3 years ago, to this day exactly, in my college room back at Cambridge University I found myself with a free day. This almost never happened!

See, you know the way you see photos of students at Uni fooling around and kicking it in the pub on a Saturday? That wasn’t our lot on my course.

And don’t get me wrong – lots of students at Cambridge got to play around.

Exploring The Wonder Of Akihabara - Tokyo's Electric Town! (2)

In fact, I spent many a day envious of those students out by the college barbecue pits, sunglasses out, music blaring loudly (but not so loud that it bothered other students who decided to stay in) and the sweet smell of what was almost certain to become burnt meat if it wasn’t taken off the grill soon, gently wafting through the air while I trudged on to college to join my course mates in what seemed to be an unending stream of programming, assignments, more programming and the odd break to see if Prof Stephen Hawkings was hanging about (his office was in the same building so the chances of this happening were a lot higher than you’d think).

Visiting The Artic Circle in Tromso and Sommaroy in Norway, Europe. Northern Lights, Snow Mountains, Seaside (25) (5)

On this particular day, 3 years ago, it was unseasonably warm. Like ‘t-shirt and shorts‘ weather, which for April in England was just strange yet somehow unsurprising (we get all kinds of weather in April – you can almost count on snow and a 10-minute hailstorm somewhere in the last week of April).

On this day, I also found myself with a break in between assignments. Nothing was due and there was nothing I needed to work on.

Returning To Grand Old Cambridge! (27)

I called Lloyd up and we figured we’d make the most of the sunshine. Partway through that, we finally decided to start something we’d spoken about for ages – a travel blog.

Thing is, we’d already decided on the name almost 2 years back (for those wondering, Hand Luggage Only came about because that’s how we typically travelled, even as a group, back then – somewhat confusingly, it’s not because we travel with Hand Luggage Only, there’s just no way travelling with Hand Luggage Only would have been suitable for a 3 week road trip across the USA – we pack for what the location demands). We’d also paid for the domain and even had a temporary website just sitting waiting to be used.

This just mean that on the 12th of April 2014, all we needed to do was finally design the website layout and publish out first posts! Some had been written (in one form or the other) already and we decided to finally write an intro, along with other posts and hit publish! The feeling was absolutely amazing – even when no one had read it.

Visiting The Artic Circle in Tromso and Sommaroy in Norway, Europe. Northern Lights, Snow Mountains, Seaside (25) (19)

For some reason, I guess kinda the same way you would when you submit a big report at school or finally finished building whatever Lego structure you’d been working on, there just a sense of pride at looking at a website you’d just created. (That sense of pride, in retrospect, seems kinda ridiculous when you think that this was the first post I wrote here).

We did the posts on Facebook (believe it or not, I didn’t actually put this on my personal Facebook), for some reason, I just wanted this to be something that stood on its own legs at the start. Plus I wasn’t really sure what anyone I knew would think of it so I kinda hesitated.

To be honest, I know this isn’t the case for most bloggers but we didn’t write this blog for family and friends. Facebook was already doing quite a great job of that at the time and so there was no need for me to create a blog to repeat something I could already do on Facebook. Instead, this blog was created for us to connect with other travellers.

It was a chance to share our experience, help people along the way and generally just provide as much information as we possibly could for fellow travellers. We figured, the more informed we all are as travellers, the better we would all be. Whether that’s just 10 things to do in XXX place, finding hidden spots or helping to save money with hacks we’d found along the way – the most important thing for us was just to be helpful.

Iceland Travel Reykjavik Keflavik Waterfall Gulfoss Northern Lights Blue Lagoon Spa Geysir Geyser (3)

The only part of this that I guess had fairly little to do with other travellers and more to do with us was the photos part. Having a blog meant having more reasons to take my camera out more. It meant having a purpose for my photos which didn’t involve them just sitting on a dusty hard-drive somewhere (though I did like sharing them on Facebook for family and friends).

Blogging meant actually trying to learn ways to improve my photography and gave me the perfect excuse to get the cameras I actually wanted.

The Most Amazing Waterfall In The Faroe Islands! (21)

I could go on an on but long story short, blogging became a creative outlet for me and has helped us connect with so many amazing and rather inspiring travellers.

A month after starting, we had our very first traffic spike. Things had been growing slowly but something on this Saturday (now in 2014) just meant that an article we’d written had a lot of people fired up to travel and to share with their friends. It was such an incredible feeling. I went from thinking our website had been hacked (like a DDOS attack where hackers try to crash your site), to panicking about not knowing how to stop a DDOS attack to feelings of pure exhilaration when I started seeing comments, likes and shares flooding it. There were no hackers – these were real people! Travellers like us who loved the opportunity to be able to see more of the world.

