The year is already coming to an end and as we usually do since 2014, it’s time for our yearly review. It’s a little ritual that has become important for us in December: taking the time to stop, look back, appreciate all the things accomplished during the past year (something we often forget to do), ask you some questions as well and set new goals for the coming year. So let’s get started!
If you want to read our previous yearly reviews, you will find them all on this page of our blog.
So if in 2020 nobody saw the Covid mess coming, 2021 did not really start off under the best conditions: a lot of uncertainties linked to the Covid situation, a more and more divided and polarized society, the increasingly worrying state of our beautiful planet… There was plenty of reason to start 2021 in a rather anxious atmosphere.
So we decided to take the year 2021 as it would come, without making too many plans and trying to do the best we could according to the given restrictions. It is in this context that at the end of last year we took advantage of a short border opening to leave with our van towards Galicia and Anceu Coliving.
- Our year 2021 in images
- Our carbon footprint in 2021
- Our 2021 review on the work side
- Ben’s thoughts on 2021
- Fabienne’s thoughts on 2021
- Our BIG project for 2022 (and the years to come)
Our year 2021 in images
January to April: far away from Covid in the Galician countryside + Winchy
After a year 2020 close to zero social life, what motivated us to travel to Galicia was the perspective of regaining a little social life in a coliving in the middle of nature. And I think we can say that it was THE right decision we took at the end of last year! It felt soooo good to be surrounded by people from different horizons, to spend our evenings reinventing the world with other people, to share meals around a big table etc…
Of course, winter in Galicia is not exactly the best season (like in January and February, we had weeks where it rained almost non-stop) and we had a strict restrictions where we couldn’t go out of a 10kms perimeter… But we didn’t care because we were in our little bubble of a dozen people lost in the Galician countryside… people who meanwhile became real friends!
And then January – February are also the months when we decided to adopt our dog Winchy, who was still quite traumatized at that time. So we also took the chance to spend a lot of time with him (we did a lot of hikes), to give him a lot of love and to try to give him back some trust in human beings. And we could hardly have a better setting than a coliving lost in the middle of the countryside for that.
Then the Covid situation became a little bit more relaxed in March/April and the nice days finally arrived. We made the most of it and did several small roadtrips with the van around the coliving. As our “perimeter of freedom” increased, we were able to discover new corners of Galicia. We began by the region of Vigo and Pontevedra to then travel up more in the north between La Lanzada and Catoira. We then left inland to discover the wine region of Ribeira Sacra and finally went up in the northwest of Galicia on the Costa da Morte.
Then, at the end of April, after more than 4 wonderful months in Anceu Coliving (we will be there again in March-April 2022), it was time for us to go back to Switzerland. Obviously, we took our time on our way with the van and we had time to explore the Rias Altas in the north of Galicia and the Asturias region. And we really enjoyed it!
May to August: Working in our beautiful Swiss mountains
Back in our mountains, we had a surprisingly busy summer on the work side. We were first hired by the region of Graubünden on the German side of Switzerland to explore the Alpine circle road with our van.By the way, we would like to thank them for their trust, they are the only tourism professionals who agreed to give us carte blanche to visit their region this year… it’s rare enough to be noted and it’s a non-negotiable condition for us to accept a partnership
As Graubünden was one of the regions of Switzerland that we still knew the least (and yet it is one of those that suits us the most), we took the opportunity to discover places that we wanted to see for a long time like the Rhine Gorge, the Engadin and the Swiss National Park or the bridges of the Rhaetian Railway.
We then worked a lot on another project for the Dents du Midi tour association who hired us to create a new guidebook about this magnificent circle hike (the dream contract for us!!!). So from mid-July to mid-August we have redone all the parts of the Dents du Midi tour as well as its alternatives to have all the photos and information to create a magnificent guidebook about this beautiful tour (the most beautiful mountains in the world we tell you). We are looking forward to show you the final result which will probably be available early next year.
September and October: 2 months of intense road trip in Brittany
At the end of August, we went back to our beloved Brittany (already the 3rd time) for a road trip in van a little bit special since it was about writing our future book “Beer hiking in Brittany”. We would have liked to to have a bit more time for this trip (to create 40-45 beer hikes in 2 months is rather short!)… But well, between the Covid restrictions (closed bars = no beer hike) and our other projects, we didn’t manage to get started before.
