Towards the end of each year, I love taking some time out to reflect on all of my travels and adventures over the past 12 months. Whilst it’s definitely true that I’m always planning my next trip, sometimes it’s nice to sit, pause and appreciate the adventures I’ve already been on, instead of concentrating on the next destination.
2018 has brought with it some personal challenges for me, but it’s also been an exciting year of experiencing new cultures, exploring old favourites and really going for it on the solo travel front.
I’ve ticked off five brand new countries, and returned to three places that I’d already been to and loved. I’ve travelled with family, friends, a boyfriend and solo. My love for Asia has deepened and my hunger for travel has grown ever more intense. I’ve seen my blog traffic increase slowly but steadily. I’ve taken up Spanish lessons.
It’s been a whirlwind in a lot of ways and so it’s time to pause and reflect for a while as the last day of the year draws closer.
My first stop this year was Dublin, Ireland.
I visited on my own, as an extension to a work trip to Northern Ireland. I have to admit that I didn’t fall in love with Dublin, which I was really disappointed about. But I guess we’re not going to love every place we visit; if we did, how would we ever appreciate the amazing places.
I think my mediocre experience might have been down to the trip being solo; I definitely think that Dublin is a city best experienced with friends. Still, there were definitely some highlights. I went to the cinema on my own for the first time ever, I went on a fascinating walking tour and ate the best brunch of my life at Urbanity Coffee.
This trip taught me that hostel dorms are a no for me, particularly for a short weekend break. I booked one to save some money and absolutely hated it! I even cried when I got there.
From then, I decided that unless I could afford/warrant a private or hotel room, I wouldn’t be going on the trip. Yes I felt like a bit of a diva, but there’s no point staying in places that will spoil your trip! I’d feel differently about dorms if I were to travel long-term, but as I don’t have any plans to do that currently, it’s private rooms and hotels for me.
Read more about my trip to Dublin, including lots of tips for solo travellers here.
Next off was another trip close to home; Edinburgh, Scotland for a hen party. I’ll admit that there was little culture or sightseeing involved but it was such a lovely girl’s trip in one of the best cities in the UK.
I’d only ever been to Edinburgh with work before, and still feel like there’s lots for me to see, so I’ll definitely be back!
The beginning of Spring brought with it a much-anticipated trip to Morocco, 10 days exploring Marrakech and Essaouira.
If you’ve followed me for a while, you may know that I’m ever so slightly obsessed with Asia, as I love the contrast with home and life in the UK. With that in mind, and although I had a trip to Asia planned for later in the year, I was keen to get in another dose of culture shock, just a little closer to home!
Morocco certainly delivered on that front; even though it’s only a short flight from the UK, it felt quite exotic and going there definitely provided me with the adventure that I was craving. We spent five days each in Marrakech and Essaouira; exploring, eating and having some much-needed down time too.
In hindsight, we didn’t need five days in Marrakech, in fact it felt too long, but I guess I didn’t know that when I planned the trip. At least it felt like we were really able to really explore the Red City and its many great restaurants (food was a definite highlight from the trip!) and rooftops.
Essaouira was my favourite of the two cities; I loved the laid-back vibe and whitewashed Medina. I’d highly recommend a visit if you’re going to Morocco.
My trip to Morocco definitely allowed me to appreciate how great a slower pace of travel can be and it gave me chance to create lots of blog content, which I often find difficult on shorter trips or where I’ve got a detailed itinerary.
For information on both cities and my trip, read more here:
Whilst I’m great at booking trips to far flung places and around Europe, I’m absolutely terrible when it comes to taking the time to explore places within the UK, which is something I want to change in 2019.
My only other UK trip besides Edinburgh in 2019 was a lovely glamping trip that I went on in Yorkshire back in June.
We stayed at Camp Katur in one of their cool Geodomes; essentially a little plastic pod in the forest, complete with double bed; furniture and log burner. It also had its own little kitchen and bathroom, perfect for those like me who don’t really do camping.
Whist I’ll admit that I did miss home comforts by the end of the trip, the setting was wonderful and the Geodome was one of the most unique accommodations I’ve ever stayed in.
Check out more on my glamping adventure here.
At the end of July, I left behind the hot UK summer (how good was that fellow Brits?!) and flew to Budapest for a long weekend. I’d visited the city back in November 2013 and it still held the title of my favourite European city, something which I had hoped wouldn’t change following a return visit.
It certainly didn’t- if anything, it just confirmed to me how much I adore the Hungarian capital. I can’t quite put my finger on why I love it so much; I just do. I feel like it’s the same for lots of people that visit Budapest.
My second trip was spent visiting some old favourites and exploring new parts of the city. I also went to the Hungarian Grand Prix, which although not my thing at all, I loved!
It was great to visit during the summer, though at times it did feel a bit too hot! I’m desperate to go back already- I think I’ll try to go during Spring or Autumn on my next trip though, why not see the city in all seasons haha.
After experiencing both summer and winter, I’ve put together an ultimate Budapest itinerary.
A year without a trip to Asia is a year wasted in my book, so at the start of September, I headed off to Hong Kong and China for a couple of weeks solo travel.
It was without a doubt the most challenging place I’ve travelled around alone but to be honest, it ended up being a lot more straightforward than I’d expected.
I started my trip in Hong Kong, nipped over to Macau and then travelled to mainland China to visit three of the major cities; Chengdu, Xi’an and Beijing.
It was an amazing trip and I got to see so many amazing sights, not least the Great Wall of China, something that’s been high up on my bucket list for as long as I can remember!
I’m slowly sharing content on my trip (life has got in way since I got back somewhat!) but here are a couple of posts I’ve written in case you want to check them out:
In October I went on a trip to the south of Spain with my Grandma, who pretty much lived there for about twenty years, before selling her apartment at the start of this year. It will always hold a special place in my Grandma’s heart and I love visiting with her, as she’s always at her happiest!
We only visited for a few days and it was quite chilled. We explored Malaga and Mijas, had long lunches and relaxed with a few good books. After a difficult couple of months, it was exactly what I needed. It also reminded me that sometimes it’s ok to just travel to get away, as opposed to madly charging around sightseeing and soaking in the local culture.
I developed a bit of a love for Malaga as a city, having only visited briefly once before, I had much more chance to explore this time. I’ve put together a guide to how to spend a day there, you can check it out here.
All in all, 2018 has been an amazing year travel wise. I’d love to hear from you; where have you been, what your favourite travel moment of the year was, and any other stories you have to share. Drop me a line via email, or through Instagram or Twitter.
See you in 2019!