2011: My Travels in Photos

big buddha hong kong

When I began to seriously plan my travel adventures at the beginning of the year, I knew that 2011 was going to be amazing but never in a million years did I think it’d be as brilliant as it was.

Since departing England in July, I travelled to 15 countries, 33 cities and took over 10,000 photos!

Here are some of my favourites from my travels in 2011:

Although I didn’t leave for my big trip until July, when I finished my last ever exams in May I knew that I wouldn’t be able to spend the next few months sitting around doing nothing in England. I therefore decided to spend a week in Amsterdam and had lots of fun exploring the Netherlands and almost falling into the canals:

Amsterdam canals sepia

Surprisingly, two months quickly flew by and before I knew it I had graduated, was waving my friends and family goodbye and heading off to the much sunnier climate of Croatia:

brac beach

I spent three weeks in Croatia and as August rolled around I moved onto beautiful Slovenia, where I spent lots of time in Ljubljana.

Ljubljana at sunset

As well as the beautiful and chilled out Lake Bled:

Views of Lake Bled's Island and Castle

Hungary was the next country on my list and was mostly disappointing with my first stop being the strange and bizarre Lake Balaton and finishing up in the much prettier Budapest. I was seriously impressed with how little it cost to travel in Hungary!

Budapest train station at sunset

Glad to have left Hungary behind me, the end of August was spent getting lost in Kiev and then finding my way and falling in love with the beautiful golden domed churches there:

Churches of kiev

After a brief 24 hours in Moscow, I flew over to Asia and spent a month exploring the relatively unknown beauty of Taiwan:

taroko gorge

Next, I headed over for an… Interesting experience in China. Despite mostly hating my time there, I am still glad I went for the few amazing experiences I did have – such as climbing the Great Wall of China.

great wall of china

I finished up my time there by spending a few days in the pretty city of Xi’an.

Xian at Night

Needing to de-stress after China I spent a few weeks relaxing in South Korea, followed by an action packed few days in Hong Kong where I drank cider and saw a giant Buddha:

Tian Tan Buddha in Hong Kong

On a complete spur of the moment I changed all of my travel plans and booked a flight to the Philippines where I spent a week in complete paradise, on the island of Boracay:

White Beach, Boracay

I followed up my time in Boracay by spending the next few weeks island hopping around the Philippines. A highlight of this was the river cruise I took through the Philippine jungle in Bohol.

bohol river cruise

Hoping to find even more amazing beaches in the Philippines, I flew to Coron. Although I didn’t find what I came there for, I still got to witness plenty of gorgeous landscapes during my short time there.

coron scenery

With my adventures in the Philippines drawing to a close, I headed to Thailand where I plan on basing myself for the next few months.

pai countryside

…And that just about sums up my year!

Despite being told that my plans would soon change after leaving, I never fully believed it would happen until I found myself in Korea and the Philippines – two places that I’d never even considered visiting before. I know I definitely didn’t plan on settling down in Thailand for months and months either!

I’m so happy and content with the way that 2011 turned out. I wouldn’t change a thing and this year was without a doubt one of the best years of my life.

Here’s to an even more amazing 2012, and I can’t wait to see where the next year will take me!


  1. Chris
    December 26, 2011

    Epic shots Lauren – I think you should do a photo update for your travel chaos too :)

    …what you editing with btw?

    • December 27, 2011

      With photos of my sunburn, insect bites, terrible tan lines and violation scars?!

      I use Photoshop CS5 to edit my photos.

  2. Euan
    December 26, 2011

    Some awesome photos there Lauren! I visited Lake Bled a couple of years ago and loved it…picture perfect! We’re just about to start touring the Thai Islands and if you’re photos are anything to go by, we’re in for a treat…

    • December 27, 2011

      Thanks, Euan.

      I haven’t been to the Thai Islands yet – those photos were from the Philippines!

  3. Mike
    December 26, 2011

    Great photo’s, can’t wait to see the next installment!

    • December 27, 2011


  4. cashflowmantra
    December 26, 2011

    Fabulous pictures, many of which look like postcards.

    • December 27, 2011

      Wow, thanks so much! :)

  5. Andrea
    December 26, 2011

    Fantastic photos! Particularly love the ones of Amsterdam and Bol, one of my favourite Croatian towns.

    • December 27, 2011

      I adored Bol, I had such a great week there.

  6. Fidel @IHarTravel
    December 26, 2011

    I was introduced to your blog about a month before you began your adventure. I’m glad I discovered when I did because I’ve gotten to see your tremendous growth not only as a writer and photographer, but as a human.
    You know how I praise your photography already, so it goes without saying that I love this post. The first photograph really sets the tone.
    I’m definitely going to do what I can to meet up with you in Thailand.

