Throwing Ourselves into the Deep End: Insights from 10 Years of Blogging

If you’d asked us 10 years ago, as we embarked on another round-the world trip, if we’d be here today, it’s likely we would have said, Nah! At that point in our lives, other than being together, we hadn’t done ANYTHING consistently for 10 years. We’d moved from place to place, country to country, never hanging our proverbial hats in any one location for too long. And that was the beauty and appeal of blogging – it wasn’t “location dependent.” We were free to write and connect with the world from anywhere we chose. Finally!

Although we came to blogging with over 30 years of travel experience – having regaled our families and friends with stories of coups and camels – we knew nothing about creating or running a blog. Total newbies. Sink or swim. Now, a decade later, we’ve gained some perspective into that momentous choice we made 10 years ago. On this anniversary, we remind ourselves of these 10 insights we’ve gained:

1. People always come first.
Whether it’s the folks we meet on the road, the readers who keep us motivated, or fellow bloggers with whom we commiserate, you are the vital spark of our blog and our raison d’être.

2. Let our passions show.
We’ve learned to trust our instincts and write about our passions. So we focus on subjects that fascinate us, do our research, and hopefully write it well – and thank goodness, many of you have followed along.

3. Follow our own style.
It took years of trial and error for us to truly come into our own. We had to decide what tone and look was right for us. We knew that we didn’t want ads, and esthetics mattered to us. Our style has evolved to feature short, engaging articles in a format that focuses on simplicity and depth of content.

4. Find our Peeps.
Although we’ve only been blogging for a decade, we  embraced our nomadic ways over 30 years ago. And finding like-minded friends was a challenge. Blogging has opened up the world, connecting us with kindred spirits, both old and new, across the globe.

5. Tell stories. Share the ups and downs of travel … and life.
For thousands of years humans have enjoyed telling and listening to stories. And believe it or not, it’s the same if you’re sitting around a virtual campfire in the blogosphere. For a bit of variety, we mix up the types of blog posts we publish, but over and over we find that our most popular posts, and the ones that get the most attention involve a personal story.

6. Be authentic. Be honest.
As travelers, we know that if you look hard enough, every place has a unique and interesting story. We encourage you to travel and hope you have a positive experience, but the reality is that every destination isn’t sweetness and light. Some places are tough to visit. So we try to be honest without being negative and judgmental.

7. Cherish comments, they’re the lifeblood of our blog.
Early on, when comments on our posts were rare, we cherished each one. They made us realize that blogging wasn’t just about publishing content. Today, comments are one of the biggest rewards of our blog. We answer every one, whether from one of our regular blogging buddies or a new visitor. When someone takes the time to make a meaningful comment we always respond. We love our community of new friends and do everything we can to acknowledge and encourage you.

8. Celebrate and collaborate with other bloggers.
No blog exists in a vacuum, and we’ve been inspired by countless other talented writers, linking often to their posts to celebrate their craft. We also collaborate with other bloggers to generate ideas to help our readers. Our most successful collaboration produced 51 Thoughts to Simplify Your Life, one of our all-time favorite posts.

9. Remember that our blog is our legacy.
Since nothing ever truly goes away on the internet – the good, the bad, and the ugly – our blog will forever be part of our legacy. So we’d better make it count. We ask ourselves, Does it pass the smell test? Will we still be proud of it in 3, 7, 10, 15 years?

10. There’s no place like home.
And by “Home” we mean Gallivance – our “digital homestead.” Although social media offers opportunities to promote our brand, we prefer to let our blog do the talking. It’s the one place where we totally control the content – unlike social media that can change on a whim, advertise embarrassing products, or promote people we don’t support. Over the years we’ve been on just about every social media platform out there, but we’ve decided There’s No Place Like Home.

After 10 years, Gallivance has given us more pleasure than we ever dreamed. It’s a creative outlet that’s heightened our awareness as travelers, inspired us to dig deeper into fascinating topics, honed our skills as writers, and made us part of a global community of caring souls. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your friendship, support, and humor this past decade.

But we can’t leave before we share with you the most important, pivotal question we ask ourselves at the end of each year when it’s time to hit the “renew” button:

“Are we still having fun?”

And if the answer is still a resounding YES, then we’ll see you next year!

Wishing you all the very best,

Terri & James

Go to our blog’s main page.

