My travel bucket list is LONG! Very long in fact, and it never EVER gets shorter. No matter how many places I visit, the inspiration I get from people along the way, just means my list gets longer.
So, how did my ever growing travel bucket list fare in 2017? What places did I manage to tick off? Which places did I love, and which places did I loathe? Maybe this will give you some inspiration for 2018.
My 2017 travel bucket list update
January 2017 – Shannon, Ireland
Shannon was a last minute addition to our travel itineraries based on budget and time. We headed there to ring in the New Year, and were decidedly underwhelmed by it. Blink, and you might miss the town centre, which is really a shopping mall housed in the underbelly of an ugly tenement building.
Whilst Shannon might not be worthy of a stopover, other than to beat the immigration queues stateside, there are some other worthy attractions in the area.
The Cliffs of Moher are stunning, whilst Bunratty Castle is also worth a trip. Durty Nellies next door is a great place to dine for New Year, but I would not recommend Shannon as a travel bucket list destination.
February 2017 – Lincolnshire
Now Lincolnshire may not seem like a glamorous destination, but if you seek brisk seaside walks, quaint little towns and a log cabin with a hot tub, then you have come to the right place.
For Jason’s birthday, we jumped in the car, along with my two step-daughters, for a luxury log cabin weekend. We indulged on wine, Chinese takeaways and languishing in the tub! Bliss!
Whilst I’m not suggesting that Lincolnshire should make it onto everyone’s travel bucket list, staying in a log cabin with a hot tub, definitely should. That chance to reconnect with friends and family in luxury surroundings is heaven.
March 2017 – Seoul and Pyeongchang, South Korea
Taking a visit to the DMZ in South Korea was definitely on my travel bucket list. In fact, I really wanted to take a little detour into North Korea, but that didn’t work. A few days before our arrival, North Korea decided belligerently to start firing nuclear weapons at Japan. That put an end to our North Korea visit, but we did get to witness first hand the physical legacy of this stand-off.
Having little idea what to expect of Seoul, we loved the contrast between ancient temples, modern high rises and traditional restaurants. Sampling South Korean dishes, often with little idea of what they were, was great fun. I highly recommend the Bibimbap, which is a form of stew with rice.
Combining a city visit, with skiing in the resorts of Phoenix Park, Alpensia and Yongpyong was an heady mixture of culture and confusion. English is not widely spoken outside Seoul so we had to take a blind leap of faith at meal times. We were particularly amused by one dish advertised as ‘chicken liver disease.’ Delightful!
Visiting the 2018 Winter Olympics venues was fascinating, and has us eagerly awaiting the start of the Olympics in less than a month. You don’t have much time left to book if you fancy a piece of the action.
April 2017 – Berlin, Germany
I visited Berlin many years ago and loved it, so this trip was more to address Jason’s travel bucket list. We both left a little underwhelmed.
The haunting holocaust memorial and Berlin Wall were highlights, as was our hotel, the Crowne Plaza. Otherwise, we just were not blown away.
May 2017 – Vilnius, Lithuania
Vilnius was most definitely on our travel bucket list and boy did it live up to expectations. Lofty castles, shimmering spires and inexpensive food and drink was a delight. Wandering the cobbles of the old town, sipping gins in elegant bars and viewing the city from above was captivating.
We also managed to do a DIY trip out to the gorgeous Trakai castle for a fraction of the published tour costs.
July 2017 – Road trip, Albania
If you asked me what I knew about Albania twelve months ago, I would have immediately thought sex traffficking. Blame Liam Neeson and ‘Taken’ for this reputation. I’d heard little that was positive about this small nation, sandwiched on the Adriatic between Montenegro to the north and Greece to the south.
A little research persuaded me that it was worthy of a visit, and £70 and two reward flights later, our flights were booked. Albania was perhaps the biggest surprise of the year, and if it isn’t on your travel bucket list, it absolutely should be.
Instead of sex traffickers, we found welcoming Albanians, keen to share their country with us. We visited crumbling ruins, UNESCO world heritage towns, ancient cliff top settlements and mountain terrain with incredible views. Albania is Europe’s best kept secret, but it won’t be for long!
If you decide to hire a car, be sure to check out our driving guidelines for Albania.
August 2017 – Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia
Every one of these countries was high on my bucket list. Pictures of azure seas, mountainous terrain and dramatic coastline hugely appealed.
Croatia is firmly entrenched on the British tourism hot list, Montenegro is its up and coming sibling, whilst Bosnia is still languishing in the shadow of its ubiquitous past. In spite of the hoards of tourists, unspoilt countryside abuts colourful and delightful towns selling gelato and seafood. Shimmering turquoise seas sit beneath high mountains, a true photographer’s dream.
These countries have something to offer everyone and should be on every bucket list.
September 2017 – Manchester, England
Manchester is a vibrant city in the north of England and worthy of a visit for more than just the food and drink. Whilst we were visiting for a boozy night out with friends, there are museums, concert venues, theatres, and sporting activities to attract you to this city.
If you live in the UK, Manchester should definitely be on your bucket list for a weekend visit.
October 2017 – Zanzibar, Tanzania
Oh Zanzibar. Just thinking of this pearl shaped island off the east coast of Africa has me swooning. Frangipani scented bathrooms, a hulking bathtub, mammoth four poster and a generous private pool, overlooking the Indian Ocean, was a fitting reward for finishing my MBA
We enjoyed an indulgent week of relaxation here, doing little more than running, sailing and kayaking. I rediscovered reading for fun, and feasted on fine dining and sublime wine from Spier Wine in South Africa. Yum yum! The Residence Zanzibar earns my vote for top food of the year and best beach!
It should be on EVERY bucket list but, heed my warning. If you feel inclined to write anything negative about the island, as I did in my story about Zanzibar International Airport, ask yourself if you can cope with the potential backlash.
December 2017 – Milan and Cervinia, Italy
Zermatt was high on my bucket list, but what wasn’t, was ridiculously high prices. To avoid these, we booked a week in Cervinia, in the neighbouring valley. The ski slopes connect the two towns, so we figured we would ski over.
We didn’t quite make it to Zermatt but what better way to round off the Year than with an activity holiday to Italy? Skiing on Christmas, Day under bright blue skies, was a fabulous alternative to stuffing our faces with chocolate and Christmas dinner.
Returning to Milan for the most chaotic New Year I may have experienced will not encourage me to return. Watching a free concert in the shadow of the jaw dropping Milan cathedral was a sight to behold.
Views of the Matterhorn should definitely be on your bucket list, but frankly Milan is far outshadowed by other Italian cities.
The highlights of my 2017 travels are hard to select. Luxuriating in our pool, under swaying palms and with views out to azure waters and a glittering white beach is pretty high up.
Walking the old towns of Dubrovnik and Kotor were also pretty spectacular, and a reminder of just how beautiful this part of the world is. Eating seafood in Albania scores highly too, but how can I ever really choose the best? There were so many incredible memories, including spending quality time with my honey 🍯 in Italy.
What’s on the cards for the 2018 bucket list?
I’m aiming to tick off a bunch of big ticket items from my bucket list. From a child friendly weekend at Eurodisney, with my niece and step-daughters, to exploring South Africa in April with friends, a weekend in Bratislava with my dad in June and touring China in August. I’m pretty stoked for 2018.
How about your travel bucket list?
What are you aiming to tick off your bucket list in 2018? Maybe some of my other readers can help you out with top tips for things to do. Let’s dream together. Or, if you have any questions about these, or other destinations just pop it below.