    • December 27, 2011

      Awwww, Fidel, that’s so sweet!

      I hope we’ll be able to meet up in Thailand soon :)

  7. Amanda
    December 27, 2011

    Lovely photos, Lauren! It looks like you had an awesome latter half of 2011!

    The Boracay and Coron photos are my favorites, I think. So pretty!

    • December 27, 2011

      Thanks so much, Amanda! :)

  8. Marky
    December 27, 2011

    wow awesome images and I am glad you included the Philippines in your trips this year.

    • December 28, 2011

      Thanks, Marky! I really enjoyed my time in the Philippines.

  9. Audrey
    December 27, 2011

    You’ve covered a lot of ground! Enjoy your time in Thailand!!!

    • December 28, 2011

      I know, I can’t believe how much I did in just 5 months!

  10. Poi
    December 27, 2011

    That photo of Coron is gorgeous, I need to be in that water!

    • December 28, 2011

      Ah, the water was so, so warm…

  11. Mervin
    December 27, 2011


    i cant believe you changed your mind and had a stop in the philippines. we were chatting while your were in Taiwan and said that you didnt have plans going to the islands. Glad you did. You trusted your instincts. Too bad we did find time to meet and chit chat.

    • December 28, 2011

      Haha, I remember that! Yeah, I just happened to see that it was really cheap to fly to from Hong Kong and changed my plans entirely!

  12. Ian [EagerExistence]
    December 27, 2011

    So what is the plan for 2012?

    • December 28, 2011

      I’ll be in Thailand until April, with a trip to India in March. Other than that, absolutely no idea!

  13. Shirlene from Idelish
    December 27, 2011

    What a great set of photos from your adventures this year! We wish we could travel to as many places as you have! Looking forward to more of your adventures next year! Happy new year!

    • December 28, 2011

      Aww, thanks Shirlene! Happy new year to you too! :)

  14. Stephanie - The Travel Chica
    December 27, 2011

    Love the Croatia beach photo!

    • December 28, 2011

      Thanks Stephanie!

  15. December 27, 2011

    Some stunning photos in this post! You’re the second blogger I’ve come across who didn’t like Budapest, and frankly (though this is not meant to be offensive, so please don’t take it this way), I can’t understand how it’s possible with such a beautiful city

    • December 28, 2011

      Thanks, Denise.

      It was beautiful, but I found myself walking for hours and hours every day which wasn’t so enjoyable! I spent 5 days there and by the end of my time there I was just really bored.

      I heard so many great things about Budapest before travelling there so I was really surprised when I didn’t like it.

  16. Micamyx|Senyorita
    December 27, 2011

    Lovely photos! I am glad that you pushed through with the trip here in the Philippines although it isn’t included on your list at first :D I’m going to Thailand and Cambodia this February for the first time and I’m going back to England by June. More travels for us in 2012! :D

    • December 28, 2011

      Awesome! If you make it to Chiang Mai let me know, I’ll be there until February.

  17. Someday I'll Be There - Mina
    December 27, 2011

    Great Shots!! seems like you had an amazing year! wishing you the best in 2012 :) may it become an even better year :)
    Merry Christmas and happy holidays

    • December 28, 2011

      Thanks, Mina! I have a feeling that 2012 is going to be even better ;)

  18. Cam
    December 28, 2011

    Looks like you’ve had a fun filled year of adventures! Some great photos, looking forward to seeing what you discover in 2012! ;-)

    • December 28, 2011

      Thanks, Cam!

      2011 has been an amazing year for me, can’t wait for 2012!

  19. Laura
    December 28, 2011

    What a year! Every one of these photos is beautiful. I especially love the beach shot in Croatia!

    • December 28, 2011

      Thanks so much Laura! Ah, I miss Croatia so much…

  20. Mary @ Green Global Travel
    December 28, 2011

    Beautiful photos. Wow, you’ve had a very busy year traveling to 15 countries. Thanks for sharing some of the inspiring moments. The Philippines look awesome.

    • December 28, 2011

      Thanks so much, Mary!

      The Philippines were incredible – I can’t wait to go back there!

  21. John
    December 27, 2011

    Wow that tilt shift photo in Croatia is awesome! How did you achieve that effect?

    • December 28, 2011

      Hey, John.

      I have a setting on my camera that does it automatically for me.

  22. Marsha
    December 28, 2011

    These are gorgeous! Looks like you’ve had an amazing 2011. Hope to see even more beautiful photography from you in 2012!

