What a year 2018 has been! Make sure you check out my infographic at the bottom of this post!
I started off the year at 28 countries visited looking to take myself beyond the 30 mark ahead of my 30th birthday in 2019. I finished the year having visited seven new countries (up to 35 now!) and a further five countries I’d already visited. So 12 countries in total for the year and travelling somewhere every month. That’s the first time I’ve done that before! Not bad for someone who works full time…
January – Dublin, Republic of Ireland
The year started in exactly the same way as 2016 did with a short trip across the Irish Sea. Taking a trip down a few bars on Temple Street in Dublin is always a fun way to kick off a new year. I only stayed here for the weekend and finally made it to the Guinness factory. I convinced my girlfriend that we didn’t need to prebook tickets because it wouldn’t be busy. We waited for ages to get in, she was quick to remind me of my earlier comments… Lesson learned.
In January, I was also promoted to a managerial position at my work so all in all, a good start to 2018!
February – Oxton, Scotland
In February I took a visit to a beautiful Scottish lodge with a couple of friends and our other halves. Having a couple of beers in the hot tub while the snow was falling was pretty amazing. Plus I got to meet an alpaca that’s more photogenic than me! I’d definitely recommend visiting, I’ll be back at some point for sure.
March – Oslo, Norway & Jordan – Two New Countries
My first new country of the year, and 29th in total, came in March and a trip to a very cold Oslo in Norway. I escaped the cold of Scotland to experience the even colder Norway. There is so much to do in Oslo and the city is so clean even with several feet of snow it’s cleared so quickly. A couple of weeks later, at the end of March, I took a trip to the Middle East.
April – Jordan – New Country
I finally got my 30th country under my belt when I visited Jordan at the end of March / start of April for two weeks. What an amazing country to finally hit that landmark. Petra was somewhere I’d wanted to visit for years so when my girlfriend was going along to try and bag another World Record I had to tag along! I was able to do a tour of the country but Petra was definitely the highlight. The city is bigger than you think and the whole place is absolutely breathtaking.
May – Lyon, France
In May I returned to Lyon for the first time in around 10 years. It was also my first, and definitely not last, trip of 2018 to watch a football match. I was successful in a ballot for the Europa League Final match between Atletico Madrid and Marseille. Lyon is a lovely city and well worth a visit. I did have a disappointing trip with FlyBe last year so I do try and actively avoid them now but this was cheap so you know!
June – Moscow, Russia – New Country
I’d been to South Africa in 2010 and Brazil in 2014 for the FIFA World Cup previous two tournaments. I paid £70 for flights using Avios so I couldn’t say no to a third consecutive World Cup. This one was in Russia and I decided to use Moscow as a base for the visit. The city was really interesting compared to the rest of Europe and the architecture and history was right up there with other places I’ve visited.
July – Prague, Czech Republic & Skopje, North Macedonia – Two New Countries
I was travelling to Skopje in North Macedonia but due to the strange flight times I managed to fit in a stopover of about 24 hours in Prague. I will have to go back one day because I didn’t get to see all that much of Prague as we went to the nearby city of Plzeň.
Skopje itself is an amazing city. It’s probably one of my travel highlights in 2018, it’s that nice!
The city centre is beautiful with the Alexander the Great statue by the fountain. There are also multiple statues around the square with Vardar river running nearby. We stayed at five-star Hotel Arka which was reasonably priced and a really nice hotel.
August – Split, Croatia & Vienna, Austria & Maribor, Slovenia – New Country
The first trip in August was a visit to Split for a friend’s stag do. The trip was a long weekend which consisted of a lot of eating and drinking with a boat trip to Hvar and back in between. It was a great trip and the city itself is pretty cool to explore too.
From one hot country to the next… I visited Slovenia for another football match in August and used Vienna as a base before travelling in by bus. I’ve been to Vienna a few times now and the flight times meant we didn’t have that much time there anyway. I’d like to see more of Slovenia by visiting Ljubljana and Lake Bled. I’ve seen a few people visit both in 2018 and I was very jealous!
September – Benidorm, Spain
Scotland in Winter isn’t much fun so a trip to the warmth of Benidorm was on the cards for September. This was our base as we ventured to Villarreal for another football match. We weren’t there for all that long but managed to fit in a fair amount of drinking and relaxing for a couple of days!
October – Loch Creran, Scotland & London, England
I do love a Scottish road trip! I live in Edinburgh so it’s so easy to jump in the car and visit one of the many amazing places Scotland has to offer. I saw this amazing five-star luxury bed and breakfast by Loch Creran near Oban and I had to visit. The B&B offers free whisky and a warm scone on arrival! Best. B&B. Ever!
At the end of October, I took a trip down to London for an action-packed weekend. The main reason going down was for the Philadelphia Eagles v Jacksonville Jaguars NFL match at Wembley. I’m a Miami Dolphins fan but I still loved the experience. We stayed at a really nice hotel and managed to go and see the Lion King theatre show too which was very good!
November – Thailand – New Country
I was able to visit Chiang Mai, Phi Phi Islands and Bangkok in around nine days in Thailand. The highlight of the trip was definitely the trip to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiang Mai and playing around with the elephants. I can’t recommend a visit enough! I also managed to take in a Thai food tour in Chiang Mai with a lot of relaxing in Phi Phi and meeting a mate in Bangkok for a few drinks. I’ve got loads of content to write up for my visit to Thailand so keep an eye out for much more coming soon. It was such a good trip but I don’t think I’ll be back any time soon, I feel like I’ve pretty much seen as much as I wanted to.
December – Vienna, Austria
The final trip of the year was back to the Austrian capital of Vienna. It was a bit of a change in temperature from Thailand as I had to wrap up for the below freezing temperatures. This was just a fleeting visit but the Christmas markets were out and it was quite nice in the cold. I visited for a football match and the result meant there would be no more football trips abroad until July 2019 so that was a bit disappointing!
I have been able to travel so much in 2018 using my holiday entitlement to the very most. I travelled to 12 countries which is very good going! It’s quite difficult to narrow the places I visited to my top three with so many amazing places on the list. If pushed and in no particular order, I’d go for Petra, Oslo and Skopje. Chiang Mai was probably just outside the top three which might surprise a lot of people. If you get a chance to visit Skopje, please do! I’ll have to go back for sure.
It was also a pretty challenging year work-wise after being promoted into my first managerial role. The workload has been pretty crazy with a massive project completing at the end of the year. We now have resource in place so I’m hoping 2019 will be another good year!
I’ll be putting together my 2019 travel goals soon, they might be a little higher than my 2018 ones! What are your goals for 2019?