So fortunately the weather was on our side! On 63 days in Brittany we had 59 days of good weather which allowed us to do the hikes without too much problem. If we had had a month of rain, it could have been really difficult!
Our days on this trip often looked like this:
- get to our hiking spot of the day
- hike and find the beers from the brewery we are interested in
- find a spot for the night
- Write the hike of the day and edit the pictures
- taste and rate the associated beer(s)
- sleep and start again 😉
So it’s clear that we had a lot of work to do during this trip but it was also a great challenge! And it allowed us to make quite an incredible road trip all over Brittany… and we really enjoyed it. By the way, if you want to know more about this journey, we suggest you to read the report of this adventure here (and for the book, you’ll have to wait until May 2022).
November and December: Leaving for Spain for the winter
After 2-3 quiet weeks at home working, we already left for the south of Spain. Before the Covid disrupted all our plans at the beginning of the year, we had planned to test our van in the south of Spain and in Portugal during the winter of 2020. What we couldn’t do last year, we will try to do this year.
So since the beginning of December we travel south with the van towards Andalusia (we rented a small casita with a friend close to Malaga to spend the end of year together). We already crossed Catalunya mainly inland with some nice discoveries like the region around Tavertet or the Montserrat and Montsant range (and the wine of Priorat 😉 ) or the Ebro Delta.
At the moment, we have just arrived in Andalusia. It must be between 15 and 20 degrees during the day, between 5 and 10 at night and there is almost no rainfall around here… in short, ideal conditions for living and travelling in a van and we are looking forward to the rest of this trip!
Our carbon footprint in 2021
For the 3rd consecutive year, we share our carbon footprint with you here. The goal is not to judge or make anyone feel guilty, but to simply talk about this really important topic (especially since I feel that it has been somewhat sidelined by the Covid). The individual and collective effort to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 (as decided in the Paris agreements) is huge!
I will not repeat everything I have detailed in previous years, but to achieve this we need to reduce our emissions to 2 tons of CO2 per capita per year (the Swiss average being around 13-14 and the French around 11). In short, we have to reduce our emissions by 80% in less than 30 years. As for the previous times, we used the carbon footprint calculator of the global footprint network by filling in all the additional details for each question where it was possible and here is our result this year:
This year we would need 1.6 planets if everybody lived like us and we emitted 4.6 tons of CO2… It’s a little bit less than last year, mainly because we moved a lot more with our van (at the same time it was difficult to move less than in 2020 with this damn virus lol). An important part of our carbon footprint is due to the 16’000 kms we did this year with our van (which consumes about 7 liters per 100kms).
I will repeat it, but not all efforts are equal when it comes to carbon footprint. The most important areas of action are food (eat less animal products, eat local and seasonal, less packaging), mobility (drastically reduce the plane, the car and favor public transport, carpooling), housing (energy efficiency)… and only then do we consider efforts such as buying second hand objects/clothes, digital sobriety, recycling…
I’ll be honest with you, I would like to see more people calculating their carbon footprint with this kind of tools (and I really encourage you to do it). It would maybe spark something because I have the impression that we are fooling ourselves a bit (especially in the world of “influence” on internet)… We see a lot of objects / clothes produced in a responsible and local way, of eco-responsible travels (at the other end of the planet), everything is green everywhere… But let’s be clear, we can’t pretend to take care of the planet and still fly X times a year, eat the same way and always buy new things (even locally produced).
I’m not saying that we should stop living, I’m just saying that we should learn to live with new limitations in order to protect our common good which is the planet. And they are only constraints if we define them as such (a little bit like the definition of success I talked about in this post). It is quite possible to have a full life (of happiness, adventure, success, meaning…) while taking care of our beautiful planet.
Regarding our carbon footprint, our emissions linked to mobility have increased a bit this year since we have done a lot of kilometers with our van. Our mobility alone represents almost 2 tons of CO2/pers, which is the target to reach by 2050. For those who were wondering about the impact of traveling in a van / motorhome, you see that it is far from being negligible! (to help you compare, 1 return flight from Paris to New York represents about 2 tons of CO2)
Our carbon footprint related to our food consumption has also increased a little bit simply because when we travel with the van (5 full months this year), we find that it’s a little bit more difficult to find local products, without packaging etc… It’s possible of course but it requires more efforts and planning (compared to when we are at home where we know exactly where to find the right products)… and we noticed that we stopped more often in a supermarket on our route, which often forces us to make compromises for our food purchases.
