Happy New Year!
2017 felt as if it went by in a flash, and all of a sudden here we are, at the start of 2018. As arbitrary as it may be, I love the “fresh start” feeling that comes in January: a new year, a new calendar to mark, a new diary to fill, a new notebook to scribble in.
But as we open fresh diaries and turn the page on our calendars, for the first time in a long time I’m starting a new year with no set travel plans.
None. There isn’t even one flight booked or a single weekend away organized.
Now, that’s not to say there aren’t any travels on the horizon.
A dear friend is getting married this spring in England’s Lake District, and I fully intend on being there to cheer and smile and dance and most likely shed a few tears, but I’m still on the hunt for flights. (I’m checking on them every day, in fact. If you find any flight deals to the UK, please let me know!)
Plus, Mr. Stories My Suitcase Could Tell surprised me at Christmas with the gift of a weekend away in the Catskills, in a gorgeous hotel a few hours north of New York City – but that hasn’t been pencilled into the calendar yet, either.
With nothing quite set in stone, where do I dream of visiting in 2018?
As well as a wedding in the Lake District and a weekend in the New York mountains, where do I hope to visit, at home and abroad, over the next 12 months?
I’ve been giving it some thought, and have come up with a few travel dreams – some realistic, and some ambitious – for 2018…
Go home to the Outer Hebrides
This one, forever at the top of my travel wish list, is probably not much of a surprise to you!
Of course, there are island stories I want to work on – some things never change – but really I want to go home for the same reasons I always do: to spend quality time with family and friends; to eat all the foods I can’t get here (bring on the Stornoway Black Pudding); and to walk on the beaches and breathe in the fresh air.
At the moment, I’m hoping to get home (with Mr. Stories My Suitcase Could Tell coming along for the journey, too) after the May wedding. But as always, I’d love to squeeze in a second visit somewhere in the calendar.
Getting back to the Outer Hebrides twice last year made each visit easier; I could relax into the pace of island life and enjoy myself, without the constant thought that I had to do everything all at once because I wouldn’t get to experience it again for another year.
Re-discover Scotland’s cities
In the three years since I moved away, Scotland’s cities seem have to exploded in popularity. I’ve read that Edinburgh has a better food scene than Brooklyn; Glasgow is getting trendier by the minute; and Dundee is one of the “top places to visit in 2018.”
I adore Edinburgh, and could never say no to a visit there, but I’m also quite intrigued by Glasgow. I’ve only really known Glasgow as a child, and I would be interested to see what Scotland’s largest city has to offer me as a travel-loving, food-obsessed adult.
Visit a new-to-me country
Visiting new countries when you live in the USA is not quite as easy as it is when you live in the UK (read: no £30 budget airline flights to Europe), but again, this year, I’m hoping to experience somewhere completely new.
While it’s unlikely I’ll make it to one of my big dream destinations this year (think Jordan, India, or Tanzania), I’d love to snag a flight deal to somewhere like Portugal, Ireland, or Colombia, all spots that seem to pop up frequently in my Scott’s Cheap Flights emails. A travel blogger can dream, right?
See more of New York City
When looking back on my 2017 adventures recently, I realised that I had written about New York City on here a grand total of… once. Only once!
It’s easy, when you live somewhere, to fall into a routine of doing the same thing time and time again: eating at your favourite restaurants, visiting the same parks, sipping cocktails at the same local bar.
As a result, in 2018 I’d like to shake up my current NYC routine, and go out of the way to see more of the city. I also want to bring more stories from New York City to you here on the blog (stories that in many cases have been sitting in my drafts folder for far too long, awaiting fresh photos to accompany them…oops!).
Spend a weekend on Anna Maria Island
I first heard of Anna Maria Island when Laura and Claire, of Twins That Travel, visited last autumn. Their Instagram photos of dreamy sunrises over the water put the Florida island on my radar, but it was their in-depth blog post that planted it firmly in my mind as a place I want to visit.
I’ve enjoyed exploring parts of the USA that fall outside of the typical international tourist route – places like the coast of Maine, Jekyll Island in Georgia, and the Finger Lakes in upstate New York – and Anna Maria Island looks like just the kind of under-estimated destination I like to experience.
Experience Gaelic culture in Nova Scotia
Since moving to the USA in 2014, I’ve found myself increasingly interested in the history of the Gaels of the Highlands and Islands who emigrated to North America in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.
One place where the Gaelic culture really took root, and where it remains to this day, is in Nova Scotia in Canada. It would be fascinating to experience that little bit of home on this side of the Atlantic, as well as delving into that history more deeply.
(Aside from that, the province looks beautiful, and I could also swing by Halifax to say hello to my blogging friend Mel of Mel Had Tea, as well.)
These, for now, are my 2018 travel plans and dreams.
Like the last few years, there are many more dreams than plans. But, as I always say, you never know what’s waiting around the corner. Maybe I’ll visit all these places, and maybe I won’t even scratch the surface of this list.
To be honest, as long as I get to spend some quality time with friends and family I will be quite content, regardless of location. So whatever 2018 has in store for me in terms of travel, I’ll be ready for it, with passport, notebook, and suitcase in hand.