I wish I could go back to the Anna of 2015 and say “You, my dear, you need to take a chill pill. A big one!” Faced with graduation, I was convinced that my travel days were over and that wanderlust was a thing of the past – so not true. While rather unsurprisingly I did travel less last year than I did as a student (something to do with losing months of holiday and actually having to go to work), I still managed to pack an insane amount of travelling in – I think 14 countries (plus two repeat trips to Korea and the Philippines) is a pretty damn good effort.
But being the travel-obsessed muppet that I am, I figured hitting my #12in12 goal again this year wouldn’t be that much of a challenge so I’ve decided the up the ante a bit and raise the target to #20in12. That’s right – this year I’m looking to visit 20 different countries in 12 months. Trips to countries I’ve already been to do count but repeat visits to the same country don’t.
Let’s see what happens!
1. France (January)
And we’re off to a good start! It’s day 1 of the New Year and I’ve already got a country to add to my list. My good friend Sophia and I were sat in one of our favourite dinner spots bemoaning the fact that neither of us had New Years plans. Sophia, obviously forgetting who she was having dinner with, casually mentioned it would be rather cool to spend New Years in Paris. In a matter of seconds, I had my phone out and was searching tickets to Paris. Miraculously, the ticket prices were reasonable and with that, the tickets were booked.
Sophia looked at me. “Shit. Did you just book those tickets?”
“You said yes to going!” I said.
“Oh right” she said, “Paris for New Years it is!”
2. Japan (January-July)
Japan will be featuring quite prominently on this blog in 2017 as I’m currently working on a 6 month IoT assignment in Tokyo. The working culture is taking some getting used to and the hierarchy is already chafing but all can be conquered with a smile and my rapidly improving Japanese skills.
On the plus side, the food is to die for, the people I’ve met have been incredibly kind and patient and I found out that Japan has a public holiday every month…I see travel time!
3. Singapore (January, February, March)
So it turns out my project is run out of Tokyo but based in Singapore…you know what that means? Oh yes – more travel. Contrary to common belief, I think business travel is the bees knees. Yes it’s tough and the hours are long but guys, it’s free travel! It’s the opportunity to visit a new country, work in a new environment and jump headfirst into another culture, what’s not to love?
4. China (February)
There are days when I wake up with a burning desire to book a plane ticket and this was the result of one of those days. With some free nights to burn at my favorite hotel The Fairmont and cheap tickets, the universe was clearly sending me a sign.
Having spent my first month in Tokyo grappling with the language and culture, I got such a sense of relief from stepping off the plane into a familiar environment. It felt like I was home again.
The last time I was in China I was a student with a budget to match. This time things were a little more indulgent; I dined at some of Beiijing’s top restaurants (which were divine!) and booked myself in for massages on both days at the Fairmont’s Willow Stream spa.
It was heavenly.
5. Philippines (March)
There are times in life when you cross paths with people that just simply just connect with. When I was living in the Philippines last year, I did just that. While working I Manila, I met a group of travel-obsessed women working in consulting like me. They became my squad.
I had planned to head back to the Philippines in November last year but for various reasons, sadly it didn’t happen. But with all of this travel to Singapore, it seemed madness to not make use of one of my weekends to pop over and check in. So that’s exactly what I did.
6. Thailand (April)
I hadn’t planned to return to Thailand this year. With four visits already under my belt, I was ready to focus my traveling efforts elsewhere…but we all know I have a slight problem in that I’m incapable of turning down a travel request. So when my boyfriend mentioned wanting to go back to Thailand for his birthday…
7. South Korea (June)
Spend 6 months in Japan and not do a side trip to Korea? Madness. I knew you’d agree.