2019 Travel Round-Up | My busiest year of travel yet!

A very happy new year to everyone reading this – I hope you’ve all had a fantastic 2019 and are looking forward to the start of a new decade!

This article has become one of my personal favourite posts to write each year as I get to reminisce back over the last 12 months and all of the amazing travel opportunities that came my way.

Also see: 2017 round-up & 2018 round-up.

With the blog growing and my freelance career stable, 2019 saw me take 28 flights to 17 destinations across 11 different countries, spending almost 2/3rds of the year away from home, making it my busiest year of travel so far!

So here’s a quick round-up of what I got up to in 2019…

January – Cologne, Germany

Weekend in Cologne in winter

Destination: Cologne, Germany.

Reason for visit: A quick weekend away with the girls, having booked last minute flights in the January Ryanair sale for just £12 return.

Duration: 3 days.

Highlights: Exploring the city’s numerous museums, eating delicious and warming local food and making the most of Germany’s buzzing nightlife scene.

 

January – Tirol, Austria

Tirol, Austria - Sledding

Destination: The snow-covered winter wonderland that is Tirol in the Austrian Alps.

Reason for visit: A press trip to experience a popular local winter past-time… tobogganing!

As someone who loves snowy mountains but has a questionable skiing ability, I was extremely excited to spend a week on the slopes taking part in a winter sport that I might not suck at, and tobogganing definitely lived up to my expectations.

Duration: 1 week.

Highlights: Whizzing down different toboggan runs across the region, taking in the beautiful snowy views, topping up our energy with hearty home-cooked Austrian dishes and ending the days cosied up in gorgeous Alpine lodges nestled within the mountains with a hot chocolate spiked with rum.

What a way to start the year!

 

February – LA, USA

Los Angeles Hollywood Friends

February was my first period of extended travel of the year, spending the whole month in North America.

Destination: Los Angeles, USA.

Reason for visit: Visiting a friend living in LA along with a group of old university friends.

Duration: 2 weeks.

Highlights: Having a local guide to show us real LA beyond the busy tourist attractions. Watching a basketball game at the Staples Centre, people watching on Venice Beach Broadwalk, admiring the view over the whole of LA from the Griffith Observatory, drinking local wine in Malibu and exploring the Grove shopping district and the Original Farmers Market.

 

February – Toronto, Canada

Family in the snow in Toronto Canada

Destination: Toronto, Canada.

Reason for visit: Spending a couple of weeks with family living in Toronto.

Duration: 2 weeks.

Highlights: Playing in the snow, hanging out with family and playing with my young cousins.

 

March – Hamburg, Germany

People on street art tour in Hamburg Germany

Photo credit: Traverse Events

Destination: Hamburg, Germany

Reason for visit: KeyFrame 19 conference – the new video conference run by my favourite influencer company Traverse Events. A whole weekend filled with interactive classes and immersive events around Hamburg.

Duration: 3 days.

Highlights: Despite creating very little video content myself, the conference was still a useful learning experience and a fun weekend catching up with loads of my favourite content creators in an exciting new city.

 

April – Prosecco Hills, Italy

Visit the Prosecco region of Italy

Destination: The Prosecco Hills in Northern Italy, an hour away from Venice.

Reason for visit: After spending almost a year helping out the lovely Jo at Visit Prosecco, I was invited to visit the region myself and spend a week drinking some of Italy’s most popular sparkling wine.

Duration: 1 week.

Highlights: Being gracefully hosted by a number of beautiful wineries, restaurants and agrotourism hotels. Learning about the entire Prosecco production process, from growing the grapes all the way to bottling the wine. Drinking a lot of delicious Prosecco perfectly paired with tasty local foods also produced in the region.

 

April – Toulouse, France

Toulouse skyline views

Toulouse food tour feast with wine, cheeses, cured meat, chocolates

Destination: Toulouse, South of France.

Reason for visit: Press trip.

Duration: 3 days.

Highlights: Wandering around the charming courtyards, admiring the coral brick buildings which give Toulouse the nickname ‘the pink city’ and eating our way around the city’s exciting food scene.

