Happy new year – and welcome to 2019! Before we get started on a whole new year of travel, fun, and new adventures, I always like to take some time out to reflect on the last twelve months. Particularly, I like to celebrate all the positive experiences and blogging achievements – basically, all the good stuff.
It’s been my best year yet for blogging, with more readers, a (slightly) better income, and some of my best trips EVER. It’s also been a very good year for travel – with nine new countries explored, and some seriously amazing adventures under my belt. On the flip side, it’s also been a good year for my goal of staying at home more. I was in the country more than last year (although I was still away for about a third of 2018), and I moved around a lot less.
Below, I’ve shared my year in stats! I love keeping track of all the flights, buses, and trains I take throughout the year so I can put this post together at the end of it! This is what a year in the life of a travel blogger looks like…
2018 Travel Stats
Countries Visited: 22
New Countries: 9
Number of Nights Spent Outside England: 118
Flights Taken: 33
Beds Slept In: 73
Long-distance Buses: 15
Miles Flown: 82,700*
Longest Time Spent out of England (in one go): 30 days
Furthest Latitude North Reached: 60.1699° N (Helsinki)
Furthest Latitude South: 1.3521° N (Singapore)
Longest Overland Journey: 4,500km across SE Asia
Theme Parks: 3
Highest Altitude Reached: 3,776 m (top of Mount Fuji)
Languages I Can Say Thank You In: 24
Islands Explored: 8
Blog Posts Published: 119
Quick Fire 2018 Favourites
Favourite Country of the Year: Cambodia
Favourite City: Tokyo
Most Memorable Meals: Champagne breakfast at the Taj Mahal. Chicken feet in Penang, Malaysia. Michelin star noodles from a street vendor in Singapore. Homecooked creole dinner in St Lucia. Banh Mi Phuong in Hoi An, Vietnam. Aizu beef cooked at the table in Aizuwakamatsu, Japan.
Best Sunrise: Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Best Sunset: Udaipur Lake, India
Most Popular Blog Post: 50 Unique Things to do in Weymouth and Portland (all about my hometown)
Most Popular Instagram Post: This one:
View this post on Instagram
Favourite Lake: Lake Garda, Italy
Best Animal Encounter: Monkey Beach in Koh Phi Phi
Favourite Moment: Flying in a helicopter over the Rockies in Canada
Favourite Island: St Lucia
Most Popular Video: Discovering India on the Maharajas’ Express
Most Unique Accommodation: It has to be the Maharaja’s Express: a stunning cabin on board a luxury train in India! Or my top bunk on the overnight train in Thailand.
My Favourite Blog Post: Climbing Mount Fuji (Despite Typhoons, Lightning, and Dire Unfitness)
2018 Travel Look Back
Moving Back to the UK (again!)
In January last year, I moved back to the UK – permanently this time. You might remember that I tried the same last year and managed to stick around for 4 months. This year I am still living in Southsea after nearly twelve months and, more importantly, still loving it!
Vicky Flip Flop is an awesome housemate/landlady, the city is really cool, I’m by the sea, I’m near all the airports, and I can travel all the time whilst still getting the home life I needed. I’ve been taking driving lessons, dating, attempting
regular infrequent exercise, and trying to explore more of the UK. It’s been brilliant so far, and I’m excited to be going into 2019 knowing exactly where I’ll be living and what the rest of the year will look like, for a change!
All The Trips!
At the start of 2018, my goal was to be fussier with press trips – only taking on the ones that were a good fit for me and my blog. In doing that, I travelled less than I have in previous years, AND I travelled under my own steam (and money) a lot more.
After a pretty up-and-down relationship with blogging over 2017, it was nice to take on more projects I could get excited about, and to feel like I was enjoying travel and travel blogging again. Here’s every trip I took over the last twelve months, followed by a few of my ultimate 2018 travel highlights!
Martin County, Florida
India Blog Train
New Forest with Wanderlust Chloe
Surprise Trip to Dusseldorf
Singapore and Langkawi
Princess Cruise in Scandinavia and Russia
iTrekHere in Canada
Dorset Road Trip
Tokyo and Aizuwakamatsu, Japan
Edinburgh Fringe Festival
SE Asia Overland
What was your favourite of all the trips I took? Leave me a comment at the end of the post to let me know!
