cool people we never would have met otherwise? Meeting people (like you!) is the biggest perk of blogging 🙂

  4. Can’t believe it’s been a year! I’m so glad you started your blog, heaven knows I don’t get much detail out of Aaron about where you guys go! A guy thing I guess…Anyway, keep up the great work, I love reading your blogs!

    1. I can’t believe it’s been a year either. Haha, the sad part is that you probably hear more from Aaron than my family hears from me. I’m the worst! My family’s very happy I started the blog too. Now at least they have some sort of idea of what Aaron and I are up to 😉 It really does help to keep everyone in the loop through it!

  5. I can’t believe your blog only just turned one!! I’ve so thoroughly enjoyed coming along with you on your adventures. Did I read that correctly, you’re leaving Jakarta at the end of the summer?? So soon! I thought you had like, another year left! Where are you going? Don’t stop blogging, whatever you do 🙂 Congrats on your one year blogiversary!! Can’t wait to see what the future has in store for you, Ms. Travel Lush!
    Leah recently posted…Month in Review: March 2015

    1. Thank you Ms. Mochilera 🙂 I can’t believe it’s been a whole year. Ha, as far as I know we are leaving in August. But this is me we’re talking about so who knows what will actually happen. Leah, I have NO IDEA what we’re doing after this. I just hope we figure something out soon because August is creeping up on us fast! Whatever happens I don’t think I could ever stop blogging. I love it too much. Here’s to another crazy year!

  6. Congrats to being a blogger for a year. I started my blog around the same time and yes definitely needs to be a passion. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to travel as much however that will change as quitting my job. Don’t think we will ever know what our career is just live life up. Enjoy reading your blog and can’t wait to see what the next year will hold.
    De’Jav recently posted…Learn to merge WA

    1. Thanks. And, yeah, it’s crazy how much time and dedication needs to go into a blog to maintain it. Since I was traveling and unemployed when I started my blog I was able to give it a lot of attention. But now that I’m much busier I’ve struggled to make time. It’s been a lot of work but it’s been infinitely worth it for me 🙂 Once you quit your job you’ll probably spend much more time on your site! Haha, yeah I’m pretty sure having a normal career isn’t in the cards for me! But we’ll see what happens next. Stay tuned 🙂

  7. Wow! Congratulations! One year of blogging has surely a lot of work behind it, so you should be really really proud of it. And by checking some of your posts, it seems like you have seen some incredible things. Hoping this second year is as awesome as the first one. With love,

    The Flash Window | Bloglovin

    1. Thanks Hannah 🙂 It’s so weird not knowing where the next year will take me. I literally have no clue where I’ll be four months from now. It’s so scary, but kind of exciting too. Whatever comes next, I will definitely be writing about it!

  8. Congrats on the milestone! As many others have reported, it seems like you’ve been doing this for much longer than a year, but it’s been so great to follow along on your adventure that I guess that the time has just flown by! 🙂 I know that even though my blog has certainly caused me stress at times that it’s ultimately one of the things about our trip that I’m happiest I started and have (mostly) followed through with—the community of friends that I’ve developed as a result has been truly invaluable, and I’m sure you’ve found the same thing.

    So, here’s to your first year and hopefully many more to come!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted…That GOB Bluth Moment

    1. Thanks Steph! I honestly had no idea the blog would become such a large part of my life when I started it. And the people I’ve met have made it exponentially more rewarding. It has been a really cool experience and I am so happy I started doing it. It sure made my stint of unemployment a hell of a lot more entertaining. And it has most definitely helped me keep my sanity intact while living in Jakarta 😉

  9. Congratulations on your blog’s anniversary! I’m glad that you’re so proud of your blog. One of my big regrets from my most recent stay in Japan (July 2008 – July 2010) was that I didn’t keep a blog. Then again, I don’t think travel blogs were in vogue then (although blogs certainly existed). Actually, I couldn’t imagine my life in the U.K. without my blog. Hopefully, you’ll have more fun times for your blog.
    Rashaad recently posted…Top Ten UK Moments (5-1)

    1. Thanks Rashaad! I really regret not starting my blog before I left on my yearlong trip. Oh well, better late than never! I think my experience traveling and living in Jakarta would be really different if I didn’t have my blog too. Here’s to another year of blogging for you and me both 🙂

  10. Happy blogversary 🙂 I am so happy to hear that I’m not the only one who finds the thought that people are actually reading your writing terrifying – I hover over the ‘Publish’ button forever before I finally hit it, and then I always want to hide under my blanket 😉 You’ve got nothing to worry about though, your writing is great!
    Dani recently posted…Polaroid of the week: Sunset in Koh Chang, Thailand

    1. Thanks Dani 🙂 I’ve always be the worst about letting people read what I write. Seriously, I’ve rarely ever shown anyone (including my family) things that have been published. So in that regard blogging is not something that comes naturally to me. I’m getting better about hitting the “publish” button. But I still want to crawl under the covers every time too 😉 I really didn’t know so many other people felt the same way. Nice to know I’m not alone 🙂

  11. Congratulations on the anniversary! I’ve been reading back through your archives and you’ve had some amazing adventures, so thanks for sharing them!

    I’ve only just started blogging (well, I started months ago but lost my mojo so I’m basically starting over) and I can totally relate to the anxiety of “will anyone read this?” and “Do I even want anyone to read this?!”.
    Jo recently posted…Why Australia wasn’t for me (and that’s OK)

    1. Thanks Jo! I just went over to your blog and I see you went to Cuba. That is my all-time favorite country! And Colombia too 🙂 Keep blogging; it seems like you have lots of good stories to tell. Ha, and know you’re not alone about feeling weird about people reading your posts. Judging from all of these comments it seems most bloggers feel that way!

  12. Happy blog-iversary!! I am glad you decided to start this blog, and have kept up with it! I love reading your adventures and you have made me curious to visit Indonesia 🙂 I know what you mean about writing, it is kind of nerve wracking knowing people will read, and quite possibly pass judgement on your writing, thoughts, and ideas. But, this builds confidence and makes you a better writer and after reading this post and of course many others, I can say that I really like your writing style! Keep up the good work.
    Katie @worldwidevegetarian.com recently posted…Is it Possible to be Vegan in India?

    1. Thanks for the kind words Katie. Well, the feeling is mutual. I thoroughly enjoy your blog as well. And the fact that you’re a fellow veggie gives you extra points 😉 I don’t think I’ll ever be fully comfortable with having people read my writing but I agree with you that it helps to build confidence. This blog has been great for me in that way. And, in my opinion, writing regularly is the only way to improve your writing…plus its fun!

  13. I’ve also just hit my one-year blogging anniversary. I was looking around to see what others have experienced in their first year and found your post. Our stories are very similar. I was also a journalism major and I can definitely relate to the fear of pushing the publish button and knowing people might be actually be reading it. I’d never left even a single online comment before I started blogging. Look how far we’ve come! You you have a great blog. Keep it up!
    Laura Lynch recently posted…5 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Mexico

    1. Hi Laura! Ha, that’s so funny you’re so similar. I really did think I was weird but apparently not! Yeah, I had never posted a comment, updated my Facebook status or Tweeted before I started my blog. I am not a fan of putting things out there, which is bizarre considering I did study journalism and have been published. We have indeed come very far 😉 Happy blogiversary to you too!

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