Travel challenge trip 7: Milton Keynes

“No place is ever as bad as they tell you it’s going to be” – Chuck Thompson

July is a tricky month to be doing a travel challenge, flights are super expensive, it’s the school holidays and everywhere is busy. Though if you are in England you ‘may’ experience some hot, warm weather.

Before I started this challenge I knew the Summer months would be difficult to travel in and to be honest didn’t really have a plan. I figured I would travel somewhere in the UK (Newcastle was the initial plan), but as many of you will know train travel and accommodation here is as expensive and sometimes more than abroad. So when my good friend Farida said she would be in Milton Keynes (MK) visiting her sister and invited me to stay I jumped at the chance and tagged a visit to see my parents in Leicester onto the trip as well. Continue reading “Travel challenge trip 7: Milton Keynes”

Reflections on the travel challenge – Question & Answer

“Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories” – Ray Bradbury

This year I set myself the challenge of travelling every month, travel is fuel for my soul and I’m happiest when on a trip, so thought I would try to do monthly trips to ensure consistent happiness. Everyone I speak to about this always has lots of questions, so I have tried to answer some of the most popular ones below. Continue reading “Reflections on the travel challenge – Question & Answer”

Travel challenge trip 6: Snowdonia

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain”
– Jack Kerouac

I have never climbed any mountains in the UK, so when my flatmates suggested we go on a road trip and tackle Snowdonia I immediately said yes. This also provided an opportunity to travel with new people so two aims of my challenge satisfied. Continue reading “Travel challenge trip 6: Snowdonia”

Travel challenge trip 5: Helsinki

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware”  – Martin Buber

My trip to Helsinki came about in a rather random way; usually when planning future travel I have an idea of where I want to go and for May I was planning on visiting Sofia, but a few days before I was going to book it I received an out of the blue email from a Finnish guy requesting to couch surf at my house, my interest in Finland suddenly piqued and before I knew it I had booked a flight there. An impulsive move for a generally indecisive person! The sentimental reason for wanting to visit Helsinki is when growing up in Leicester our coming of age favourite cocktail bar to visit was called Helsinki. This is where I had my first cocktail (Black Russian), learned to love tequila shots, thought anyone over 24 was incredibly old and fell in love with gay bar tenders.

Leading up to this I had been running from commitment to commitment and generally over filling my time, as a result my energy levels were low and I was feeling pretty exhausted. I thought I wanted to slow down, but the sharp contrast of pace had a jarring effect on me. From my arrival Helsinki it felt like a solitary place and thinking back it was too quiet for me, the stillness fuelled my loneliness and it felt empty. I spent nearly all of my time alone, the space and vast landscape amplified this isolated feeling and I longed for some meaningful interactions. I am used to solo travel, but this was my 6th consecutive trip alone and I definitely need some balance and company, so I’m happy my future plans are with friends. Continue reading “Travel challenge trip 5: Helsinki”

Travel challenge trip 4: Portugal and Spain

“For the born traveller, travelling is a besetting vice. Like other vices, it is imperious, demanding its victim’s time, money, energy and the sacrifice of comfort” – Aldous Huxley

Going to Porto for Easter has been on my to do list for the past five years, but other trips and plans have always deferred it, so when setting my travel challenge I knew Portugal and specifically Porto were going to be visited.

I conveniently forgot that I booked a 7am flight, so had to get up at 3:30am in order to get to the airport on time. In typical me style I ended up with lots of plans the day before, so by the time I had sorted everything, packed, dyed my hair pink and hosted a dinner party I barely managed three hours sleep before I was up and running again. Coffee, adrenaline and the warm sun that greeted me in Porto powered me through my first day. I ended up walking for hours and seeing so many  sites without feeling like I was rushing or flagging. Continue reading “Travel challenge trip 4: Portugal and Spain”

Travel Challenge 2017 trip 3: Berlin

“Travel is like love, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end” – Pico Iyer.

Berlin – wow, a couple of weeks later and I am still on a massive high and feel AMAZING and glowing all over. I knew this trip would be something special, as in its inception it was completely spontaneous and that impromptu vibe continued to guide me. I’m struggling to find the words to fully capture the experience. Continue reading “Travel Challenge 2017 trip 3: Berlin”

Travel Challenge 2017 trip 2: Marrakesh

Marrakesh was never on my radar as a place to visit, 7/8 years ago I worked on a project in Mombasa, Kenya for a number of months and after that I though I was done with Africa. But on researching places to go for my February trip I was all set to go to Zurich when I happened to search for a few other flights and found Marrakesh coming in at a good price, so booked it on the spot, plus it satisfied my challenge goal of going to a new country.  I’m trying not to overthink things too much at the minute and just follow my gut feeling, especially when it comes to travel.

I had a great time in Marrakesh, which I will talk about to later, but I forgot what a challenge travelling can be. My last few trips have been very easy where everything has fallen into place and though I have made plans they have been sporadic and have generally flowed and worked with minimal stress and thought, but this trip required more consideration in-situ.
Continue reading “Travel Challenge 2017 trip 2: Marrakesh”

Travel Challenge 2017 trip 1: Hamburg

I sit here at just before 4pm in Hamburg sipping a cold beer thinking about what this year will hold for me. I have set myself the challenge of travelling to a new place each month on the basis that travel makes me happy, thus I must do more of it to be happier.

Hamburg is my first stop on this journey, picked purely by chance. The bar I’m in right now in the Sternschanze area was recommended to me by a girl who was sat next to me on the plane, wearing an amazing dress (hello Fredi) we had great conversations the whole flight and swapped numbers, which is a rare thing for me to do, so I’m taking it as a good sign for this whole adventure. Continue reading “Travel Challenge 2017 trip 1: Hamburg”

2017 Travel challenge.

At the end of last year I decided to review my life, which sounds like a massive task, but really it’s sitting down and actively thinking about what you do which makes you happy or indeed unhappy, thinking about what you want to improve on and as a result doing more of what you love and less or working on actively changing or accepting what you don’t love.

There were no surprises when the activity that came top of my list was travelling. Whatever is happening with me whenever I travel or start to plan or even think about travelling I am in my calm, happy and inspired place, free of any stress and worries. I usually do three to four trips a year based on no real schedule other than want or visiting certain people. But in order to increase my happiness I felt it necessary to amp up the travelling frequency…

For 2017 I have decided to go on a trip a month. This is quite a commitment and more than anything the financial strain of these trips is a little worrying, but it will add to the challenge and teach me about looking for different kinds of trips and think of more economical and free activities that I can do. As I am a person really driven by reaching goals I decided to come up with a list of additional fun goals to achieve on these trips over the year. They are: Continue reading “2017 Travel challenge.”