MY 2023 YEAR END REVIEW; Money Made, Countries Visited, Life, Stresses and Family

Another year in the locker. So time for another recap of my year. Each year, in January I write about my goals, plans and resolutions for the year ahead (you can see my 2023 plans HERE). And then at the end of the year, I look back and see where my failures and successes arose. It’s scary. Because it’s so confronting. There is no hiding from what’s written down in perpetuity. But that’s the point. If I’m accountable to myself, I can fulfill my potential. Otherwise it’s another bottle of wine, and another Netflix series, and before I know it another year could be wasted.

You can also see my plans for 2024 in THIS BLOG POST HERE TOO.

Climbing Mount Everest was a big part of my 2023

These blog posts avoid any hiding. If you want to see my past years, all the way back to 2015, you can do so at the bottom of this blog post.

So how was 2023 for me? According to my goals, I had the most amount of failed resolutions that I’ve ever had. So that’s a tough pill to swallow. Including the largest goal of all. There were some wins along the way to of course, building my mum a house, climbing Everest etc. So let’s have a look at my 2023.

First I’m going to look at my goals, and if I made them. Then, I’m going to run through my month by months – travels, finances etc. So let’s get to it:

My Original 9 Goals for 2023 at the start of the 2023:

  • Get Pregnant!
  • Summit Mount Everest Raise
  • $20,000 for Parkinson’s and cycle 100km across Jordan with my Mum!
  • Increase my net worth by $100k
  • Expand my real estate portfolio
  • Exercise at least 184 days
  • Complete the 7 Summits
  • Reach the South Pole & Complete the Explorer’s Grand Slam
  • OneStep4Ward trip to Timbuktu (plus others)

Successes or Failures from my 2023 goals?

9 goals. 5 failures. Or at least something that could be conceived as a failure. So where did I go wrong?

Get Pregnant. FAIL (sadly)

This was my main goal of 2023, and sadly it didn’t happen. Me being away a lot didn’t help of course (as far as I know, I need to actually be with my wife to make this happen!). However, jokes aside, we tried and didn’t manage it in 2023. We’re hoping for 2024. Maybe with some medical help if nothing happens until later in the year.

jaa ward
Jaa and I last week at Christmas. Hoping to add one more to this photo in 2024 x

Summit Mount Everest Raise NAILED IT

The pregnancy was my main goal. In a distant second was to summit Mount Everest. I managed to do that on May 17th, 2023. A truly proud moment for a normal guy from a working class, single-parent family in Ireland. I’m half way through my emotional blog post for this still. It’s taking a while! But I’ll get there. A huge win for my 2023.

Climbing Mount Everest
Climbing Mount Everest. The Summit!

$20,000 for Parkinson’s and cycle 100km across Jordan with my Mum! NAILED IT

The 2nd biggest win of my 2023. My mum is 74, she has Parkinson’s disease and it’s tough. I take it as a personal goal to keep her motivated, traveling the world, and loving the last chapter of her life. So I organise these big charity events where we basically suffer for a week (!) with a group of anyone who wants to join, and we raise $20k or so for Cure Parkinson’s. We cyycle 100km across the Jordan desert together successfully, on a tandem bike. Beautiful memories, and I’m very proud of her.

cycling across Jordan
cycling across Jordan with my mum

Increase my net worth by $100k: FAIL (kinda, it’s complicated)

This is the CORNERSTONE of my goals each and every year since I started making money from my blog in 2010. This is the 13th year I’ve been blogging, and this is (kinda) the first time I failed to increase my net-worth by $100kUSD or more. Ouch. There are of course extenuating circumstances, but the truth is the truth. And facts are facts. You can read more about my 2023 finances, money made, money spent etc in the money section lower on in this blog post.

Expand my real estate portfolio: NAILED IT

Bought a piece of land for my mum in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Currently building her a house there, due to be finished in April 2024.

Exercise at least 184 days: NAILED IT

Definitely managed this. Was in great shape for 3/4 of the year.

Complete the 7 Summits: FAIL (kinda, it’s complicated)

Eurrrrrgh. Fail, technically. My expedition was delayed 8 days. So I was due to finish end of December 2023, but now due to finish January 8th. All good.

Reach the South Pole & Complete the ULTIMATE Explorer’s Grand Slam: FAIL (kinda, it’s complicated)

Same thing as above! Eurrrrrgh. Fail, technically. My expedition was delayed 8 days. So I was due to finish end of December 2023, but now due to finish January 8th. All good.

