Things have been more than a little quiet around here.
I took an extended break from blogging, and the internet as a whole, to focus on healing.
I’ve been battling a hell of a lot of health problems over the past 12 months, some of which I’ve mentioned, some I haven’t. Beyond that, though, I’d say that I haven’t really felt like me for many years. In fact, for the past four years or so, I’ve felt as though I’ve battled through breakdown after breakdown.
I’d disappear for a couple of months due to stress or anxiety or burnout, then pop up back online to announce I was happy again.
Except I wasn’t.
Not only was my mental health failing me, but my physical health was rapidly starting to deteriorate.
It’s been a dark and difficult 12 months, but I didn’t want to write about it in any real depth until I felt like I was starting to emerge at the other side. And I’m pleased to announce that I’m doing so much better.
I’ve made some big changes this year that are starting to positively impact my health and I feel like I’m in the best position I’ve been in in years. A side effect of this is finally feeling ready to travel again.
Yes, my feet are now so itchy that I’ve been shedding huge flakes of skin around my apartment for weeks.
Wow, is that the grossest sentence I’ve ever written? Probably not — you guys know what I’m like.
But needless to say, I’m yearning to step foot on a plane and that feeling has led to me booking a hell of a lot of travel.
And I really do mean a lot.
Here’s what I’ve got coming up over the next, um, nine months.
July: Walking All Over the U.K.
I’ve got a big walking adventure planned for September, so I’m going to be spending much of my summer in training. What that means is that I’ve got an alarming amount of hiking on my agenda.
My first challenge is walking the South Downs Way: a 100-mile trail that leads from Winchester to Eastbourne. Dave and I will be taking eight days to walk the track, with our distances ranging between 13 miles a day to 22. I plan on using this time to check that my current hiking gear is perfect.
I’ve got a second walk planned for the month, too — this time in Yorkshire. The Herriot Way is a 52 mile walk through some of the best scenery in the Yorkshire Dales, and I’m excited to explore a new part of the U.K. while I’m there.
The rest of July is going to be all about seeing the South West at its best. I’ll be road-tripping around Cornwall with Dave towards the end of the month, spending the rest of my time in Bristol, and then popping into London to catch the Who in concert.
August: Another European Summer
August looks like a big blank nothing at the moment, so I’m planning on heading out across continental Europe for a couple of adventures.
I might be whisking my mum off to the Alsace region of France — something I’d planned to do with her last year but had to cancel due to my ailing health. If we decide to give the trip a second shot, we’ll be aiming to visit Strasbourg, Colmar, Riquewihr, and more on our wine-fuelled adventure, and most likely spending most of our time snapping photos of the beautiful buildings.
I also want to head out on a solo adventure to check out somewhere in Europe I’ve yet to visit. At this point, I’m leaning towards Belarus, as it won’t be as hot as southern Europe and will have fewer tourists. Having said that, Dave and I have also thrown around the idea of a road trip around Malta, and I still need to get to Albania, Macedonia, and Kosovo. I really want to go to Albania!
Aside from those trips, I’ll most likely spend most of my month in Bristol. August is one of the best months to be in the U.K. and the worst to be in the rest of Europe, so I’ll be making the most of the (hopefully) good weather.
September: Oh Shit, I’m Walking Across Spain
I’m just as surprised as you are.
If you’ve read this site for any amount of time, you’ll know that I tend to struggle with multi-day hikes. My dramatic three-day trek on the Queen Charlotte Track in New Zealand left me unable to walk for days afterwards, and my seven-day trudge across the U.K. via Hadrian’s Wall saw me quitting on day four.
So logically, my next step is to spend five weeks walking across Spain.
I know. I’m the worst.
But I love challenging myself and I love making illogical decisions, and this felt like the perfect mix of the two! In reality, my Camino-loving boyfriend decided he wanted to walk the Camino del Norte this September and invited me along to try it out. This will be his third camino, after walking the Camino Frances and Camino Portuguese routes, and after seeing how hard he’s fallen for these pilgrimages, I want to try one on for size.
The Norte is one of the lesser-walked trails, with just 6% of Camino walkers opting to follow the northern coast of Spain, but given my recent commitment to avoiding overtourism, that feels like a good place to start. After three weeks on the Norte, I’ll be dipping inland to follow the Camino Primitivo for the final two weeks. The Primitivo is said to be the most beautiful Camino route you can walk.
We’ll likely fly into San Sebastian in early September for a few days of pintxos-eating, then spend the next five weeks walking from the French border to the Atlantic Ocean.
Let’s see how far I make it.
October: Yes, I’ll Still be Walking Across Spain
By the time October rolls around, hopefully my ankle won’t be doing the same.
Hopefully, I’ll still be walking.
I’ll be ending my Camino adventure at Finisterre, on the west coast of Spain, and then flying back Bristol.
And so I imagine the rest of October is going to be all about resting.
Hopefully not about trying to attach my toenails to the bloody stumps at the end of my legs.
November: My First Trip to Brazil!
After three weeks of recovery, I’ll be jetting off again — this time to South America.
I’ve been dreaming of Brazil for years now, and I’m fully planning on finally getting there, thanks to cheap flights from Norwegian (just $200 from London to Rio!)
This will likely just be a 10-day trip, as I have some hardcore travel coming up in December, but I’m still so excited to finally step foot in South America. My current plan is to spend a week in Rio de Janeiro then three days marvelling over Iguazu Falls.
December: I’m Finally Going to India
How many times have I planned and cancelled trips to India?
It’s like, five now. Maybe six or seven.
Well, India has been number one on my travel wish list for years, and it’s about time I made visiting a reality.