But otherwise, what didn’t change is that we still don’t eat meat (except if we are invited at people’s places) and when we are at home, we cook more and more everything ourselves and so we buy less and less processed products. When we are in the van, we cook more simply because we have little space and only 2 small cooking plates… so we don’t try crazy recipes 😉
In 2020, we also switched banks to limit the impact of the money we had on our bank accounts. If you are interested in this issue and would like to switch to a more ethical, transparent and responsible bank, we recommend that you read this part of our last year review
Our 2021 review on the work side
Well, as for work, 2021 has been a bit like a second 2020, unfortunately, since the Covid situation has not been much better. So this year was not exactly easy either professionally speaking. I’ll come back later on to our more personal feelings about 2021 (for Fabienne and me) after this difficult period which is still going on… but even if the year wasn’t great, I think we’re still limiting the damage compared to other sectors which continue to be hit pretty hard.
Since we know you’re curious about this, we’re going to share with you below our various numbers as well as the projects we’ve been working on in 2021:
Review of our travel blog on projects and numbers
numbers of our travel blog
Last year, it was the first time since we started blogging that we had a small drop in average traffic over the year. And this year, unfortunately, we are experiencing another small drop… I would say that overall, the traffic of our blog this year is similar to last year, except for the months of January-February which in 2020 was still very good since it was just before Covid.
So in 2021, 1,060,000 people visited our site (-3%) for about 1,700,000 page views (-12%) and an average time spent on each of them of 4 minutes 41 seconds (+9%).
The first part of the year, the traffic was still quite low as there were still many restrictions related to Covid. During the summer it increased again because we have a lot of outdoor content (hiking in Switzerland and France) and on some destinations that were accessible (Tenerife, Menorca, Turkey). But in November, badaboum, a new variant with the restrictions that go with it = big drop in the blog’s traffic 🙁
Just a few other numbers:
- We wrote 25 new blog posts / pages in 2021 (in French and in English): So it’s certainly a bit less than in 2020 (33 posts) but we also updated a lot of existing content (for example in Brittany where we discovered many new spots). And one thing we notice with the years is that writing a new post takes us MUCH more time than before. Our articles are longer and more detailed (we try to put a maximum of useful information), the selection and editing of photos is time-consuming, we translate the article in English, we take time to write a quality newsletter (well, we try 😉 ), we share the post on social media etc… On average, a new post takes us 2-3 days of work, sometimes more (like the review you are reading right now).
And then there is also the fact that for the first time since we started blogging, we didn’t write any post for more than 2 months (September – October) because we were too busy with our new book project: Beer hiking in Brittany (to be released in May 2022).
- 8693 comments on the blog (+443): Even if we are delighted to see that there are still new comments which are often of very good quality (interesting questions, feedback). We are forced to notice that there is less interaction than a few years ago on this side. Obviously the Covid doesn’t help but it’s maybe also because we read and comment less on other blogs. There might also be a trend with people commenting less on blogs and more on social media. What do you think about it?
- 23% of our readers read our blog posts in English. This percentage is growing every year and the time spent by these readers is as good as that of our French-speaking readers. These are encouraging numbers that justify the time it takes us to translate our posts
- More than 280 new subscribers to our newsletter (real people who open emails!): As it is the way we prefer to keep in touch with you (not like social media and their obscure algorithms). We are very happy about this evolution and we warmly invite you to subscribe to our newsletter if you want to follow us. And if you are already subscribed, don’t hesitate to give us suggestions to improve our emails 😉
Our income review for novo-monde.com in 2021
In 2021, we earned about 50% of our income from our blog novo-monde.com. As we have already explained to you in the past, we earn our income in the following ways:
- Affiliate marketing: If you click on one of our links to buy some of our recommended camera gear, rent a car in Tenerife or buy one of our books, we get a small commission each time. And in 2021 these small commissions together represent 2/3 of the blog’s income.
