I always thought this was a thing but a quick google tells me it’s not.
I’d made a decision at the start of December 2015 that one of my goals for the New Year would be to travel to a country a month. I wasn’t sure quite how I would travel as much once I left university and had to work and do, you know, “adult stuff” but I figured that with my track record and borderline obsessive compulsion to travel, a country a month would definitely be an achievable goal. Of course, I knew that time constraints would mean lots of weekend city-break style escapes but at least it would keep my wanderlust reasonably satiated so I sat down, looked at a map of Europe and counted out the countries I haven’t yet visited – there were quite a few!
I’ll be updating this post with each new adventure in 2016, here’s to hoping I can hit the 12!
I think I’m doing pretty well. Hit #11 and Switzerland is booked.
CHALLENGE COMPLETE (Now the rest is just showing off..!)
1. Philippines (January, February, March – 2 trips)
I can thank work for this one. I was meant to visit the Philippines last summer as part of my travel extravaganza. However, when faced with the choice of continuing on as planned or answering a friend’s call for help, it was a no-brainer and I waved goodbye to the Philippines.
Well, these things have a way of working themselves out and I found myself travelling out to the Philippines for work anyway. Karma is a beautiful thing. I ended up making two trips to the Philippines and spending about 10 weeks there in total. I had a wonderful time, tried some wacky food, made life-long friends – a pretty amazing start to 2016.
2. Luxembourg (January)
So Luxembourg was meant to be my first weekend of travel in 2016 but work beckoned and the Philippines squeezed into first place (seriously, I returned from the Philippines on the Friday lunchtime and flew straight on to Luxembourg that night). Luxembourg was definitely a shock to the system as I went from hot & humid bustling city to snow & slush freezing town-masquerading-as-a-city. That said, thanks to the hilarious four guys that I met on the plane and then spent the weekend with, I had a cracking time (even taking into account the terrible delay on the flight home. Thanks Easyjet for that one).
3. South Korea (February)
What, go all the way to the Philippines and not pop over to Seoul for a cheeky reunion and catch up with my buddies? Impossible. The temptation was just too great. Cue a weekend of marvellous madness.
4. Hong Kong (March)
When Harry, a dear friend of mine who is now living in the US casually mentioned he’d be back in Hong Kong while I was in the Philippines another weekend trip instantly became inevitable. How could I not? I hadn’t seen him since my early visits to Changsha back in 2010/2011 so I couldn’t pass up on a reunion. It was like no time had passed at all – that’s true friendship for you! With tickets booked and Facebook status updated, Winnie and Sihua got in touch – another reunion was in order!
5. USA (April)
Once more work was beckoning and who was I to refuse? There was just enough time for a stopover in New York to catch up with my good friend Blaise who I’d met in my first year at SOAS and despite staying in touch, somewhat unbelievably hadn’t seen since! From visiting a sky bar with stunning city views to finally making it to see the Book of Mormon (which has been on my to-do list for forever), I had a great time. Who says work travel isn’t fun…?
6. Colombia (April)
I flew from Houston to London only to get home, repack and fly all the way back across the ocean to Bogotá, en route for Cuba. Even with just a few hours in Bogotá, I refused to give up the opportunity to explore the city. With luck on my side, I made it out for a fantastic whirlwind tour of the city and a proper Colombian breakfast before heading back to departures.
7. Cuba (April/May)
Somewhere I’d been meaning to go for a long time but never quite got round to. The excuses had run out and I had vacation days to burn so Cuba it was. Booked on the spur of the moment while I was sat in my hotel room in Manila, Cuba was an experience. Am I dying to return? No. Am I glad I went? Yes. Cuba was a lot tougher than I expected but my Spanish got a good workout, I got a good workout (literally, you should’ve seen all the horse riding, hiking and cycling I did!) and everyone was happy.
8. Austria & 9. Germany (May)
When your best friend tells you you’re going away for your birthday, there’s nothing to say but “yes!” With the brilliant excuse of a long weekend and it being my birthday (not that we really ever need a reason to travel but it doesn’t hurt!), we packed our bags and headed off to Vienna, Salzburg and Munich. It was a cracking weekend. I had my first go at an escape room – the premise being you’re locked in a room and have to complete a series of challenges to escape the room within the time limit – which was just so much fun that I’m going to have to go and do another one soon. We ate lots of delicious food thanks to Mark’s obsession with Yelp which did drive me a tad crazy but I have to give it to him, the food was good so I’m keeping my mouth shut. The best part – we just got to chat. So much chatting.
=3 South Korea (July)
Rather unsurprisingly, I found myself back in Korea for the second time this year. It’s rather inevitable I guess given most of my friends happen to be on the other side of the world. Ready for some much needed R&R, I put on my dancing shoes and hit the bars…I don’t think I went to bed before 4 for the first two weeks – so much for that R&R?! Then Little Darnley came out to Korea for the final week and we flew down to Jeju, both ticking off a long-standing travel goal. Jeju was fantastic fun; great food, pretty decent weather, typical hostel fun, Korean drinking games and how can I forget : the sex theme park! Little Darnley’s face…
10. Thailand (July)
After giving my liver a sound beating, it was bye-bye to Little Darnley and off to Phuket to tick off another of 2016’s travel goals : completing my advanced PADI diving course. I opted to return to Aussie Divers Phuket (the same guys I did my PADI Open Water course with last year). I know I could’ve gone elsewhere but they’re tried and trusted and given my tight timeline, I just wanted to dive! I had a brilliant time, as expected, and got to see some amazing aquatic life including rays and turtles. I can’t wait to be back in the water…
11. Japan (July)
I couldn’t travel all the way around the world and not drop in to see my bestie, could I? Before making my way back to London, there was just enough time for a weekend time out in Tokyo. With spas, shopping and sushi on the cards, what more could a girl want?
12. Switzerland (October)
A cheeky weekend trip to Geneva to visit Daddy~ ^^ I may be all grown up (*supposedly*) but I still miss my old man. Together we’re madness, how did my poor mother survive the two of us? Dance breaks to Lady Gaga’s Poker Face, coconut gelato & Westworld binges, rocking out to Bon Jovi en route to Italy – it’s true Daddy-Daughter time. Can’t wait for our 2017 Mongolia roadtrip #OneSteppeBeyond
13. Italy (October)
Dad : So what do you want to do today?
Me: Dunno. What are my options?
Dad: Hmm. We could take the Mont-Blanc tunnel and drive to Italy?
Me: Let’s do it.