Well 2018 has been a pretty exciting year for the Ladies What Travel team. Not only have we all been on some wonderful adventures, we made the Trips 100 top 10 luxury travel blogs for 2018 and have regularly broken into the top 100 of Rise1K’s top 1,000 travel blogs. To say we’re chuffed would be an understatement!
We’re really proud of our achievements on the blog this year, but more than anything we love the community feel that’s growing around Ladies What Travel. We love hearing from you guys about what you’ve enjoyed reading on the blog and what you’d like to see more of, so keep those comments coming! If you ever have any travel-related questions give us a shout – either on here or one of our social media channels, be that Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (we’re also on Pinterest – quick plug), we’re happy to help!
We’re also beginning to plan out some of our future content for 2019, so please do let us know what you’ve found useful from us and what you’d really like to read about from January onwards. Do you want more technology reviews, packing guides, destination pieces, or perhaps you’d like to read more restaurant and afternoon tea reviews or travel lifestyle articles? Let us know and we’ll do what we can to accommodate.
But as this year comes to a close we each wanted to look back over the year and share with you our own personal travel highlights from 2018. We hope you enjoy the read and will continue following our adventures into 2019 and beyond…
I’ve squeezed more big trips into this year than ever before. Two weeks each in Turkey and Thailand, plus a week in both Spain and China. Although it’s been tough to juggle these travels around my work as a freelance journalist (and one actually started off as a work trip!) I’m so glad I did it, as both China and Turkey hadn’t been on my radar before.
Turkey was nothing like I expected. Rather than tacky resorts and pushy men I discovered a land overflowing with history and friendly, welcoming hosts. My experience of a road-trip along the Turquoise Coast opened my eyes to the region and I’m really eager to go back to see more of Turkey and all it has to offer. Top of the list, unsurprisingly, is Cappadocia.
My preconceptions were also wrong about China. I expected Shanghai to be dirty, smoggy and crowded, but my experience was totally different. The streets were oh so clean, we thankfully weren’t affected by poor air quality during my visit and I found a vibrant, but not overwhelming city brimming with things to do, see and eat. Oh and possibly my new favourite skyline!
What I’ve learnt is not to judge places I’ve not yet visited, and to open my eyes to destinations I may have overlooked in the past. As I also learnt with Warsaw back in 2016 and Madrid this summer, I seem to enjoy destinations more when they’re not at the top of my travel bucket list as I get to learn about them during my trip and don’t have a long list of sights I need to ‘tick off’ while I’m there.
I’m thankful for all the amazing travel opportunities I’ve had this year, including celebrating my 40th birthday with a trip to the tropical paradise of Koh Jum, but my personal favourite travel experience of 2018 has to be spending the afternoon with the gorgeous Siberian huskies of TrueLove @ Neverland. Bringing together my passion for both cake and animals, I was in absolutely heaven, as you can tell by the inane grin I’m wearing in all of the photos!
This year, my focus was mainly on continuing the explore the UK – a busy time trying to get to grips with my new day job and saving for a house meant Patrick and I decided to stay a little closer to home. 2018 was a year of day trips, weekenders and doing lots of little things like bowling nights (I love it, but am TERRIBLE), escape rooms, and losing more than my share of of board games.
I spent a lot of time in Bristol – it’s become one of my favourite UK cities, not least because of its amazing independent shops and restaurants. I spent less time than I would have liked in Bath, though, which is something I plan to remedy next year – the superb American Museum has just revamped their gardens, which I’m looking forward to seeing, and there’s lots of smaller Bath museums such as the Fashion Museum and the Museum of East Asian Art that I’ve been meaning to visit for years but haven’t quite got around to! I also discovered Rhossili Bay Beach outside Swansea –its absolutely stunning and if you’ve not been, you really need to head over there ASAP.
We did go abroad on a couple of occasions – in May Patrick and I joined his family on a trip to Kenya. After some time in the coastal village of Shimoni, we enjoyed a couple of nights on safari in the Masai Mara – we were there off-season but the weather was relatively dry and seeing all of the wildlife in its natural habitat was, with no exaggeration, awesome.
We also went back to Copenhagen, a city I love, to review the beautiful Absalon hotel. Visiting in October gave us a chance to see the city in full autumnal swing with Halloween squashes and pumpkins decorating almost every corner.We rounded off our visit by taking a train across the famous Øresund Bridge to Malmo and Lund in Sweden – the perfect day trip!
This year has been a quiet one in regards travel for Joe and I but we’ve made up for it by buying our first house – eek! It’s been a really exciting few months; trying to decide where to buy and then beginning the actual process. As a result, all of our travel plans were front-loaded into the first half of the year.
