One year ago today I officially launched Turning Left for Less. So how did it start?
It all started about 3 years ago when I was told I needed a kidney transplant. At the time I was working as a manager in Air Traffic Control, having been an air traffic controller for many years before that. When things like that happen, it makes you question your life and what is important to you. I was working very long hours and my work-life balance was definitely not right. When I wasn’t at work, I would be heading straight to the airport to indulge my main passion in life, travelling.
I took a lot of time to think about my future and eventually decided that I wanted to do something that I felt really passionately about, so I decided that I would leave my job a few months before the transplant. I had been very lucky as a number of people had come forward to be tested for a match and all of them came out as potential matches. Just over a year ago I received my best friend’s kidney (which we nicknamed Kevin) and proceeded to make a great recovery. I counted myself very lucky to have such amazing friends.
Whilst I had been waiting for the operation I had gone through lots of options for what I could do next and eventually decided that I would start a blog and see what happened. I wanted to do something that was related to my main love in life and had always been a big reader of travel and points/miles blogs. I had begun to think that there was a market to do something more focused on the luxury end of travelling but aimed at those that still like to get a bargain. There was no single blog that gave me as a reader everything I wanted, so I decided to write the blog based on what I liked reading. Lots of in depth reviews of hotels, business and first class flights, as well as lounges, was what I enjoyed most. I also liked to see what offers were around without reading hundreds of emails (which is ironically what I do now for TLFL!).
And so one year ago I officially launched TLFL. I had been running the website for a few days before to test it worked before the official launch on 28 November 2016. It was a steep learning curve as I knew nothing about how to set up a blog or do all the behind the scenes things. I saw a video on YouTube about how to design the website and thought it looked very simple and I would give it a go. After spending 9 days trying to centre a logo with various codes, I began to think that perhaps that wasn’t the case… However, I persevered and the result is what you see today.
As is traditional on such occasions I would like to say thank you to a few people. First and most importantly it is to you, my readers, for continuing to read the blog and chat to me on social media which I always enjoy. It is great to hear your comments and please do keep letting me know whether there is something you would like to see covered or improved on the blog.
Next, I would like to say thanks to my main team, Roving Reporter who has been there since day one and shared some of his madcap travels with you all, Mrs B who joined quite recently and of course my part-time proofreader. (if you spot a mistake that’s because he is away travelling).
Finally, I would like to say a massive thank you to all my blogging friends that have supported me over the last year. One of the things that surprised me most was how much of a community there was among bloggers. I had always assumed it was quite a solitary profession but apparently not. I have made some fantastic friends over the last year and I would particularly like to say thanks to Michael from TravelZork, Gilbert from God Save the Points, Spencer from Straighttothepoints and Ben from Jetsetting Ben for their advice and friendship along the way.
So finally I would like to ask, how do you think TLFL should progress? I am planning to use a lot more 360° photos in my reviews as well as more filming for my videos on YouTube. Are there things you would like to see more of or less of or done differently? Let me know in the comments below or on social media. Thanks again for sticking around.
Hi Michele great blog that has saved me a fortune . Did being an air traffic controller pay so well that you can afford to carry on travelling first class and staying in the best hotels in the world on a continuous basis ? I am intrigued !
Thanks David. No it’s not that well paid but I was lucky to get a medical pension and I was well insured! Though this year has been a bit of a mad one travel wise. I promised myself a year of mega travel once I was well enough to travel again just in case the kidney didn’t last that long (not a permanent solution unfortunately). And of course a lot of it has been on miles and points plus discounted fares.
Ah right-a very admirable attitude given the circumstances. I have a luxury house in the Algarve five minutes walk to the beach -6 bedroom so plenty of room for friends etc. Whilst I rent it out a lot there are often spare weeks in May/June and September available free of charge (bookable within a month of departure) to people who I think deserve a free holiday. It’s not quite up to Four Seasons standard but near enough! If you would like to take a week in 2018 then you definitely deserve it for your positive attitude in difficult circumstances (and for saving me a fortune in flight costs). Rather than misuse your site to advertise my house so if you could send me another e mail address I will forward the details to you if you are interested.
Thank you David that is a very generous offer. I will be in touch.
Loved reading this, congratulations Michele on your first year ! You do a wonderful job ! Thank goodness to your friend for giving you Kevin, and helping decide to do this ! Best of Luck.
Thanks Liz. I was incredibly lucky to have such wonderful friends who were a match as well as incredibly supportive.
What a great story of growth and fulfilment. I am enjoying your blog enormously!
Thanks Maukse. I have often thought that despite the obvious negatives of ill health something like this can actually be the best thing that could have happened to me. I am definitely much happier than before if not any less busy!!
Congratulations on your first year and I’m delighted to be part of your team. I make great use of your ‘bargain notifications ‘ as you know and take a decent trip about every two months (what a wonder medical retirement is!).
I made use of one of your early discount suggestions and booked a holiday to Bali for an amazing price. I’ve never been and was so looking forward to it though unfortunately the volcano has scuppered that! Will be looking out for another of your posts in the New Year so I can try again!
Thanks Shaneen. So sorry Bali didn’t work out. Fingers crossed you get there eventually.
Michelle love your blog. My husband and I used to love traveling it’s very different now since I was widowed but I’m trying. Congratulations to you on your first year. May I ask you a question? I have about 45000 BA Avios points. Are they actually worth anything towards buying a ticket?
Hi Mary. Lovely to hear from you. It is difficult facing travelling on your own but I am a huge advocate of trying it. For once in your life you get to just please yourself. Lots of places are very solo friendly. A good book always helps. 45000 Avios is a decent amount. It won’t get you First Class Sydney but there is plenty to do with it such as business class in Europe, long haul economy or using it to reduce the cost of a flight rather than pay outright or even upgrade a flight. If you had anything specific in mind I am always happy to do a specific readers question for you.
Hi Michele, Congratulations on your 1st year and your life changing move! I’m a recent follower and love your blog. I too have decided to enjoy my spare time by travelling and find your tips really useful. Here’s to another year of growth for all of us, regards Delphine
Thanks Delphine & definitely to another year of growth!
Very happy first year, love your site, really grateful that you take time out to answer my E-Mails. Maybe a more interactive YouTube Channel would be helpful to you, because it would give you a much wider audience. Interestingly there is a site called Paul’s Trip Reports, he has managed to double his audience over night by just showing his face on camera. If you have time to watch Paul’s questions and answer video it maybe useful to you. https://youtu.be/QLm7JIlBkXg
Hi Ian. Thanks for your comments – I am glad you are still enjoying it. I am aware of Paul’s trip reports but haven’t had time to watch much of it. I will have a look at the video Q & A. Though I think showing my face may have the opposite effect!! I am planning to start doing a voiceover on my next videos and have more video versus photos now that I have got a decent go pro for filming. Hopefully should have some new videos in December.
Congratulations on your 1st year anniversary. I read many travel blogs and find yours to be very informative, enlightening and contains ALL of the relevant details readers need to know. Well done, and thanks for saving us the readers, thousands in airfares!
Hi Michael. Thanks for the lovely compliments. Slightly delayed reply due to sitting on aplane for 12 hours yesterday! Hope you continue to enjoy the blog!
Hello Michelle! Sorry I was just now able to read this particular blog of yours – but it was definitely worth the wait! What an incredible story – thank you so much for sharing your inspirational story with all of us. I’m so glad that you ‘followed’ your heart and decided to write this blog – and share your travel experiences with us – I’m certainly a more knowledgeable and savvy traveller as a result!
Thanks Patrick. I’m sure you can relate to having had a similar career change too. You get to the point where you just need to do what makes you happy!
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