As 2022 came round the world was open to travellers again and I looked to make the very most of it!
I travelled a massive 64,857 miles on planes. Or 2.6x round the world.
You’ll find my stats infographic at the bottom, showing an insight into my year in travel.
In this blog post, I’ll be looking back at my incredible year of travel, sharing the highlights and lowlights (including getting targeted by wild monkeys, plus a very expensive mistake) and inviting you to join me on the trip.
I managed to tick off bucket list destinations, had some unforgettable experiences (such as eating under the stars at Uluru/Ayers Rock), and saw some breathtaking sights. All packed into one year. The journey began with watching the American Football GOAT in a packed stadium and some winter sun in Florida, USA, and took me to places I had only dreamed of visiting. Follow along as I take you on a fantastic year of travelling.
January – Florida, USA
I kicked off my year with a much-needed sunshine getaway to Florida. The main focus of the trip was to relax and unwind, but I also had the opportunity to support my significant other as she ran in the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. Despite the early wake-up call of 5am, it was an exciting experience to watch her run through the iconic Disney park.
Additionally, I was able to indulge in my love of American football by catching a game featuring none other than the GOAT himself, Tom Brady, playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This was my first of two Tampa Bay matches that I would see in 2022.
The trip was both relaxing and enjoyable, with a great balance of shopping and sports. It was a perfect way to start the year and I would highly recommend visiting the designer outlets in Orlando and catching a game at Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
February – Dortmund, Germany
One of the many football related highlights for me in 2022 was my trip to Dortmund in 2022. Rangers had been drawn against Europa League favourites Borrusia Dortmund.
This was my 28th trip abroad to watch my football team Rangers play competitively. I had seen a total of 3 victories… I travelled fully expecting a defeat.
Rangers won 4-2, away in Germany. Unbelievable! Being able to celebrate such an unexpected win with my Dad was definitely a highlight of 2022.
This match was on the 17th February. As Australia was finally opening up for tourists again we booked our long awaited trip to Australia for our honeymoon. This was booked on 15th February. We were able to use Avios so the total for both of us to travel from Edinburgh to Australia was just £1,163 and 65,000 Avios. This was a fantastic deal based on flight prices paying cash only. If you don’t collect Avios then start today!
The trip to Australia (and Indonesia) was booked for 18th May to 9th June. We planned to visit Sydney, Cairns (including a trip to somewhere I’ve always wanted to go – the Great Barrier Reef), Melbourne, Uluru, Perth and Bali. A truly once in a lifetime trip for me based in Scotland.
This was the start of my expensive mistake. A mistake that would cost me significantly more than the £1,163! (I’ll not say the exact amount just in case my wife reads this!)
March – Belgrade, Serbia (new country)
A trip to Belgrade in Serbia has never been high in my to-do list but I wasn’t going to turn my nose up on visiting a new country.
After the successful Borrusia Dortmund tie, Rangers were awarded a Europa League Quarter Final match against FK Crvena Zvezda. More commonly known as Red Star Belgrade.
We landed late on the night before the football game. On our way to the hotel we noticed a string of social media posts pointing out the fact that the FK Crvena Zvezda fans were less than welcoming… They’re not exactly known for their hospitality!
The match ended in defeat for Rangers but it was enough to see us through to the quarter final. A trip to Braga in Portugal awaited.
April – Braga, Portugal & Berlin, Germany
By now you’ll be starting to see a football related pattern…
Porto is a pretty cool city but it seems like everywhere is uphill. Braga is around 40/50 minutes away from Porto and I didn’t really see much of the city. The football stadium though is really picturesque with a cliff face making up one side. Fortunately Rangers made it through the tie. Berlin to play RB Leipzig was next up.
But the excitement of the European run was far from over. Our next stop was Berlin, where we would be facing RB Leipzig in a semi-final match. It had been 2008 since Rangers had made it this far in a European competition, and the thought of reaching the final was getting closer.
But there was a problem. The final was in Seville, Spain on May 18th… Look above. Yup the day we were due to fly to Australia for our honeymoon.
We travelled to Berlin and did a bit of sightseeing but lost the match 1-0.
We’d lost 1-0 away before and turned the tie around so I had a decision to make. My options were either miss the game, move the Australian flights now (and maybe lose) or wait until the result was known but then the flight prices to Seville would shoot up.
In the end, I decided to move our honeymoon by one day. I would fly to Seville for the final on May 17th then fly to London Heathrow the day after the final. Then I’d fly straight from there to Sydney. I’d have to pay to cancel the Avios flights, pay in cash and get flights for my wife to meet me in London Heathrow. If you’ve ever looked up flights to Australia at the last minute then you’ll know this wasn’t cheap.
If only I had faith in Rangers getting to the final when booking the Australian flights it wouldn’t have cost me significantly more than the £1,100!
