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People often ask me how I manage to travel so much whilst working a full-time job with only 25 days holiday a year. Well, I believe that travelling is perfectly possible as long as you manage your holidays well and plan in advance. In 2017 I spent 32 days abroad in 12 towns/cities across 7 different countries, but only used up 14.5 days of annual leave. This even left me with 10 days for long weekends, smaller UK trips and events around London (including several days off for Traverse blogging conference 17 and World Travel Market). So, as the new year starts, I’ve decided to look back on all of my travel in 2017, and show how I managed my annual leave to fit it all in…
February | Riga & Sigulda, Latvia
Days: 4. Holiday days: 2 (Thursday 23rd morn – Sunday 26th eve).
The first country I visited in 2017 was also probably my favourite. Despite the cold, visiting Latvia in February was the best decision I could have made. The layer of snow covering the already picturesque streets made the Capital city of Riga the perfect winter getaway location. As well as wandering around the fairytale-esque streets of Old Town and the beautiful Art Nouveau District, we also found time for activities such as an escape-room and off-road quad-biking. Plus the traditional garlic rye-bread partnered with a local beer was one of my favourite local food/drink combos I’ve discovered on my travels so far.
During my trip to Latvia’s capital, I took a detour to the exciting town of Sigulda just under an hour away. My main reason for visiting Sigulda was to take part in an activity I’ve wanted to try ever since becoming obsessed with the film ‘Cool Runnings’ as a child… bobsledding! The 1,420 meters long Olympic training track is one of the only ones in World open to the public. Hurtling full-speed down the track with tears streaming out of my eyes (despite the helmet) was a truly terrifying experience, however, now I have recovered from the initial shock, I definitely look back on it fondly.
April | Snowdonia, Wales
Days 4. Holiday days: 0 (Thursday 13th eve – Monday 17th eve, double bank holiday weekend).
It would be rude not to make the most of the 4 day Easter weekend, and after 2016’s road trip to Edinburgh, my friends and I decided to hit the road once more for another UK adventure. This time we headed to northwest Wales to experience the mountainous area of Snowdonia. Of course, our main activity was to climb Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, which was definitely a challenge to our fitness (or lack thereof). Aside from the crippling muscle pain the next morning, climbing Snowdon was great fun and led to some beautiful views of the breathtaking Welsh countryside.
Also during our trip to Snowdonia, we headed to the coastal town of Portmeirion, which was built in the mid-1900’s in the style of an Italian village. I instantly fell in love with this quirky little tourist town and managed to use up my entire camera memory-card photographing its many colourful facades.
May | Menorca, Spain
Days: 7.5. Holiday days: 4.5 (Tuesday 16th afternoon – Tuesday 23rd eve, incl. May bank holiday).
In May I was lucky enough to be invited to my first ever press trip and blogging mini-conference on the beautiful Spanish Island of Menorca. Myself and 59 other talented bloggers, Instagrammers and YouTubers were jetted away for a week of sun, sea, adventure and learning for #MustSeeMenorca. From kayaking through ocean caves and exploring ancient ruins to touring a gin distillery and drinking in a bar set in a cliff-face, the trip was jampacked with amazing experiences. And when we weren’t exploring the Island’s many offerings, we were attending sessions and workshops on blogging, photography and videography held by some extremely talented individuals.
July | Durrës, Albania
Days 3. Holiday days: 1 (Thursday 13th eve – Sunday 16th afternoon).
In July I finally got around to visiting my bestie Ivy’s home country of Albania. With only a short amount of time for our visit, we headed to her local city of Durrës which is home to the largest port in Albania. I had a wonderful long weekend being spoilt by her lovely family, including being stuffed-silly with amazing local foods, spending a day on the beach sipping piña coladas and even being treated to a night out on the town in one of Durrës’ late night beach clubs. I truly got to experience the local culture on this trip, and even though it was only for 4 days, I felt like I got to really live like a local.
September | Romanian Road Trip
Days: 9. Holiday days: 5 (Saturday 16th morn – Sunday 24th eve).
My longest trip of the year involved a road trip around Southern Romania with my boyfriend. Starting in the Capital city Bucharest, we made our through the Carpathian Mountains to the iconic Transylvania region to visit Brasov and Sibiu, then finally faced the monster of a road that is The Transfăgărășan to end our trip back in Bucharest. As well as getting to thoroughly explore three interesting and historic cities, we managed to visit both the beautiful Bran Castle and Peles Castle, and even spend an afternoon touring a local Winery (one of my favourite travel activities).
December | Basel, Switzerland & Colmar, France
Days: 4. Holiday Days: 2 (Friday 8th morn – Monday 11th eve).
My final trip of the year was something I’ve wanted to do for a long time now – European Christmas markets! Along with my boyfriend and two friends, I flew out to the city of Basel, which is home to the largest Christmas market in Switzerland. The main activity of this trip ended up being eating… a lot! Fondue, raclette, bratwurst, sweet bread shaped into little men and plenty of chocolate, all washed down by copious mugs of glühwein (mulled wine). The perfect way to kick off the festive season!
After arriving at the airport on Sunday evening to return home from Basel, we were shocked to find out our flight home had been cancelled due to the heavy snow in the UK. So off we were shuttled to the nearby airport hotel (which turned out to be rather luxurious), treated to a 3-course dinner and told to re-book our travel for the next day. With flights only available from the afternoon onwards, and therefore absolutely no chance of being able to make it into work the next day, we decided to opt for the evening flights and add one more full day to our trip. Instead of heading back into Basel, we jumped on a train across the border and headed to the small town of Colmar in France. This turned out to be one of the beautiful places I have ever had the pleasure of visiting, with its old colourful houses, cobblestone streets, winding canals and local Christmas market. I can’t wait to return to Colmar again one day soon to spend a little longer exploring this beautiful French town.