With everything that’s happened in the past couple of weeks, let alone the past couple of years, it’s difficult to feel excited about upcoming travel plans, but… that being said, I AM thrilled to finally have several trips booked!
We’ve got a mix of weekend trips, actual holidays in the sun, and finally, the most exciting one of all: our honeymoon!!
It feels very surreal that the world has come to this. The day England announced that Covid no longer exists and lifted every single restriction (yes, because that’s the correct way to go about things), Russia invaded Ukraine.
To distract myself from the impending horror, between doomscrolling the news and donating to charities that somehow might help things be ever so slightly less shit for Ukrainians, I booked flights for our honeymoon.
In some ways, I feel guilty talking about travel plans when war inches ever closer. But if the past two years have made me realise anything, it’s that we need to focus on what makes us happy. I can’t be bothered to even worry if things are going to go ahead any more. After two years of cancellations, I’m fed up of worrying. And at the end of the day, if these do get cancelled, it’ll be for something far, far bigger than us.
So here are our current plans, with many more hopefully to be added within Scotland and Europe.
Next week – Perthshire
Starting off local, we’re taking a quick break an hour away. We’ll be staying in the Kenmore Hotel, which is the oldest hotel in Scotland! It’s also just off the banks of Loch Tay, a beautiful area of Perthshire that I’ve been keen to explore more of after a brief visit in 2020. Here’s hoping the weather’s better this time!
As you can imagine, the Kenmore has a lot of interesting history, including Queen Victoria staying there with Albert on their honeymoon. I’ll be writing about our stay at some point.
March – Malta
In three weeks, we touch down in Malta for a few days of (hopefully) sunshine and cocktails. This is the closest we’ve ever come to having an actual typical beach holiday – an island in the Med sounds pretty perfect right now!
We’ve even booked a hotel with a pool and it was booked as a package with flights and transfers, which is the first time we’ve ever done that! What are we, tourists?
Even so, it won’t just be lounging by the pool – I have a few things planned for the trip, including days out in Valletta and Mdina, and we’ve booked a boat trip to Comino and Gozo, two other islands that are part of the Malta archipelago. Really excited for that!
…but there will also be lounging around by the pool, because we have, genuinely, never done that!
It’s also the first time Ash and I will have been abroad together, excluding Ireland in 2019, since our road trip in Canada & the USA in 2018!!
How crazy is that?
June – Portugal
We’d actually booked a small cruise to Norway just after Christmas. Cruising the Norwegian fjords is one of the top three things on my bucket list, and I was bouncing off the walls when I found a cruise leaving from literally five minutes from our house over the long bank holiday weekend. Two weeks later, it was cancelled, making it the second of the top three things on my bucket list to be cancelled in the space of less than two years.
Are you f**king kidding?
It was Covid-related, obviously, but not because of restrictions. The influx of cases following the arrival of Omicron made the company shit the bed, and they pulled an entire ship out of service in preparation for losing business. The ship we were booked on, of course.
They told us to sit tight and await further announcements, because they were hoping to put another ship on the same routes. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen, and our replacement options were either a cruise of the same length that misses out Bergen and leaves from Newcastle (slightly further away than Rosyth), or upgrade with a discount to an 8-night cruise. Even the cruise of the same length doesn’t fall over the bumper bank holiday, meaning we’d have to book an extra three days off work.
So, with much woe, we cancelled.
And although I looked into alternative options for going to Norway over the same weekend, nothing was viable.
Soooo we’re going to Portugal instead!
You can read more about my past trip to Portugal here:
⭐ 24 Hours In Lisbon: Falling In Love With Portugal’s Capital
⭐ Exploring the Best Beaches on the Algarve
⭐ Visiting The Algarve: Why You Shouldn’t Skip Faro
I am really excited to be back in Portugal – I absolutely fell in love with the country when I stayed for a few weeks in 2017, but my biggest regret was not spending longer in Lisbon. I’ve always resolved to go back with Ash.
We’ll be flying into Porto, staying a couple of days to explore the world’s oldest book shop and drink some port, and then taking a bus down to Lisbon where we’ll spend another couple of days eating every pastel de nata in sight.
I’ve heard Porto is lovely, so I’m looking forward to exploring somewhere new, and we’ve even booked two fantastic looking hostels – one of them is IN A TRAIN STATION!
Needless to say, I’m also really looking forward to staying in hostels again*. We’re going for private rooms this time, but that’s fine by me.
*so much so that I’m genuinely considering this:
Speaking of our honeymoon…
August & September – Kenya & Tanzania!!!