Fortunately Rangers beat RB Leipzig at home and we were on our way to sunny Spain! The first European final we’d played in since 2008. The atmosphere was unbelievable, I’ve included the full time footage. Spine-tingling! Definitely a highlight of 2023 for me.
May & June – Albufeira, Portugal / Seville, Spain & Australia (new country) & Bali, Indonesia (new country)
As I embarked on my journey to the sun-soaked city of Seville, my adventure actually began in the picturesque coastal town of Albufeira, Portugal. With flights to Seville being significantly more expensive, we decided to save some money by flying into Portugal and making the two-hour journey on a supporters bus. The heat was ridiculously high with the temperature hitting 38 degrees celsius. A broken down bus journey meant I didn’t actually spend much time in Seville other than for the few hours in the stadium.
The actual final ended in disappointment. Rangers actually went 1-0 up in a European final and the celebrations will remain with me forever. Unfortunately we lost on penalty kicks. Watching Rangers in another European final with my Dad was special so it wasn’t all bad.
My wife was happy to move our flights but taking my 23kg bag down to London along with her 23kg bag didn’t end well… She was fuming as they couldn’t be checked in all the way to Sydney so she had to collect them in London and drag them around for a few hours until I turned up.
Great start to the honeymoon!
Three Weeks and Seven Flights
One 18 hour flight later and our trip to Australia started in Sydney. We arrived at 6am and we obviously couldn’t check in so a trip to Sydney Harbour was first on the agenda. Watching the sun rise above the Sydney Opera House was an unbelievable experience. It was something that I’d only ever seen on TV so it did feel very special.
I’ll be posting more about my Australian travels so I’ll keep this relatively brief!
After a few days of settling in we flew north to experience a true bucket list area. Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef.
The highlight of the trip was definitely the helicopter ride over the reef, offering a bird’s-eye view of the vibrant coral and marine life. It was such an unforgettable day. If you ever have the opportunity then I’d definitely recommend paying the extra for the helicopter ride. Unreal
From the heat of Cairns down to the relatively chilly Melbourne was next up. Melbourne was cool, the various influences on the city and the food makes this an interesting place. The various wine tour options are worth a look. The alcohol didn’t stop pouring on the wine tour we went on!
As far as outdoor meals go, a meal under the stars at Ayers Rock has to be up there right? Another highlight for sure.
The entry requirements were relaxed for Western Australia a few days before we arrived in Australia. Which was fortunate as I was a bit worried we wouldn’t have been able to visit Perth. Well, I didn’t really enjoy the city that much. I’d probably give it a miss if you were planning a trip to Australia.
Indonesia was another place that had very strict entry requirements just days before we arrived. It was another place that I didn’t actually enjoy that much… I’d heard so many good things about Bali beforehand. I just felt everyone was targeting tourists and the sob stories were a bit much for me.
The Ubud Monkey Sanctuary was so much fun though.
We had a guide so we were ‘protected’ if the monkeys got a bit aggressive. Luckily they were fine. We visited the Uluwatu Temple the next day and the monkeys weren’t as friendly. One lowered itself and was ready to pounce right at me! I then looked it in the eyes (you’re told not to) and quickly walked away. There were quite a lot of fairly hefty monkeys there so that was a pretty scary moment!
Overall, our three-week journey was filled with unforgettable moments, from the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef to the flavors of Melbourne, and the monkey encounters in Ubud. This trip is a must-do for any traveler seeking a diverse and exciting adventure.
August – Eindhoven, Netherlands
A short football related trip in August saw Rangers return to the biggest European football competition. The Champions League. The actual game and excitement of getting back to the Champions League for the first time in over 10 years was amazing. But the games in the actual tournament weren’t so amazing…
September – Amsterdam, Netherlands
The first Champions League game in over a decade ended in a 4-0 humbling at the hands of Ajax. The whole campaign would be equally as bad!
October – Liverpool, UK & London, UK
My second trip to Anfield at the start of October again ended in a loss for Rangers. So I’ll not go into anymore detail there!
An annual treat for us is visiting the NFL UK matches in London. We usually splash out a little and get hospitality. This year was no different. Some decent food and unlimited alcohol, what more can you want!
The match we saw this year was the Denver Broncos versus the Jacksonville Jaguars. The match finished 21-17 to the Broncos. I have no idea how the Jags made it to the play offs after this match because they were terrible and somehow managed to make it further than my team, the Miami Dolphins. Much to my wife’s delight!
December – Florida, USA
To round off the year I wanted some more sunshine. A visit to Florida was an easy decision. We got to see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers again. We also managed to stock up on clothes after the GBP made it a bit of a rally on the USD.
Finally visiting Australia was the obvious highlight for me but this year was filled with so many other memorable moments. I’ll be writing a little more on the 2022 travels shortly but I’m now looking forward to visiting California at the start of 2023. I’ve never been before so if anyone has any tips then leave them below!
I hope everyone had a great 2022.