Having been stuck indoors for the past two months, our Japan trip cruelly ripped out from beneath us days before our departure date, to say I’m getting itchy feet is a massive understatement.
For a while, I couldn’t think about travel. For one thing, we were focused on our wedding and putting contingency plans in place. And for another, I just felt an overwhelming sadness that we couldn’t even think about re-booking Japan, and with no sign of any countries re-opening their borders in the near future, there was no point planning another adventure either. We can’t even travel within Scotland yet, let alone further afield.
But the itchy feet are only getting itchier, and I’ve been thinking about how much I’d love to return to Australia (it’s five years this month since we moved there!!). How I’d love to go to New Zealand and do all the crazy things I didn’t do last time. In fact, many of my itches that need to be scratched involve returning to places I’ve already been.
Here are ten trips I’d love to take – although I’m not sure how many of them will actually happen!
Hello Captain Obvious! Yes, Japan is still at the top of my travel list, as it has been for most of my life. Part of the reason we were so devastated about it being cancelled is that we are planning our honeymoon next year and we wouldn’t be able to do both. It suddenly felt very real that we might never get to go (yeah, call me dramatic, but you know how life is – we’d already spent 10 years trying to find the right time!). Well, joke’s on us because now there won’t be a honeymoon either.
That means we are looking at potentially moving everything a year back, but of course this entirely depends on being able to visit Japan next March at all. Hoping against hope that travel will be a possibility by then!
So where are we hoping to go?
Our plan on this trip was to fly in and out of Tokyo, spending around five days in Tokyo total (hoping to squeeze a day trip to Mount Fuji in there somewhere – that photo above is what I’d call my “ultimate bucket list photo”). In the middle, we’d spend a couple of days in Osaka, a day at Universal Studios, a day in Hiroshima (we decided to skip Miyajima and I was looking at Rabbit Island instead, as the famous Miyajima shrine is currently enclosed in unsightly scaffolding), a day in Nara and three days in Kyoto.
Because we now technically have another year to save, I’m thinking we should tack on at least a couple of extra days to our trip, if not half a week. A little bonus for our delay, if you will.
There are absolutely tons of places I’d love to visit in Japan and we are clearly never going to see them all in one trip, but a couple of extras I’d like to see are Himeji, Hakone, and Yokohama (which we were thinking of trying for a half day trip from Tokyo). Plus, with any luck, the Miyajima shrine will be back to looking beautiful and we could look at overnighting in Hiroshima to make the most of it.
Another country I’ve never been to, and it’s been on my Europe list for years now! I was hoping to go in the next year or two until some weird virus came along and fucked up the entire world. Who knows, it may even still be possible. That said, this would definitely be a summer trip, which is absolutely out this year.
So I don’t know when we’ll get to you, Slovenia! Next year will be (if things go according to plan) Japan and potentially our honeymoon, depending on a lot of factors. As heavenly as Lake Bled looks and as gorgeous as everyone says Ljubljana is, Slovenia might just have to wait.
(Side note: I’d be really tempted to do this as a trip with Venice. Ash has never been to Venice, so it would be lovely to spend a couple of days in Venice before spending the rest of the trip exploring Slovenia. OR, seeing as another trip idea is road tripping northern Italy, perhaps slotting Slovenia into that.)
Whenever someone asks me what my favourite country in the world is – this is it.
So it’s only natural that I want to go back.
I’d love to do a two week trip through northern Vietnam and catch all the (well, some of the) places that we missed the first time around. Notably Sapa, and the Ha Giang loop in the very, very north. I’d happily go back to Halong Bay. Even if we didn’t do a boat trip, I just want to get views over the bay which we didn’t have last time. And if we did do a boat trip, I’d want to incorporate Cat Ba Island.
But one of the main places I want to visit is Ninh Binh. We did actually go there on our first trip, and the weather was terrible. It was still absolutely stunning. But we went there on a day tour, and I’d quite like to go there independently and hire bicycles to explore at our leisure. Again, there’s a viewpoint I really want to find!
And of course Hanoi and Hoi An would be revisited and re-loved.
