A lot can happen during a year. And a lot has happened in 2018 for me, especially travel-wise. I managed to visit 14 countries and many amazing places, still working full time as a geologist in Oslo and even after I broke my leg in Svalbard. It was also a first full year of living in Norway. How did I manage and how did it all go? Was it worth it? Read my year in review for 2018.
A year has passed
When the year finishes, it always catches me by surprise. Like, I know there is December 31st coming up, but how on earth does it come so quickly?! There is so much happening, that I rarely have time to think about the next year to come. And then the new year arrives. This time, the 2019 arrival caught us in Jordan, where we were celebrating it in Petra, one of the world’s 7 wonders. Not a bad way to start the new year, isn’t it?
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Travelling to 14 countries while working full time
In 2018 I somehow travelled to 14 countries in one year, which broke my previous record of 11 countries in a year (like if there was any record to break..<insert an eye roll here>).
Are you curious how I manage to travel so much? I share some tips for travelling more with full time job here. For the reference – I only have 24 days of holidays, as I work in 9-5 job. I also travel on a budget, mainly backpacking while using public transport or going on the road trips. I’ve also shared with you tips on how I afford to travel.
To be honest with you, the number of countries doesn’t really matter to me. I’ve always loved to travel and visiting new places, regardless of where they are, makes me very happy. That’s why our travels in Norway, exploring Oslo in winter, or going back to the UK, where I used to live and visiting Bath or Portsmouth were also very valuable for me.
January – Norway
I welcomed 2018 in the small wooden cabin in Norway, set among the snowy landscape and with the cozy fireplace inside. The Norway winter travel was a great experience, as we managed to visit many beautiful places in Flam and around, as well as the dramatic Norwegian fjords without many tourists. We even managed to try the ethical dog sledding tour.
February – Finland
February saw us visiting Helsinki in Finland for the Valentines Day. We had so much fun in Helsinki in winter, trying traditional Finnish sauna, ice swimming and walking on the frozen landscape. I definitely need to go back there for longer to also try some of the day trips from Helsinki.
March – Latvia & Estonia
For the Easter break (which means a few days of bank holidays in Norway), we went to Latvia and Estonia. In Latvia, we discovered the medieval Old Town of Riga, walked on the frozen Baltic sea in Jurmala and admired the Art Nouveau architecture. 1st of April found us doing a lot of sightseeing in Tallinn in Estonia. The spring weather, suddenly turned into winter with snow covering the city, but we enjoyed our time in the Estonian capital, walking on cobbled streets, exploring the interesting museums and sipping hot chocolate.
April – Svalbard
At the end of April, we went to Svalbard, the remote island archipelago, located just 1100 km away from the North Pole. The trip was out of this world and I was dreaming about it the moment I learnt that it’s possible to travel there. The wilderness, exploring the frozen landscape, looking for polar bears and driving on the glaciers with the Svalbard snowmobile tour were some of the unforgettable experiences. Unfortunately, while on the trip, I had an accident and I broke my ankle. This kept me in the cast for several weeks, followed by the slow and painful rehabilitation process. Obviously, this also affected some of our travel plans.
May – Norway road trip
Even though I wasn’t very mobile with my broken leg, I couldn’t really stand staying at home all this time. So we decided to rent a car and drive up to the Norwegian fjords for the long May weekend. It was a stunning drive through the dramatic and mountainous landscapes. We drove through some of the National Scenic Routes and National Parks. We explored Geiranger fjord area and Åndalsnes and went through the very curvy Trollstigen road.
In May we also had a few family and friend visits, as well as hosted a few travellers through Couchsurfing.
June – Norway, and Oslo in the summer
June was a quiet month, that we spent in Norway, exploring Oslo and around. The weather was beautiful, with hot, sunny days. We enjoyed island hopping in the Oslo fjord, barbecues with friends, swimming and sunbathing. We also took a weekend ferry trip to Drøbak and Oscarsborg fortress island.
July – Norway road trip and engagement
In July we took another road trip in Norway. When we were looking for a camping spot during the sunset in Rjukan mountains, Alex went down on one knee and proposed to me 😉 Then we explored the Telemark & Hordaland, and I did my first hiking after the injured ankle. The hike to Voringsfossen was amazingly beautiful and I was happy to finally be able to hike again.
