Monday, 15 January 2018

My 30 Before 30 Travel Wishlist

30 before 30 travel wishlist

30 before 30 

I've definitely been bit by the travel bug. I've been to some wonderful places and hope to continue travelling as long and often as possible. Exactly halfway, I've visited 15 countries to date - and hope to visit another 15 (at least!) to hit my target of 30 before 30.

It's really not about numbers - I just like the idea of making travel a priority so I can do and see as much as possible, especially because I was late to the travel game and didn't stop to take a gap year in my early 20s.

I want to trek the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu, travel through Brazil and Argentina and and see Iguazu Falls, island hop in Croatia, island hop in Thailand and swim in Maya Bay, see the incredible northern lights in Iceland with fingers crossed for clear skies, visit Petra in Jordan, explore and haggle badly in the souks in Marrakesh, snorkel in the Philippines, wander the streets of Havana, visit the Taj Mahal and palaces of Jaipur and Udaipur. OK I'll stop here because I could go on and on!

Travel wishlist 

So in the spirit of wanderlust, here is my personal travel wishlist. It'll be interesting to look back and see just how many I can visit and experience before the big 3 0 in August 2020.

  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • Croatia
  • Cuba
  • Germany
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Kenya
  • Mexico
  • Morocco
  • Myanmar
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Philippines
  • Peru
  • Thailand

What do you think about the 30 before 30 goal? And how many countries have you visited? I'm incredibly jealous if you've already hit or surpassed 30 :)

| Bracelets: Accessorize Beaded compass bracelet and markets |

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Passion and purpose

2017. I'm sure I say the same every year but honestly, what a year it's been. 

Starting with the positives, a standout highlight was my first trip to Southeast Asia to explore Vietnam and a small part of Cambodia, a trip which I enjoyed so much more than I thought possible.  I loved everything about it - the food, the people, the beautiful sights of Halong Bay, Sapa rice terraces and temples of Angkor Wat, just to name a few. At 27 I worried I'd left it too late to embark on my first backpacker trip but I was truly surprised at how easy it was to embrace the traveller lifestyle and not give age a second thought.

Looking back, I can see that 2017 is the year where I finally relaxed about friendships, accepting that they don't all last forever and that's ok. If a friendship is meant to be, you'll make the time to keep in touch regardless of distance or time apart. I've had some great times with old and new friends - laughing more this year than I ever have before.

But with the highs there have also been lows. The hardest being the passing of family members and the complicated process of coming to terms with such losses. I won't dwell too long here as grief is a tricky thing to talk about but I take comfort knowing they are no longer suffering.

2017 was also a year of uprooting. The first six months were spent organising and preparing - emotionally and physically to move out of our family home - my childhood home of 27 years. The move was a massive change for my family but I realise I used it as an excuse to put off making decisions in my own little world - career, personal life, you know the drill. Of the goals and lifestyle changes I vowed to make at the start of 2017, hardly any stuck past the first few months of the year through no one's fault but my own.

So now, on the last day of 2017 I write this post in a not so new place which has gradually grown to feel like home. Feeling settled again, and eager to make the most out of the new year, I am energised and motivated to take responsibility, do away with the excuses and start making things happen.

So what exactly do I want from the new year? 2018 will be the year where I pursue passion and purpose. I stumbled upon these words in an article just a few weeks ago but they have stuck in my mind ever since. No 'new year, new me'. Just refusing to fall back into a rut of limbo and indecisiveness. I will continually think about what excites and motivates me and look for ways to make changes - big or small, to push myself and do more. 

And in the spirit of the new year, I leave a few links which have fuelled my pursuit of passion and purpose:

Sunday, 7 May 2017

The handy handbag

Today I return to the blog to rave about an impulse buy turned everyday staple.

A few months back I realised I was missing a smaller handbag which would fit just the essentials for evenings out and running errands. To further justify a new purchase, I thought about my trusty work backpack which though perfect for carrying supplies for the 9-5 was not so practical when trying to reach for items on the go.

In a moment of genius I convinced myself that carrying a second smaller bag would remedy this problem nicely. Some ASOS browsing later I found a contender, the ASOS Croc Boxy Cross Body bag and hit order minutes later. The rest is history!