May – Malta

Girl in yellow dress by pool with ocean in background in Malta

Destination: Valetta and other towns across Malta.

Reason for visit: May was originally supposed to be spent back home in London, but instead ended in a fairly spontaneous trip to Malta for my birthday with some close friends for celebrations in the sun.

Duration: 5 days.

Highlights: Spending my birthday cruising around the island on a catamaran sipping beer and swimming in the gorgeous Blue Lagoon, followed by a fun night out which ended in a rooftop hot tub watching the sunrise over the city with a glass of bubbles in hand. Turning 26 wasn’t too bad after all!

 

June – Verona, Italy

Verona Italy

Lake Garda Italy, two girls in a boat on the lake, arms in the air

June saw me return to Italy once again, and this time to spend almost the whole month in the north of the country for a conference, press trip and personal travel.

Destination: Verona, Italy.

Reason for visit: Making the most of its close proximity of Trentino (the destination of the conference and press trip) for a few days in one of my favourite cities on the planet and somewhere I’ve spent so much time recently it almost feels like returning home with each visit.

Duration: 1 week.

Highlights: Making the most of the Mediterranean sun sipping Aperol Spritz in Verona’s charming squares and visiting nearby Lake Garda for a day boating around the lake’s small towns.

 

June, Trento, Italy

Trento, Trentino Italy

Traverse 19

Photo Credit – Michal Tomas @londonviewpoints

Destination: Trento, Italy.

Reason for visit: Traverse 19, my favourite blogging conference of the year.

A week packed with city tours, day trips, local wine tastings, delicious food and one too many parties, cumulating in two days of classes and sessions spanning blogging, photography, video content and plenty more.

Duration: 1 week.

Highlights: The stunning location, inspiring speakers, interesting sessions and a full week of fun (and a few too many glasses of wine) with all of my favourite people within the industry.

Traverse’s conferences are always one of the highlights of my entire year and this year was certainly no different. I’m already looking forward to the same again next year!

 

June – Trentino, Italy

Visit Trentino Italy - alpine hut next to lake with forest and mountains

Trentino White Water Rafting

Trentino Italy

Photo Credit – Italian Trip Abroad

Destination: Trentino region, Italy.

Reason for visit: Traverse 19 in Trento was followed by a series of post-event press trips in the surrounding region of Trentino, of which I was invited to join The Energy of Water; a week of water-based activities in the Dolomite mountains.

Duration: 1 week.

Highlights: Starting the days with early morning swims in Trentino’s gorgeous alpine lakes, followed by plenty of exciting activities including white water rafting, kayaking and canyoneering.

Trentino also has to win the award for my favourite foodie destination of 2019 – which is saying something considering the amount of amazing food I was lucky enough to try across the world this year – with its creatively flavoured risotto, filling home-made pasta, locally produced cheese and much, much more.

 

July – Cornwall, UK

Three photos from Cornwall UK, ocean and beach

Destination: Cornwall, UK.

Reason for visit: After a crazy few weeks in Italy in which I barely had a moment to myself, and before I embraced the busy extended travel itinerary I had planned for the rest of the year, it was time for a much-needed detox down on the peaceful Cornwall coast with family.

Duration: 1 week.

Highlights: While the rest of the group went out to enjoy long walks along the coast with our energetic border collie Toby, I made the most of catching up with work from our cosy little ocean-front cottage, while also enjoying the outdoor hot tub and the short walk down to the beach.

 

July – Guiyang, China

Huanguoyuan

Trip to Miao village from Guiyang China

The second half of 2019 saw a very different style of travel from the first half, swapping smaller European trip to some extended travel around Asia and Australia.

Destination: Guiyang, China.

Reason for visit: Spending a month in the lesser-known city of Guiyang in southern China visiting my cousin Sophie who is currently living there as an English teacher.

Duration: 1 month.

Highlights: My first time in Guiyang was a total surprise and not what I expected from China at all. The bright neon-lit skyscrapers which filled the majority of the city contrasted with the more traditional restaurants and shops down below. The lack of English spoken by the locals and their fascination with foreigners – there was a lot of staring and asking for photos – was probably the biggest culture shock, however, everyone was friendly and eager to help out a lost tourist in any way they could.

