For the first time in my life I’ve kicked off the start of a new year in a full-time, grown-up job. While in theory that means more money for travelling, yay, it means much less time and freedom to actually travel in practice, er, not so yay.
Still, I’m not the kind of person to let a 9-5 stop me from exploring the world, so of course I relished the challenge of squeezing as many adventures into 23 vacation days as possible. So far I’ve got a few definite trips out of Blighty lined up for the year ahead, with several others pencilled in as possibilities.
Where: New York
I haven’t visited the USA for over a decade, and shockingly I’ve never seen NYC, which is something that’s happily going to change in 2015 when I zoom over the Atlantic to visit the Big Apple for the first, and hopefully not last, time.
Flights are booked, visa waivers are sorted and itinerary planning is in full progress. I can’t wait to post all about taking a vacation to NYC in… February. Yeah I’m going to freeze. Fingers crossed there won’t be a polar vortex this year!
February comes with significant perks however. I bagged return flights with British Airways for under £400, five nights in a decent hotel in Midtown East in Manhattan for £200, and I’m arriving during restaurant week, which means I’m planning on gorging on all the American delicacies. Yum. I’m heading over with a friend, so expect lots of pictures with me actually in them (I’m still not sold on the selfie stick) and tonnes of food posts. I’m guaranteed to come back ten stone heavier.
Plans include being a super tourist and visiting all of the museums, Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, Top of the Rock, eating bagels, pizza and pancakes galore, checking out Central Park, the 9/11 memorial and making the trip across Brooklyn Bridge and the Highline. Williamsburg is another place I’m keen to visit, it sounds a lot like East London, which I’m a big fan of. I’ve heard there are some excellent food and street art tours there. Finally I’m absolutely desperate to get live tickets to see my Silver Fox crush, Jon Stewart, on the Daily Show so I’m currently checking the website every day. If anyone does notice any popping up for late February, please help a sister out, you’ll be my hero. Do you have any interesting recommendations for things to do in NYC for a first-time visitor in deepest, darkest February? Please leave any suggestions in a comment below, I’d love to hear them.
Stockholm was a very unexpected, unthought-out idea. After getting just a bit too inspired by Jonas Johansson’s ‘The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden’ I ended up browsing Norwegian’s website, and as you do when you love a book about a city, impulsively bought a cheap flight to Sweden’s capital city.
Scandinavia is a new area for me; so far I’ve only visited Iceland, which is technically Nordic rather than part of Scandinavia, so I’m really looking forward to seeing the cultural differences.
As it was a rushed job, I’m not sure what I’ll actually do in Stockholm. I’m aware that it’s a hideously expensive, non-backpacker country, so I’ll try to write up a semi-budget guide after my trip. Eating Swedish cinnamon rolls, exploring the wreck of a 17th century ship at the Vasa Museum and wandering around the pretty old town Gamla Stan – as well as perving on the beautiful locals are my only firm plans thus far. And meatballs. Obviously meatballs. Oh, did I mention my hostel has a SAUNA. Go Sweden!
Where: Santorini or Florence
Both of these destinations were on my to-go list in 2014, but sadly/not sadly at all I ended up going to the Balkans and Iceland instead. Because why not.
This year I’m determined to spend my birthday, it’s May FYI, in one of these gorgeous locations. Currently I’m torn between Florence’s fabulous food (GELATO!), unearthly architecture and worldclass art and Santorini’s beautiful sunsets, red and black beaches and whitewashed, hilltop villages. It’s a bloody hard choice. I’ve yet to visit Greece, so Santorini is topping my list, but with dirt-cheap flights to Florence available, the Italian city is looking more likely.
Where: Costa Rica
Spain and Mexico are two of my all-time favourite countries, so it’s no surprise that 2015 will hopefully end with me heading to another Latin country, Costa Rica. I’ve been toying with the idea of Central America for over a year, but I’ve always been put off by the need for a stopover in the States first. As an awful flyer who particularly hates take-offs, directs are a must for me when possible. Fortunately I noticed Thomson are beginning non-stop flights from the UK to Costa Rica Liberia in November 2015. Perfecto.
Costa Rica sounds like a fantastic intro to Central America; beautiful beaches, more adventure activities than you can swing a toucan at, volcanos, hot springs and SLOTHS. Need I say more?
My plan is to split three weeks over the Christmas period between Costa Rica and another Central American country…
While Costa Rica would be my first foray into Central America, I’d be too near the border to resist slipping into Nicaragua. There have been growing murmurs on the blogosphere about Costa Rica’s cheaper, more authentic and less touristy neighbour. And after researching it, I can see why. Crumbling and colourful colonial towns like Leon and Granada, the hip beach town of San Juan Del Sur, the picturesque Isla Ometepe, the chance to go volcano-boarding and plentiful yoga retreats and horse riding ranches make this a country I can’t afford to miss out on. Did I mention it’s one of the cheapest countries on Earth? I’m sold.
And the wildcard
As you’ve noticed, I’ve got no travels planned between May and December. Empty. Nada. Zilch. Of course it can’t remain like that, but as I’ll be busy saving my pennies and vacation days for my Central America jaunt, I think I’ll need to fill that space with a cheap Eurotrip. At the moment Budapest is looking like a frontrunner; inexpensive and boasting ruin bars, Turkish baths and gorgeous buildings, I think I may head here in September for a weekend to keep my wanderlust at bay.