2017 has been a big year for me. It’s the year I decided to pursue my passion for travel, writing and photography and launch Part-Time Passport – an alternative travel blog to inspire others that a life of travel and adventure is 100% possible without having to quit your job or drastically change your lifestyle.
I’ve really put this philosophy to the test this year and the result has been a year of travel highlights. 2017 has transported me more than 25,000 miles to 5 different countries, 2 continents and 10 new cities. I’ve hiked over 50 miles of national park trails, visited 10 UNESCO World Heritage sites, explored 1 natural wonder of the world, hiked one of the world’s biggest mountain ranges, eaten my way around 2 international food tours and taken my first photography course! All whilst holding down a full-time career.
I’m not rich in money or time. I simply have chosen to make travel a priority in my life and it’s taken me to places I could never have imagined. As well as exploring exotic landscapes on the other side of the world, I’ve also discovered much more of my beautiful home in the U.K. and learned to appreciate just how lucky I am to live just a hop, skip and a jump away from the never-ending wonders of Europe.
It’s been amazing to meet so many other inspiring “part-time travellers”, this year, and I’m so excited to share a collaborative article with you in the new year, showcasing some of these amazing women who are having their travel cake and eating it too.
But for now, as we countdown to the new year and reflect on the last 12 months, I wanted to share with you some of my favourite moments of 2017 and some first-hand advice on how to make your travel dreams a reality, without having to give up the things you love.
‘There’s no place like home’… exploring more of the U.K.
A huge part of my part-time travel philosophy is all about getting out to explore more of your own backyard. When your travel time is limited, there’s nothing better than discovering places closer to home – and for me that’s Bristol and the U.K.
I indulged in my love of hiking this year by taking on the South West Coast Path for the first time, as well as an epic 26-mile trek through the South Downs National Park for charity. This was my first time hiking these trails and I was blown away by the natural beauty of my home country. I already have plans to explore more of Britain’s trails and national parks in 2018!
People fly from all across the world to visit the Cotswolds, yet I grew up within 20 miles of this idyllic region and had barely scratched the surface! Bibury, Stow on the Wold and Tewkesbury were all on my hit-list this year and their postcard good looks and old-world charm did not disappoint.
I made the most of my proximity to the South West region by spending more time getting to know the historic city of Bath and visiting the cute market towns of Wells and Bradford-on-Avon. I also travelled across the country to visit new cities such as Canterbury, as well as old favourites like Brighton.
And last but certainly not least, I spent my down-time exploring more of my beloved home city of Bristol. It’s this vibrant and colourful city that keeps me from craving a life on the road. I love everything about it – from the street art to the amazing food scene, it’s a city that surprises me every single day and I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else, at this point in my life.
A few of my top Bristol highlights this year? Attending Upfest, the biggest street art festival in Europe, and watching 150 hot air balloons ascend at sunrise, as part of the International Bristol Balloon Fiesta.
‘Fly me anywhere’ – jet-setting across Europe
I took a new approach to travelling to Europe this year – instead of heading straight for the “hot-spots”, I went where the flights were cheap and the weather was good! Using Fly Me Anywhere, I simply popped in my travel dates and searched to find the cheapest destinations.
This technique ended up transporting me from the architectural delights of Seville, to snowy mountain scenes in Salzburg, and finally to the urban charms of Lisbon – with all return flights coming in at under £70!
By timing these city breaks in with weekends and bank holidays, I only ended up needing 5 annual leave days in total, leaving plenty of time for a longer-haul holiday later in the year.
So if you’re not picky about where you go, it really is possible to travel regularly to Europe from the U.K. on a budget that suits you. You can read more of my tips and advice on ‘how to travel more with a full-time job’ here.
A new continent – discovering the charms of Asia
2017 was a year of firsts for me – including my first time visiting the continent of Asia.
Asia is somewhere that’s always fascinated me and Vietnam was our introductory country of choice. This was largely a budget-conscious decision – South East Asia is still an incredibly affordable region to travel and we ended up spending less on a fortnight in Vietnam than we did on a week in Sicily, the year before (even after flights)!
After a quick stop in Dubai, we swiftly descended on to the buzzing streets of Ho Chi Minh City and spent 2 weeks travelling from South to North Vietnam, ending in Hanoi and the spectacular Ha Long Bay – my first natural wonder of the world and one of the most incredible places I have ever seen. Watching the sunrise over the bay has to be one of my all-time top travel moments and is something I will never forget (and totally worth that 4am alarm!)
I fell in love with Vietnam almost instantly, particularly with Hoi An – the ancient fairy-tale town, filled with lanterns, great food and even greater people. From there, we motor-biked one of the world’s most famous roads – the Hai Van Pass, explored the cultural temples and palaces of Hue and navigated the chaotic streets of Hanoi.
Asia definitely cast its spell on me and I can’t wait to explore more of this beautiful and diverse continent in the future.
So there you have it… 2017 is going to be a tough one to beat! But 2018 already has much in store… from planning a month-long trip to South America in May to prepping for my big 3-0 (and ticking off a whole load of ‘30 before 30’ bucket list wishes before then!), I can’t wait to see what this year holds…
Happy New Year! x