During my month in Guiyang, we also managed to take several weekend trips to the surrounding Guizhou province, including visiting the largest waterfall in China and a beautiful traditional Miao village. I can’t wait to explore more of China in the future.

 

August – Hong Kong

Hong Kong Skyline at night

Hong Kong

Destination: Hong Kong.

Reason for visit: Stopover between Guiyang and Philippines. Hong Kong is only a 6 hour train ride from Guiyang so Sophie and I decided to spend a few days in the city before flying across to the Philippines.

Duration: 4 days.

Highlights: Disneyland Hong Kong! The delicious local dim sum.

 

August – Cebu, Philippines

Cebu Phillipines, group of people on each

Cebu Phillipines, Group of people in front of Waterfall

Destination: Cebu, Philippines.

Reason for visit: HOLIDAY! And before anyone makes a comment, believe it or not this was two of the only weeks this year where I travelled without opening my laptop at all and without any content obligations.

Duration: 2 weeks.

Highlights: Staying in several cool hostels and making new friends from all across the world. Snorkelling with whale sharks. Trying scuba diving for the first time – and realising I will not be doing it again. Canyoneering and swimming under beautiful natural waterfalls.

 

October/November – Melbourne, Australia

Great Ocean Road Beach

Destination: Melbourne, Australia.

Reason for visit: Winter sun! Visiting Heyoan who I met in the Philippines.

Duration: 5-6 weeks.

Highlights: Having my own local guide showing me all the hidden parts of the city. Eating far too much of Melbourne’s amazing food, such as the brunches and burgers. Spending a night in the luxurious Crown Hotel and heading out for a steak dinner and cocktails in the building’s casino complex. Taking a road trip down to the coast and along the amazing Great Ocean Road and its beautiful beaches.

 

November – Sydney, Australia

Girl sat in front of Sydney Opera House

Destination: Sydney, Australia.

Reason for visit: Solo trip from Melbourne because… why not?

Duration: 10 days.

Highlights: Seeing the iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Exploring the cool suburb of Newtown with its many independent shops, cool rooftop bars and Mary’s burger joint (delicious burger!). Being based opposite Coogee Beach for a week of the trip and being able to start each morning with a coffee and my book while sunbathing on the beach. Taking a day trip to go hiking in the Blue Mountains.

 

November/December – Guiyang, China

Jiaxiu Guiyang at night, Guiyang China

Destination: Guiyang, China.

Reasons for visit: Visiting Sophie (again!).

Duration: 1 month.

My second month based in China was a lot more relaxed than my first back in July, with the freezing winter temperatures forcing us to spend more time inside catching up on work rather than out exploring the city and tourist attractions.

Highlights: Lots of delicious local food, including BBQ’s, hot pot and Guiyang sweet sausage. Nights out with Guiyang’s ex-pat community and plenty of karaoke at KTVs. Spending a weekend at a quiet thermal spa and getting a (not quite so relaxing but interesting nonetheless) Chinese pressure massage.

 

December – Shanghai, China

Shanghai Disneyland

Shanghai Skyline from the Bund at night

Destination: Shanghai, China.

Reasons for visit: Stopover on route back to England.

Duration: 3 days.

Highlights: A Christmassy day at Shanghai Disneyland. The stunning view across Shanghai’s skyline from the Bund at night. The ancient architecture of Shanghai’s Old Town.

Shanghai was a large and hectic city to do in just one weekend, especially with several mishaps including cancelled flights and problems with accommodation (don’t worry, I plan to expand more on this in a post soon), however I am glad to have got to explore another Chinese city other than Guiyang this year, having spent 2 whole months in China.

 

Travel plans for 2020:

Unlike this time last year when I already had the first several months of 2019 planned out and travel booked in, my plans for 2020 are still extremely flexible. In mid-January I will be jetting out to India for 2 weeks touring with Ellie from @thewanderingquinn then back to Melbourne for February.

But after that… we’ll have to wait and see…

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