The year started off so well. Early January saw me off to Lisbon for the start of a three month jaunt through Portugal and Spain, with a stopover in Morocco. Or so went the plan. Portugal was magical. Spain was incredible. And then, a week into my three weeks in Barcelona before heading to Morocco, Madrid, and back home, Covid hit. So I cut my trip short, preparing to ride out the pandemic in Los Angeles. I was sure it would only last a few months.

Well, here we are, and I haven’t left California since that first week in March when I returned from Spain. This is not how I expected this year to go.

I was so happy in Sintra, Portugal!

Normally, my year in review piece is filled with awesome stats about how many states and countries I saw, how many miles I flew, and such. This year, I can count those easily: one state (California), three countries, and one set of flights to/from Europe. On the other hand, I’ve canceled fully booked trips to another three states and five countries, so the counting stats are still kind of there, right?

Dusk in Seville

All this said, in what was the most challenging year for all those whose livelihoods depend on travel, there was a lot of positive in 2020 for The Royal Tour. So let’s focus on that, shall we?

In 2020, The Royal Tour received more than 40,000 hits between website visits and opened emails without clicks-through. That’s a more than 50% increase on 2019! Given the pandemic and so few people traveling or wanting to read about travel, I’m genuinely ecstatic about this.

My own lack of travel left me struggling for content, so for the first time in The Royal Tour’s history, I allowed guest writers to publish content here on the site. To date, six amazing travelers and writers have written stories about places I’ve never seen and in styles other than my own. It’s been a true joy to have them, and so much of the aforementioned success can be attributed to their talents.

Date nights. Date nights have been a blessing. A and I have had 26 travel themed date nights since the pandemic began. I cook dinner; she makes dessert. We learn about a country, experience its culture, and virtually visit a site or two. It has been the closest thing to travel I’ve done, and it’s been one of the main things keeping me going.

I also wrote a short story! The Ring of Marseille features travel blogger Nathan Shapiro and combines travel with adventure and mystery. If you haven’t read it yet, give it a shot. If you like The Royal Tour, you’ll like it!

In addition, I’ve had a ton of cool socially distant experiences here in Southern California. I’ve eaten dates off a tree, picked my own apples, done a ton of hiking, and learned so much more about my home. No, it isn’t as exciting as seeing someplace new, but these are experiences I likely would not have had if I hadn’t been “stuck” here.

My hometown of Glendale, CA on a hike

2020 was rough on this traveler. But as far as The Royal Tour goes, it was a maturing from the deep musings of one guy to a true community of travelers focused on our readers learning with each article they read. That’s a pretty cool thing. And I hope 2021 will bring more of the same.

I kept busy at home standing up for principles and morality

Next year will feature more date nights, a second short story, some family nights themed around travel, and stories from my current pool of writers and a few new ones to whom I can’t wait to introduce you all. And hopefully I’ll be able to get back to some travel at some point.

I want to thank you all for being part of The Royal Tour this year, for your support, and for your continued interest in what we have to say. As 2020 comes to a close, I want to wish you all a happy new year. Stay safe, stay kind, and wear a mask!

A final thank you here to those who have generously sponsored The Royal Tour via our Patreon page. You have allowed us to continue to operate without resorting to ads or affiliate links, beholden only to ourselves and our experiences. If anyone else would like to add your name to those who support the community here at TRT, please visit our page here.

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