This year has been crazy, not only have I had an amazing year of travelling but I’ve also achieved so much more with my life, including turning everything upside down and starting university. It hasn’t all been plain sailing and my journey of actually getting to university was nothing short of a nightmare but that only makes the achievements mean even more. Travel this year has been as action packed as ever despite being permanently based in the UK, i.e. actually paying rent on a flat here. This year has been split into living in Glasgow and London but during that time I have racked up a total of six trips abroad and many more around the UK. I have made it to a whopping five new countries (The Netherlands, Iceland, Belgium, Greece and Turkey) this year and returned to two (Australia and America) of my favourites. If 2014 is what a year of travel looks like while permanently being in the UK, the next few years of being stuck here for university don’t seem so bad.
With my travel plans for 2014 running right up until Christmas Eve, I had to hold off on reliving my top moments of this year until now, but here we go…
My Top Travels of 2014
I have very quickly fallen in love with Scotland this year despite previously claiming the UK is ‘boring’ and always wanting to leave. Exploring Scotland showed me a side to the UK I had never seen before. It showed me the beautiful landscapes and beaches we have especially when the sun comes out or snow is lingering on the mountains. During a weeks road trip around the north of Scotland we found some of the most beautiful (and deserted) beaches, incredible views and mountains that reminded me of New Zealand. The landscape of Scotland both surprised and shocked me (in a good way) and I cannot stop raving about my new favourite part of the UK.
When I entered the I’m a backpacker competition with gapyear.com in December 2013, I never imagined I would actually win. But I did and around Christmas last year I found out I would return to Australia less than six months after leaving. During my time there I took part in some incredible activities including: segwaying, staying at the Palazzo Versace, snorkelling with turtles, climbing the q1, abseiling around Binna Burra and more. Not only that but this cheeky trip broke up what would have been a very long winter otherwise. I could never have imagined I would head back to one of my favourite countries so soon and had the most amazing time there.
This could easily have just been included in the point above but my experience was too good just to include in with the rest of an amazing experience. I had previously jumped out of a plane above Cairns at 15,000ft and loved every minute of it. This time there was no nerves as I sat in jump number one spot, flying high over the Gold Coast. The fun I had on this second jump made it so much more memorable but the view and beach landing also helped. Sky diving is one of the ultimate adrenaline activities and if you are debating it, I say DO IT.
When I was asked to be a part of the #parkinnexpress trip I honestly thought the email was a joke. I’d never been invited on a press trip with my blog before and couldn’t quite believe it. However it wasn’t a joke and the first city I visited was Amsterdam. I couldn’t have been any happier to finally visit this city, it had been on my wish list for months. I fell in love with the city with a few hours and spent the entire weekend wandering those famous canals along with a few other activities. A perfect destination for a little city break and a place I fell deeply in love with.
I’d been dreaming of going on a snowboarding weekend long before I even knew how to snowboard. You know like those ones on TV where they go with a large group of friends and have a fantastic time. I got to live out my dream this year when a group of us headed up to Cairngorm Mountain for the weekend. We stayed in a cute wooden chalet, spent two days snowboarding and stayed up long in to the night playing games. The weekend was topped off by actually getting snow while on top of the mountain.
We had barely any days left of living in Scotland this year when we drove out to Oban and took the ferry to Mull. Visiting one of those beautiful Scottish islands had been on my list for a while and since our trip to Skye was ruined by the weather, we were crossing our fingers this time. Luckily the weather was beautiful and in 24 hours we drove around the entire island. Visiting the most beautiful beaches, quaint towns and of course the gorgeous castle. It was a trip I had been dreaming of for so long and somewhere that totally beat any expectation. I could not recommend a trip here highly enough.
Greece again had been a bucket list destination for years, so when we spotted cheap flights in the January sales we couldn’t resist. Problem was they were to an island called Kos, some where we had no clue about. Luckily it turned out to be a beautiful island with plenty to offer and right on the border with Turkey. We decided to give Air BnB our first try for our week in Greece and long with the good weather throughly enjoyed our time. Kos might not be the top Greek island but it certainly had good beaches, cute towns and amazing food.
Finally Visiting Iceland and seeing the Northern Lights
I am totally writing the same thing about every country/city/experience being a bucket list tick but that is no more true than for visiting Iceland and seeing the Northern Lights. We spend a total of 24 hours in this amazing country on the way to New York and loved every second of it. I am always planned my next trip here. With just a short time we tried to cram as much as possible in including a trip to the Blue Lagoon and a Northern Lights boat tour. I hadn’t gotten my hopes up for seeing the lights, as we only had one night but we got very lucky. The glimpse was faint but it was still a glimpse none the less.
For someone who had a full time job for nine months of the year and was a full time student for the other three this list seems pretty awesome. Admittedly I paid for all of these trips before becoming a student, however I am hopefully next year will rank equally as high. Thank you for reading along with the journey this year and I hope your travels have been just as good as mine for 2014.