Blog WH Travellers

Nine things I learned in my first year of full-time travel

2022 was my first year without a paid job or any other obligations, and I dedicated it fully to WH travel. I managed to visit 58 new WHS, more than I had anticipated in my Trip Plan and without the free bonus WHS from a WHC meeting. Overall, I travelled more and cheaper than budgeted. After half a year I knew I had enough money left for 2022 to pick up the expensive destinations Skellig Michael and Chad.

For the coming years, due to advantageous tax measures and rising interest rates, I also can raise my yearly travel budget a bit. So the date of reaching the goal of 1100 visited WHS has now been adjusted to 2028 instead of 2030! You can find my updated Trip Planner here, including the actual ‘results’ of 2022.

And I learned a lot:


1.       You start to overthink things. At the start of the year my head was full of general travel worries (Will there be a bus? Where do I need to buy tickets and when? Etc.). So many choices to make, always trying to reach the optimum. You just have more time and room in your head to think I guess. This ‘condition’ fortunately improved in the 2nd half year.

2.       You tend to overlook the dates of public holidays and school holidays when not working – while it is better to not travel/fly on these dates to avoid the crowds and save money.

The time versus money dilemma

3.       Still, there is never enough time and money. I am proceeding diligently with my wish list, but I could easily have spent more time in Brazil for example.

4.       The hardest is deciding whether to add on WHS while you’re in the area versus cutting back your days on the road to the minimum needed. Sticking to the “650 EUR rule” (an additional WHS may cost 650 EUR) helps make these decisions.

5.       I was relieved that I didn’t have to compromise on the hotel quality or forego the occasional expensive tour, such as the scenic flight above the Belize Barrier Reef.

6.       Preparation takes a lot of time and wrapping up does not so much. In preparation, I use as much time as the length of the actual trip itself. But I usually only need 1 week afterward. Only for Chad, it was at least 2 weeks, due to not bringing my laptop with me plus the multitude of strong impressions from that trip.

Improved travel planning insights

7.       I loved that I had the freedom to take on “bigger things”, such as an 8000km+ road trip through Canada and 2 weeks of off-grid and wild camping in Chad. I want to go beyond what I did before and move out of my comfort zone.

8.       It sometimes is hard to stay away from “Greatest Hits only”. Most countries have a few good WHS, and always 1 or 2 that are hard to reach and of mediocre quality. I will keep trying to “complete” a country during a visit because you will never go back for that 6th remote WHS.

9.      Natural WHS are more and more becoming my favourites. Six out of the ten sites that I rated 4 stars or higher this year are natural ones: Ennedi, Ounianga Lakes, Gros Morne NP, Gulf of California, Central Amazon, and Fernando de Noronha. If and when I reach 1100, I may set myself a new goal to complete all natural sites on the List!

What have you learned from your travels in 2022?

Els - 1 January 2023

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Esteban Cervantes Jiménez (vantcj1) 5 January 2023

Hi, Els. Just getting back to checking on the site...

It has been very refreshing to read your conclusions on this year dedicated to WHS-traveling.

I found particularly refreshing to read around the mental lessons you've got, and I identify what you say regarding the preparation and post-processing of trips, in my case I especially identify with the second aspect.

Hope you and every other WHS traveller have a great year of travels and experiences.

Don Irwin 2 January 2023

After 2 1/2 years of covid, how much I've missed it. traveling that is. not covid.

Shandos Cleaver 1 January 2023

Happy New Year Els! Great to read your thoughts about travel. I agree that planning takes as much time as travel - especially on trips I've fully planned in advance such as China and India. (Or it takes a lot of daily time if you do it as you go...) It's also interesting to see your trip planner. I put together a lot of possible itineraries and the number of days to spend in each country during lockdown, but never got around to estimating costs.

Jay T 1 January 2023

Happy New Year, Els! Those are some good observations, and I’m glad this first year of travel has turned out better than you expected.
This has been a good year of travel for me — I’ve been on the road far more than I had in quite a while. I suppose I could consider this making up for the Covid years. All told, I visited 42 new World Heritage Sites and eight new countries, touching ground on four continents, which was far better than I’d expected. I think my most memorable trip would have to have been to SGang Gwaay; it was really a unique cultural site located in an extremely beautiful part of the world. Morocco also offered some incredible architecture and views. As for travel lessons learned, since I packed a lot of travel into the end of 2022, I’m realizing for myself I should be spacing my trips a little farther apart so that I can fully appreciate and process each trip as I take it.
Hope 2023 brings many happy travel memories for you and for the rest of the WHS community!