Happy New Year!
I’ve always loved New Year, the early days of January, and that “fresh start” feeling that comes with a new calendar, a clean house, a blank notebook, and an empty diary waiting for dates to be filled in and plans to be made.
In terms of travel, that new diary of mine is still quite empty, but as I look ahead to the next 12 months, I’ve got lots of ideas for what’s to come, as well as some adventures already set in stone.
As always, I’ll be returning home to Scotland, this time in June for a very special event… the Spice Girls reunion concert in Edinburgh!
It all began last November, when I woke up at 5am New York time in an attempt to secure tickets for the tour along with my brother and best friend from school. As an 8-year-old, I was completely obsessed with the Spice Girls, and as soon as I watched the promotional video, I knew we had to try and get tickets – and we did! I’m ridiculously excited for this trip, not just because of the reunion concert, but because of my own reunion with two of my favourite people. (We’re already talking about matching Spice Girls t-shirts…!)
As well as spending the weekend in Edinburgh and the Central Belt at the time of the concert, I’ll of course be flying up to the Outer Hebrides for the rest of the week to see my family; to walk on my favourite beaches; and to eat all the delicious foods I can’t get in the USA. It seems I won’t be the only one heading to the Outer Hebrides this year, either; Lonely Planet, Airbnb, and CNN have all listed the islands among their top destinations for 2019!
So far, my summer return to Scotland is the only holiday I have booked for 2019, and it will probably stay that way for the time being.
For once, though, it’s not something I’m worried about, and if you received my monthly newsletter in your inbox last month, you’ll already know why… This year, I’m starting a full-time job in publishing in New York City, at Penguin Random House! I’m now working in marketing and publicity for non-fiction books, and I’m already enjoying being part of a lovely team, learning more about the publishing industry, and being surrounded by books all day.
I’ll still be writing in my free time, of course, but blog posts may be a little less frequent as I adjust to the 9-to-5 life after four years of freelancing, and many years of flexible working before that. Travelling will naturally take a back seat too, as I settle into my new role and work around 14 days of annual leave (a number that will thankfully jump up to 20 next year).
All that said, I do believe it’s possible to travel with a full-time job, so given my new circumstances, where do I dream of travelling in 2019? I’m certainly not expecting any big bucket-list items to get checked off this year (like Jordan, Israel, Cuba, or India), but that doesn’t mean travels can’t happen a little bit closer to home. Over the next 12 months, then, here are the places I hope to explore…
New York City
Yes, I live here, but with eight million people, five boroughs, and more than 26,000 restaurants, exploring New York City can almost feel like travelling somewhere new. I think I’ve set this as a travel dream every year since I moved here, but I’ve rarely put it into action. New York City is one of the liveliest, most exciting cities in the world, and yet it’s easy to fall into your own daily routines and forget to branch out and experience everything the city has to offer.
So in 2019 – especially now that my weekdays will be spent in an office – I’m resolving to see more of New York City on the weekends, whether that’s venturing to new-to-me neighbourhoods, checking out the latest art exhibitions, or getting tickets for the theatre. According to the New York Times, there’s a lot happening in the city this year, and I’m making a resolution now to make the most of it.
Philadelphia, as I’ve said before, is a city with a special place in my heart. Not only is it the first city I ever lived in, but it’s the first place I visited in the USA, when I moved there for a year to study at the University of Pennsylvania.
Since that year though – 11 years ago now! – I haven’t really spent quality time in the City of Brotherly Love. I’ve visited briefly, for a day trip, or a blogging conference, but not with the goal of really getting to know the sights and streets again.
In 2019, then, I want to spend a weekend in Philadelphia, returning to old haunts, trying out new restaurants, and remembering why I fell in love with the city in the first place.
A new-to-me US city
The USA is a huge, diverse country, and every time I travel outside of New York City – whether to the West Coast, the South, or even upstate New York to somewhere like the Finger Lakes – I’m reminded of just how much there is to see in my adopted country.
I love a good city break, and after eating all the fried foods and admiring the charming architecture in Charleston and Savannah in 2017, I feel 2019 is the time to check out another new-to-me American city.
On my list of potential city-break destinations are Providence, Rhode Island (mostly because of this gorgeous Athenaeum); Austin, Texas, for the food and the music; Nashville, Tennessee (for the same reasons!); and Key West, Florida, for the literary history and tropical ocean vibes.
The Catskills and the Hudson Valley
One of the things I was reminded of in 2018 was that regardless of the location – on the beaches of the Outer Hebrides, in the woods of New Jersey, or on a boat in the Bahamas – I love being out in nature.
It’s probably the islander in me, given that I grew up five minutes from the beach in a place with wide open skies and fresh air, but nothing leaves me feeling more recharged and refreshed than time spent in nature, even if it’s only briefly.
Ever since I moved to New York City, I’ve heard people rave about the Catskills, singing the praises of its hiking, food, craft beer, and art scenes. Since the region is only a quick drive away, this year I want to actually get up there for a weekend and relax in the mountains.
The islands and coastlines of the Caribbean are actually relatively easy to get to for a long weekend from New York City, and Mr. Stories My Suitcase Could Tell and I usually end up there once a year when the weather starts to take a turn for the worse.
Whether it’s a return to Puerto Rico, where we spent our first wedding anniversary; a weekend in the Bahamas, which I won a free holiday to at Travel Massive (that I still need to cash in!); or lots of good food on the Mexican coast, it would be nice to get a bit of proper sunshine sometime in 2019…
A European city
As Mr. Stories My Suitcase Could Tell and I found out last autumn when we visited Paris, it is entirely possible to spend a quick weekend in Europe from NYC – and it’s often less expensive than spending a long weekend somewhere within the US, too. So if any more $300 transatlantic flights pop up this year, I’d like to take advantage of them, and finally visit the likes of Dublin, Lisbon, or Barcelona. A travel blogger can dream, right?
For now, these are my 2019 travel plans and dreams.
As happens every year, I’m sure they will morph and change as the months pass; some will become reality, and others will fall by the wayside as other, unexpected adventures appear instead. But that’s what I love about a new year: you never know what’s waiting up ahead.
Basically, as long as I get to spend quality time with my family and friends, I’ll be happy, whether that’s here in the bustle of New York City or in the historic streets of Edinburgh. As I’m reminded year after year, it’s who you spend your time with that matters the most.
So on that note, here’s to 2019! I can’t wait to see how the year unfolds…
What are your 2019 travel plans and dreams? Is there anywhere you’re planning to visit, or a destination you’d love to see?
Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear what the New Year has in store for you!
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