Photo Credits: 1. Markus Spiske  2. Peggy Anke 3. Roxanne Desgagnés  8. quinet  14. Tomáš Malík  16. Chris Evans  17. Yasmin Dangor  18. Tim Mossholder 

Author: gallivance.net

We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at gallivance.net.

61 thoughts

  1. Wonderful! I couldn’t have said it better. For me the blog is all about telling personal stories, but I’m constantly surprised at the breadth of knowledge and experience out there. I love the way that yours has evolved. It’s that time of year when we look back and wonder what we can do better. I wish you both a year of good health, happiness and story telling.

    1. Thanks Jo. Hopefully one of the things that came through in the post is how important our blogging “community” is to us. And it’s reading excellent blogs like yours and being able to interact that motivate us year after year. Have a fun and healthy 2022 and thanks again for continuing to follow along. ~James

  2. It’s so satisfying to have people like you share your experiences. Thank you.

    I agree wholeheartedly about the comments; they breathe life into our post, and often lead us into research into areas we hadn’t thought of. Hurray for bloggers and followers.

    May 2022 be a year of peace and health, and the possibility of new adventures.

    1. Yvonne, Terri and I both love to research and learn new things, so we totally agree with you on comments taking off in unanticipated directions. And in fact, we’ve had readers tell us that they read our blog as much for the comments as the original content.

      We’ve enjoyed reading your entertaining blog over the years and look forward to the years ahead. Thanks so much for continuing to follow along, and all the best for a fun and healthy 2022. ~James

    1. Beth, as a long-term blogger I’m sure you appreciate how rewarding it is to create the memorable and fun posts that we routinely see on your blog. And it looks like you’re getting close to your 10 year blogging anniversary as well? All the best to you in 2022 and thanks for continuing to follow along. ~James

  3. I agree completely. What started out just as a way to tell friends and family what we were up to became so much more. Never having ambition to make it any more, I discovered the rewards you describe almost by accident and would add just one more: it helped me really see the places we visited as opposed to just passing through.

    1. Ray, like you, we will always appreciate how blogging has made us more observant travelers. No matter where we travel, we read every information placard and brochure, as well as pay more attention as we compose photos. And the research we do when planning and composing the post just adds to the knowledge. This unexpected side benefit has made a huge difference, and truth be told, is one of the things that motivates us to keep our blog going.

      All the best to you and Alie for a happy and healthy 2022, and thanks for continuing to follow along. ~James

  4. James and Terri – We always enjoy reading your posts. They are always thoughtful and insightful. One of your pictures I remember, which I am sure you don’t expect, is one you had of a huge glass container filled with blue liquid. The effect was so mesmerizing that I went and bought my own glass object to duplicare the effect. Now I need the perfect moment to photograph it (perhaps a sunset one day). Best wishes for a happy new year in these unusual times we live in!

    1. Thanks Pam. I’m glad that you enjoy that photo, it’s a favorite of mine as well. I went searching for it and found an interesting surprise. I took this photo out a shop window overlooking the main square in Tallinn, Estonia. Here’s the link to the post:

      Art Meets Science in Tallinn

      The fun surprise is that if you go to the bottom of the original post I provide a link to your blog and the wonderful post you and Richard did of water droplets with flowers. I always loved that post and am glad that you gave me the inspiration to look at it again. And BTW, I’m never sure how my science posts will go, but I can always count on you guys. Thanks for your neat blog and also for continuing to follow Gallivance. ~James

  5. I for one am so pleased I stumbled upon your blog. I love that your posts are varied and always interesting. I hope you will continue for another ten plus years! Wishing you both a wonderful 2022!

  6. Thanks so much, Darlene. Your comments always brighten our day. And I see that you started blogging in 2010 so you’re certainly more experienced than we are. I truly admire your dedication and motivation. Can you put your finger on what it is that inspires you to embrace blogging every day?

