“OH ANOTHER NEW YEAR POST, THANK GOD” I hear you cry. Well, you lucky things you, I have another one right here. I always set myself goals every year, despite how cliché it might seem (#newyearnewme). This year in particular I wanted to really set myself some travel goals, and for all of my creative outputs including this blog, my photography & Instagram in addition to my monthly newsletter.
I’m obviously setting myself some more personal goals (like to cleanse, tone and moisturise every morning and night – yep.. that’s one..). I’m also attempting drier January after an absolute mad one of a December and money saving is a yearly one – more about that later!
So without futher ado, please find my travel goals for 2018…
To write blog posts weekly
Might not seem to be much of a biggun’ but after hitting the 50 post marker last November it occurred to me that after 2 years of blogging that means I had published almost 1 post every fortnight. This year my goal is to try and publish every week (every Sunday morning is my new publishing goal – but I’ll keep ya posted if the schedule changes!)
To expand and vary my content regarding travel that doesn’t revolve around one trip.
This plays a lot into the previous point but my aim is to vary and expand on the content I produce to not just revolve about the trips I’ve been on. I’d like to explore more ideas regarding travel – ethical travel for example is a big passion of mine, and I’d like to research and report on this more thoroughly.
I am constantly bemoaning the fact I can’t travel 24/7, and whereas I manage to fit as many trips around my budget and annual leave as I can, I would like to expand my writing to explore aspects that don’t require me to get on a plane/train/automobile to do so. This will also involve trying to expand on my photography and other elements that accompany every post, but I’m willing to give it my best shot to provide the best content I can in 2018!
To travel as much as I can whilst saving as much as I can – hopefully for a big trip
As mentioned above, I do try to fit as many trips I can within my budget and annual leave as I can – but last year in particular this idea went out the window and I went on quite a few big trips that blew the budget a bit. This year my plan is take things a bit slower and to take smaller trips, sticking to Europe as much as I can (pre-Brexit in 2019 after all!). My aim is to keep to a budget as much as I can this way – following the old tricks of finding cheap flights on Skyscanner, sticking to cheaper accommodation via Booking.com or Airbnb and researching the best places to eat and drink whilst on a budget – so we don’t accidentally stumble across the most expensive spots.
To develop a logo and revamp my blog design
Since starting the blog I’ve been through a few designs, and this past year especially I’ve been tweaking away at small bits to try and make it the best – visually – as I can. My aim for 2018 is to really invest time and resources into the design of this blog, and to make the logo I’ve had in my head this past year into a reality.
To follow more travel blogs and Instagrams, to meet more like minded travel bodies and be inspired
This is something I’ve definitely grown on in the past year – but I’d like to continue this by growing the number of travel blogs I follow, and also having more of an explore on Instagram. I’d like to do this to build on my inspiration, and to reach more blogs I haven’t seen before – not just for myself, but to also populate my monthly newsletter so you lovely people can see them too! I’m still new to the Instagram game for Grundy Travels, but the explore function is a great way to lose a few hours perusing…
There we are! My 5 new years travel resolutions.. I hope you enjoyed reading this post, and just give it 11 more months and I can check back in to see how I stuck to these! If you’ve set any resolutions you’d like to share let me know in the comments below!
Well, well, well. Just by chance this week I discovered it was my two year anniversary of this blog, and it started me off on a trip down memory lane! I started this little old blog two years ago and I made a deal with myself that if I really was as serious about travel photography and writing as I wanted to be, I had to prove to myself that I could commit to it! It’s been a bit testing, and it’s been hard for several reasons I’ll go into further on in the post, but overall I’m so proud of the content, photos and write-ups I’ve produced, as well as all of the people I’ve connected with through this blog along the way.
It’s been a lot and I’m proud that the majority of holidays I’ve been on I’ve managed to follow my budgeting rules, whereas others have completely blown that budget! It’s been a blast, and so I wanted to write up this little reflective post of the past two years and my highs and lows of my blogging experience so far.
I like to use as my little area of the internet, and for a while felt like no-one apart from my mum was reading (hi mum!) but watching and interacting with complete strangers who’ve found my blog, either on WordPress reader or my Instagram, has been such a lovely experience. Knowing that people have discovered my work, even simply through a hashtag, and then continued to read and comment/like my post feels so rewarding!
