Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, I make travel plans for the year ahead. So, where in the world will our adventures take us in 2017? As we know from experience, things don’t always work out as we expect them to, but here’s a look at our big fat 2017 travel plans to date.
A brand new year dawns on the horizon, what are you going to do with it? Perhaps you want to build a house, learn how to ski, have a baby, rescue a puppy or take up salsa dancing? Or maybe there’s a voice inside you whispering: “I want to travel the world!” Well, you’re not alone. Four years ago that voice had grown too loud for me to ignore and I was preparing to leave the UK for a two-year travel adventure that has now become a full-time lifestyle. If wanderlust is knocking at your door, here are my top tips on how to make your world travel dreams a reality in 2017.
The sun is shining, the sky is blue and our cupboards are full of festive goodies. When we started 2016 we certainly didn’t expect to end the year back in Asia but here we are, spending Christmas in Chiang Mai after a year of intense highs and lows and many amazing travel experiences. Here’s our 2016 travel roundup and a look at the highlights from what turned out to be a rocky, yet transformative year.
Last week I celebrated my 33rd birthday here in Thailand. It was such a peaceful day filled with an almond-croissant breakfast at a cute café, an oil massage, swim in our pool and dinner at my favourite Italian restaurant down the road. I could never have predicted that at this point in my life I’d be living in Asia with my favourite person, working online and enjoying the freedom to travel whenever I liked. Somehow, through years of trial and error, I’ve ended up in an extremely happy place. With that in mind, here are 33 things that I’m thankful for.
The Christmas before we left the UK in 2012, Andrew and I announced that we didn’t want gifts and we weren’t going to buy any. Instead, we donated money to Shelter and took some groceries to the local food bank. At the time, we were in the midst of sorting through our tiny one-bedroom London flat, trying to narrow down our possessions so that they’d fit into two backpacks for our new life of travel. That was the start of our journey towards minimalism, and we haven’t looked back since.
“My name is Amy, I’m from the UK and I just arrived in New Zealand yesterday to start my round-the-world trip,” I told the boat-load of strangers as we took it in turns to introduce ourselves. “Ah, you’re fresh then!” replied the Rock Boat guide as we sailed the paper-flat waters of the Bay of Islands. I nodded, assuming he meant that I was a fresh new traveller, because I certainly didn’t look fresh after stepping off a 24-hour flight just the day before. I looked around at the international collection of tourists gathered on the boat deck; all were at different points in their travel adventures while mine was just beginning, and in ‘fresh traveller’ style I was cramming every second with action.
Back in 2013, travel-starved and weary from the routine of daily life in London, Andrew and I chose to leave the UK to travel the world indefinitely. The decision wasn’t driven solely by a desire to simply see the world, I was also searching for something more: the freedom to create a better way of life. So, has travel enabled us to create our dream lifestyle?
This year a lot has changed for us. After our attempt to live and teach in Madrid collapsed, Spain felt like an epic fail. Everything was a confusing, unhappy blur for me and I had to confront a lot of negative feelings; dissatisfaction with our financial situation, dread about teaching again and uncertainty for the future. We were forced to re-examine what we want from life and figure out how to live happily - this eventually led us to the realisation that we want to become digital nomads.
On our first evening in Croatia I stopped to watch the sun from our balcony, and as it sunk towards the black mountains on the horizon, I tried to remember the last time I’d paused to watch this everyday ritual. For me, sunsets and sunrises are entwined with travel. In my ‘ordinary’ life back in the UK I rarely took notice of the sun’s daily rounds, it was travel that made me stop and look properly at the world, inspired me to hike up hills or seek out special spots to witness this simple beauty.
As the children piled onto their bus we heaved a huge sigh of relief. Our last English camp was over, work was finished and we were free again. Minutes later we were speeding away from the tiny Spanish village into the countryside, towards a fresh adventure in a brand new country. As I watched the sun beat steadily down on the passing fields of red poppies, I hoped that the next chapter of our travels would be less turbulent than this one.