It’s another year-end review, friends! We’ve been writing these reviews for quite a few years now and we really enjoy cataloging our lives in these annual recaps.
2022 was definitely a year for the record books for us! Many of you already know we spent (almost) the entire year traveling throughout Europe and then we gulp decided to MOVE to Europe! Yeah, safe to say, it was a big one.
We’re going to eventually write a full article sharing an in-depth recap from our year of full-time travel, but for now, if you want to catch up on our two-part podcast series recapping that adventure, you can listen below (or watch our travel YouTube videos here):
And now, let’s continue with the year-end review format, sharing what went well, what didn’t go well, what we’re looking forward to in 2023, as well as our guiding words for 2023.
😍 What Went Well In 2022? 😍
We traveled full-time in Europe for the whole year (well, almost)—and it was equal parts amazing and difficult
As already mentioned, a FULL article will be coming that shares a ton more details, stories, and photos from our 300 days living out of suitcases in Europe. For now, here’s the high level summation:
- 🌍 We visited 10 countries: Portugal, Ireland, Croatia, France, Greece, The Netherlands, Scotland, England, Italy, and finally Switzerland
- 🏙️ We stayed in 30 different cities (England had the most at 7 and The Netherlands had the least at just 1)
- ✈️ We took 17 flights across Europe (no lost luggage or canceled flights if you can believe it!)
- 🚂 We rode on 5 trains
- 🚕 We drove 8 rental cars (half of which were on the opposite side of the road from what we’ve known our entire lives)
- ⛴️ We took 2 ferries (technically, the same ferry… round trip)
- 🏨 We stayed at 31 Airbnbs and 15 hotels
- 🛌 We slept in 50 (!!!) different beds
- ⭐️ We ate at 12 Michelin Star restaurants (major bucket list item for Jason!)
Everyone would probably plan a year of travel differently, but we have to say there’s not a ton we’d change about our itinerary.
Before we embarked on our trip, we set the intention of traveling slightly slower than most folks you see on YouTube. We planned to avoid bigger, more popular cities, and we knew changing locations every 3-4 days was NOT a recipe for success for us. 2 weeks was more what we were aiming for in a place. We did a pretty great job of sticking to our initial plans!
With all the amazingness that this year of travel brought, it was also really hard on us at times, especially on Caroline. That being said, even starting the year with pretty severe flight AND driving anxiety, she pushed through (on her terms) and developed a lot more resilience as the year went by.
One of the hardest parts of the trip that is also one of the hardest to explain to someone not traveling full-time was the never-ending decision fatigue. Things like what grocery store to go to, what to eat for lunch, how customary things like parking and garbage work, and so many other “simple” life things that get complicated as you arrive in a new city where people speak a different language and you have no idea where anything is. That, coupled with the endless decisions of what we wanted to see, where we wanted to go next, where we wanted to stay, it was just… A LOT. We’re not complaining by any means, we gladly take on that decision fatigue for an experience like this we’re so grateful for—we just feel sharing the reality of the full-time travel life is as important as the glamorous parts.
We could write SOOOOOO much more about our year of travel and we will! But for now, just know that overall this was definitely a huge positive for us in 2022, and it was life-changing in many ways.
🤳 We (unintentionally) took a year off social media, and don’t plan to go back anytime soon
Traveling full-time for a year… what great content to share on Instagram and TikTok, right!? Well… that may be true, but over the years we’ve learned: just because something is a “good” opportunity doesn’t mean it’s the right opportunity for you. We ended 2021 on a short break from IG (for our business account @wanderingaimfully), which eventually turned into not returning for all of 2022. I shared exactly FOUR posts (and two stories) on my personal IG account before realizing I simply didn’t care and didn’t want to spend the effort, and Caroline dipped out at the end of January for her own mental health.
As the months went on, we would have these amazing moments and think out loud, “gosh, this is pretty Instagrammable,” only to then come back to asking ourselves, “but why post it? 🤷🤷🤷” We know that some people love using Instagram (and TikTok) for promoting and marketing their businesses by sharing their lives, which we are 100% in support of if that’s what’s right for you. But for us, we finally reached a point where the negatives just outweighed the positives. We’ve prioritized building a business over the course of now five years that can survive without participating in the daily content grind, and we’re so so glad we made that decision because now we can choose when and how we show up in those spaces.
What we realized toward the mid-way point of 2022 was that if we’re not going to share the MOST “sharable” year of our lives on social media, that’s probably a sign we’re done using social media altogether. We’ll see how that position evolves—never say never—but for now, 2023 will likely be socials-free for us.