- Selling pictures (and stolen pictures): This is one of the good surprises of this year, in 2021 we sold quite a few photographs. In particular 28 images of the Alps that were published in Wanderlust Alps, a beautiful book published by Gestalten, some photos for the Geo a french magazine or for the Saint Bernard region. We don’t actively try to sell our pictures, but we are happy to see that people are interested in our images and it’s a nice reward for all the time spent to create them. Let’s hope it will keep going 😉
For stolen pictures, it has gone down a bit… It’s not that less pictures are stolen but it’s just that we have a lot of cases of picture theft in process and that it takes time to be solved.
- Rare partnerships with destinations: Over the years, we have decided to accept partnerships with a destination only if we are 100% free to choose our program / accommodations… and if nobody knows we are bloggers (to avoid getting special treatment). With these conditions, very few destinations accept to work with us. This year, we were lucky enough to work with the beautiful region of Graubünden in Switzerland who gave us carte blanche for an 8 day van roadtrip on the beautiful roads of the Alpine Circle route. And this is the only partnership we have done this year.
I won’t go into detail about the values of coherence and transparency that are very important to us when we talk about money on the blog (you’ll find all that in detail in our previous reviews or in this post about ethics). What matters most to us around here is you, our readers. And out of respect for you, we try to be as transparent and coherent as possible. So affiliate links or partnerships are always clearly indicated, we avoid promoting companies like Amazon, we try to raise awareness about environmental issues… and all this is done in a happy and friendly way 😉
A small note about transparency, even if it should be obvious (and it is also mandatory by law), it is unfortunately still far from being a general rule on the Internet in 2021. For us who know a little bit about the other side of the coin, it saddens us to make this observation. Already the trust of Internet users in what they read on the web is not at its best, this kind of thing only makes the situation worse. On our blog, the situation is clear: if there is a partnership, then it is mentioned. If nothing is mentioned? It’s because the trip was 100% private (financed by our own money and we were not paid).
To conclude this travel blog review in numbers, I would say that the Covid for almost 2 years has had the effect of stopping the progression of the blog (small drop in traffic, almost same CA in 2019, 2020 and 2021). So I guess you could say that we are limiting the damage compared to other sectors… But I have to say that it’s a bit frustrating because we continue to work hard to create new posts that are as qualitative as possible but the results do not follow (or let’s say that we work hard to compensate for the Covid related losses). We know that the situation we live is exceptional but as everybody, we start to get tired after 2 years and we wonder how long it is going to last.
Our 2021 review of novo-media in projects and numbers
As we were explaining last year, Novo-media is now a blog focusing on WordPress and SEO rather than a showcase site for our web development activities. In 2021 we have completely stopped creating websites, doing speed optimization for other websites or doing audits for clients.
We are very happy with this evolution because I have to admit that I was getting a bit tired of creating and optimizing websites (it’s a bit repetitive). We prefer to invest our time in the creation of quality content (whether it’s posts on novo-monde or novo-media, books or e-books) that could be useful to more people and that will bring us income on the long run.
So here are the key numbers for Novo-media in 2021:
- We had about 60’000 visits (+50%) on the site for 74’000 page views (+35%) and an average time spent on each of them of 4 minutes (+22%). These results are very encouraging even if we must say that we had started the year very strong by writing several new posts and that it has slowed down a bit since this summer since we had very little time to spend on Novo-media (only 1 post written over the last 6 months)
- We wrote 6 new posts this year. It’s not much but they are quite detailed articles that required a lot of time to write. Some of them are already among our most read posts on the blog like our guide to understand and improve the Core Web Vitals, Fabienne’s guide to create an ebook with Canva or surprisingly a post for developers about the wp.data module and the WordPress REST API.
- Our affiliate earnings on the blog have increased considerably and now make up 10% of our income.
- Like the novo-monde forum, the Novo-media forum is also a failure and almost nobody uses it 🙁
In spite of the little time we spent on it this year, we always take a lot of pleasure to share our knowledge on these more technical topics. I find that there is a real lack of quality posts on these subjects (especially in French) and we will try to keep it up.