    James and I wish you a very Happy New Year filled with joy. ~Terri

    1. Thanks, Terri. I think what inspires me to continue blogging is the community of bloggers that I belong to. I’ve made so many friends, like you and James, over the years that keep me going, give me ideas and support me. Blogging has kept me sane over the past two years when travelling and seeing people has been so limited. take care. xo

      1. Great thoughts, Darlene. This community of bloggers is awesome – James and I discuss blog friends daily. And I love your remark about it keeping you sane. Ditto! 🙂 ~Terri

    1. I know, Peggy! Where do 10 years go? And I see that you also started your blog in 2011. That’s pretty amazing. So are you planning any travel for the new year, or are you still pretty locked down? ~Terri

    1. Thanks Susan and John. I’m so hopeful that 2022 will bring some relief to the Covid situation. I really enjoyed your post about what you have learned – particularly your emphasis on patience and hope. Wishing you all the very best in the year ahead. ~Terri

  7. I can’t believe it has been 10 years and I am glad you are still having fun. I love your blog and always look forward to reading your posts, I love that is authentic, you don’t use the click bait technique that we see so often in blogs that just want traffic. I have stopped reading blogs that I used to love because they have become too commercial and fake.
    The blogging community is the reason I am still blogging, but also it has made me enjoy travelling in a different way. Congratulations on your blogging anniversary and keep having fun. Happy New Year.

    1. Gilda, you are so kind – thanks very much. I always look forward to reading your blog, too. And I totally agree with you about the click bait technique – especially if I previously liked the blogger. I guess it all goes back to why a person decides to blog in the first place.

      I just finished your post on your epic Camino adventure – you two are awesome! I’m in awe (and floated an idea for your next big hike.) Hint: It’s not in Europe. 🙂

      Wishing you and Brian a fabulous 2022, filled with joy and adventure. ~Terri

    1. Thanks very much Anabel. I suspect that all of us have learned a bit more patience this year as we find ways to wait out this virus. All the best to you and John for a happy and healthy 2022. ~James

    1. Thank you Natalie. We’re still a bit surprised when we think that we’re still blogging after 10 years, and we’re pleased to have made blogging friends like you. All the best to you for a fun 2022. ~James

  8. I’m happy that one day some years ago our paths somehow crossed, albeit virtually. 10 years is quite a long time for sticking to something. I started my current blog in January 2010 and I’ve seen the ebb and flow of the blogging community. At one point, blogging was so popular everyone wanted to start their own. But over time I noticed that some people prefer to post stuff on their social media, which is fine. Since the beginning, the reason for me to start my blog was to create my own creative outlet which happens to focus on stories and images from my travels. And I never intended to make it commercial (not that it’s wrong, but it’s just not for me). To read that we have similar reasons to stay blogging is very encouraging and heartwarming. Here’s to the next ten years, James and Terri, and Happy New Year to both of you!

    1. Happy New Year to you, too, Bama! That’s fantastic that you’ve been blogging since 2010 – what an accomplishment filled with engaging stories, thoughtful comments, and new-found friends. I agree with you – that’s what it’s all about. I really enjoy how you weave your narrative together, focusing not just on the destinations, but also the food, people, and local culture. You fully immerse the reader, draw us in, and give us the full experience of “being there.” Thanks! I’m so happy that our paths crossed all those years ago. All the best, Terri

  9. Ten years. I think we are on the same timeline Terri and James! I always enjoy your posts, photos and sense of humor! Here’s to another ten years! The very best to you in 2022. –Curt

    1. Curt, I looked for some stats on what % of blogs last 10 years and was unable to find the number, but I know it’s probably pretty small. As you know well, it takes effort to keep it up. I’m not sure when we discovered your blog, but it’s been on our long-term reading list, and we’ve really enjoyed it. We love the western US, and it’s hard for us to get out that way, so all your posts are a pleasant reminder of what’s out there and why we like it. All the best to you and Peggy for a happy and healthy 2022. ~James

  10. Terri and James – what fun your blogsite is! Thanks so much for gifting your enthusiasm to the blogging world. Guess you will be clicking that ‘renew’ button for a long time coming 😉 – Many happy returns – Susan

    1. Susan it’s so great to hear from you! Happy New Year! Thanks so much for your very kind words – and YES! we clicked the renew button for some more fun. So glad to hear that you and Bruce are enjoying your new home. All the very best, Terri ❤

  11. Perfect tips, I couldn’t agree more after blogging since 2007, but on a lower level of professionalism, niche/brand and attraction than team Terri and James! 🙂

    You two keep your blog fresh, varied, inspiring, entertaining, and informational. Congratulations with your 10-year blog anniversary. Your success and popularity is well deserved. It is always clear to me how much passion, time, and dedication you invest into Gallivance.

    One of the things that really makes your writing, posts, and entire blog stand out is that you constantly grow, in more ways than one. You improve. You stand out. You please. What you’ve done with this blog is amazing – content, photo, and layout – wise. Well done.

