2016 was a great year! But I have to admit that before I wrote this list, I really thought I wasn’t doing much this year. In some ways this past year has flown by, but in other ways it feels like the longest year.
What I did in January feels like a lifetime ago, or like it happened to another person. When I think about my travels since the beginning of the year, I feel like I’m remembering a movie I saw years ago or a dream I only remember in bits and pieces.
That’s one of the many reasons I love blogging. Years from now, or in my case just a few months, I can scroll back through my archives and stare in amazement at everything I’ve done. I have documented all my thoughts and memories, photos that evoke emotions, and many other memories that I did not dare to write on the pages of this blog.
While scrolling back through my Instagram feed, I came up with a list of 2016 highlights. I came across things I had completely forgotten about, like the early morning coffee I enjoyed watching the sunrise over Edmonton with Elle (pictured here) and the look on George’s face when he rode his bike for the first time (pictured here).), or how pregnant I looked while exploring a cool underground cave in the south of France (see here), or enjoying a jet ski for the first time in Florida (see here).
Looking at the photos made me realize how much I cherish these little memories. For me, Instagram is not an endless stream of carefully curated images perfectly planned to look good. Instagram is my corner of the internet where I share snapshots of memories and I love that.
So here are my 16 highlights of 2016…
#1. My baby boy
Of course, the highlight of the year happened just a few weeks ago and was the birth of our second son Joseph. At the beginning of the year, I didn’t expect to have a baby by the end of the year, so this is a complete surprise!
#2. Budapest, Hungary
My favorite trip of 2016 was a 5-day trip to Budapest with Elle. We visited in January, a cold, crisp and beautiful month, and I fell in love with the city. Elle and I had so much fun together that we vowed to do a similar trip in 2017. You want to go anywhere, so all you have to do is decide where to go!
Read the blog post from Budapest here.
#3. Valencia, Spain
My second favorite trip of the year was a solo trip to Valencia. On this trip I was surprised by her for two reasons. Firstly because this was a solo trip and I don’t usually like traveling alone, but secondly because I didn’t know anything about Varenica before visiting and I didn’t expect it to be such a gorgeous city. That’s because. I wonder why no one told me about this place before!
If you’re looking for a laid-back city getaway with year-round sunshine, a beautiful city, great beaches, great food, and plenty of activities, we highly recommend Valencia.
Read my blog post from Valencia here.
#4. Menorca, Spain
Ah, Menorca, where I spent many summer vacations as a child. I returned to Menorca in the spring and was able to see it from a whole new perspective. As an adult, it wasn’t just the splash parks and ice cream parlors that I appreciated.
Read my Menorca blog post here.
#5. A road trip in Southern France
This was another trip Elle and I took together and then went our separate ways on individual road trips. The South of France is absolutely amazing and once again I enjoyed traveling solo and surprised myself.
Check out more posts from the South of France here.
#6. Skiing in Tignes, France
If I told you that skiing with a 1-year-old would be the most relaxing vacation of the year, you would think I was lying, but it was. We set out with Mark Warner and with a wonderful nanny, evening babysitter, great ski instructor, and delicious food, it turned out to be the perfect family winter vacation.
Read more about my Mark Warner ski trip here.
#7. A spring weekend in London
This was a trip I didn’t expect to see on my list. I used to live in London and always visit London for work and blogging meetings, but what makes this so special? Basically, I was given a good budget and the perfect place to stay in London. I was told to spend the weekend. That’s exactly what Elle and I did and we had a great time!
Read more about the perfect two days in London.
#8. Florida Keys, USA
I’m not going to turn down a week of Florida sunshine when the UK is in the middle of winter. This was a really fun trip and a lovely destination. It was even more fun because I got to hang out with fellow blogger Vicky Flip Flop.
Check out my Florida Keys blog post here.
#9. Algarve, Portugal
This was George’s second year abroad with his parents, so renting a large vacation home in Portugal is becoming something of a family tradition. We are planning to hold it again next year!
This is the villa I stayed in in Portugal.
#10. Montana, USA
It was a great trip with Expedia. It was full of outdoor elements, including hiking, boat trips, horseback riding, and exploring. We spent the evening roasting marshmallows by the campfire and watching the sun set over the lake. It was pure bliss.
Check out my Montana post here.
#11. Northern Ireland
This was my first trip to Northern Ireland and our mission was to seek out iconic locations such as Game of Thrones filming scenes and the Giant’s Causeway. It definitely ticked an important item off my bucket list!
Check out my itinerary perfect for a weekend in Northern Ireland.
#12. Family glamping in France
I haven’t written about this trip yet as I have it saved for next month. Sam, George, and I rented a car and visited some of France’s great glamping spots. Our trip was with Les Castles who specialize in family camping trips. We had such a great time and can’t wait to share our trip.
#13. Edmonton, Canada
If you’ve never heard of Edmonton, don’t worry. You are not alone. It is an amazing city that is the capital of the Canadian province of Alberta and the perfect gateway to other Canadian attractions. Elle, Elizabeth, and I went there together on the Travel Hack team’s first trip.
Check out the team’s blog post from Edmonton here.
#14. Paris, France
My last trip abroad before giving birth to Joseph was a cold weekend in Paris. Yes, people say Paris is always a good idea and I couldn’t agree more!
Check out my review of the ultra-stylish Renaissance Paris République Hotel, where I stayed.
#15. UK foodie adventure
This was a series of five small trips around the UK where Elle and I set out on a mission to discover new food trends. We tried Korean food in New Malden, south-west London, Caribbean food in Bristol, Nepali food in York and a sustainable seafood safari in North Wales. It was spectacular and opened my eyes to many places in the UK that I had never even considered visiting before.
Check out this gourmet post.
#16. A summer at home
It may not seem like it after reading this list, but 2016 was actually a pretty cold year for me compared to other years. I didn’t travel as much as usual. Mainly because I wanted to be with George, but also because I was pregnant. I spent more time at home, especially during the summer of my third trimester, and I loved it. I got to spend time with family and friends, enjoy the house I had renovated the previous year, and generally didn’t have to rush from one plane to the next!
We took lots of day trips around Wales, a few camping trips and weekend breaks, but generally just relaxing at home. I guess I’m getting older because I never used to like “relaxing weekends!
One of my favorite weekends was when I went camping in Bedgelart in North Wales.
I really don’t know what will happen in 2017. He thought he would travel less, but he has already booked three trips and is planning more. I plan to write another article around this time next year!