OneStep4Ward trip to Timbuktu (plus others): FAIL (kinda, it’s complicated)

Agggggh. God this is annoying! I had a GREAT year with group trips. God I love the people who travel with me! This year we traveled together to:

Mauritania (twice), Turkmenistan (twice), Iraq, Japan and Jordan. But… Jihadists were attacking Timbuktu, Mali 10 days before our trip so it was postponed to later in 2024. A fail, but understandable i think.

So that was it. 5 fails, 4 successes. That’s life. Let’s have a look at how I spent my year, month by month:

My 2023 Year in review, month by month:


Thailand, and Mauritania.

The first half of my month I had my mum, Carl and other friends in Thailand. Lovely. We went glamping in Mon Jam, amongst a few other cool trips in Thailand. Then I ran my first group trip of 2023 with a very cool group of people to ride the iron ore train in Mauritania! (I’ll be doing another one of these in December 2024, they sell out in hours, so if you wanna pre-book, message me!).


Back to Thailand, and very much in training mode for my Mount Everest expedition. Training twice a day and living like a monk, terrified of failing my expedition!

We also did a charity trip with the Burmese refugees in Thailand, building a dormitory for a group of kids on the Thai/Myanmar border with Anthony and LiquidLearning.


Back to monk mode. Training twice a day for Everest, so back to my new dream house in Chiang Mai (if you’re nosy you can look at it the blog post, and also see how much it cost!).

I was sleeping in an oxygen-deprivation tent. Really amazing technology, which gives your body the impression that you’re at a higher altitude. It was great preparation for my Everest climb, but it was also just great for my general health and fitness. WATCH THIS SPACE! I’m developing a product so you guys can get one of these too!

Just at the end of March, my sister Aisling and the family came to visit us and stay in my new house. Lovely, lovely memories and a great reminder of what’s important before I headed up Everest.


EVEREST EXPEDITION. AAAAAGGGGGGHHHH. I had booked through the best Everest operators in the business, Furtenbach Adventures (if you’re considering Everest, pay the extra and go with these guys!).

Anyway, I fly from Bangkok to Kathmandu and began my 2 month expedition to climb the highest mountain the world. Got to meet some amazing people that I became close to. Special shout out to Colin and Mark who kept me sane through the stresses!

April though wasn’t so tough. We climbed Lobuche (6,119m (20,000 feet), and got acquanited with Base Camp./


When Everest gets real. Climbing through the Khumbu Ice Fall, and also when you start to hear about people dying on the mountain. It’s scary to be honest. And as you go higher and higher, it gets harder and scarier still. Doubt creeps in. You try to remember why you’re here. It’s tougher than you ever thought. Then May 17th 2023 you sit ontop of the world. And it was all worth it. I’ll love Lukas Furtenbach, and his epic sherpa team and guides, forever for this!

Back to Chiang Mai, Thailand to recover and celebrate. We did it!


Time to spend some quality time with my wife. Because of my Everest expedition, we couldn’t travel too much right away. So we organised it for after my expedition. An epic way to celebrate the mountain.

It was her dream to swim with the pigs in the Bahamas, so we did that. I thought it’d be super touristic and cliche, but where we stayed (Embrace resort, Staniel Cay) it wasn’t like that at all. In fact I LOVED IT! After that we did a cool euro trip through Sweden, Iceland, back to see my mum, then to Austria, Slovakia and finished up in beautiful Prague, where Jaa celebrated visiting her 50th country.

Nailed my airmiles game and flew Jaa and I business class to Bahamas too, for $1500 total in taxes!


We finished our family trip in July, and Jaa and I flew back to Thailand together where i barely even left the airport and flew STRAIGHT to Japan to guide one of our Mount Fuji trips with Girls Love Travel. Super fun 3 days trip, and right back to Thailand!

Back to Chiang Mai where I went crazy trying to find, and buy, my mum a piece of land so we can build here a house here for the winters. And we found it, took action super quick and bought it. Hectic month!


A month off! FINALLY, still decrompressing from Everest (and still don’t have my feeling back in my toes or all my fingers from the nerve damage on the mountain).

Slowly start to train again for the South Pole expedition in December, and spend some time like a normal human. Working, coffee, friends, booze, coffees. The dream.

Spent a lot of the month designing my mum’s new house and drinking Aperol Spritz that Jaa makes me at home!


Cool little trip to Laos with Jaa, then back to Thailand and finally back on the road. Charity trip time. Cycling 100km through the Jordanian desert, on a tandem, with my 74yo mum! Stressful but worth it. We raised around $20k for a Parkinson’s cure, and we got to travel with 20 epic humans along side it all.