    And, a very happy new year to you both. May 2022 bring fascinating adventures, stories, and connections.

    1. Liesbet, thanks so much for your kind words. We’re pleased and encouraged to hear your specific comments on our blog because those are exactly the things we work hard to achieve.

      Blogging for 14 years – Wow! We know what sort of long-term effort it takes to create and maintain a blog, and we’re very impressed that you’ve done it well for so long. Your blog is a pleasure to read, and I’m sure that the practical information you provide on a mobile lifestyle as well as simplicity, and budget must be incredibly useful for your readers. You and Mark have a unique lifestyle, and I’m certain that your readers appreciate being able to hear the real story from a couple that not only “talks the talk but also walks the walk.”

      We’re looking forward to your posts from Central and South America, and wish you all the best for a happy, healthy, and travel-filled 2022. Thanks so much for continuing to follow along. ~James

      1. My pleasure, James. The first eight years, I blogged on Blogger about our sailing adventures. It was a different time then – less dedication, more laid-back, less comments. With Roaming About, I have been struggling to find my groove, a niche, one theme, so it’s still all over the place.

        Like you, I hope to establish some continuity, value, and attraction to a wider audience. It’s a work in progress and I wish I could dedicate more time to my blog, but there are so many other projects (paid and unpaid) that need attention and usually priority, that I’ve been too lax about that blog, in general. It’s still taking many hours a week, though. Especially keeping up with the blogs I like to follow. And, like you, I always, always reply to comments. Sometimes it takes a while due to my lifestyle and other commitments, but I get there and enjoy it. It’s the best part of blogging. 🙂

  12. It’s always a pleasure when I discover that people I admire have reached some of the same conclusions that inform my own activity: in this, case, blogging. I smiled at your third insight: to follow your own style. When I began The Task at Hand, my stated intention was “to learn to write.” I’d been doing immense amounts of writing for years, but it all was in an academic/professional context, and I wanted to move beyond that. Also: whenever someone asked, “What’s your blog about?” all I could say was, “Whatever interests me.” I didn’t want it to be a literary blog, a poetry blog, a sailing blog, or a political blog. I wanted the freedom to write about whatever interested me. I figured if I was bored, any readers who came along would be bored, too.

    As for connecting with people, and commenting, I made a few decisions in the beginning that served me well. Although I added a ‘like’ button when I started Lagniappe, my photographic blog, I decided not to include ‘likes’ or social sharing buttons on The Task at Hand. I wanted to encourage comments, not clicks. It took me a while to figure out that some people I’d envied because of the hundred of ‘likes’ they received had close to no real engagement with their readers.

    For the first three years, I might have averaged ten comments per post, No matter. I kept right on. I always responded to comments, and always found some way to offer a personal comment beyond “Thanks for stopping by.” When someone new showed up, I visited their blog, if one was available, and left a personal comment there, too. Now, I often hear what you hear: people visit my blog for the comments as much as for the posts. That accords with my belief that a blog is a unique form of literature that never is finished. Each entry is only a starting point: what comes after is of equal interest.

    I could run on forever, but there’s one other thing I decided in the beginning: my blog was a blog for adults. If someone spiced up their comment with profanity, I kept that comment in moderation. Then, I would email with a couple of suggestions. Either I would edit out the unnecessary words, or they could re-write their comment and resubmit it. After about two or three years, it never was an issue again, and I never lost one of those readers. Any blog has a ‘tone,’ and today new readers pick up on it quickly.

    Oh — and there’s this. It’s a personal quirk, and I realize how out of step it makes me, but I am not in favor of emojis. My blog is built of words: not ambiguous signs. If someone includes them, I simply edit them out of the comment. And speaking of being out of step, I don’t participate in social media, in any way other than maintaining a Twitter account to follow our weather gurus and hurricane experts. My blog is my home, and I’m comfortable there. I’ve redecorated a time or two, but it’s the same old welcome mat at the door.

    1. As always Linda, hearing from you is a delight. Your keen insights and gentle wisdom encourage reflection. Your observation that “a blog is a unique form of literature that never is finished,” fits with our philosophy that our blog is our Zen garden – purposefully unfinished. But then you add, “Each entry is only a starting point: what comes after is of equal interest.” That’s the point, isn’t it. Engagement!