It’s also nice to see that we manage to diversify our income a little by writing about these topics. Unlike our travel blog, novo-media has not been impacted at all by Covid. This strengthens the idea that we should not put all our eggs in one basket if we want to apprehend the future more confidently.
Let’s also hope that next year there will finally be events so that we can perhaps give conferences on these matters, because we really enjoyed our first experiences in this area.
Our books in numbers in 2021
In 2021 we are proud to have created a 4th book in 4 years! We carry on with our rhythm of one book per year which is nuts when you know all the work involved (well it’s clearly Fabienne who works the most on the books). But the craziest thing is that we can already tell you that there will be 2 new ones next year!
31 hike in Wallis and Chablais
This is our new ebook published this spring which follows our digital guide on the Via Alpina. We’ve been enjoying hiking in our beautiful mountains for a long time but I think that in 2020 we beat our record of hikes in Switzerland (#TanksCovid). So as we started to have a lot of hiking itineraries in the French speaking part of Valais and Chablais, we thought we would create an ebook containing all our favorite hikes in the region.
In this ebook you will find:
- 31 hikes for every level between Lake Geneva and the surroundings of Sion
- 200 pages containing all the hikes, maps, all illustrated with our best pictures.
- All the GPX and KML tracks of the hikes
We chose again the digital format because we think that for a hiking guide it’s more convenient not to carry a book in the bag. Moreover, the fact that we sell a digital guide ourselves allows us to earn much more per sale than if we publish a paper book with our publisher. Roughly speaking, we earn 85-90% of the sale price whereas with a paper book it varies between 6 and 10%.
Since its release, we have sold more than a hundred copies of the guide, which is not bad for a hiking guide covering such a small area. But if we have done our job well and people looking for hikes in this area find us in google, we hope to sell a hundred copies a year. The future will tell 😉
Destination tour du monde
As you can imagine, with Covid, the context is not exactly ideal for our 1st book. And yet, despite the situation, in 2020 (we only receive the sales figures for the year at the beginning of the next one) there are still more than 800 optimists who have bought a copy of our baby 😉 (which means that we have sold about 5500 copies of the book in total). We’ll see what happens for 2021!
What makes us happy is to see that the book has become popular among the books for people who are preparing a round the world trip. So we hope that when it will again be easier to travel around the world, we will sell a little more of it 🙂 .
But anyway, we are still very proud of our first book and we hope that it will inspire a lot of future travelers. If you are interested in our book destination tour du monde, you can find it in your local bookstore or on the Fnac website.
Randos bière en France (beer hiking France)
Our 2nd book beer hiking in France continues to sell extremely well! And in this case, maybe the Covid even had the opposite effect because after the various lockdowns, people wanted only one thing: to go out and get some fresh air (and maybe also drink some good French craft beers lol).
In 2020 we sold more than 6200 copies of this book (for a total of more than 16’000) and we hope to do as well in 2021. There are a lot of big french media like le démotivateur or Kombini who talked about our book this year which should have a big impact on the sales. Let’s see what happens!
In short, we are just so happy to see that all the love and work we put into this project is paying off. So if you feel like discovering France in the most refreshing way, go to your local bookstore or to the Nature et découvertes or Fnac websites to buy your copy 😉
Via Alpina: hike across Switzerland through the Alps
Our first digital guide about our hike across Switzerland through the Alps is still doing well. For its second year, we sold more than 100 copies which is not bad (for a total of more than 300). You have to realize that this guide is intended for people who are preparing a hike across Switzerland through the Alps (a 2-3 weeks trek). So the target audience is not that big either 😉
But here too we have received great feedback from people who bought it and then did the Via Alpina. We sincerely hope that it will encourage many more people to embark on such an adventure on some of the most beautiful swiss trails. If this is an adventure that excites you, you can find more information about our guide here.
2 new books in the making!
If we have been a little less productive on our 2 blogs, it’s also because this year we have been working hard on 2 books that will be released next spring:
- The first one is obviously “Beer hiking in Brittany” which will be published in May if everything goes well. For this book we did an intense roadtrip of 2 months in Brittany during which we did nothing but hiking, tasting craft beers and writing the book (life is too hard!). Frankly this book will be GREAT! Brittany is a really cool area to hike 😉 . And what can we say Breton brewers we met: inspiring people, passionate about their region, its terroir … The result is going to be great and we are really looking forward to show it to you.
