2018. Done. Tick.
Another year is over, and seeing as I love reading my fellow bloggers’ round up posts of where they’ve been this year, here’s mine.
Thought I’d throw in a few highlights and lowlights too, and a few stats to round it off.
My 2018 in Travel
First trip of the year was to Florida – to Stuart and Hobe Sound to be precise. If I think back to that time it was pretty stressful. I’d just had to fork out a few unexpected thousand pounds on house renovations and it still needed more. I was absolutely skint and worried about leaving all the people working in my house.
My trip to Florida was a press trip though, and I had a fun time exploring the coast with Emily, my new lodger and house mate, and long time blogger friend. I love driving in America. The roads are so big, and easy and it’s just so simple.
Highlight: Going to Disney and Universal, and driving round Jupiter Island.
Lowlight: Having to drive, and navigate, and try and film and photo, and be stressed about what was happening at home.
All over, Philippines
I was working with Philippines Airlines to explore three more islands in the Philippines – Boracay, Bohol and Siargao. I’d been desperate to go back since I visited Palawan, Cebu and Coron in 2016. Unfortunately, February 2018 wasn’t the best weather and I spent a lot of time holed up in my beach huts. Not much to do in the Philippines in the rain!
I had a brilliant time on Siargao though and loved driving my motorbike around. The Philippines really is one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever seen, and if you like beaches, you’ll love it. My brother and new sister-in-law are there on honeymoon at the moment.
Highlight: getting to see the islands I’d dreamed of after last time I went.
Lowlight: being out on my motorbike in a typhoon on Bohol. Also, my phone kept buzzing with typhoon warnings and I was in a little hut in the middle of nowhere by myself. Not my best move!
Valencia and Barcelona, Spain
I went on my first holiday with my boyfriend… and my parents. We met with my brother’s fiance’s family and just had a lovely Mother’s Day weekend in Barcelona as one big happy family. We went wine tasting, ate lots of yummy food and had a great time relaxing in my favourite European city.
I decided to stay on and go to Valencia, to Las Fallas Festival: The Fire Festival. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything so bonkers, to be honest. Artists spend all year creating these incredible, huge, statues and then, they just set fire to them on the final night of the festival.
Highlight: All the family getting on so well in Barcelona.
Lowlight: I was meant to be going to Barbados on a press trip so missed the last night of the festival, and the whole point. They cancelled the Barbados press trip that morning, when I’d already got back to England. I was furious.
Edinburgh and Dumfries, Scotland
Ben and I went up to Edinburgh for a lovely weekend exploring the city. I love that city. And then, we hired a car and went on a road trip to Dumfries. The drive was beautiful – it’d been snowing lightly and we were right in the Scottish wilderness with barely another car around.
Every time I go to Scotland I just want to see more. I’m not surprised it often appears in top places to experience lists. Next time: the outer Hebrides.
Highlight: the incredible hotel in Edinburgh, and the drive round Dumfries countryside.
Lowlight: Dumfries town centre and the Peter Pan place being closed.
Sweden, Germany, Finland, Russia, Denmark
Levi & Yllas, Finland
Woah, May was hectic. I went to 7 countries in one month, mainly because of the Princess cruise I went on. It was the second cruise in my life, and definitely not the last. It was cool.
I was with a great bunch of bloggers, and I love how on a cruise you wake up in a different port every day, without having to move your baggage around. A wonderfully lazy way to see the world.
And then I went to Finland, skiing. Gawd Finland is beautiful. I really think it’s one of my most favourite countries in the world. I had an amazing time on the press trip, and the skiing was amazing.
Then I went to Milan with one of my best friends. We went with WoWTrip, and didn’t know where we were going beforehand. Exciting! Unfortunately I was pretty ill for the weekend and so couldn’t make the most of it. It really did make me appreciate Milan though – somewhere I’d like to go back to.
Highlight: seeing St Petersburg in style, and the ballet. Also, drinking unlimited cocktails on a ship with some of my favourite bloggers.
Lowlight: Being so ill with exhaustion in Milan that I couldn’t eat my dinner and was sick in the toilet, also the flight being delayed 8 hours home.
West Coast, Canada
In June I was invited on a press trip with SEAT cars, to Primavera Festival. Definitely one of the coolest press trips I’ve done – they treated me like a proper VIP. Loved it. Also, gave me the opportunity to hang out with my brother too, briefly.
I came home and then slept at the airport so I was ready for my trip to Crete the next day.
I went with Ben, and some of his friends, and stayed at this incredible villa up in the hills. Had such a good five days just chilling by the pool, eating the local delicacies, and ermmm, that was about it. And then, I was back for maybe a day, and I went to Canada!
I went on a super cool trip with Trek America, from Calgary to Jasper to Banff, Whistler and Vancouver. We camped for 10 nights and really got to see the incredible Canadian wilderness. Also, discovered how great buffalo chicken wings are!
Highlight: the house in Crete, and getting to see the Rockies.
Lowlight: being absolutely shattered! It was a busy month and hard to sleep in a tent in the cold in Canada. I got grouchy.