      Blogging allows writers the unique position of easily interacting with their readers. So often, commenters have introduced thoughts and information that I had never considered. Comments continue to open my mind to new ideas and alternate approaches.

      It sounds like we handle comments in a similar manner to you. When someone’s comment is short and generic, we try to engage to draw the person into a conversation. Sometimes it works – sometimes not. We’ve had very few issues with profanity, and not too many “off-the-rail” folks. When this has happened we usually contact them privately to determine what is going on. Sometimes we have to agree to disagree.

      Early on we experimented with a social media presence for the blog, but we decided we weren’t getting bang for the buck. I smiled when you said you use Twitter to follow the weather. When we lived on the coast, we counted on our weather gurus to keep us informed and safe.

      Linda, thanks so much for your lovely, thoughtful comment. It’s been a joy to get to know you, and we look forward many more years of exchanging ideas. James and I wish you a happy, healthy New Year. All the best, Terri

  13. I couldn’t have said it better! Everything you said is relatable, and your final paragraph sums it up perfectly. I’ve been at it, like Bama, for over 11 years now and am amazed I’m still at it, and yes, still inspired and still having fun.
    So glad I found your blog, however many years ago it was.
    Happy New Year to you both. May 2022 be wonderful!
    Alison

    1. Thanks so much, Alison. One of the things I find amazing is that there are so many of us who started our blogs within a few years of each other – we found each other – and we’ve hung together all these years! And back then it was a real challenge to connect with other people who had a similar love of travel and different cultures.

      I’m so glad that you’re still at it and still having fun. The blogosphere is truly fortunate and enriched to have you in it. And like you, I’m thrilled that we found each other all those years ago.

      Here’s wishing you and Don a happy, healthy 2022 – hopefully filled with new adventures. All the best, Terri

  14. Happy New Year Annie and Steven. I was thrilled to see that you were able to begin traveling again last year. That’s fantastic. Wishing you all the best adventures in 2022. ~Terri

    1. Jean, that’s an understatement for sure. We normally take a couple of long international trips per year, and we really miss them. But we’ve traveled enough to have a feel for the kinds of hassles that travelers might run into with all the constantly changing restrictions, and we’ve decided that it really isn’t worth the grief. The world will eventually reach some state of balance with this pandemic, and when it does, we’ll be back on the road. Take care and be healthy. ~James

  15. Congratulations on ten years of blogging. Ten years is a long time to be blogging, and good that you kept up with it given that blogging can change our lives. I really like that you mention people come first and tell stories about life. There’s so much to learn from others, and sometimes the people you meet here in the blog world you meet in real life. That’s happened to me and my blog has given me friends for life. Here’s to many more years of blogging to you 🙂

    1. Thank you SO much, Mabel. And congrats on finishing your book. That’s a fantastic accomplishment and I wish you a swift, painless editing experience. 🙂

      Like you, we cherish the people we have met through blogging – both virtually and in person.

      I see that you are going to be celebrating your 10 year blogging anniversary this year. Congrats in advance! ~Terri

      1. Always such a delight to meet people through blogging – there’s some of the most genuine, down-to-earth people around here.

        You are very observant. Indeed it will be 10 years of blogging for me. It would be really, really nice to publish my book this year… Maybe that could happen. Wishing you well 🙂

    1. Many thanks, Christie. It’s been one of those “Where have the years gone!” kind of moments. And with the past couple of years of curtailed and uncertain travel, I think we’re all ready for a decade of normalcy. 🙂 We wish you a 2022 filled with joy and new adventures. ~Terri

      1. We are definitely ready for some normalcy, what that might be🙂 The years fly by way too fast.. it was Christmas like yesterday, and it’s past half of January already.. Thank you for you wishes, Terri, wishing you back a wonderful 2022! xx
        Christie

  16. That is a a delightful and enlightening set of learnings, presented in a way that makes them a pleasure to absorb. Thank you for sharing!
    We’ve been enjoying your posts, as many others have: have you thought of turning them into an anthology?

    1. We’re glad you enjoy the posts and appreciate your continuing to follow along. We’re also flattered that you think our work is worthy of an anthology. But honestly, one of the things we enjoy about the blog is that our posts are focused and concise, and putting them together is a fun and manageable task. We’re both ex-managers and an anthology sounds like a “project,” which isn’t one of our priorities now. In the meantime, we just keep working from post to post. Thanks again for you interest. ~James

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