I’ll hold my hands up and confess that this visit is going to be more of a quick dip than an extended sojourn — and yes, only in India can you describe a three week trip as a short introduction to the country!
My plan involves hitting up the Golden Triangle — Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur — and then travelling into Rajasthan. I’ll be riding the rails around this part of India, travelling to Pushkar, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, and Bikaner.
This is one of the most-visited areas of India, so it’s hardly going to be a groundbreaking adventure, but dipping my toes into India travel, rather than leaping face-first into the Ganges, felt like the most sensible option.
When Christmas rolls around, I’ll be flying to Melbourne for yet another holiday season with Dave’s family. We’ll be spending Christmas in the city — most likely subsisting on epic brunches — and then jetting over to New Zealand for the start of 2020.
January: New Zealand and Samoa
I’m going to be spending the majority of January in New Zealand, and I have plenty of adventures planned for my time in the Land of the Long White Cloud.
Once Dave’s family have all flown in from their various homes around the world, we’ll be journeying up to the northern part of the South Island for a few days of relaxation in a beautiful part of the world. We’ll be walking the The Paparoa Track afterwards, which is New Zealand’s newest Great Walk — there hasn’t been a new addition to the list in 25 years! It’s on the west coast of the South Island and looks stunning.
Dave and I have been toyed with the idea of hiring a campervan afterwards for a week of living our best #vanlives. I’ve seen a huge amount of New Zealand over the years but the one area I’m missing is the southern parts of the North Island. We could head there with a few days in Wellington — my favourite New Zealand city — or kick back and revisit some of our favourite places on the South Island. We’ll see!
My one constant from my regular trips to Oceania?
Taking a trip to a South Pacific island!
This year, I’m going to be heading to Samoa.
Samoa comprises two main islands: Savai’i and Upolu, and I’ll be hitting up both of them during my time in the country. On the agenda is a hell of a lot of jungle-exploring, waterfall-spotting, trench-swimming, and beach-lounging. I’ll most likely hire a car and spend just a week in Samoa, as it’s fairly easy to see a significant chunk of this small country over that time.
February: Melbourne, Perth, and Singapore
When our time in New Zealand draws to a close, I’ll be returning to Melbourne so Dave and I can spend a week catching up with friends. Christmas is always a chaotic time to be in town, so by giving ourselves this additional week, we’ll be able to have a more relaxed visit in my favourite Australian city.
Every time I visit Australia, I attempt to check out a new part of the country.
During my first trip Down Under, I explored the east coast from Brisbane to Melbourne, hit up the Great Ocean Road, then spent a week road-tripping in Tasmania. For my most recent visit, I flew to Cairns and spent much of my time out on the Great Barrier Reef. This year, I’m going to be heading to Western Australia for the first time.
I’m super-excited to spend some time basing myself in beautiful, expensive Perth. While I’m in town, I’ll obviously be taking a trip out to Rottnest Island to squeal over the quokkas, and we’ll likely spend some time sipping wine in the Margaret River region, too. Dave and I also have plans to hire a rental car and head out on a short road trip along the coast to find the best beaches in Australia.
It’s probably no surprise that when our time in Oceania is up, we’re going to be heading back to Southeast Asia. I think I’ve flown back to this part of the world every year for almost eight years straight now!
Up first: Singapore! I haven’t spent time here since 2011 and I’m desperate to return. I am obsessed with all things plant at this point in my life — my apartment is like walking into the Rainforest Cafe — so I fully plan on dragging Dave around the Botanic Gardens and Gardens by the Bay while I excitedly announce the Latin names of every plant I see.
March: Back to Laos
Laos is one of my least explored countries in Southeast Asia — I only spent a week there back in 2012 and while I didn’t have the best experience, I still left itching to see more of the country. I’ve never even been there with Dave before! We’ve planned and cancelled multiple trips to Laos over the years together, so now it’s time to make good on our promises and finally head back.
We’ll likely spend two weeks exploring the northern parts of the country, potentially on a scooter, but I’ve spent enough time in Southeast Asia to know that it’s just as likely we’ll head to the south instead.
Or, um, the Thai beaches.
As always, I’ll be on the hunt for flights back to the U.K. that’ll take me via a layover in a tiny country I’ve yet to visit — Kuwait and Bahrain are top contenders after I enjoyed my recent layover in Qatar so much.
And Then, Back to Bristol!
If you’d spoken to me a month ago, I would have told you I had zero travel plans on the horizon, but after a sudden spurt of motivation and wanderlust, I’ve suddenly got my next nine months planned out!
As always, these plans are subject to change, but I can’t see them changing too much, as I’ve booked flights to many of the destinations already.
Maybe I’ll choose to head to Ireland in August instead of travelling east. Maybe I’ll decide to visit Tuvalu instead of Samoa. Maybe Vietnam will call my name louder than Laos. Maybe I’ll cancel my trip to India because that seems to be the defining feature of my personality these days.
I promise I won’t cancel!!!
For the most part, I should be sticking pretty solidly to these plans.
I’m so excited to finally feel healthy enough to head back out and start seeing more of the world!
What do you make of my upcoming trip? Let me know if you have any kickass recommendations for anywhere I’m going to be checking out!
[Photo of South Downs Way via: Dmitry Naumov/Shutterstock; of Albania via: upslim/Shutterstock; the Camino map via: Lora Sutyagina/Shutterstock; the Camino marker via: Martin Schuetz/Shutterstock; Iguazu Falls via: sharptoyou/Shutterstock; Taj Mahal via: SasinTipchai/Shutterstock; Samoa via: Martin Valigursky/Shutterstock; Perth via: Rudy Balasko/Shutterstock; Laos via: Guitar Photographer/Shutterstock]