🏊♀️ Our businesses stayed afloat and we’ve built great systems and processes
Before we sold the last of our things and moved out of our rental home in Southern California, we had many conversations about what our businesses would look like in 2022. For those of you that don’t know, we run two businesses together: 1️⃣ Wandering Aimfully Unlimited (WAIM), an un-boring coaching program and 2️⃣ Teachery, a small online course software platform.
Both of these businesses give us the freedom and flexibility to work on them from anywhere, but they both do require our ongoing input and time. We were happy to discover that we absolutely COULD keep both businesses up and running, and even though we had virtually zero extra time to do more than the bare minimum tasks, our top-line revenue only decreased by 5% from 2021. Considering 2021 was our best year yet, and considering our time input in 2022 was a fraction of what it was in 2021, we feel like that’s a pretty amazing feat to accomplish! It’s also a reminder that you’ll never know whether you can work less hours, create less content & marketing, and still thrive until you really put your systems and processes to the test and check your own assumptions.
We are truly grateful that we’ve honed our systems and processes over the years, especially as 👩🏻🦰 has become a Notion Wizard 🧙♀️. Notion (aff link) is truly a game-changer for us and keeps everything organized and on-track (even when we were completely exhausted after a long travel day from one country to another). We never lost sight of what we needed to do to keep the wheels on, and that was invaluable.
Hiring freelancers for accessibility and design
If you would have asked us, “Hey Zooks, do you plan on bringing on any freelancers in 2022 while traveling full-time?” the answer would’ve been a resounding: NOPE.
However, we actually brought on TWO new amazing humans to help our businesses!
🙌 Accessibility (Captions, Transcripts, etc)
It’s been a goal of ours to make our content (videos, podcasts, coaching sessions, etc) more accessible for a wider range of people who need/prefer different ways of consuming information. We were happy to find someone who LOVES the process of transcription, and is very good at it!
👩🎨 UX/UI Designer (for Teachery)
If you didn’t know, Caroline did the entire branding and application redesign of Teachery back in 2020… BY HERSELF 😱 (and she’s not a UX/UI designer). With a long list of features we wanted to add to Teachery, we simply knew Caroline wouldn’t have the bandwidth to continue to do design work for our online course platform. We stumbled into finding a designer who had some availability pop up, and we’ve been working together for 4 months with great success. It’s a wonderful feeling to have someone else bringing our ideas for Teachery to life, and then making them even better by adding their unique skillset.
We created one new product for WAIM in 2022: the Teachery Theme Pack [includes a new Teachery feature: Themes]
This one we count as a two-fer because it involved a really big new feature for Teachery: Themes. You can read more about Themes here if you like, but this is a feature that helps our creators take their pre-designed courses and sell them as copyable designs for anyone to use and create new courses from.
On top of that new feature for Teachery users, we also wanted to give our WAIM members a handful of pre-designed Themes by us. We sat down and brainstormed 5 different Themes that we thought our core group of members would find useful. The Themes we ended up on were:
- 🧘 Monochrome Yoga Theme (a minimal, monochrome color palette design for yoga instructors and wellness professionals)
- 📝 Pastel Planners Theme (a playful, pastel color palette design for digital planner creators and artists)
- ✨ Bold Design Theme (a striking, quirky color palette design for designers or developers)
- 🌚 Dark Photography Theme (a simple dark mode color palette for photographers or filmmakers)
- 🌝 Light Novelist Theme (a simple light mode color palette for writers and copywriters)
(And any of these Themes can be adapted to ANY type of online course, with instructions on how to customize the images, color palettes and fonts. Pretty cool!)
As is with all new products we create, of course it took more time than we wanted, and we went a little bit over and above in the execution 🤷♀️🤷. But, we’re always happy to invest in delivering awesomeness to our WAIMers, as we truly appreciate them and want them to be happy they invested in us!
🏠 Finding our new home in… Portugal! 🇵🇹
Moving away from work stuff, this is a pretty big one 😂😂😂. We moved to Portugal!!! Sayyyy what!??
After visiting Portugal (Lisbon, specifically) in January, we really fell in love with Portugal. And, if you can fall in love with a country by only visiting one city, then you know it has a lot to offer. We planned a return trip in August to scout out two separate areas where we might actually want to live (big cities are not exactly our jam and Lisbon is definitely a big city to us). What happened on that scouting trip is that we absolutely fell in love with a small town in the Silver Coast (just 45min north of Lisbon) and found a dream home to rent for a year 😍❤️.