    • December 28, 2011

      Thanks so much, Marsha!

  23. Chris
    December 28, 2011

    Gorgeous, gorgeous shots. I’m jealous of your year of adventures.

    • January 3, 2012

      Thanks so much, Chris!

  24. The World Wanderer
    December 28, 2011

    Wow! What an incredible year! I haven’t been to too many of these places yet, but Croatia and Thailand are two of my favorite countries in the world. Here’s hoping 2012 is just as wonderful! :)

    • December 28, 2011

      They’re two of my favourites too :)

  25. cheryl
    December 28, 2011

    BEAUTIFUL photos. Seems you had a pretty awesome year. Look forward to your posts in 2012!

    • January 3, 2012

      Thanks so much, Cheryl! 2011 was by far the best year of my life.

  26. Maria Alexandra @latinAbroad
    December 28, 2011

    You had an amazing travel year and your photos are great! I’m jealous, can’t wait to travel some more

    • January 3, 2012

      Thanks, Maria! I hope 2012 has lots of amazing travel adventures for you :)

  27. Juno
    December 29, 2011

    It was a pleasure to meeting you this year. :) Hopefully another chance in another year! :)
    Happy New Year my friend!

    • January 3, 2012

      I had so much fun hanging out in Seoul with you, Juno! Hopefully we’ll meet up again in 2012 :D

  28. Claire @ Two4Travel
    December 30, 2011

    Love your photos of Amsterdam, Great Wall of China, and the Philippines. Looks like you had a great year and I wish you the best of travels for 2012!!

    • January 3, 2012

      Thanks so much, Claire! I had such an amazing year :)

  29. Kieu ~ GQ trippin
    December 30, 2011

    I’ll say you’ve had a ridiculousness of a year! China tea incident included. ;) Croatia, Slovenia and Lake Bled are all on my list for 2013! Great list and wishing you a happy NY and more great adventures in 2012.

    • January 3, 2012

      Hahahaha, it’s true! It’s definitely been a lot more eventful than I expected.

      Croatia and Slovenia are my two favourite European countries, you’ll love it there!

  30. Rahul
    December 30, 2011

    Congratulations for making to so many places…. I loved these photographs….these are apt for making a calender of 2012…

    • January 3, 2012

      Thanks so much, Rahul :)

  31. Ordinary Traveler
    December 31, 2011

    Awesome photos! Where is that swimming hole? Is that in Taiwan?

    • January 3, 2012

      Yep, it was in Taroko gorge national park.

  32. Jade - OurOyster.com
    January 2, 2012

    Good luck on your travels in 2012!

    • January 3, 2012

      Thanks so much, Jade, you too!

  33. Scott - Quirky Travel Guy
    January 3, 2012

    Sweet pics, looks like you had a great year! The river cruise sounds like a cool experience.

    • January 15, 2012

      The river cruise was so badass!

  34. Shirlene from Idelish
    January 8, 2012

    What an amazing 2011 you’ve had! Looks like I missed some of the places you’ve called out here – time for some more bed time reading for me hehe… Last time we were in HK, we missed the Giant Buddha. Will squeeze that in next time we’re there!

    Here’s to a great 2012 for you!

    • January 15, 2012

      The giant Buddha was awesome – make sure you see it next time you’re in Hong Kong!

  35. Gregory
    February 14, 2012

    Congratulations, Lauren!

    This summer (northern hemisphere) I will say buh-bye to my business and home and begin my own life of being out there. I hope my first year will be only half as delightful as yours was!

    Thank you for your continued inspiration :-)

  36. Daniel Beech
    February 14, 2012

    Having read what I thought was the majority of your blog, I just came across this from your recent Tweet. Keep up the good work on the photography and travel blogging – I always look forward to reading new posts!

    My two pennies worth – The images of Ljubljana and Coron are simply stunning.

  37. Gayla LaBry
    October 19, 2012

    These are amazing photos. I’m so inspired to travel to areas beyond western Europe and to places I didn’t think I’d really be interested in seeing. Thank you!

  38. December 17, 2012

    I loved your travel adventures and reading your post. I felt like I was right there with you. You are a fantastic writer and photographer. The pictures are so beautiful and your narratives so defining. I will look forward to reading more of your post and keeping up with your future travels. I wish I could do it. I have been to some of the places you mention but as I see, I feel left out on the ones I didn’t get to visit. Keep it coming. And be safe. Thank you for sharing. J. Lett – I’m The Real O.G. – Topeka, Kansas