Harry Potter World in Florida
My day at Universal Studios was probably the best thing that has ever happened to me as a result of my blogging career. I’ve been a Harry Potter fan since I was about twelve, and am obsessed with the books (which I still read at least once a year). And when I say obsessed, I mean OBSESSED. It’s hard to describe how much I love those books. So visiting Harry Potter World at Universal Orlando was basically a dream come true.
India Blog Train
One of the best trips of the year was my time on board the Maharajas’ Express in India. We had an awesome group of people, including my roomie (and one of my fave travel partners in crime) xAmeliax, and we had the most amazing itinerary exploring some of the best bits in India. From a champagne breakfast at the Taj Mahal, to a tiger safari in Ranthambore, to aarti on the Ganges in Varanasi… it was all just incredible. Plus we explored it all from the comfort of one of the most luxurious trains in the world. I still can’t really believe I got to do it!
Watching the Ballet in St Petersburg
The best part about my Baltic cruise with Princess Cruises this year (aside from the awesome people on the trip, and the amazing cruise ship itself) was exploring St Petersburg and visiting Russia. And the best part of that was watching Swan Lake at the Alexandrinsky Theatre. How’s that for a bucket list item?!
Flying Over the Rockies
How often does a travel moment bring you to tears? In Canada on our iTrekHere trip with Trek America, I paid extra for a helicopter flight over the Rockies – which turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life! It was my first time in a helicopter, and I’d been excited about it for days – so actually doing it was a bit overwhelming. That whole trip was full of incredible moments and glorious views, as well as some absolutely amazing people. I would do it again in a heartbeat!
Conquering Mount Fuji
Climbing Mount Fuji is the absolute hardest thing I did all year! It was also the most incredible, beautiful, rewarding experience of 2018. I cannot believe I did it!
My trip to Japan this year was a highlight in itself – I had the most amazing, ridiculous, confusing time there. Especially in Tokyo. But one of my best days was spent at Tokyo DisneySea – Japan’s unique, marine themed Disney park. I wore glittery Minnie ears, ate a ton of popcorn, had a bucket of water thrown over me by a pirate, and went on ALL the rides. It was SO MUCH FUN.
Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Sometimes my job gets me the coolest opportunities. Like watching the Edinburgh Military Tattoo from the press area this summer. It was one of those pinch-me moments; so close to the action I could make eye contact with the performers and feel the drum beats rocketing around my chest. And, even better, we watched the spectacular finale from the roof of the bleachers – best views in the house!
Sunrise at Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat has been on my travel wish list for years, so when I was planning my epic overland adventure in SE Asia I knew I had to include a stop in Siem Reap. When I stood in front of the lake watching the sky turn from purple to pink to gold behind the iconic structure, I couldn’t help feeling a bit overwhelmed – definitely one of the biggest highlights of my year!
My Solo Overland Adventure
At the end of 2018, I took on my biggest trip of the year: a 4,500km overland journey across SE Asia from Singapore to Hanoi. I’ve already written about it a lot recently, since it was only last month, so I won’t bore you by going on about it yet again! But if you didn’t follow the trip you can check out my updates posts to see what I got up to.
Conclusion – and What’s Next
So that’s a wrap on 2018. It’s been busy, it’s been awesome, and there have definitely been way more ups than downs. My favourite thing about looking back at the year is that you tend to focus on the good stuff over the bad – and I think it’s important to remember all the good times you’ve had over a year.
What I’ve noticed about this year is that most of my favourite trips, besides the mega solo adventure, are ones I did with other people. It was the awesome blogger groups on the India Blog Train, iTrekHere, and Princess Cruise campaigns that really made those trips for me. I also loved getting to take my big sister Cheryl away on a weekend break to Düsseldorf, hanging out with my little brother Aidan in Thailand, and taking my youngest brother Jord to Lake Garda. It’s been great sharing my biggest love – travel – with a few of the people I care most about in the world.
So despite being a solo travel blogger, I do plan to share my travels more often next year – when I can. I also have some big plans to focus more on my favourite part of the UK; Dorset – especially after teaming up with the local Arts Development Company on a really exciting (and currently top-secret) project. Can’t wait!
I don’t have any concrete travel plans for next year yet, but my big wish-list countries are Ecuador, Australia, New Zealand, and Jordan. I’m also dying to return to South America, especially Colombia, so if I can find a way to make that happen I will. The rest of it is TBC!
What was your personal travel highlight of 2018? And where are you heading first in 2019? I want to know – so scroll down and leave me a comment!