As I said at the start of the post, it’s been five years since we moved to Australia. We spent an amazing fourteen months there – but the problem is we became complacent. It began to feel like everything was there, ready for us to see, and we found ourselves settling into life there and, dare I say it, taking it for granted. And then we left without even seeing Uluru, one of the main sights I always imagined I’d see on a holiday to Australia, let alone over a year in the country.
Of course, Australia is absolutely massive and virtually impossible to see on one trip. But there were so many oversights – we went to Melbourne twice, but never drove the Great Ocean Road because we assumed there would be a “next time”, and although we lived in the dusty Aussie bush for a while, we never got close to the Red Centre.
But the main place I’d focus on next time? Western Australia. To be honest, I never expected to get there while we were there, so I won’t say it was an oversight – but all I ever hear is how spectacular it is! At the very least, I’d like a couple of weeks to road trip around.
My ideal road trip would be something like six weeks – Perth up to Darwin, down through the red centre to Adelaide, and along the coast to Melbourne. Who knows if we’ll ever be in a position to take that sort of trip?
So this one may have to be done in sections…
Oh New Zealand. When we visited, I wanted to do so many crazy things. Our budget only allowed for one, and after assuming my One Crazy Activity would be throwing myself across a canyon, instead I discovered the best sky dive in the world and ALSO found a great deal on it.
The problem is, New Zealand left us pining for so much more. We went on a budget, which meant getting a bus pass, couchsurfing where we could, and mostly cooking at home or in the hostel (with the notable exception of Fergburger in Queenstown, which to this day is still the greatest burger we’ve ever had) so that we could do all our bucket list activities.
It meant no deviating from the bus routes; something that’s pretty difficult when you see SO many beautiful places you can’t stop at. We had the worst possible weather for Milford Sound, so even when we were in one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand, we couldn’t appreciate it as well as we should have done.
I’m starting to sound ungrateful, but I really don’t mean to. Our trip to New Zealand was GREAT. We loved it so much that we considered moving there, until we went to Vancouver and decided to move there instead.
But I really, really, really want to go back to the south island one day, hire a campervan (or even a car and just buy a tent like we did in North America) and road trip the hell out of it. I want to see more of the east coast – especially Kaikoura – head up to the north coast to see Abel Tasman, and most of all go back to Wanaka, my favourite place in New Zealand. I’d do the Roy’s Peak hike this time, and also the Hooker Valley Track at Mount Cook. I’d take Ash to Mount Sunday because he didn’t come with me to one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.
I’d also finally do the canyon swing, and also fly a stunt plane!
Basically – all of the mountains and all of the crazy things. That would be our New Zealand trip in a nutshell.
We visited Iceland back in 2013 (or 2014?) in winter. It was March, so the days weren’t unbearably short, and we had a snow storm (which I drove in!) which meant the scenery was pretty incredible the next day. But the weather generally wasn’t amazing, and it was a pretty packed trip, with only a couple of daylight hours spent in Reykjavik.
So I’d love to go back in the summer, and make it a week long trip rather than a three day one. As great as the ring road sounds, most of what I want to see is on the south coast – waterfalls, Jökulsárlón, black sand beaches and the plane wreck (also Snæfellsnes, which isn’t on the south coast, but we could drive to from Reykjavik).
We hired a car for an afternoon last time and made it almost as far as Vik – if you’re thinking “but the plane wreck is about where you turned around” then yes, you’re absolutely right. Shame dimwit here didn’t know that back then.
And anyway, the reason we turned back is because the weather had turned terrible. Our plan to eat dinner in Vik and then head out to look for the northern lights were scuppered, and instead we drove back to Reykjavik in a snow storm. Later on, people returned to our hotel gushing about how amazing the northern lights had been. Sigh!
Iceland, we WILL be back! And it will be glorious.
There is much of Europe I still want to see, but central Europe has got to be one of my favourite regions. I’ve now been to Prague, Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna, and loved all of them – and Ash? Ash has been to none of them. So we’ve GOT to go there, not least for Budapest which is one of my favourite cities in the world (and also Prague was one of the first trips I ever took, so I’d like to see it as a non-rookie traveller. I also went with my ex, a week after we broke up. Awkward).