If you want to listen to our podcast episode where we made the decision, it’s embedded here for ya:
We also recorded this podcast episode and this episode where we share what the first few weeks were like living in a new country.
Right now, the plan is to stay here for a few years and even possibly earn dual citizenship in the EU (which takes 5 years). We’re not making any crazy long-term plans at the moment, but we are SUPER happy so far and can’t wait to explore so much more of Portugal, as well as learn the language.
😔 What Didn’t Go Well In 2022? 😔
We both got COVID-19 and Caroline got shingles for a 4th time
Covid has been hard on everyone and it was particularly difficult for our families last year. That being said, we had successfully dodged it until we hit the road… during the Omicron variant 😬.
I (Jason) picked up the virus toward the tail-end of our FIRST week in Lisbon. Woof. Thankfully, I’d just gotten my booster shot right before we left, and I do believe that was helpful in keeping my symptoms mild. Caroline actually didn’t even catch it from me, which is hard to believe given how small our flat was, BUT perhaps it has something to do with my amazing “COVID fort” (see below)? Luckily, if I was going to get it anywhere, it was good to be in a city that was so easy to get access to testing, food/grocery delivery, and helpful people who could pass along the most up-to-date information. We did have to cancel our second planned stop of our trip to San Sebastián, Spain, but we didn’t mind the extra time in Lisbon as we were just loving Portugal.
Caroline picked up the virus in the third country on our trip: Croatia. Unfortunately, COVID was a bit harder on her than it was on me, but again we had very friendly people to pass along helpful information and a comfortable Airbnb to “nest” in while her body fought it off.
Having dealt with both us getting covid, one of Caroline’s additional points of anxiety during 2022 was having a shingles flare-up again. We know by now that this is just a recurring response Caroline’s body has to emotional stress. In 2021, we dealt with some pretty difficult family situations and Caroline had TWO shingles flare-ups as a result, so we know the cause and effect well by now. Our packed travel schedule that ramped up in April, plus the emotions of adjusting to full-time travel life and maybe even a fatigued immune system led to shingles rearing it’s ugly head for a FOURTH time while we were staying at a “tiny chateau” in France (it wasn’t actually a chateau, we just liked to call it that for fun).
This was one of those situations where we were in one of the trickiest locations to get sick. We were staying in a TEEEEEENY tiny town and the nearest place with a pharmacy or doctor was a 30+ minute drive. We ended up going to a pharmacy where we found a woman who spoke a tiny bit of English, found us a doctor who was “Canadian,” and we were able to book an appointment fairly quickly. The hilarity that ensued is that the “Canadian” doctor (reminder: we’re in France) was FRENCH Canadian 🤣🤣. He spoke even less English than the nice French pharmacist. But, all language barriers aside, we were able to secure a much-needed prescription of shingles anti-viral meds and pick them up for a total cost of €56 (€25 for the doctor’s visit and €31 for the pills).
The meds ended up doing their job and, thankfully, Caroline avoided the dreaded shingles rash — which is the absolute worst thing. But, the meds had some gnarly side effects for her and this would end up being the lowest point of our entire trip. I half-expected Caroline to ask to go back to the U.S., but to my surprise she didn’t want to cancel our trip, she just wanted to get the heck out of France 😆 (France was honestly absolutely lovely though, with food that lived up to the hype and patient, kind people—we look forward to going back under different circumstances!)
📉 Our WAIM website traffic and email subscribers continued to decline (but revenue stayed steady!)
This is a trend that continued from 2020 to 2021 when we wrote last year’s review. Our overall website traffic and email subscriber numbers have been on the steady decline. Here’s what those numbers look like for WAIM:
- 🧑💻 2020 unique website visitors: 353,021
- 🧑💻 2021 unique visitors: 206,574 (⬇️ 41.4% decrease)
- 🧑💻 2022 unique visitors: 121,805 (⬇️ 41% decrease #consistent)
- 📬 2020 total new email subscribers: 2,845
- 📬 2021 total new subs: 4,469 (📈 41.4% increase)
- 📬 2022 total new subs: 2,634 (⬇️ 41% decrease)
- 💸 2020 total net revenue: $168,102
- 💸 2021 total net revenue: $274,359 (📈 63.2% increase)
- 💸 2022 total net revenue: $313,553 (📈 14.2*% increase)
*This 14.2% number is JUST our WAIM net revenue, and the overall revenue number doesn’t include Teachery or other income sources. Total overall revenue in 2022 was 5% less than 2021 🤯 after factoring in everything else!