- The second one is our new guide (in ebook format) of the Dents du Midi circle hike (the most beautiful mountains of the wwoorrllddd). We spent a good month hiking again on these trails we know well to have all the information and images to create this guide. We are very proud to have been hired to create this ebook and we hope it will become the essential guide for all the people who want to hike on the Dents du Midi hike.
To finish this section about our books, you can see that this part of our business is becoming more and more important. In fact, in 2021, the sale of books (paper or ebook) represents 40% of our income. We will soon be more authors than bloggers which is quite an unexpected evolution 🙂
Ben’s thoughts on 2021
Let’s move on to the more personal part of our yearly review. I’ll start and you’ll find Fabienne’s personal feelings right after (since several of you have expressed the wish to have some words from Fabienne as well, which is an excellent idea).
If you read us regularly, you will certainly have noticed that I have shared with you several thoughts over the last few years related either to environmental issues or to the quest for purpose. This is obviously not a coincidence and these are questions that have been on my mind a lot in 2021.
I don’t know about you, but I think we’re living in very complicated times on many levels (not just health restrictions). We are facing tremendous challenges that would require a great deal of solidarity on a planetary scale to overcome them, and yet I feel that we have never been more divided than today. Every day, if we have the bad idea to open social medias, to browse the web, we get a wave of alarming news, of people literally spitting on each other through comments, which is not a good sign for the years to come (if everyone is insulting each other for a virus, what will it be like when the bigger problems will hit us).
I will not talk too much about the Covid situation, the environmental issues, I think I have already talked a lot about it. But with all these problems that seem impossible to overcome, all the contradictions that characterize our modern western societies, I must confess that I sometimes had a hard time this year. I was sometimes in a bad mood for nothing, I didn’t have the motivation to work, I didn’t see much sense in it anymore (we’re not going to change the world by keeping a travel blog).
But at the same time, being unmotivated and in a bad mood was not going to change anything either 😉 . So I asked myself what had made me really happy and fulfilled lately and here is what came out:
- Clearly some of the best memories I have of the last few years happened when we were in colivings (at Nine coliving, Anceu or Cloud citadel). In our highly individualistic societies, we sometimes forget how good it feels to be surrounded by people from different backgrounds. In a coliving you have time to exchange, to get to know the people you live with, without pressure… These are spaces where we feel good, inspired, in our place… In other words, we are just getting started with colivings!
- Our beautiful Swiss mountains! Long gone are the days when we were working in Vienna or Zurich. Today, Fabienne and I both need to be in a quiet place and close to nature to feel at home (you should have seen us the one day we went to visit a friend in Valencia… lol). Of course we love to travel and hike everywhere, but Switzerland and our beautiful mountains are definitely our home. We have our families and friends there, infinite possibilities of hiking… it’s home!
- Winchy ;). Fabienne will surely tell you, I was not 100% convinced by the idea of having a dog at the beginning. And if I accepted, it was mainly because I knew that Fabienne really wanted it and because with the van, traveling with a dog is not so complicated. I can tell you that I completely changed my mind and that I became very attached to this little doggy. There are of course some additional constraints but what a joy to see the progress he is making and the bond that is developing between the 3 of us.
- Our lifestyle and the freedom it offers. It’s not so much the fact that we can travel when we want to (even if it’s an undeniable plus 😉 ), but it’s especially the possibility to work from anywhere, on projects I like, with interesting people, to be able to do new things, to seize opportunities that come my way or turn them down.
- Drinking a good craft beer at sunset with Fabienne 😉 … and overall, sharing this life of adventure with her. Because together it’s simply better.
As Nicole, a reader, said so well in this comment, at the end of the day, I am only a small grain of sand on this planet. I can only change myself and eventually embark those around me or inspire some of our blog readers.
So for 2022 I sincerely wish to concentrate on all those things that make me happier and pay less attention to all this agitation that has sucked up so much of my energy. I’m already looking forward to working with Fabienne on this new project that has been on our minds for some time now (we’ll tell you about it right after).