After finishing the cycle, a huge honour. I flew from Jordan to Cyprus to be best-man at one my oldest, closest and loveliest best friends, Duff. A brilliant time in Cyrpus with great people.

Then another onestep4ward couple of trips. Wild times in Iraq, followed by the GATES OF HELL, Turkmenistan! Old friends and new friends, a brilliant month to be honest.


Back to Thailand to watch them break ground on my mum’s house build. And back to training for my Antarctica mountain and the South Pole.

End of the month, I flew back to Turkmenistan. My first trip sold out in like 20 minutes, so I had a huge waiting list for people wanting to go back, so we did it!

Then back to my second home, Mauritania for 1 last iron ore train ride of 2023. Fun times! Even managed to squeeze in a day in Dubai to see my family en route to Ashgabat.


Here we are! I’m writing this from Punta Arenas, Chile. Waiting for my flight to Antartica (currently delayed by a day due to high wind).

Earlier in December was working, training, 40th birthday, wedding anniversary then a lovely Christmas with close friends. All with the expedition hanging over me. So here we are (via another airmile hack in Emirates First Class A380!)

My Health, Finances, Work, Travels, Life in 2023


I feel like a bit of a fraud writing 8 from my current state of health and fitness. I’m not as fit as I was for Everest. But I spend enough time giving myself a hard time, so I have to be honest and acknowledge I was in banging shape for Everest. Running up mountains, ultras, cycling 100s of kms without thinking. So I was the fittest I’ve ever been. Not as true not but not bad. And if I summited Everest, I can’t go much lower than an 8.

Mental health? God, super stressed all year. Full of anxiety. Not sleeping great. Big goals create big worry. I gotta work on this hard in 2024.

TRAVELS: 10/10

19 countries visited in 2023. And more than 50 flights. Eeeek.

Thailand, Mauritania (X2), Turkey, Cyprus, Jordan, Iraq, Turkmenistan (X2), Laos, United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Chile, Sweden, Japan, Bahamas, Iceland, Slovakia, Austria, Czech Republic, Nepal.

I had an amazing travel year. So many old friends, and so many new. And of course the summit of the world. It doesn’t get much better I guess.

BUSINESS: 8.5/10

I made $313,649USD this year from travel blogging, SEO, affiliate marketing, public speaking and some trips, and I’m due $7k from a couple of clients today. So call it $320,000. I’m really, really happy with this. Averaging over $26,000USD per month in a year when I’ve been up mountains and traveling a lot is really good. It’s down a huge chunk from the $500k+ in 2022, but that was a number HUGELY inflated by building my house in Chiang Mai and it being worth $300k+ more than my build cost. So $300k or so without that is great.

Why ‘only’ 8.5/10 though? Well I failed my goal to increase my net worth in 2023 by $100k for the first time in 14 years. But I’m trying to give myself a break. I had to pay $91,000 for South Pole and Mount Vinson, and another $40,000USD for Everest. Plus I spent over $20,000 on flights this year. So that’s $150,000 right out of the gate. Eurrrrgh. I knew I’d probably fail my $100k goal in 2023. I finished the year about $50k up on my net worth. Pretty decent, but of course still $50k short of my goal. But I’ll take it all day long. If I can make a similar amount next year without all the crazy expeditions, I’ll be flying.

Also I managed to buy the land for my mum, and start the build, so that’s banging too!

LIFE: 6/10

You know, if Jaa had got pregnant in 2023, this would be a 9.9. Everest, new addition to the family, money flowing, expeditions successful etc etc. But failing in the thing I dream of most is huge. So we plummet back down to a 6, as painful as that is to write. It’s the reality.


A FULL and fun Year, that’s for sure. And what would have been a hugely successful one apart from the one thing I wanted most. Hopefully 2024 will provide that, and I’ll come back and revise these scores UP UP AND UP. But I can’t celebrate too much considering. So here we are. I made the most of my year, and I’m proud of myself for that. Next, I’m going to write my plans for 2024 and get right back to the grind to make it happen.

Life is truly a gift. But it’s also easy to coast by and be left with too many ‘what-ifs’. And they can hit you when it’s too late to fix. But it’s not too late yet. So get to work folks. Make your dreams a reality. And don’t let anything stop you.

Also, if you like this kinda thing, you can also see my plans for 2024 in THIS BLOG POST HERE TOO.

Like my weird obsession with stuff? Check out my previous year’s plans and reviews?

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