Now, that’s a TON of numbers to look at, but hopefully, it paints an interesting picture — it certainly does for us!
We’re not overly concerned with the decrease in organic website traffic or in new email subscribers, because our WAIM revenue has actually been increasing year-over-year 🎉. We know by now that you can’t focus on EVERYTHING all the time, so sometimes you have to intentionally de-prioritize things. Our marketing bridge was working well enough that we knew we’d be okay to focus the majority of our energy on our program and our members, and leave our traffic and subscribers goals for another day.
There are several factors that contributed to our WAIM revenue increase, but the main 3 to share are:
- We’ve gotten MUCH better at positioning and communicating our offer (WAIM Unlimited)
- We’ve found a promotion schedule (bi-annual launches) that works well for us
- Our existing WAIMers are helping bring in 60% of new members (affiliates!)
With all that being shared, we will be focusing our efforts on traffic and email subscriber growth in 2023, but we’re certainly not planning on burning ourselves out with concern. We assumed our numbers would stay fairly similar or decline in 2022 due to having less hours to pour into our business(es). Thankfully, as noted above, our total overall revenue across the board was only down by 5% in 2022 which we did a celebratory butt-bump for in Switzerland…
😬 Recording YouTube videos to recap our travel adventures
We decided to put this in the “didn’t go well” section because, as much fun as the completed videos are to look back on, they really are a thorn in our sides to create.
It’s sooooo easy to watch travel YouTubers and think, “I could totally do that!” But then, when you’re traveling AND when you have two businesses to keep afloat, you realize just how much extra time and effort goes into recording, planning, organizing, editing, and publishing YouTube vids. If we didn’t have WAIM + Teachery, creating video content would be wildly easier.
As of writing this year-end update, we still have two straggler remaining travel videos (Italy + Switzerland) to edit and publish. We give travel YouTubers who also run businesses a TON of credit for consistently uploading! The next time you watch one of those videos, make sure to give those folks a 👍 as it’s not easy work.
Oh, and in case you were curious, our YouTube stats for 2022:
- 16 videos uploaded (vs. 7 in 2021)
- 1,847 new subscribers (vs. 3,047 in 2021)
- 234,402 total video views (vs. 199,874 in 2021)
- $2,947 revenue earned (vs. $3,478.50 in 2021)
In 2021, our first “Packing for Full-Time Travel” video had a huge surge in viewership, eventually hitting 150,000+ views which attributes to nearly all of the 2021 YouTube analytics.
😵💫 It was a year of amazing memories, but also a year without a lot of breathing room
Capping off this section, we just want to share that while full-time travel life IS a dream come true (and we WOULD recommend it), it’s also very tiring and if you’re juggling work while living out of suitcases and Airbnbs/hotels, you don’t have much space (physical or mental) to breathe.
That said, there’s not a whole lot we’d change about our travels in 2022. Again, we just want to share that traveling for a year can look extremely glamorous and enviable from the outside (and it absolutely is at times!) but on the whole, it’s a lot of effort and (for us) not a sustainable lifestyle long-term.
🔮 2023 Preview (What’s Next?) 🔮
Getting more acclimated to life in Portugal and gaining long-term residency
As of writing this recap to you, two things are currently happening:
1️⃣ We’re sitting in our new home in Portugal and pinching ourselves daily at how happy we are and how unbelievably lucky we feel to have found the area and the home we’re renting.
2️⃣ Our long-stay (D7 Visa) applications have been approved 🎉🎉🎉 and we are awaiting our appointment here in Portugal to receive our official residency card (good for 2 years).
For 2023, we hope to settle deeply back into “normal life” routines. You know, working from the same spot each day, using the same kitchen for each meal (and a batch of cinnamon rolls), sleeping in the same bed, and dealing with only ONE language barrier for the year!
We also DO want to explore more of Portugal! We envision taking 3-4 road trips in 2023 up to the north of Portugal (Porto area) and the south of Portugal (the popular Algarve). We know a few expats in both areas, so it’ll be fun to connect with those folks when we do hit the road.
Speaking of meeting people, our goal is to try to meet some new friends in Portugal this year. We want to spend quality time learning Portuguese (we know it’s going to take years!) and we want to embrace local customs and cultures as we bump into them. Anyone who has moved to a completely new city knows how hard it can be to make new friends, and we earn an extra level of difficulty being the foreigners here 😄🙃.
But yeah, we’re excited to be in the same place for weeks/months on end too. Full-time travel is not the lifestyle that works best for two Netflix-loving homebodies!