For a while now, I’ve been feeling the need to start something more tangible than our travel blog, to create something that really makes sense to me… and I think we’ve finally found the right idea. And of course, I’m looking forward to sharing these new adventures with you on our blog, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary next year #WeAreNot20Anymore.
Fabienne’s thoughts on 2021
For many years it has been a tradition: Benoit writes our annual review. In the last survey, many people have expressed the wish that I also share some personal words and I think this is a great idea! Benoit and I have been a couple for 14 years now and although we were very different at the beginning, we have really evolved together. We share many of the same values and a very similar vision of what we want for the future.
Of course, we are still two different people and our feelings about the same year are probably a little different. For me, 2021 will have been a very strange year. On the one hand, it has been wonderful because it has been a year rich in beautiful encounters and human exchanges as I like them. On the other hand, I also found it a bit sad. Sad in the sense that more than ever I had the impression that the world and the people are divided. Political issues, social issues, environmental issues, and of course all the issues related to the Covid crisis.
So sure, these questions are important and it’s obvious that we can never all agree on everything, but what happened to all that beautiful human solidarity that we experienced at the beginning of the pandemic? You know, those months when we would contact our isolated neighbors, when everyone wanted to support local businesses, when we warmly thanked health care and essential workers? Psssccht… this year, I kind of felt like it all went away as quickly as it came, but the pandemic stayed. Anyway, like many of you, I’m a bit fed up with the pandemic. Tired of the restrictions and limitations of course, but especially tired to see to what point such a small invisible virus manages to divide a society that was already in need of cohesion and solidarity.
On a more positive note, the year 2021 has brought me:
- An overwhelming feeling of being in the right place when we spent 4 months in this little coliving in Galicia in the middle of the spanish lockdown. Surrounded by amazing people, I really felt privileged to be there at that time.
- Winchy! For years I dreamed that Benoit and I would adopt a dog. It has been difficult to convince him, but our meeting with this little fur ball has been like an evidence. It may seem absurd to some, but this little doggie fills me with happiness every second that passes! And what fills me even more, I think, is to see that what was at the beginning a bit of a compromise for Benoit has turned into a real love story. Benoit is not the most demonstrative guy on the planet, but believe me, his “little Winchy” has turned out to be quite something 😉
- Many beautiful encounters and some very very nice projects carried out with Benoit. I’m thinking in particular of beer hiking in Brittany, our roadtrip in the Grisons, and the creation of an ebook for our dear region of Dents du Midi.
- The certainty that I need more human interaction and less hours in front of a screen to feel fulfilled. And probably also the fact that although I will always remain (very) fond of traveling, Switzerland and our little mountains are definitely my “home” and that whatever happens, we will always come back here.
- A lot of love thanks to golden friends! At the end of 2020 and in 2021 I had the pleasure of becoming a godmother twice. It’s very symbolic I know, but for me it’s really something that touches me and I can’t wait to be able to accompany these two little ones in life (and to take them on some great adventures once they are old enough to walk) 😉
For 2022 I have only one thing to look forward to: keep on working on our life projects, give 2000% to our next big project which we’ll tell you about below and of course keep on sharing here a little bit of good mood and beautiful adventures. Benoit mentioned in our last review that in the middle of a pandemic, keeping a travel blog loses a bit of its meaning, and I kind of agree in a way. But on the other hand I like to think that despite everything, the world also needs a little dose of fun and adventure from time to time…
I think Benoit and I agree on this: we need other projects and other things in our lives that “make sense” but it is also obvious that we can never let go of our blog. In 2022, our “baby” will be 10 years old, and I am infinitely grateful for all the things it has brought us so far. So much for the life choices, the ethical and environmental thoughts, the encounters we made and the projects that have resulted from it.
Novo-monde has changed a lot since its beginnings, but that’s fine because so have we! And the good news? There are still a lot of changes to come and we are convinced that it will always be part of our lives!
Our BIG project for 2022 (and the years to come)
So we’re not going to beat around the bush, in 2022, we intend to open our own coliving in a mountain village in Switzerland. But why exactly do we want to open our own coliving? (if you don’t know exactly what a coliving is, we let you have a look at our blog post about that)
- As we were telling you, we feel good in these small independent colivings where we stayed these last years. They are places that have a soul, that allowed us to have a great social life while being productive on our projects. We feel like we belong there and we just want to create a place like that in Switzerland, in our mountains. A place that will be our “home” for years to come… but at the same time the “home” for anyone who would like to discover our beautiful mountains while working and connecting with other people.