I almost exploded with excitement when I booked the flights. Along with Japan, this is my ULTIMATE bucket list item, and one of Ash’s too. Probably started around the time I saw the Lion King (I was five when it came out, and I saw it in the cinema and then watched it approximately 2,546 times over the following 28 years).
I was planning not to get ahead of myself and to leave it at that for now – but I wanted to get a couple of other parts of the trip booked, which led to… planning the entire trip from start to finish.
I’m still finalising a few bits (do we do a four day Serengeti safari? Or a five day one like a safari company has recommended?) but the rough plan is thus:
- Fly into Nairobi
- Go on a 3-day Maasai Mara safari
- A glamorous bus to Tanzania
- 4??? day safari to the Serengeti (including Ngorongoro & Manyara NP)
- 4 nights soaking up the sea in Zanzibar
- Fly home via a few hours in Paris, just to add a nice cliché ending to our honeymoon
I’m trying to remember how excited I was for our Japan trip. It was so long ago. But I think, possibly, this has superseded it for the award of The Most Excited I Have Ever Been For A Trip!!
Our dream holiday, in writing and in my inbox, with booking numbers. I can’t believe it. I won’t believe it, of course, until we are on the plane.
But that doesn’t matter.
We’ve still got to book the flight to Zanzibar (hence needing to work out how much time we really want on safari – will we be burned out if we do eight days? Quite possibly – but will we regret not doing it?) which means we also still need to book our hotel in Zanzibar. I’ve found THE most amazing place, with a balcony overlooking the beach, and it won’t even break the bank.
In fact, we realised after booking our hotel in Nairobi that we’ve accidentally chosen a five star hotel – because it was so cheap that we didn’t even consider that it would be! Well, gotta start off the trip in luxury, right? And actually, we weren’t even planning to go to Kenya originally, but when we’ve waited this long, it feels worth adding a whole extra country!
(And no, unfortunately we are not staying in Giraffe Manor, because as truly amazing as it would be to have a lively and chaotic breakfast with the giraffes, we also sadly do not have almost $2,000 to spend on a single night.)
Over the summer
So far, that’s everything we have booked, outside of some trips to see friends and family.
However, a really good friend of mine from Australia is finally coming to visit – she couldn’t come to our wedding, we had to cancel doing the Harry Potter train with her while she was meant to be over for it, and it’s been eight years since she’s seen her family and friends here. So she is making it a blow-out trip and is coming over for the whole summer!
This means trips with her are definitely in the works. We’re talking about Budapest and Poland, but given everything that’s going on at the moment… who knows? She’s also really keen to visit Scotland, so we will be spending at least a few weekends over the summer showing her as much as possible! (And FINALLY going on the Harry Potter train!)
I’ve also got another friend jonesing for a trip on the Eurostar over to mainland Europe, so there may well be a weekend on the cards there…
I also decided, before everything started turning upside down in Europe, that I’d like to pack in a load of weekend trips and I’m thinking of aiming for one per month when we’re not doing a bigger trip (I came one click away from booking flights to Brussels in May before realising I’m actually busy that weekend!).
Apart from that, we’ve got a really busy couple of months coming up – after our two trips this month, Ash’s parents are moving to Scotland next month! We’re helping them with the move, as well as seeing friends in Sussex right after our Malta trip.
It’s been nice to have a quiet start to the year – our only trips so far being to see my parents the weekend we went to the Aviemore dog sledding, and our weekend in Northern Ireland – and especially nice because it was on our terms, not because we were in lockdown.
But I’m definitely raring to go, and of course there will be plenty more Scottish travel too!
My rough plans for Scotland include (but not limited to):
– Arran, an island I’ve been meaning to visit over the past couple of years but simply haven’t found the time
– Dumfries & Galloway, one of the few areas of Scotland I still haven’t really visited
– coastal Aberdeenshire, another overlooked area from me (I’ve only been to Dunnottar and Aberdeen)
– Isle Of Skye, mostly because we haven’t made it to Elgol yet. But also our friend really wants to go, so we will be going with her regardless!
I’m sure there will be plenty more day trips and spontaneous adventures too! In fact, I’m currently looking at a loch cruise with afternoon tea for my Mum’s birthday, how lovely does that sound?!
Plus I’m on the lookout for interesting and quirky accommodation as I definitely want to get to a few of those this year. (Did you know you can stay in THE ACTUAL GODRIC’S HOLLOW?!?)
For now, I am winding down the final calm weekend for a while.
Then it’s go time!