This year I had to send my British passport off all the way back to the UK to be renewed. Embarrassingly, I was a little sad to part with it for the two weeks it took. My passport means the world to me. Literally! It is key to my identification and the gateway to amazing adventures. When I had both my new and my old passport safely returned to me, I sat down and took a look through all of the pages of my old passport. I’m not sure about the rest of you but this is something I never do. Despite considering myself to be a nostalgic, my passport only comes out of the draw to book my flight and when I’m going away. After that it is straight in the draw again for safe keeping.
So as I revelled in my past trips over the last ten years, I thought I would share some of my best. Bear in mind, as my passport is part of the European Union (for now), there are many trips I don’t have a stamp for. This post will be a combination of my stamped and un-stamped trips.
In 2008, I bravely set off to the other side of the world… on my own. It was the first trip I had really taken on my own. I don’t count the flights I took from Canada to the UK as a teen to be greeted by family. This was me going it alone and for that reason alone, this trip was always going to be a milestone for me. I went everywhere from Sydney to Ayers Rock to Darwin. I snorkelled in the Great Barrier Reef, chilled at Bondi beach and saw crocs in Kakadu and Litchfield National parks. It was my first taste of Australia and I knew I would be back again. It would be 5 years later until I returned for my best friend’s wedding in Brisbane. Amazing country and hands down one of the best trips of my life! And there is still more I want to go back and see!
Why you should go? Natural wonders, nature and beautiful beaches in a city!
2) New Zealand
In the same trip to Australia, I spent 2 weeks in New Zealand. Visiting both the North and South islands, the scenery did not disappoint! I climbed glaciers, saw turquoise coloured lakes, beaches that went on for miles (90 miles to be exact). I body surfed sand dunes and was very prepared to jump into the Bay of Islands to swim with dolphins, only to find a baby in the pod which meant the plan was aborted. But I was still rewarded with tricks and twirls from wild dolphins swimming in our wake and under the boat! And for that reason, it made it into my top 10 best trip.
Why you should go? Natural wonders, stunning landscape, outdoor sports, no crowds!
Japan was another fantastic trip I took in 2008. Come to think of it. 2008 was just brilliant travelling year for me! This time it was I was accompanied by two friends and a trusty lonely planet! We went during Easter break which translates into Sakura season! On this trip I did it all. Karaoke in Tokyo, climbed to the base of Mount Fuji, took the Shinkansen to Kyoto, dipped in an onsen with stunning views in the mountains and partied it Osaka. This trip ticked all of my boxes for a first time visit in Japan. But of course, you know me… I still want to see more!
Why you should go? Sakura season, experience the ancient world and modern cities, fast train travel.
4) Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is the home country of my parents and in the past 10 years I made two trips here. Once in good ol’ 2008 on my stopover to Japan and once again in 2015 for Christmas. It was a different feeling visiting in 2015 after the civil war had ended and I felt like I truly got to explore the paradise my parents call home. We saw the lush, green Kandy hills with views that kept on giving. A tea plantation and a visit to an elephant orphanage completed our trip in the hills followed by our visit to the beach. Golden sandy beaches with a visit to a turtle hatchery and a wildlife rich lagoon summed up our trip in the south. And we got to celebrate Christmas on the beach! Win!
Why you should go? Golden beaches, marine life, tea plantations, exotic animals.
5) Dubai, UAE
Many people may not rate Dubai as a destination worthy of any top ten but for me it was a place a visited a few times. Namely because my best friend lived there. And so for that reason I hardly did any of the touristy stuff. That was until 2016 when the Northerner (hubby) and I went and hit up a few touristy spots. We visited old Dubai and had dinner on a Dhow boat and went up the Burj Khalifa , followed by dinner by the fountains at Dubai mall. The exotic scents and stillness of the Middle East is what I enjoyed and miss. I have still yet to experience the Arabian desert (yes despite living in the Middle East for a year) and visit the grand mosque in Dubai. So there is still more for me to see. However, lately, neighbouring Abu Dhabi has also piqued my interest too!
Why you should go? the city with the most Guiness world records (biggest mall, most expensive hotel etc), Middle Eastern culture , guaranteed sun!
Thailand had been on my list for years and solidified a top position after the Northerner couldn’t stop raving about it! And so January 2016 was my first trip to the land of smiles.. and boy was I left smiling! I mean who wouldn’t?! With friendly people, rich culture, delicious food and stunning, powder soft beaches? I was hooked after our trip to Bangkok and Koh Samui. Before the year was up we visited again, this time to Krabi. By the time we left Asia, we went to Bangkok one last time this year. It’s a place both the Northerner and I love so much, I have no doubt that it will be on our itinerary again.
Why you should go? delicious food, stunning beaches and ancient culture.
France is one of those places that touches my soul. I have been there countless times and each time has been an amazing experience. I’ve visited Paris about four times with my most notable visit being a trip in February 2011 where I spent 4 hours in the Louvre. Yes that’s correct! I spent 4 hours in an art gallery. Note I went on this trip solo. I think the Northerner would’ve tapped out after 2 hours max due a need for sustenance and perhaps slight boredom despite being being an art lover himself. For me, there were some notable pieces I just had to see in person. Paris in winter is is a fab time to beat the queues too! Other trips to France included Nice with the girls and Lyon. I can’t get enough of France and I’ll be sure to visit again in the next ten years. There has already been talk of hitting up the wine region!
Why you should go? wine, cheese, art and beautiful architecture.
The beautiful Emerald Isle was where I chose to spend my 30th birthday. I had visited a number of times before, making stops in Belfast, Dublin, Cork and Galway. Armed with those fun precious memories I figured it was the perfect place to celebrate my 30th. And so I headed back to County Cork for the weekend, exploring the city and visiting nearby Cobh (pronounced Cove). For me, Cobh stole the show, with it’s vast harbour and colourful buildings. Little did I know that Cobh was meant to be the last stop for the Titanic. Sharing this trip with friends added to making Ireland a very special place for me. It’s been a while since I’ve been back so perhaps in 2018 is in order!
Why you should go? good beer, beautiful landscapes, friendly people.
Beautiful Italia! Another place that I visited twice for two very special reasons. The first time was because the Northerner and I got married in charming Malcesine on Lake Garda. Needless to say the trip was special to us both and our only complaint was that four days wasn’t enough. And so we returned the following year to celebrate our first anniversary and my 35th birthday. This time for longer and we got to meet up with good friends we hadn’t seen in a year! Our wedding was the Northerner’s first trip to Italy and he’s now hooked on wanting to see more. I think it will definitely be a contender for 2018!
Why you should go? amazing food, wine, fantastic weather, beautiful scenery, la dolce vita!
When the Northerner and I were dating we spent a year long distance, with him living in the Algarve, in Portugal. Again this was a destination I was familiar with but I really got to feel at home in a small fishing town near Albufeira. At our leisure we explored the old town through the summer and winter. We walked the coastal walk from Olhos de Água to Vilamoura and even took a day trip out to Lagos, exploring the grottos by boat. The many trips I took to Portugal will always remain dear to my heart. But as always, I would still want to explore more. As it is often different to explore somewhere as a tourist than when semi-residing there.
Why you should go? world- class beaches, beautiful weather, good surfing!
So there you have it. Not a best of 2017, but the best of a decade of my travel. I highly recommend any of these locations for anyone’s bucket list. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the time, money and great company which contributed to these trips being the best moments of my life. Travel will always be an important part of my life. I can’t wait to see what the next decade has to offer!
Happy New Year!
What would make your top ten list of best travel?