Although small in size, the boxy shape means I can pack in the essentials and keep things organised. No rooting around for the oyster card or keys here. I was further sold by the details; a faux croc exterior and silver chain strap. I favour silver jewellery this days and not one for mixing metals liked how easily I could throw this bag on without having to cut down on other accessories.

Best of all, it was easy on the bank balance costing just £20. Winning both on price and details, this really is a handy little bag to have to hand.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Hello 2017

Wow, didn't 2016 just fly by. Despite the shocks and divisions it brought us, I had a good personal year overall.

I've stopped making rigid new year's resolutions but still like to use the time to reflect on my habits and figure out which areas need improvement and will lead to a more balanced lifestyle. 

In 2017 I want to work out consistently, i.e at least 3 times a week, including a 5-10k run. With so many great workouts available on YouTube and Instagram I enjoy the flexibility of working out at home and at my own pace but I also want to try out (and stick to) a group class like spinning or yoga.

I also want to continue working on my blog and publish more consistently. I'm constantly drafting up posts but do find it difficult to finish a lot of them straight away. Plus the pressure of taking Pinterest-worthy images when photography is just not my thing sometimes puts me off. I think if I just sit down and dedicate some time to learn about photography and basic photo editing it will slowly become less of a concern.

2016 was a good year for travel. I work full time so have to plan trips over the year but was pleased to visit 5 countries. I'm excited to plan a trip to Southeast Asia later in the year, and squeeze in as many European getaways as I can!

The final goal is to make better use of my free time. Less online browsing and more doing. Whether that's through reading, working on the blog or sticking to my newly created workout schedule, I just want to channel as much of my energy on positive and constructive things.

I really am excited to channel the new year and make 2017 my best yet. Hope it's yours too. 

Happy New Year!

Sunday, 13 November 2016

The balancing act

St James's Park, London

What a week it's been. On several occasions I've either been told to cheer up or asked why I'm looking so down. Sure, I've felt a little tired and have been attempting to beat the post-holiday blues, but waking up to yet another divisive election result on Wednesday morning was a bitter pill to swallow. I live in the UK where we are currently in a state of limbo following the decision to Brexit. I also have friends in the US and have visited America a few times in recent years. Putting policies and personal opinions on the two candidates to one side, the division between US voters was clear and I can't help be saddened by America's decision not to elect its first female president.

It's easy to feel powerless and disillusioned when witnessing such big changes you did not want. Whilst I have neither the power nor the means to influence big change, I can continue to make choices to better my mindset. On a personal level, 2016 has been a positive year. I wanted to stop procrastinating and make better use of my time, strive for a healthier work-life balance and improve my fitness. I also wanted to reclaim 'me time' through blogging and yoga, making the most of what wonderful London has to offer and travelling as much as possible.

So how did I fare up? On the travel front, I visited Bruges, Copenhagen (including a day trip to Malmo which totally counts), Wilmington in North Carolina for a friend's wedding and Ocho Rios and Negril in Jamaica to soak up some sunshine and top up on Vitamin Sea. The escape from routine when travelling, even if just a few days at a time is such a luxury and at the risk of sounding like a new age hippie, I believe breathing in the sea air at least once a year is good for the body and soul.

In 2016 I also started to blog again and whilst I'm a teeny tiny fish in a huge sea of amazing talent,  I find the process of writing and creating content to be so rewarding, especially when somebody takes the time out of their day to write a lovely comment and encourage you to keep doing your thing.

My discipline can waiver but for the most part I'm working out 3 times a week, whether it's yoga, HIIT or running. I ran my first 10k in September, not a race and very much at my own pace, but being fit enough to run such a distance was a personal fitness milestone. If I've had a difficult day, I've realised it's so much healthier to work out and work through any negative thoughts and feelings, rather than comfort eating or drinking alcohol to take the edge off. Now reading that last line back makes me feel old! 

Yoga has also proved to be such an effective tool to de-stress and unwind, making evenings more relaxing and calm. I'm sure I'm not the first to praise Yoga with Adrienne or Madeleine Shaw's YouTube yoga videos. Both are calm, patient teachers and have a mix of routines for beginners and the more experienced.

Although small changes, I honestly believe my mindset has shifted in a positive way. Focusing on the positives and making better use of my time are two changes I want to take into the new year. And looking at the bigger picture, I do hope 2017 brings unity, resolution and clarity following this year's defining decisions.

Have a good week ahead x