The same thing happened over and over again, on even more articles we’d written over the coming months and years. We somehow went from an average of 80  – 200 visitors a day (200 was a huge day back in that first month) to over 750,000 people per month this year.

Talk about a travel community, eh? These are people who constantly share their own tips and advice with us and who have managed to create something out of nothing and we are so grateful to be part of this amazing community.

A Day In Machu Picchu... And Hiking The Impressive Huayna Picchu Mountain, Peru (3)

By the way, YOU are the very essence of the Hand Luggage Only community and we’re so proud to be part of it with you. (Like seriously, it wouldn’t be anything at all without ya!)

So yeah, it’s been 3 years to the day since this space on this internet was born and I know you’re probably fed up of hearing this but I’m gonna say this anyway – THANK YOU!!! Thank you for building Hand Luggage Only. For taking part. For commenting. For sharing. For kind words which helped prop us up when we felt down. For keeping us going. For so many more thing than I can even start to list or describe! Thank you!


Here’s to 3 years!!!

*Due to the fact that I’m typing this directly as I’m thinking it (and also hours before leaving for a long trip and still haven’t started packing), I apologise profusely for any typos you’ve had to endure reading this! Haha! 😁 I’ll try to correct them later… 

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  • Love this! I’m so glad you guys started blogging and that I happened to stumble across your site. Always enjoy reading your posts and getting inspiration for new travel ideas!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Ahhhh, thanks so much, Rachel! 😊

      You literally made our afternoon with your kind words.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • That’s so funny you thought your site was under a DDOS attack. Congrats on 3 years!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Haha! I know, right! It was totally scary at the time! Ha!

      Thanks so much, Colleen xx

  • Congratulations on your success guys! There’s nothing better than being able to do what you absolutely love!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much, Emily! A massive thank you for your kind words xx

  • Happy blog anniversary guys! It’s so impressive what you’ve achieved in only 3 years. And I’m really glad we got to meet because of this travel community.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      EXACTLY! We’re so happy we’ve got to meet, too. If it wasn’t for blogging we’d have never met.

      Thanks so much, Jacintha xx

      Hope all is going well with your travels 😊 It looks incredible! ✨

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • A BIG congratulations to two of the most creative photography Artist ever! Destiny had you two team up and travel the world through your fabulous vision and captured the most amazing photos to share it with the world and the unfortunate such as myself (hi hi hi). I love your work. I can envision myself in places through your images, yes, it’s that well done my friends! 🙂
    Keep up the fantastique and amazing work, because not only you both are sharing magnificent images, but you also gave life and hope of traveling to everyone who visited your wonderful travel blog. 🙂

    💋LA BIJOUX BELLA💋 | BY MIA | A Creative Lifestyle Blog

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Ahhhh, you just made our day with your kind words! Thank you so much for always being so supportive and kind – you literally made us smile from cheek to cheek! THANK YOU! 😘

      Big hugs!!!

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Lotte

    CONGRATS! I think it’s safe to say that it was a very good decision to start a travelblog. 🙂 Keep on doing what you guys do and I will definitely follow along. PS: the part about the kinda-not-that-great-first-post is so recognizable 😉

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Ahhh, thanks so much, Lotte! 😘

      Haha @ first post… so glad it’s not just us! Haha!

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Congrats!!! I just celebrated 3 years of my blog too. Let’s go for a champagne dinner in London next month to celebrate! 🥂🎈🎉

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much, Olga 😘

      Yes, we definitely have to!

      big hugs,
      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Tina

    Congrats guys! Love your adventures! Keep up the good work!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much, Tina xx

      Lloyd & Yaya 😘

  • Oui In France

    Congrats on 3 years! Love your site, especially the photos. Wishing you the best for the future, on the blog and off. 😉

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thank you so so much! You’ve made our day with your kind words.

      Big hugs,
      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Cheers to 3 fantastic years – I look forward to many more 🙂

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much, Kate! 😘

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Typos be damned, this post was EVERYTHING! I love reading your more personal stuff and I’m so proud of you guys for reaching 3 years (already)!! Here’s to many more xxx Cheers!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Ahhhhh, thanks so much, Vanessa! Yep, our typos always creep up on us! Haha!

      You’re so so kind! Thank you so much lovely lady! 😘

      Lloyd & Yaya xx


    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks girl!

      Ahhhh, we miss you sooooooo much too! So wish you were back in London! We need to do something together ASAP.