Also, I’ve never felt like a top-notch writer, but I’ve been building on that with every post I write. It’s been a great experience to build on my writing, and also how I style my blog posts each time, especially how I’ve built my ‘City on a Budget’ templates, so I can make each post as good as possible.
Similar to above, it also applies for my photography, I’ve always tried to take the best pictures on holidays I’ve been on even before this blog, but having Grundy Travels has really pushed me to up my photography game. Two Christmases ago I bought myself an Olympus Pen E-PL7 in the New Year Sales at John Lewis (it’s now been upgraded to the E-PL8 but trust me the 7 is a treat). This has been a huge help in upping the photo game, but I also think you can take a cracking photo on a trusty old iPhone – sometimes the trick is in the editing. I’ve put some of my favourite photos so far throughout this post, just for a bit of eye candy… My new goal is to get my head around editing software – sometimes just an app won’t cut it! So let’s see where that takes me going onwards…
The toughest aspect however, would have to be the balance. I find it really hard to find time to write, blog, take pictures and even go (and afford) on holidays all the time. I have a full time job that also involves a set holiday allowance, so I’m making it count where I can. It’s that struggle of trying to be a travel blogger when you can’t travel 24/7, so my goal going forward is to try and think outside the box when it comes to my travel blog posts, and to see what I can produce when I’m still in ol’ Blighty.
Overall the past two years have been brilliant, and I am really proud of the content that fill up this blog and I’m looking forward to what the rest of the year brings. In the past two years alone we’ve been to Barcelona, Santorini, Iceland, New York (twice!), Mykonos, Australia, Edinburgh, Berlin, Zakynthos and not forgetting two trips to Glastonbury Festival! Coming up this year I have a trip to Paris and Lisbon, so look forward to what content will follow! Hopefully in the meantime there’ll be posts that I can still write whilst staying in England, I’ll try my best!
To those who’ve been following since the beginning – thank you. And to those who have just found me, I hope you stick around!
Bear with me now, ever heard of doing the ‘peaks and troughs’ of your day, trip or year? Maybe it’s just us, but after our first Glastonbury trip – we decided to recap the highs and lows of our trip. It’s quite fun to do, and especially when you’re doing it at the end of the year it can put things really into perspective.
I wanted to do this for my past year of travel as it really has been an incredible year for me, with some bumps along the way! So without further ado, read on for my peaks and troughs of each of my 2017 trips…
Peak: Erm we were on the other side of the world? Going to Australia was one of my biggest accomplishments of this year. It’s the ultimate holiday to go on – you literally can’t get anywhere further away (okay scratch that – New Zealand). But still, I’m so glad I went and experienced the land down under, and that we fit so much into our time there. If I had to pick an absolute peak of the trip it was actually getting up (even for a split second) on the surfboard. For someone who can be a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to extreme sports I was really proud of myself for actually giving it a go, and I wrote more about the experience here.
If I were to pick peak #2 it would be spotting the sea turtle when we went out on the Great Barrier Reef on a catamaran. And peak #3 would be meeting my new koala bff.
Trough: SUNBURN. Oh God, the sunburn. I burnt my hands so badly a cashier stopped me – horrified – to check everything was okay. They went purple. Since this trip I’ve noticed that my hands go darker than the rest of my body when it tans, so I’m concerned there’s a lil’ bit of sun damage there, but if you’re mole-y like me, make sure to keep an eye on them and get them checked annually!
ANYWAY, I also burnt my scalp so badly (in the THREE hours I was surfing) that it looked like I had really bad dandruff when I came home. Yup, real sexy.
My advice for not being a complete idiot like myself? Wear suncream (obviously), but make sure you’ve reached everywhere on your body. Even if you don’t feel like you need it, do it just in case. Always wear a hat if you burn easily on your scalp, and if you can’t (i.e if you’re surfing) maybe look into applying some SPF to your hairline. Even if you look like a lil bit of an idiot at the time, trust me, you’ll look even worse when it starts to flake if you get burnt…
Highs: Literal highs were reached on this trip, as we climbed Arthur’s Seat. Albeit I was woefully unprepared (read the Lows section below) but I’m so glad we did it. It took us a long time, but the feeling of getting to the top was great – and windy. What I love even more about our trip was the gorgeous painting of Arthur’s Seat my boyfriend bought me for my birthday from a shop in Edinburgh, that is now hanging proudly in our living room so I get to see every day!