July was the yoga camp, with Fat Buddha Yoga and Elite Island Resorts. I went to Antigua to practice yoga morning and night, in absolute paradise. It totally reignited a love for yoga that I’ve managed to keep on at my local yoga studio in Southsea. I’d love to do another yoga week some day. I’ve got my eye on a few for 2019.
Highlight: getting to do yoga in some seriously impressive locations.
Lowlight: serious self doubts of myself and abilities after comparing myself.
Back to Edinburgh, and this time the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. One of my most wanted festivals finally ticked off that long list of mine. I loved it.
We saw so much random stuff and again, it reminded me I needed to see more stuff locally, and to support my local artists. Although, so far I’ve only managed one show at the local Kings Theatre in Southsea, but it’s a start.
Highlight: Finally getting to experience the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Lowlight: I went to a lot of British festivals in August, and they were either boiling or it was chucking it down with rain. Wasn’t the best TBH.
Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe
The BIG ONE in September – my brother’s wedding. A glorious two weeks, filled with family and friends, and a brilliant time on Samos, his wife’s homeland.
I love Greece. Sure I’ll be spending a lot more time there in the future.
And then I only had a few days between trips and I went off to Zimbabwe to see my friend Helen who runs trips out in Africa. You should check out her tours at Rock My Adventure. We had a lot of fun at Lake of Stars Festival and travelling through Zambia and Malawi. Definitely a stand out trip to remember!
Highlight: Matt and Xanthi’s vows to each other.
Lowlight: Dad being so ill at my brother’s wedding and the day after, and me being ill in Africa the whole time. I just didn’t feel myself.
I had a last-minute invite to Brasov in Romania to experience Dracula’s Castle on Halloween. It was awesome. The trip was with G Adventures for three days to explore Brasov, and to see Bran Castle. Check out my video I made.
Highlight: partying in Dracula’s Castle for Halloween.
Lowlight: Don’t think there was one!
Chicago & Springfield, Illinois
The Hague & Amsterdam, Netherlands
I spent an awesome week in Iliinois, in Chicago and Springfield. I was in the Magnificent Mile Lights Parade and stood on the top of a bus waving at the crowds in the cold – over one million of them turned out.
I love Chicago, and it definitely tops my list of best cities in the USA. Also, I’m now a world expert on Abraham Lincoln, or so it feels.
A quick 24-hour turnaround and I was off out to The Hague in the Netherlands. I’ve been wanting to go for ages, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. I had a great weekend there with Ben, and then we went to Amsterdam for two days too.
Highlight: walking through Lincoln Park in Chicago in the glorious wintry sunshine.
Lowlight: trying to fit in my work alongside all this fun travel!
I went to Mahon, the capital city of Menorca, to see what you can do there in the winter. Answer was – to eat, sleep, drink and relax in the winter sun. I really enjoyed my time there and the weather was beautiful.
I have a few posts coming up on my time in Mahon, in January. I was so impressed by the food there, and I think it would be the perfect place for a weekend away. You’ll see.
Highlight: All the amazing Asian food!
Lowlight: The gin factory not being open – devastated!
My 2018 in stats
COUNTRIES: So that’s 17 countries in 2018. Wow. Only three new ones though – Zimbabwe, Zambia and Finland. I’ve travelled to three continents.
NIGHTS AWAY: I’ve spent over a third of my year abroad, 133 nights in total. That’s 4.5 months away – too much I think.
COST: I’ve also spent a lot more on travel than I expected – the Africa trip, Greece and the Philippines all ended up being way more expensive than planned. Thousands. No wonder I don’t have any money right now.
BEST TRIPS: Obviously Greece with the family was the best trip, I loved having friends and family around. Chicago and The Hague were also really great. And Canada was an amazing experience, as was Finland. Also, Crete was great too – a proper holiday, nice and relaxing.
Africa was definitely the most challenging, especially with having the shits for 12 of the 20 days. It’s just a more difficult place to travel than the Western countries I’ve become so used to. That was exactly why I wanted to go though. I’m so glad I did it and it was amazing travelling with Helen.
IF YOU ONLY GO TO ONE PLACE: Finland. Incredible.
FESTIVALS: As well as the travel above I’ve also been to 9 festivals this year. From a yoga festival in the Hampshire countryside to Lake of Stars in Malawi. I’m still a firm festival fan and I hope to go to many more next year.
2018: As I look back at all the incredible things I’ve done this year, amazing adventures I’ve had, and incredible opportunities, I honestly cannot believe what I’ve done.
I predict things will slow down a little in 2019, as I try to explore more of my homeland, but then…
didn’t I say that last year too?
Monday 31st of December 2018
Aaaa all sounds amazing and you've inspired me to get my travel 'blog on' again! I want to see and do all the things!! x
Thursday 3rd of January 2019
Get yo' BLOG On JLO! Definitely time for travelling for you. Hope you get to India :). x
Sunday 30th of December 2018
I’m exhausted just reading that, but it also sounds like such a varied year of travel! I did my year of exploring the homeland this year so now have seriously itchy feet.
Thursday 3rd of January 2019
Yeah it does sound a lot when I collate it like this doesn't it? Can't believe I was away for 4.5 months. Good going!