🏇 Jumping back in the business saddle and working on growth for WAIM and Teachery
As we noted a few times, things simply stayed afloat with Teachery and WAIM in 2022. Well, technically we did better than just floating, maybe it was a light bit of swimming in 2022 with our businesses.
👥 What does growth look like for WAIM in 2023?
We mentioned the website traffic and email subscriber numbers already, but we are trying to grow WAIM’s revenue in 2023. We’ll talk more about numbers in a moment. We had a total of 216 new WAIMers join us in 2022, and we don’t have a specific number we’re trying to hit in 2023, but if you’re asking us to pick a number: a high goal would be 300 total new WAIMers in 2023 🎯.
⚙️ What does growth look like for Teachery in 2023?
Ahhh Teachery, the side project that could! Teachery has always been a great little SaaS for us and has increased in revenue each year with virtually zero external effort on our part. Teachery doesn’t have a content strategy, we do NO marketing or promotion of it—it only continues to grow because our Teachery customers love it and help spread the word about it 🙏❤️.
That being said, we think 2023 is the year Teachery makes its biggest jump since it was created back in 2013. Feels fitting on Teachery’s 10th birthday to make a leap, right? Now, we’re not talking a gigantic leap, but we’d like to see our annual revenue increase by 50%. That’s a big goal and not sure we’ll hit it, but it’s also the very first time we’ll be putting in any revenue growth effort!
💰 Chipping away at our new “enough number” that we set at the end of 2021 ($57,000/mo)
In 2021’s year-end review, we shared that our “enough number*” increased from $33,000/month to $57,000/month**. We hope it was VERY clear that our goal wasn’t to immediately make a 73% revenue jump per month. That new monthly goal is the number we’re working toward and at the rate we’re going, it will take a few years to get there (and that’s okay!)
*We talk in detail about defining an “enough number” in this article. 🤗👍
**It’s important to keep in mind this number does not mean we take home $57K. This is a top-line revenue number so it doesn’t account for expenses, paying freelancers, affiliates, taxes, etc.
If you’re asking me to make a prediction about 2023, my hope is that our monthly revenue would creep into the 40s this year. But, we’re not interested in chasing these numbers at all costs. We want to enjoy life, we want to feel good about our workload, and we don’t want to pile on a ton of additional expenses just to boost our monthly revenue number.
🖼️ Let’s Wrap It Up! How Are We Framing 2023? 🖼️
👩🏻🦰 Caroline’s word for 2023: Capable
2022 was a big year for me in terms of stepping outside of my comfort zone and really surprising myself with some of the discomfort I was able to move through. The reward for expanding my capacity for discomfort is that my anxiety levels are lower than they’ve ever been. What a gift! I feel like I’ve actually shifted my own self-perception, which, when I type it out like that, feels profound. I want to carry this new self-image into 2023 and show myself just how capable I am. In areas of health, relationships, speaking up for myself, being more assertive, and carrying less responsibility for others as a way to gain favor.
👨🏻🦲 Jason’s word for 2023: Invest
Now, you might be thinking, “cool, bro, so you’re buying low and selling high??” NOPE! Well, yes if we can, that’s just smart financial advice, but the word invest for me in 2023 is based on a few different things.
Investing in my health: I turned the ripe old young age of 40 in 2022 and while getting older doesn’t scare me, there are some truths and realities to it. That being said, after a year of not having a ton of time to prioritize health, I’m excited to invest heavily in my health with daily-ish exercise, getting some regular doctor checkups done, updating my eye prescription (maybe getting lasik eye surgery?), and focusing on a more balanced diet. Don’t worry, I believe cinnamon rolls and 🍪s are also investments in health too 😘.
Investing in our relationship: Traveling the world was a dream come true for us, but it also put a strain on our relationship at times. Especially as we’re navigating our new lives in a completely new country (with all kinds of fun logistical hurdles), I really want to focus on more quality time and thoughtfulness in our relationship because we’re in this for the long haul 💖.
Investing in our businesses: 2022 was not a growth year for our businesses (which was expected!), but we’d really like to make some strides in growing our revenue, our traffic, and honing in our processes even more. Investing in our businesses in 2023 should set us up well for many years to come!
Are you writing a “Year-End Review”? We’d love to read it!
If you are, we’d love to read what you’re up to! Feel free to use the format we laid out here as an example and use our contact page to pass your review along to us.
These reviews are so fun to look back on and give us a ton of perspective as time passes along.
Hope you enjoyed reading about our 2022 and all that we have planned for 2023!