Low: YEP, with great highs come some lows. When we climbed Arthur’s Seat we really didn’t look up how to do so, and ended up going the long way round. And trust me, you really don’t want to accidentally go the wrong way round. We had a great time in all, but nothing worse in coming back down the hill past tons of tourists following the signs – to a much shorter route. Lesson learnt – keep your eyes peeled for signs, and maybe look the route up beforehand – and I don’t just mean on Google maps!
Peak: River cruise. I wouldn’t normally put myself down for a tourist river cruise on a holiday, but as it was my birthday, and the weather was particularly good, and you could get wine on board, we decided to do it. I really enjoyed it and the tour guide was great – but you didn’t necessarily have to pay attention to the whole thing. It was a nice, budget way to spend a few hours on the water with a few drinks on my birthday, and I absolutely loved it. If you’re going to Berlin in the summer I reckon it would be a lot more fun in much warmer weather!
Troughs: School trips. I should have known really, considering the first time I went to Berlin (and my first time on a plane!) was a school trip there. But it was full of schoolchildren. Usually you can avoid them, as luckily they’re not usually hanging out at the river-side pubs and bars. However you can run into them in the museums, and whereas it wasn’t too much of an issue in most the worst was the DDR museum. It was a great museum, and the interactive aspects were so interesting – but we were there at the same time as a class-full of teenagers, they were everywhere.
I would suggest going in term time as that might help, but even then it’s hard to avoid a school trip here and there. There’s nothing to do other than to grin and bear it and queue behind them all – but if you really can’t stand gaggles of school children, maybe steer clear!
Highs: As with every year at Glastonbury, I genuinely can’t pick my absolutely favourite moment. This year was my 5th – and as there isn’t a festival in 2018 – it was bittersweet. I loved it all – from the big stage performers, to the little acoustic sets, to just sitting around with my friends at our tent, drinking and being stupid. I absolutely loved this year and I genuinely hope I can go back in 2019.
Lows: Getting robbed. Yep. Never mentioned that properly on here but enough time has passed for me now to mention it and not have my blood boil immediately. But my friend and I were robbed at Glastonbury whilst we slept in our tent.
When I get over the invasion of privacy and also the anger that I genuinely believe whoever robbed us wasn’t in need of that money (you seriously can’t get in unless you have £200+ to spare so you’re hardly needy) I have to also acknowledge that things could have been worse. They didn’t steal my phone, or my bank cards or my car keys – several things that would’ve cost more money to replace! He stole cash from me, which – yes – was my own – hard earned cash – but it could have been worse.
To avoid any other ugly situations like this happening at festivals always keep your belongings close to you. When you’re out try and wear a bum bag or use any pockets that are close to your body. When you go to sleep in your tent keep all valuables in your pillow case. Even if it’s next to your body it’s not enough – keep your wits about you!
Highs: Hiring our own boat. YEP I’m pretty sure you knew I was going to go there, because I can’t stop banging on about it. But I genuinely can’t think of a better day we’ve ever had on any previous trips to Greece. We hadn’t properly planned everything, but a bit of googling and a trip down the road to the nearby resort confirmed that we could have a small boat to ourself for the day, and not for a too expensive price. We filled up on a supermarket picnic – tzatziki, hummus, pitta, crisps and – of course – a pack of Mythos. Our day trip involved a journey up to the Blue Caves before mooring up next to a little private beach to ourselves.
Lows: This is a bit of a non-low but looking back on it now I wish I’d have known about the option to hire our own boat before we went on the giant tour boat to the Shipwreck cove. We still had a great time on the shipwreck cove boat but the experience on our own little boat was so much better, and I’d have rather done that twice in a row than gone on the larger boat.
Oh and on the tourist boat there was a particularly unfortunate moment where the boat captain accused me of flooding the toilet in front of the back end of the boat which was FUN. Nothing like being told off for a blocked toilet that had nothing to do with you and then not being able to escape from everyone staring at you! Also – if you’re on a boat and you block the toilet, SHAME ON YOU. But seriously, it wasn’t me…
Peaks: Brooklyn Bridge at Sunrise. I’m so so glad we decided to beat jet lag and head out so early in the morning to walk down the centre of Manhattan to Brooklyn Bridge. We didn’t managed to catch the sunrise on the bridge, but the city looked beautiful as the sun was coming up on the way there. By the time we made our way to the Bridge the sun was still coming up, and we had the bridge almost to ourselves – with only the occasional cyclist and commuter. The pictures we took that morning are my favourite from the trip – it really was magic hour.
