Thoughts On A Year Of Travel

At the end of 2017, I declared that I wanted 2018 to be ‘the year of the travel’. I wanted to squeeze as much travel as possible within 27 days annual leave, with an eye for ‘bigger’ trips rather than weekend city breaks.

I went to Singapore, Ireland, Croatia, Copenhagen and did the North Coast 500 road trip around the Scottish highlands. In between, I also (finally) went to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, spent a few days in Devon and took a quick jaunt to the Peak District.

It. Has. Been. A. Ball.

Thoughts On A Year Of Travel

The countries? Singapore was one of the most interesting places I have ever been to and I am so glad I want there as a standalone trip rather than using it as the stopover it often is. The Irish countryside was a beauty and I would love to see more one day; however, I found Dublin underwhelming. The North Coast 500 road trip was one of the best things I have ever done and I would highly recommend everyone add the Scottish highlands to their bucket list. Whilst I had a lovely time in Croatia and would recommend, I didn’t quite get the hype that seems to be building around it. Copenhagen was everything I imagined it would be and I’d go back in a heartbeat.

The planning? Both Singapore and Copenhagen were booked just a few weeks in advance, somewhat spontaneously, whereas our NC500 road trip, Croatia and Ireland were booked several months in advance. There are so many perks to trips planned spontaneously and trips planned meticulously that I think a healthy balance of both is the best way to get the most from travelling. As someone who can suffer from anxiety, over-planning can be my way of dealing with things. And yet, I think a bit of spontaneity – particularly when one has to get on a long-haul flight – prevents me from thinking too much of the things that could go wrong and embrace the moment. On the other hand, I would not recommend doing the North Coast 500 without a solid plan. Seriously, get yourself a spreadsheet.

Thoughts On A Year Of Travel

I thought this year would sate my desire to travel and have adventures, at least for a while, but it seems to have done the exact opposite.

I will admit, when I got home from a last-minute trip to Copenhagen in October, I didn’t want to be back in an airport anytime soon. I’d spent half of February in Singapore and then from May to October, I went away every month. I’d had such a good time but, quite frankly, I was also knackered; I felt like a stranger with my own bed and was craving time at home. I thought I was sated.

It didn’t last long.

The world is big and there are so many places I want to see. My desire to travel is urgent, like the world’s countries are going to disappear if I don’t reach them asap. But I’m not really sure why I have this urgency. Sure, I think it’s good to have some urgency because otherwise I’d never go anywhere but sometimes my internet searches would imply I was about to pop my clogs and was trying to visit as many places as possible before I get hit by a bus.

But I’m learning to control my urgency. Because, what this year hasn’t done is make me want to throw in the job and spend a year or longer continuously travelling. Don’t get me wrong, if I won the lottery, this would be high up on my list of things to do. But doing a lot of travelling in 2018 has also made me very aware that there are plenty of other things that I also want to do now, and I don’t want to give these things up.

Thoughts On A Year Of Travel

I’ve actually realised how much I love being at home, just as much as I love heading off on an adventure. Being home may not be as exciting or as exotic but it brings me a level of contentment that I wouldn’t be without for anything. I want to buy a house and I want to do it soon. I want to marry G and spend Saturdays in Ikea picking out a new bathroom. Spend Sunday mornings writing and hell, start an actual family. A different kind of adventure. And, despite all the ‘travel whilst you’re young’ stuff that is thrown around, I’ve realised that it doesn’t have to be one and then the other. A desire to travel can be a part of who I am for the rest of my life; I don’t need to visit everywhere now. Cos let’s face it, if I did, there’d be no where left for the rest of my life. And so, my wanderlust and my liking for home have learnt to sit relatively comfortably side by side. They still tug at each other a lot but I’m learning to take a deep breath and remember that it’s about appreciating each place fully, rather than trying to squeeze in as many countries as possible.

Thoughts On A Year Of Travel

I have been incredibly lucky to visit all the places I’ve been to in 2018. But, based on a lot of things I see on social media/the media in general, you’d think the four new countries I had the opportunity to visit were nothing. Everyone loves to travel these days and I often feel like I am bombarded with the idea that travel is about ticking off as many countries as possible; that visiting four new countries in one year is now only visiting four new countries in one year. As though many of us have forgotten the funds required to travel. Then there’s this sense that unless you give up your job, fly long-haul and bungee jump over a canyon, you’re not having a proper adventure, not proper travelling. Apart from the fact that this sounds unbelievably wanky, it also makes travel and adventures seem very elitist. And I hate that.

So whilst my adventures abroad over the best year have been incredible, and I know I will travel abroad again in 2019; as we move into the new year, I will also strive to embrace more microadventures. My favourite definition of a microadventure is ‘an adventure that is short, simple, local, cheap – yet still fun, exciting, challenging, refreshing and rewarding’. In my eyes, a microadventure can be anything you want it to be and can bring just as much joy as an experience that required travelling half way around the world for. One of my favourite adventures in the last year? Probably making my way down a pitch-black country lane in the rain, with speeding cars, just for the sake of giggles and wine. I didn’t leave the country. I barely needed to get dressed. But it filled me with laughs and adrenaline and I won’t forget it anytime soon.

Adventures can be swift, they can be small and they are most definitely subjective. They can be the tiniest step outside your everyday routine. An adventure is any new undertaking that quickens the pulse. Adventure has a broad definition, and we should fight to keep it so. All true adventure is an inner adventure. It’s our emotional response to a change in our physical circumstances. If it’s an adventure to you, it’s an adventure. – Anna Hart


Thoughts On A Year Of Travel