Exploring Porto was definitely one of my 2018 highlights, it was a surprisingly relaxed city break and really showed me the best of what Portugal has to offer. The food, architecture, friendliness of the local people – in addition to its sheer variety of activities – was outstanding. I’d recommend it to anyone who’s thinking of visiting Portugal for the first time, even if you’re considering a beach break, if you visit at the right time, you can do both!
The rest of our travels have been based in the UK; Somerset, Sheffield and the Wye Valley. We found we had to when trying to save for a house. But what I’ve learnt, or explored further, is that holidays within the UK don’t have to be dull. Each of these locations served us well. We booked a cosy hotel or lodge in each of them and planned each day with local activities. For example, we did a craft beer tour in Sheffield and finally made it to Longleat. Each place acted as the perfect stress-reliever and for a very decent cost – without it, we may have gone stir crazy! For me, the Wye Valley was my favourite place. The area is absolutely beautiful, with many riversides and waterfalls to explore, not to mention mountainous hikes!
Next year is looking more exciting… not only do I celebrate turning 30 (aah!) but my brother is getting married abroad, so we’re looking at a travel-filled 2019 already!
I’m known at work as that person who is always on holiday (I mean, I’m just very good at using my annual leave effectively!), but 2018 has been fairly quiet for me travel wise. In March, some friends and I traveled to Warsaw to see Jessie Ware in concert when we discovered all of her UK dates were sold out – and I’m so glad they were! Our impromptu mini trip was so much fun and I discovered a love of Polish dumplings called pierogi!
My boyfriend and I have decided that instead of buying each other birthday presents, we’ll spend the money on a city break. This year we decided on Amsterdam and had the best time! I’d head a lot about the city from friends who had been before and I was keen to try and cram in as much as possible, and cram we did – we managed to walk 96k steps in four days! One of my favourite parts of the trip was the fancy birthday meal we treated ourselves to at a restaurant called Die Silveren Speigel, and it was by far the most amazing food I’ve ever had – a perfect birthday present!
In September two friends, my boyfriend and I spent 10 days travelling around Italy and visited Rome, Florence and Sorrento. I’ve been lucky enough to visit the latter two cities before, but it was so nice going back with friends and revisiting the places I loved so much the first time around. My favourite of the three by far was Sorrento, I love the laid back vibe and the proximity to the sea, (and we found a restaurant there that did the BEST stuffed courgette flowers). On our last day we took a bus to a small cove and sat by the sea for hours on the rocks – it was just blissful and so relaxing.
Next year I would love to try and tick off some more city breaks, Seville, Valencia and Corsica are three topping my ‘Short haul list’ at the moment (although this constantly changes as I see all the bloggers I follow on Instagram jetting off). I would love to go slightly further afield too if money allows; Bali has been top of my ‘long haul list’ for a very long time, and I’d love to visit Jordan and see Petra too. My mum and I always used to have a tradition of going to a different city’s Christmas market every year, but we haven’t managed to go recently. This is something I’d really like to start up again, I hear Vienna and Ljubljana are great destinations for handmade gifts and gluhwein.
If I could use one word to describe 2018, it would be ‘crazy’. My husband and I started out our travels for this year in Barcelona on a Srprs.me trip and although it was the second time we’d been in two months, we were pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed an itiniary-free city break. Plus, who says no to more churros. Not this gal!
Then it was off to Romania. Though it had never been on my must-visit list, the flights were cheap and I thought, ‘hey, what the hell!’. I’m so glad we went. It’s a stunning country with a fascinating history, and whether you get out into Transylvania or not, you need to visit Bucharest – it’s vibrant, quirky and beautiful.
Not long after that, my Dad came to Bristol to see the sights and we stopped in Salisbury on the way home from Gatwick (who knew I’d be going back a couple months later with Visit Wiltshire for a proper press trip? Not me!). Then I popped over to France for a few days and made Dad take me to some chateaux. Poor guy. I’ve got a post scheduled in for the new year about which chateaux in France I love the most, so keep an eye out for that!
Where does the crazy come into it? Things took an interesting turn for me after that and I was on the hunt for a new job, so there wasn’t a lot of travelling happening. However, I did get to another country that had never been on my radar before – Qatar. I was really lucky to go on a press trip for a whirlwind 48 hours in Doha and now I need more time there, because I’m no Travel Man and I need at least three days! Around the same time, I launched a podcast about food with a friend of mine and we’ve been travelling to a few closer destinations to interview various interesting people.
For Christmas, we went to Turkey on a tour of the popular historical sites. It was amazing! For 2019, I’ve already locked in a trip to Porto (thanks to Lou’s recommendation) and Lithuania (again, flights were cheap and I was curious). Dad’s also making the trip from Down Under, so I’ll be popping over to France to hang out with him. If I have my way, I’m also hoping to get to Poland, Hungary, Georgia, Egypt and Greece in 2019 for both long and short holidays, but I’m mostly happy to see where the wind takes me.