August – Poland, Germany, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda
August is a month of Woodstock Poland Festival (now called Pol’n’Rock). When I was still living in Poland I used to go to that festival with my friends. This year, I decided to come back to reunite with Aberdeen crew and people from Poland. After the festival, I spent a few days in a city of Wroclaw, which I also used to visit frequently in the earlier years. It’s such a charming place. On the way, I had a quick visit to Berlin in Germany.
At the end of the month, we went for a big trip to East Africa, including Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda. Almost 3 weeks spent in Africa were packed with adventures. I loved the African Safari animals in Masai Mara Park and I didn’t want to leave. I guess I was also proud that I packed for the safari so well 😉 In Kenya, we also visited the local village where the Kenya charity, that we both support, operates. Rwanda was a nice surprise for us, but going through their painful history in the Kigali Genocide Museum was hard. In Uganda, we were supposed to do gorilla trekking, but things went wrong and we needed to change our plans. Luckily, Uganda has many more other things to offer, so we climbed the Mt. Sabinyo – the volcano on the borders of Uganda, Rwanda, and DRC and spent a few relaxing days by the Lake Bunyonyi.
September – Kenya, Italy
We started September by the Kenyan coast in Diani Beach and Mombasa, and then we came back to Norway for 2 weeks before travelling again. This time we went to Italy for our friends’ wedding in Cumbria. I also decided to take my mum for a trip to Rome for her birthday. It was a beautiful time filled with laugh, good weather and amazing Italian food (and wine).
October – UK
In October I had a few work trips to the UK, which took me to Winchester and Oxford. I spent my birthday with Alex in London on a true English afternoon tea river cruise. Out of working hours, I went to Portsmouth and Bath, which I both really enjoyed.
November – Morocco, Sweden
Originally we had a trip to Morocco planned for May, but we needed to move it because of my broken ankle. We went to Marrakesh and High Atlas mountains, renting a car and driving around the country. Morocco definitely stole my heart and left warm memories. On the way back to Norway, we had a stop in Stockholm, where we stayed for a night in a plane converted to the hotel (such a fun experience!).
December – Poland and Jordan
The last month of the year had us preparing for Christmas with my family in Poland, and New Year’s Eve in Jordan. Holidays were filled with quality time spent with family and friends followed by the adventurous trip to Jordan. Our Jordan itinerary was full of exciting things to do and places to see in Jordan, and I will be sharing that with you soon.
Is travelling to 14 countries in a year worth it?
As I said at the beginning of this post, I think that the number of countries doesn’t really matter, as well as the length of the trips. If the way you travel makes you happy, then that’s what’s most important, not where you go or for how long. There is still a lot of judgment about the way people travel or don’t. In my opinion – if you don’t hurt anyone in the process, do what makes you feel good, simple as that.
There are, however, a few aspects of it.
# Environment impact
I think I don’t talk about it enough on here, but for those of you who follow me on Instagram, you should have noticed some of my stories about the topic. I do recognize the problem and I try to account for it in my actions.
Travelling has a big impact on the environment, especially the plane trips. Whenever I can, I try to use other means of transport or to minimize my carbon footprint in another way (diet, not owning a car, etc.). This year, I also went much more into cutting the use of plastic in my life, eliminating many of the single-use plastics items. It’s crazy to think about how hard it is and how much of plastic surrounds us.
One of my new year resolutions is to talk about ethical travelling and environmental impact more. Not many people know that, but I actually also hold an environmental degree, apart from the geology one, so expect to hear about it here, too.
To read how to become a more responsible traveller click here.
Some of you might find it funny, especially those of you who go on holidays to relax. I am not one of those people and my trips are always packed to the fullest and filled with adventure. And after a while travelling can be tiring. Fast paced travel, with little time in between, especially in a way that I am doing it – mainly backpacking and travelling rough, can be very exhausting.
For all my love to travel, at the end of last year when my personal trips overlapped with the business ones, I started to feel that I need a break and rest for a bit. I wasn’t that excited for exploring anymore. Luckily, Christmas with family recharged my batteries again and I was ready for Jordan trip, which I loved.
Remember to take things slowly if you need to. There’s no shame in that. I know, that I struggle with that myself and this would be one of the things I’m planning to work on this year.
#Love for travel
Taking all the bad and all the good in – travelling is one of my biggest passions (together with photography) and I truly believe that it enhances life. It opens minds, breaks boundaries and lets us understand each other better. I feel like a citizen of the world with friends in its every corner. I’m truly grateful for that opportunity.
And how was your 2018? Have you travelled anywhere new? Or maybe you visited your favouirte places or explored your home town more? Let me know in the comments!
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