When life is busy and the days just roll into each other, it is hard to realise the milestones and the achievements that we have done. I had to sit with myself and scroll through my calendar to pin point when I traveled and what locations I actually managed to see. This whole year I kept feeling that I haven’t been travelling as much, but that sit down and look at the destinations made me realise that in fact I have been to five new countries with minimal prior planning and on a budget, which instantly lifted my spirit and reminded me of all my blessings.
If you are a reader of the monthly travel newsletter than you have already received my 2018 travel highlights, but I though it will also be good to have a more in depth blog post about the reasons behind my travels in 2018 and why they are much less than they were in 2017 .
March Travels - Lithuania
My travels in 2018 did not start till March this year because I travelled right up to the end of December the prior year, where I said goodbye to 2017 with a beautiful women only retreat in Morocco. So I wanted to be home in London to just start the year with some extra savings and to get work done before I jet off. For March, B and I travelled to Lithuania and although it was five days, it went by very quickly. I was very impressed with all the things the capital, Vilnius had to offer and would love to go again to explore the areas around it. I also enjoyed learning about the Islamic heritage of Lithuania. It was very cold in March too, which was nice! I like a little bit of winter destinations because they have their own charm.
You can also watch the two videos I made from the Lithuania trip:
2017 summer, I went to Portugal for the first time and I absolutely loved it, so when I had the chance to work with a yoga and surfing retreat there I had to jump at the chance. I also couldn’t go all the way without exploring a few more cities since I am there and all! That turned into a ten day trip into the beautiful Algarve. The videos of that trip will make an appearance in 2019.
I have been waiting for the right time to go to Montenegro for about two years, so I get myself organised early in the year and found a very affordable tickets to go. It was a short trip of four days and I tried to make the most of every minute, but it was barely enough to see that little gem of a country.
You can watch my two videos about my four days in Montenegro here as well.
Ramadan, the holy month of Islamic fast, fell between May and June this year. The time of year changes based on the moon movement and other calculation. The summer fast is always a struggle and it’s too long to be fasted in the UK, so it’s my favourite time of the year to go be with my Saudi family. I was fed so much though. I am still trying to lose that weight that I gained then!
After the Eid celebrations in Saudi, I got back to London and it was a busy summer in the city, struggling with the London heat, teaching art classes and doing some university work. I also don’t love travelling in July and August since it’s the school holidays and most destinations are over priced and over crowded.
The September trip didn’t take me very far, but it was a nice city break to Belfast in Northern Ireland. I have been living in England for eight years and I haven’t been to the closest places around me. I am slowly trying to change that and there was a reason I couldn’t resist, which was the power of video conference about video making and succeeding as a YouTuber. It was so inspiring and I really loved the nature around Belfast. It was a nice little break.
This trip happened between the end of September and the very start of October when the weather was still nice in Europe. It was much colder than expected, but it was manageable. B and I went to Tallinn, Estonia and hopped to Helsinki, Finland for the day. It was another five day trip that went by way too fast! I liked the mix of styles in Tallinn that had a touch of Russia and a touch of the Nordic.
You can watch the videos from Tallinn and Helsinki below as well:
November was going to be a work month and to tempt myself to work I already set myself a reward trip to Cyprus in December, but life is never as we plan. Not mine anyway. My grandfather got really sick and I had to go back home to Saudi before he goes into a very critical surgery. Unfortunately his health got even worse and he passed away. So my November turned out to be a sad travel month. Living abroad means sudden travels in such cases. I am thankful I went earlier in the year back to Saudi, when he was well to spend more time with him. I didn’t have the heart after that to go Cyprus. He will be greatly miss. The pain of losing a loved one will never be fully gone, but he will be in my heart forever. May God bless his soul.
A note before you go, I know packaging my year like this with highlighting my travels make me sound like the happiest and luckiest person in the world, but you have to know that I am just like you with lots of downs and struggles as well. I am still very thankful and aware of my privilege. A lot of it was on an obtainable budget and most of the posts I have written tell you exactly how much I spent, so take a look at that and hopefully you will be able to travel much more in the new year!