Troughs: The weather. It was pristine for the first day, but just when we wanted it to be clear skies – our booking for a night at the top of the Rockefeller centre at Bar Sixty Five it’s suddenly 0% visibility… What are the chances.
Unfortunately it was our last night so we couldn’t rearrange, but we still went in and enjoyed the gorgeous cocktails to toast our holiday in New York.
And that’s a wrap for 2017’s travels! I hope you enjoyed my round up there of the highs and lows of each journey – the low points aren’t often shown on social media accounts, so it’s good to get it out here – and now with some distance have a laugh!
I hope you enjoyed this post, and if you have any suggestions of where to go in 2018 please comment down below. In the meantime check out my Instagram for future travel updates!
Well, well well.. 2017 you have been pretty fantastic. Personally it really has been an incredible year, both in terms of my travel achievements and also what I’ve accomplished personally.
Travel-wise this year I really have had an amazing year of opportunities. I’ve been to Australia, Edinburgh, Berlin, My 5th Glastonbury, Secondigny, Mykonos and New York… and I feel incredibly lucky to have done so. I’ve really thrown myself into this blog, my Instagram GrundyTravels, and my newsletter, and I’m so encouraged by the interaction I’ve received as a result.
Below are my ‘2017 best nine’ on the Grundy Travels account, but my personal favourites top way more than nine..! Let me tell you about my 2017 highlights below, with some of my favourite pics from the year too..
I pushed myself more this year. I travelled to the other side of the world by myself – Australia, and really pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I’m quite a big scaredy cat when it comes to the big things, but I gave surfing a go – and absolutely loved it. I also went snorkelling out on the Great Barrier Reef amongst all the fish, jellyfish (!!) and sea turtles. It was incredible to do, and I’m glad I pushed myself to do it as I’m not a strong swimmer – but that’s something I want to work on in 2018! I flew long-haul by myself and learnt to drive in a foreign country – which might seem like small hurdles but I think of them as quite big accomplishments!
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I learnt to go with my instincts, and not to take all travel advice to heart. I love researching trips before I go and asking for advice, but sometimes you have to trust your gut on what you want to do. The amount of times in Australia we were told not to have a drink at the Sydney Opera House pier, or to visit Bondi because they were too touristy. But we did! And we loved it! Lesson learnt, listen to your gut!
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We did more ‘staycations’ this year. Taking more time to explore the cities in the UK that we’ve not seen as much of. We went to Brighton and I went back to Norwich – my uni city – for a long weekend. We also went to Edinburgh for our anniversary trip (not quite a ‘stay’-cation as it’s Scotland – but it didn’t require a passport or any different currency!). It was a great way to explore, take some time out whilst not having to spend too much money or book any more time off work!
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I started my Grundy Travels Newsletter! It started off as a little idea and has sprouted into something I really love doing. I’ve learnt a lot along the way – e.g. that I can’t manage a weekly letter, but I can put more time and effort into making a great monthly one. Watching the follower count grow and seeing the feedback from each letter has been really encouraging and I’ve really enjoyed it. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can follow this link here.
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5. I threw myself more into this blog and my Instagram, (as well as starting my newsletter)! I hit the 50 post mark in October and it made me realise how much I love putting into this blog and writing up posts that aren’t just about my travels. I’ve tried to expand what I write about on here and it’s one of my resolutions to continue this in 2018 – I don’t (and can’t) have to travel all the time to create content, I will do it!
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As for 2018? I don’t have any resolutions as such, except to take my makeup off before I go to sleep… and to switch to G&Ts rather than prosecco (seriously, that’s my resolution…)
As for travel plans.. So far on the cards we have a trip to Paris, maybe Portugal and a family trip to Majorca. I’m hoping to visit my parents in France in the Summer and hopefully a trip to Greece again. We’re toying with the idea of a big holiday in 2019 – maybe Australia again! But let’s see… I want 2018 to be the year of enjoying what I have and what I can do, without trying to do too much. After 2017 my travel plans and bank balance need a bit of a break!
I hope you’ve all had a great 2017, and thanks for sticking with me along the way. To all new followers and old, thanks for being here. I hope to bring you the best I can in 2018 – whether it be posts, pictures or newsletters!