As everyone seems to be doing review posts on their blogs to look back on the year that has just past, I have decided to join the party. It is New Year’s Eve, after all.
Now that I have started looking back on everything I have done this year it’s a pretty incredible feeling to know what I have accomplished in just 12 months. Sure not everything went to plan and many of the new years resolutions I made 12 months ago never saw the light of day, but sure that’s to be expected. Losing about 50 kilos, giving up alcohol and travelling to the moon were never going to happen this year.
So let’s look back on all the amazing places we have traveled to this year. I say we, because it was so great to have so many of you following along on the journey and some of the highlights of my year include all the positive feedback and comments I would get from you guys when things started to look up in my life.
I have BIG plans for 2016.
But I must say 2015 is going to be a difficult year to beat. Here’s how it went:
In January, I took my first trip of the year and did it in spectacular style. I traveled to Prague with 5 girls I had never met in my life. As in, we actually planned the trip online and then met for the first time at Dublin airport a few minutes before our plane was due to take off. We all bonded instantly and ended up having a crazy few days partying and sightseeing in Prague. It was my first time there and all my expectations were met. My goodness is that one beautiful city. I met the girls through an awesome group called GirlCrew, you should check it out.
January also marked my re-entry to full time employment, having spent the past few months job searching and working freelance for various travel startups and newspapers. It was a pretty incredible feeling securing such a good job, and the best part of all was…I got offered the job through Twitter!! It pays off to be social.
P.s. You should also keep in mind that all travel mentioned up until the end of September was done while keeping a full time job. Part time travel is totally doable you guys!!
Having just joined the company I was sent on not one but two work trips to London in the space of 10 days. I knew by then that I had most definitely made the right choice accepting a job as a PR Manager. Travel is always a huge bonus in my eyes. I attended two huge travel conferences in London’s Olympia, and also got to catch up with an old friend and take in a few London sights, such as Platform 9 3/4’s in Kings Cross!
March saw one more trip abroad, braving the cold to go surfing in Donegal with a few friends, celebrating St Patrick’s Day back in Dublin for the first time in YEARS and the start of an incredible friendship. A few friends and I decided to set off to Belgium for a few days (2nd new country of the year) and decided to recruit a few more travel lovers via GirlCrew. Only one signed up, Lauren, and it must have been pretty intimidating for her travelling down from Belfast, meeting us strangers (we already knew each other) in Dublin airport and setting off to a foreign country for 3 days. The trip was a huge success and I fell head over heels in love with Belgian chocolate and frites! And beer. All the beer.
Since Belgium, Lauren has become my trusty travel buddy (and close friend!) and we have been on adventures all around Ireland and Northern Ireland and to 5 countries and 2 continents!
Two big things happened for me in April that (slowly) began to shape the direction my life would go at the end of 2015. The first thing that happened was I was invited on my first press trip abroad. Okay, I know Bristol is not exactly the most exotic place in the world, but I did not get invited to any normal hotel. I was invited to stay in a private castle where I had my own turret and the guests (all 12 of us!) had a private chef to cook our meals. I also had a swimming pool underneath my bedroom. It was the stuff of dreams.
The second big thing that happened was that I started blogging for The Huffington Post. While I did not get paid for these articles, it meant I suddenly had a lot more credibility as a travel blogger and writer and my following really started to grow from here on.
May started off with an incredible 10 day trip to Morocco, a country I had previously sworn I would never return to having had a terrible time in Agadir 10 years previously. This trip totally changed my view of Morocco, so much so that I am now heading back there for a third time this January! We spent one week at a surf camp in Taghazout followed by a few days in Marrakesh shopping, chilling my the pool in our Riad and searching unsuccessfully for a bar that sold alcohol.
June was a big month for me as a blogger, which is funny as it is also the only month this year that I kept my feet on the ground and did not take a single flight!
I secured my first press pass to a large conference as a blogger and, as the name suggests, left Inspire Fest in Dublin feeling very inspired and motivated to work harder on both my blogging and life goals. I also got invited on a press trip to Tayto Park (Ireland’s only theme park and run by the company that owns Ireland’s favourite crisps!!), to celebrate the opening of their new roller coaster and even got to bring a few friends with me which was brilliant fun.
I also made my debut as an unofficial tour guide / adventure tour operator, and led a group of 30 adventure seekers on a 3 day road trip of the Wild Atlantic Way which was one of the highlights of my entire year and a huge success. Solo travel is fun and all but travelling with a big group of like minded people was awesome!!
July was another great month for my blog and for me as a travel writer. I got published in Matador Network for the first time and the article I wrote, all about my love of solo travel, went a little bit viral getting shared over 42,000 times on Facebook.
This was followed by a work trip to Frankfurt for another travel-related conference and then a weekend in Berlin with some newly made friends from The Adventure Pack to attend a Couchsurfing meetup. Berlin will always be one of those cities
August involved a press trip to Jersey Island with my friend Amanda and totally falling in love with the place. It was gloriously sunny and we just spent our days cycling around the island and finding cute cafes to sit outside of, drinking delicious wine.
It was also the month where I got published in National Geographic for the first time. I say first time because I am so determined to get a few more articles published next year, Aim big, as they say!
Oh September, what a beautiful month you were. I quit my job (and sat down to write The Unemployment Plan), met another travel blogger (the awesome Tara from Where is Tara?) at a blogger meet up in Dublin and decided to head off on an impromptu weekend trip to Copenhagen!
Straight after my whirlwind trip to Denmark, I headed off on a 4 day press trip to Iceland with Wow Air, a trip I had been looking forward to for a long time!! Despite only being there for 4 days, myself and Lauren had the most incredible time and it’s hard to believe how far we traveled and how much we managed to see in such a short space of time. If you haven’t been to Iceland, you HAVE to go!
October was my first month enjoying all the benefits of funemployment! Not having a job meant I had loads of free time to spend with friends and discover my own country a little bit more. I spent a weekend in Parknasilla Resort, my favourite hotel in Ireland to celebrate my Mum’s birthday and another weekend at the Cork International Jazz Festival. One of the highlights was a free adventure weekend in Leitrim (organized by Discover Ireland and Joe.ie) with three friends that are equally as passionate about travel as I am. You can see the video our of weekend below. (One of my friends from this adventure, Allan, is currently going viral with all the hilarious animal selfies, which you have to check out!)
November was the busiest month of the whole year when it comes to travelling. I think I spent about 2 days in total in Ireland and the rest of the month bouncing around from flight to flight and country to country! Following 3 days in London for World Travel Market, I flew straight to Huelva in the south of Spain for a press trip with 3 other bloggers. From here I flew home to Dublin for about 24 hours before setting off on my longest trip of the year to beautiful South Africa and Lesotho…which also happened to be my 50th country and the end of a decade long bucket list!!
December was a month of unexpected adventure! Having checked into an amazing hostel in a pretty dangerous city, I missed my flight home to Ireland on purpose and decided to extend my stay in South Africa for a few weeks. I was simply having too much fun!!
Finally I flew home to Ireland for Christmas, just in time to start planning a whole new year of travels in 2016. With flights to Morocco, Portugal and Paris booked for January, I am all set for a jam-packed year of travel!
Oh what a year.
Here’s to a great 2016 for all of us!