Another year is coming to an end and 2017 has been one of the busiest for me in terms of travel. Last year I travelled solidly for a number of months, thanks to quitting my job. But this year I’ve been in full-time employment and squeezed the life out of my annual leave in order to continue seeing as much of the world as I can. This year I’ve done 14 trips, comprising of 11 countries (including seven brand new ones!), across five continents, but for once, a lot of these trips haven’t all been about me.
2017 started as 2016 finished: with a determination to keep travelling regardless of whether anyone would want to come with me or not. I saw in the year in South Africa, flying out to meet a friend I’d previously made in New Zealand and experiencing my first trip to Africa as well as my first safari. But as the year progressed, more and more friends came out of the woodwork with a desire to go anywhere we could afford.
Bucharest on my first ever girls holiday, Luxembourg with a friend from work, and Sofia with Charley, all saw me take advantage of cheap flights, see more of Europe, and use up as little time off work as possible. The biggest of my group travel adventures was two weeks in Japan with four friends; a trip that was remarkably easier than I’d anticipated, and which showed me that I don’t have to travel alone to get what I want from a trip.
But ultimately, this year my travels haven’t been about me. 2017 has seen some enormous life-changing moments that have affected where I’ve ended up at one point or another. It’s very much what I like to call a ‘shit sandwich’, that is two awesome pieces of chunky, delicious trips with one steaming pile of crap in between them. So, starting on a positive note, my best friend gave birth to two incredible little human beings in May, and as soon as I found out she was pregnant, I knew I’d have to visit her in Hong Kong (again).
On my way to Japan, I stopped over in Hong Kong for three days in order to meet the little ones and hug my friend until she had to pry me off her. I hardly did any tourist-y things on this trip; it was all about spending time with somebody I love, and that was worth so much more than meticulously planning a trip itinerary.
In contrast to the awesome news of new life in May, the devastating news of my dad’s death hit me like a ton of dynamite in June. My trip to Jamaica to arrange and attend his funeral was something I just didn’t want to do. It is the first time in my life that I’ve not wanted to get on a plane; I hated the country I was having to fly to, resented it being so far away, was angry that I was spending thousands of pounds on the worst thing that has ever happened to me. The whole experience was awful, but actually, visiting Jamaica was cathartic and eye-opening.
And then we get to where I am now. Hello from New Zealand! One of the biggest changes to my life in 2017 was meeting an incredible man in January that I fell stupidly in love with. Although we live together in London, he’s originally from the other side of the world, and when he told me he wanted to spend his first Christmas in three years back home, I opted to go with him. I only visited New Zealand for the first time last year, but this time it’s different. We are exploring for part of the time, but ultimately we are here to spend time with family.
It makes sense that this is how I would end this year. It’s selfless in a sense that it’s not entirely about me (although I’m absolutely getting an awesome trip out of it, don’t get me wrong!), whereas every single trip I made in 2016 was purely for myself. It’s a new outlook but a humbling one. 2018 promises trips for celebrating (a big 30th birthday USA road trip is in the planning stages!), reuniting with far-away friends, and maybe even relaxing at some point (shock horror!), but absolutely another year of travel that fills my heart, soul and camera roll.
Thanks for being here with me for another year. As ever, I am incredibly grateful for your views and comments, so I think I might just carry on with this writing lark for another 365 days.