As we reach the end of 2019 and approach a new decade, I wanted to end the year on a slightly more personal note, recapping my year in travel, starting a blog and leaving my job. This post is a bit more self indulgent than the others, but I want anyone reading to get a sense of who I am and to inspire anyone else who feels stuck to make the most out of their situation, so here goes!
Leaving my job to Travel
In August I published my first ever blog post – ‘Why I left my Job to Travel Solo Around the World’, where I talked about a difficult situation I faced in the workplace and my decision to leave. Until June 2019, travelling solo and travelling the world were just dreams that I didn’t think I would ever realise. Despite having done a short break to Edinburgh a couple of years prior, I lacked the confidence to go it alone again, especially long term, and struggled to find friends to use up my annual leave with. I had felt stuck in my job for a while and would come home after a bad day and look at tours of the USA or Japan but be too scared to book anything on my own.
It sounds daft now but at 26 I felt like I had passed the age where it’s acceptable to take a year or multiple years out to go travelling. I was so set on catching up with my peers by getting on the career ladder and felt blocked at every turn. It took a pivotal moment at work for me to realise I was presented with a choice to stay miserable or try to be happy, so I chose hope and decided to turn those dreams of intercontinental travel a reality. It was tough and I struggled mentally for a while afterwards, feeling like I was undervalued and like the decision was not entirely my own, but I’m glad it happened, because otherwise I don’t think I would have ever taken that leap…well side step!
My travel journey is a bit different from most, as the plan is for long term travel for a year or longer if means allow, but at the moment I’m doing it one little bit at a time! I plan to travel more continuously after the new year. Medical issues and waiting for tests on the NHS meant I couldn’t jump straight into the big trips. But that didn’t stop me from doing as much Europe travel as I could in the meantime with my savings! And now I’m fit and ready to begin a bigger adventure (I have never really travelled outside of Europe)…as soon as I save a little more!
Where Have I Been? 7 Countries in 6 Months
Italy & Switzerland
Pretty much as soon as I knew I was leaving I booked a consolatory trip to Milan, somewhere I’d been but didn’t have a chance to explore. I went for a week and planned in several day trips, including Turin (my favourite of the bunch), Alpine town of St Moritz, Switzerland, via the scenic Bernina Express Train and Lugano, Switzerland. I walked on the roof of a gothic cathedral and dipped my feet in an alpine lake in the shadow of the snow topped Swiss Alps, drank plenty of Aperol Spritz and made peace with my decision.
You can read more about my Milan experience here.
Backpacking Around Central Europe
In late September/October spent 3 weeks traveling around Poland, Czech Republic and Austria; just me and my (waaaay too heavy) backpack. Don’t overpack kids, especially without wheels, rookie mistake!
I spent the most time in Poland, in Gdańsk, Poznań and Wroclaw before moving on to Prague, where I spent 5 days and Vienna, which was a quick 3 day stop. I had two extra city stops, Munich and Salzburg, planned that I had to change last minute, partly because I wasn’t prepared to be in town for Oktoberfest 😅 and partly because I was run down, a bit depressed and hadn’t given myself enough time to do all these stops. I hope to do another trip in the future returning to Vienna and stopping in Salzburg and Munich.
I learnt important solo travel lessons about not overdoing it, not trying to pack to many places/activities into a small time period, and most importantly pack light! I loved the architecture and street art in Gdańsk, the medieval city views and sculpture in Prague, the quirkiness of Wroclaw and Poznań and the relaxed vibes of Vienna. My absolute highlight was the blissful 72 hours I spent in Vienna.
Just a few days after returning home from Vienna, I jetted off to Paris with two old school friends for one of their Birthdays. It got off to a bad start with us being scammed in an American themed restaurant opposite Moulin Rouge (be careful not to appear to touristy, keep your cameras hidden and pay with card whenever possible). It soon picked up with a lovely evening of cocktails and nighttime city views at at rooftop bar Le Perchoir and another two days filled with crepes and classic monuments. I may do a quick post about it in the new year! For now enjoy the photos:
Iceland was truly a dream in every sense of the word. I travelled there solo and had a couple of days to myself exploring Reykjavik in between two group tours that took me to some of the main sights and some of the south coast. Enjoy these photos and check out my recent posts about Reykjavik’s Street art scene, Iceland on a Budget and the best of Iceland in Winter!
And last but not least…
The U.K. – Exploring at Home
Although I’m still just starting out in my blogging journey, one thing I love about it is that you start to see everyday places and activities from a different perspective. It has encouraged me to get out and about more at home and explore cities and towns nearby that I’d otherwise take for granted. Here are this year’s U.K. highlights in pictures:
Thank You for Reading!
If you have any questions about my travel journey, or any of the places I’ve mentioned, drop me a comment or an email and I’d love to go into more detail. And as always I appreciate any and all feedback on my content and what you’d like to see more of!
No pin covers for this one, as it’s more of a personal recap, but feel free to pin any of the photos for inspiration!
To read more about why I started this blog and the start of my journey, click here.
Until next year!