at the start of this year, i made a decision: this year would be the travel year, next year would be the savings year. inspired by becca's incredible 12 holidays in 12 months last year, i decided i wanted to follow suit, but with a localised twist: six holidays abroad, and six trips around the uk, but only to new-to-me locations. the idea is one trip a month over the course of the year, and hopefully not going broke in the mean time. and just like the best laid plans, it started with good intentions.
so far i've been to canterbury, rome and venice, nottingham, the isle of wight, north wales, and birmingham, ticking off a whole host of uk destinations. we're half way through the year now, and i'm headed off on my seventh trip for the year; the girls and i are heading off to naples and sorrento on the amalfi coast later this month, for the best part of a week, and i couldn't be more excited if i wanted to be. since coming back from venice, i can't stop thinking about italian food and the beautiful scenery, so this coastal break is going to be the highlight of my summer for sure.
mum arrives from australia in late august, then we are off straight away to ireland for a week exploring both sides of the border, then iceland for my birthday in september, then i have a few options up in the air that still need booking. katy, becca and i are talking about a road trip to devon one weekend. i've been to cornwall but not devon, and i need to try an upside-down cream tea to see what the health benefits are.
then there's sweden. my new affection for the all things scandi sees me wanderlusting over gothenberg and lulea, while the brit in me is quite sure that the winter months should be spent in the sun, not in a cold city in europe (update: we've now booked gothenberg for mid-november!). rebekah and i are thinking the canaries or maybe croatia for christmas - somewhere warm after the last few years of miserable will-it-or-won't-it-snow weather around these parts. i still have my fingers crossed for a lottery win fall or a holiday prize draw to cover this, as my bank account is looking preeeeetty sad right about now.
i don't make a lot of money, right, but i am careful with how i spend it. i save a lot - for a rainy day, and only really buy the essentials. i've mostly given up buying unnecessary crap so that i can focus on spending my money on the things that make me totally happy: travel and adventure. i'm not sorry about that, and i'm so a pretty good job of convincing myself that this is what i go to work for, that you only live once, and you've got to live in the now. i do a pretty good job of that.
part of me though - the sensible part, wants more. wants to see more, wants to own more, wants to offer more. and it's hard to do that in your own back yard; i've got to think bigger and more sensibly last year. i can't give up travelling all together, so how can i see and do more, in less time and on a restricted budget? easy: group travel.
a few friends have been on group-package adventures this year, and have totally changed my perception of them. what i used to think were just party busses full of young adults on their gap year, i have now come to realise are a fantastic way to see a lot of really big countries for a lot less money than normal. i've read and heard amazing stories from friends on trek america adventures crossing border after border in the u.s, from friends bussing from the tip-to-toe of new zealand with newly-made but life-long friends, and from friends island-hopping their way around japan with fellow solo travellers from all over the world.
those are some pretty big and far away places, but their adventures have all been made more affordable by sharing the cost, and considering the option to travel "lighter". less baggage and less luxuries can also mean less financial burden, and that's something that sits pretty well with me. so with canada and japan and a trip home on the cards over the next few years, it makes sense to consider alternate travel options, doesn't it?
light bulb moment: next year is going to be all about the group-package holiday.
have you taken any group trips? i'd love to hear your thoughts!
*post written in collaboration with brand; all thoughts are my own*