- To have a positive impact on the place where we will settle. It is not new, the small mountain villages in some valleys are getting empty. By creating a coliving in a rural environment, we hope to participate in the local economy by buying in the local shops. But above all, we hope to contribute to the dynamism of the village by opening the coworking space to outside people, by creating conferences / events animated by the colivers and open to everyone, maybe by creating evenings where we would help the local people with their computer problems. We already have a lot of ideas to have a positive impact on a mountain village… But what’s great about coliving is that when you bring together people with different skills, it usually results in great synergies… and we’re already looking forward to all the ideas that will arise in our future coliving.
- To do something more tangible and spend a little less time behind our computers. In the last few years, we’ve created a 100% digital business that gives us a lot of freedom. But we also feel the need to do something with our own hands, to have more social contact… and we think that this coliving project will take us a bit more in that direction.
- To allow more people to discover Switzerland. We realize that Switzerland is a country where the cost of living is extremely high. Hotels, restaurants, transportation… everything is very expensive here. However, we would like to create a place with affordable prices to allow a maximum of people to stay here and discover our beautiful mountains. Of course, we will have to cover our costs but our goal is not to become rich by creating a coliving. We simply want to create a place where it is nice to live and work remotely, in a natural and inspiring environment. And if you want our opinion, the best way to discover Switzerland is still hiking, and it’s free 😉
Of course, such a project will require a lot of work and investment (both financial and personal). At the moment we have not yet found “the place”, but this end of 2021 has definitely marked a turning point. We have moved from the “we’re talking about it” stage to the “we’re taking action” stage. For several months, we have been watching the real estate ads, we have started talking to banks and at the beginning of 2022, we will start the process of contacting municipalities and looking for partners.
We really want to create a place that makes sense and that is part of the economic and social life of the place where we are going to settle. We fully believe in this project and really see this space as a place where people can come to work, exchange, relax and immerse themselves in the local life. All we know for the moment is that we feel like going to the mountains, to contribute to the dynamism of a village, to offer something new to a village that is more in the direction of a sustainable tourism based on the 4 seasons.
The project is already well advanced in our heads, but everything is still to be created. We have a few leads, the first interesting feedbacks, but 2022 will definitely be the year of realization.
By the way, if you have (mountain) municipalities in mind where you think such a project could happen, if you know people who have real estate for sale (like an old hotel or a large house that can accommodate at least 15 people) or simply people who would be interested in “brainstorming” with us, do not hesitate to send us a little message
This project will not be done overnight and it is obvious that there will still be a whole phase of preparation, discussions, work, mistakes, setbacks… but if we are putting down our ideas today in this report, it is also simply to ask for your opinion, to open the door to possible ideas/encounters and to share here with you the different steps of the creation of our future coliving, which will happen, we are sure of it!
And our blog in all this?
As Fabienne already said, we have absolutely no intention to give up Novo-monde. Especially since our blog will celebrate its 10th anniversary next year! Over the years, Novo-monde has become our travel companion, our digital travel diary, open to everyone. It contains a very important part of our life and is now also part of the family (and you with it of course).
Obviously if our coliving project becomes a reality, we will certainly have a little less time to spend on it and we will also travel a little less during the next years. But that doesn’t mean that we won’t have anything to share with you here.
We like to think that we have a blog just like us. We obviously share with you our travels but also our feelings, our thoughts, our lifestyle. So, as our projects and our lives evolve, Novo-monde changes with us. And we want to keep on documenting and sharing our little adventures with you.
The final word
To finish this 2021 review, we would like to thank you again for your continued support over the years. Your comments, messages, emails in all their forms continuously motivate us to keep on blogging with the same spirit for nearly 10 years. So please keep on leaving us messages, it really means a lot to us!
And even if 2021 was still not a very good year for travels and encounters, we want to finish this review with some nice memories of people we met this year… that would not have happened without this blog. Hopefully there will be many new ones in 2022.
We wish you all wonderful end-of-year celebrations and all the best for 2022!