      Lots of hugs and kisses! 😘

  • No no, thank YOU. Here’s to many more!! xx

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Ah, thank you so much! 😊

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Your pictures and adventures are fantastic. Congratulations, guys. Keep it up.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thank you so much! You’re so kind to say… seriously, thank you! 😊

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Happy 3 years Lloyd and Yaya. I hope I’m not late to the party. I intend to read every piece you’ve ever written. To more adventures together, albeit virtually!!!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Ahhhhh, thanks so much, Naomi! You’re far too kind!

      You just made our afternoon with your kind words.

      big hugs,
      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Congratulations on three years! I am so happy I stumbled upon your blog, I always love looking through your photos and reading what adventures you are up to =o) Keep it up and I can’t wait to see what awaits you =o)


    • HandLuggageOnly

      ahhhhh, thank you so much! We’re smiling so much right now!

      biggest hugs!!!
      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Kiara Mijares

    Congratulations on three years! You guys are so amazing – I love all your photos and how you’ve built a community all over the world! Can’t wait to see where you guys end up in the next few years or so either! 🙂

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much, Kiara. So so kind of you to say. We’re so happy you like our blog too. It means the world to us. Really, massive thank you for the lovely comment.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Anya

    Wow! Amazing how you built this awesome blog! The photos are always incredible by the way. Even when I’m not so interested in a particular location you are writing about, I always check out the photos 🙂

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thank you so much, Anya – you’re so kind. Thank you so so so much! So happy you like our pics. 🙂

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • You guys are amazing !! I’m so glad I’ve been able to follow along for the past two years. The success is 110% deserved, and I can’t wait to see where the future takes you 🙂

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Ahhhh, thanks Julia – we’re so grateful for your support. Honestly, thank you for your really kind words. You made our evening!

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Meghan Silva

    Happy 3 years, you right blogging is a really really really good excuse to take pictures, travel and more. Your blog is seriously amazing.

    Meg | The Blog
    Instagram: MeghanSSilva
    Snapchat: MeghanSSilva1

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much, Meghann… we’re so thrilled you like our blog. Thank you so much for your kind words. You made our evening. THANK YOU ❤️

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Wow guys 3 years is amazing!!! Congratulations!!! What you’ve achieved is incredible and so inspiring! I love sitting with a glass of wine, once a week and catching up on your blog posts 🙂 Maggie xx

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thank you so much, lovely lady! You’re so kind, thank you for always being supportive xx

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Lorie Drummond

    Congratulations on three years!! For many of us who follow you, we are grateful for that first step you took. If you set out to be helpful you have certainly accomplished that…going so far as to help me find a specific location for a photo in London. For me personally, if I am visiting anywhere, my first stop will always be Hand Luggage Only. Best wishes going forward….you two are the best. May you always have safe and happy travels.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thank you so much, Lorie. You’re so kind and your lovely words just made our day. Thank you! 😊

      We’re always happy to help in anyway we can. So thrilled and thankful for your support. It really means so much to us. Thank you, again.

      Lloyd & Yaya ☺️

  • Natasha Cocco

    Congratulations, that is so inspiring especially to new starters like myself! Well done for being experienced in wealth of travel, its an amazing feeling! Keep going strong.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thank you so much, Natasha. So kind of you to say! Big hugs.

      Lloyd & Yaya 😘

  • Hayley Rubery

    Oh guys I’m SO bloody proud of you both; I feel like I can’t remember a time before your blog – I read it all the time and your images ALWAYS give me the biggest source of inspiration and make me want to travel pretty much everywhere you visit!

    Hayley xo

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Ahhhh, you’re far too kind, Hayley! Thank you so much for always being so supportive. It really means the world to us.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

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  • Firstly, it’s actually refreshing to know that I was not the only one at uni who would ponder over how others seemingly had more free time than I did. As a fellow Cambridge Grad I felt like my life revolved around a stack of books and further reading to complete (even though no matter how much I didam there was always someone else who had done even more pre-seminar reading) whilst others enjoyed the lifestyle (yes, fair to say I was a boring nerd) but hey… that’s done with now!!!

    Secondly, I can’t believe I have only just found your blog. It seems like you are having great successes and I only hope that one day I could recreate a slice of.thishow on my own.

    I look forward to reading more of your articles and following your travels. 🙂

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Ahhhh, thanks so much! It’s so lovely to hear from you… plus, I could never understand how people used to have so much free time. I was swamped on my course. I remember smelling BBQ’s going over the lawn and wondered, ‘who has time for this?!?’. Haha!

      Thank you so much for your kind words… I bet we crossed paths many a time whilst in Cambridge, it’s so small isn’t it.

      Yaya & Lloyd xx