There are a few places in the Czech Republic that I’d like to see, like the bone church in Kutna Hora, and Brno looks lovely. But I’ve really got my eye on Austria, specifically Hallstatt. It would be fantastic to hire a car and spend a few days road tripping through the mountains, and Slovakia looks equally beautiful and I’m sure much quieter.
Back to countries I’ve never been to – Norway is at the absolute TOP of my Europe list! It’s silly really, because Ash’s Dad has worked in Oslo for the best part of the last ten years, and we always planned to go and visit and make a trip out of it. We never got round to it though – it was virtually impossible while I had the shop (let alone the cost – we couldn’t afford much back then!). Since then, our only chances have been in 2017, which we perhaps could have but I was busy squirrelling away money for Canada, and 2019, in which we were saving money for Japan and our wedding. I always say if you want to travel, you have to prioritise it, and we just haven’t been prioritising Norway at all.
But this is DEFINITELY somewhere we will make it to one day, and hopefully sooner rather than later.
I’m not a fan of cruises, but the only one that’s ever appealed to me is a Norwegian fjords cruise – and indeed, it may be a great way to get around. In fact, my mum has said exactly the same thing, so perhaps we could do a family trip! I do also really want to hike to Trolltunga, but we’ll see how feasible that would be.
Ah, Italy. I’d love to count Italy as one of my favourite countries, but the truth is I’ve been there three times and spent less than a week there total. How can I possibly say it’s one of my favourite countries?
I am constantly drawn to it, but as with many other places, the opportunities haven’t come up. Well, one thing I’ve been talking about for YEARS is doing a road trip through northern Italy.
This means two things: food and culture in Tuscany, LOTS more food in Bologna, and (don’t worry, I’m not about to say more food) astonishing lakes and mountains in the far north.
I remember watching Top Gear when they drove through northern Italy, and they came to Stelvio Pass – in the words of Jeremy Clarkson, “miles of asphalt spaghetti draped on a mountain”. Well let me tell you, Stelvio Pass has been on my bucket list since that episode aired in 2007.
In fact I’d love to do a road trip that incorporates Switzerland and Liechtenstein (and, as above, possibly even Slovenia).
An African safari
Well I started this list off with a trip we’ve already planned, and I’m ending it with another one! Our honeymoon.
It’s always been my absolute dream to go on safari. I used to devour books about wildlife as a child and I was always fascinated by everything to do with African animals. The Lion King is in my top 3 favourite movies!
When I mentioned to Ash that we could go on safari for our honeymoon (because when am I ever conventional?), I didn’t even finish the sentence before it was met with a resounding YES.
(His yes to that may have been even more enthusiastic than my yes to him… uh oh.)
And so our big plan is to visit Tanzania for a safari in the Serengeti, and then top it off with a few days on the beach in Zanzibar.
Honestly, I could probably add another ten trips to this list. I almost included Central Asia – the ‘Stans – because honestly, please Google photos of Kyrgyzstan and tell me you don’t want to go. Look at the main square of Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Realistically, I know we may never get around to it.
I haven’t included a ton of city break destinations, including Lisbon (which again, I’ve been to and LOVED, but Ash hasn’t), Seville (…again – spotting a theme here?? I should really just make sure I always travel with Ash), or Bruges. I haven’t included Bosnia & Herzegovina, which I absolutely fell head over heels in love with last year and want to explore more. Likewise with Croatia, as I’ve only been to Dubrovnik.
I’d love to do a road trip through Bavaria, Germany’s southern region, where all the unbearably adorable towns are like Rothenburg ob der Tauber, as well as Neuschwanstein Castle. Maybe pop over to France to soak up the atmosphere in Colmar. I’d like to get back to New England to see old friends from when I worked on a summer camp in the USA, and incorporate a trip up to Montreal and Niagara Falls.
And if you ask Ash, he’d say – and I am fully on board with this at this stage – we need to do a beach holiday one day. And so I could rattle off more trips to the Algarve, a Greek island, Thailand…
But the problem, as ever, is when on earth am I going to have the time? The list in this post alone, with an ambitious two trips per year, would take five years. And those five years won’t even begin this year.
But for now, I’m going back to dreaming of a future where these trips can happen. I will make them happen.
And one thing’s for sure – I’m not going to take ANYTHING for granted any more. I’ll be making the most of everything while we can.