2017: Travel Plans, Goals, and Aspirations

Last week I published my 2016 review.  It was a look back at everything the year decided to throw at me – on a personal level as well as from a travel point of view.

2016 travel highlights

In this post I’ll be looking forward to 2017 and sharing my plans, goals and aspirations with you.

Every year (and this blog has been running for over three years now!) I seem to be continually playing catch up with posts for Gallop Around The Globe, leaving me little time to focus on other projects.  So this year, having witnessed Lauren’s success at achieving her goal to publish a blog post every day for a month, I feel inspired to step up my game and get this blog a little better organised.

Yes I do have a full-time day job and therefore I only have a limited amount of hours in which to work on this blog, but – much like Lauren – I am a complete perfectionist when it comes to publishing blog posts.  It’s always taken me the best part of a week to craft (from start to finish including research, writing, and editing of text and photos) a post that I am 100% happy with.

But I realise that if I want to move this blog forward (I haven’t evaluated its design or functionality since I first launched it, and I still don’t have a media kit) and be able to take on additional work opportunities as and when they arise, this needs to change.

I’ve also realised that, after a month of being on the road (and therefore not always having access to these things), how important a regular exercise routine and a healthy diet are to my mental and physical wellbeing.  So I need to find a balance between chain drinking coffee, unhealthy snacking (read: cheese!), and getting work done on my laptop, and long workouts at the gym, runs along the River Severn, and planning and preparing healthy, balanced meals.

However one benefit of spending that month in Southeast Asia was that fruit was readily available, enormously tasty, and ridiculously cheap.  I barely drank alcohol at all because there were so many delicious, healthy alternatives, such as green tea, fresh coconut, and fruit shakes.  And I felt so much better for it.

Fresh coconut, Koh Yao Noi

As regards travel, I’d like to become better organised there too.  To use my flexi days and bank holidays to their full potential, and to take one weekend every couple of months visiting somewhere in the UK I’ve never been before.  I’d also like to take at least one long-haul trip each year, and to add at least one new country to my visited list.

So, without further ado, here are my travel plans, goals and aspirations for 2017.

Travel Plans

Before I left for Myanmar and Thailand I already had three trips planned for 2017.  Although two of these were also completely unplanned.

February

Those of you who know me or who are regular readers of my blog will know that I’m a complete advocate for budget travel. I totally believe that with enough research, planning, and organisation, it’s possible to visit (almost) anywhere on a budget.

With this in mind, I’m thrilled to announce that I will be partnering with The Money Shop UK on their #TMS200 challenge in February!

The challenge is to spend less than £200 on a weekend away (flights excluded, but accommodation included).

In a bid to prove that visiting Scandinavian countries doesn’t have to be expensive, I’m off to Copenhagen to take on the challenge.

Copenhagen

Photo by barnyz via Flickr

I am eternally grateful to Emily Luxton for putting me in touch with a member of the PR team at The Money Shop, but I never thought for a second that my email request to take part in their #TMS200 challenge would be met with a positive response.  With such a small following compared to that of the bloggers who’d already taken part, I never even expected to receive a response at all.

It’s one of my biggest triumphs as far as this blog goes and I cannot wait to take on the challenge and tell you all how I got on!

March

In March I’ll be taking my mum to Tuscany for a week.  It’s somewhere she’s always wanted to visit, but somewhere that she never made it to with my dad.  I figured that, after losing the man she was married to for almost 45 years (my dad died just a week before their 45th anniversary), she thoroughly deserved a holiday and something to look forward to.

florence cliché

Photo by Rosino via Flickr

I planned and booked the 7-day trip before I left for Myanmar and Thailand, and gave it to mum as a surprise Christmas present.  She was so over the moon she broke down in tears, exclaiming that,

“It’s the best Christmas present I’ve ever had!”

I’d never intended to try and outdo every person who has ever given her a Christmas gift, but I felt happy that I’d been able to warm her heart and put a smile on her face after all the sadness she’s been through in the last few months.

May

The last trip I have planned for next year happened as a result of Jet2‘s #NameThatDestination competition in November.  Even after reading that Jet2 were giving away a 20,000 free flights over five days (that’s a free flight every 15 seconds), I didn’t anticipate for one second that I’d be one of the lucky winners.

Onyar River Facades

Photo by Andrew Moore via Flickr

But yes I was and consequently I’m off to Girona (Spain) for four nights in May.  It will be my second solo trip of the year and I’m really looking forward to it.  I love solo travel and I just don’t do it often enough.

June

Aside from these three trips, I’m hoping to travel to my 40th country for my birthday in June – Montenegro.

02290-Kotor

Photo by Xiquinho Silva via Flickr

The rest of the year is still very much open plan.  However it seems that I’m unable to tick destinations off my travel hit list as quickly as I’m adding new ones on, so I’ve no shortage of options available to me.  It’s just a case of finding a good deal.

A few destinations / trips I have in mind are:

  • Petra, Jordan
  • Fes, Chefchaouen, and the Mount Toubkal climb, Morocco
  • Hiking the Lycian Way, Turkey
  • Helsinki and Tallinn (the ferry between the two takes just two hours)
  • Kerala, India
  • Snuggling Orangutans in Borneo
  • Trolls Tongue hike, Norway

But then of course there’s also the entire African continent that I’ve yet to explore (Morocco excluded; I’ve visited Marrakech and hiked through the high Atlas) and – aside from China – central Asia still remains for me undiscovered territory.

Oh, and then there’s the fact that I’ve never visited the US.

Work Goals

  • Update my “about me” page.  I’ve been meaning to do this since around three months after initially writing it.
  • Create a media kit and a “work with me” page.
  • Publish a blog post twice a week.  I’m not sure when exactly I will start this but I want to get into the routine of doing this by the end of next year.
  • Find a new long-term client to work for.  Although I still work for Go, See, Write, I chose to end my contract with CopyPress when my dad got very poorly and I just did not have the time or inclination to complete the number of assignments they were sending my way.  On one hand I’m gutted I made the decision, because the pay was good and the assignments were relatively easy.  However, publishing the articles on my own blog with so many embedded links to their client’s website was damaging my DA and spam scores.  And I hadn’t been comfortable doing so right from the start of my relationship with them.
  • Respond to all work-related emails within two days.  I get so stressed when I see the number of unread emails mounting up in my inbox, and there’s really no need for it because I have numerous template responses saved that I can just copy and paste into my replies where necessary. What I need to do is set 30 minutes aside each week in order to clear my inbox.
  • Create Pinterest graphics for all my posts that don’t currently have them.  So many bloggers say that Pinterest is their biggest traffic driver; I need to make a concerted effort to make it one of mine too.
  • Attend another travel blogging conference.  I loved Ice Lolly’s Blog At The Beach so much that I should really make a concerted effort to attend some more similar events.
  • Work on a comprehensive guide to my hometown, Shrewsbury – things to see and do, where to stay, eat, drink, and shop.  We never fully appreciate where we live, but Shrewsbury (although fairly unknown to tourists outside of England) is a beautiful, quaint, medieval town with some fantastic restaurants and a thriving cultural scene.

Historic buildings, Shrewsbury's high street.

Fitness goals and Personal Aspirations

I recently treated myself to a Fitbit Charge using the Amazon vouchers I’d earned from completing market research surveys (you can sign up to I-Say, Valued Opinions or Toluna (my biggest money earners) by clicking on any of the links) so I plan to start using it in order to keep me motivated and maintain my fitness levels.

Whilst I almost always go to the gym twice a week (apart from times I’m not in town, I’ve got friends to stay, or I’m incredibly hungover), I intend to ensure that I continue doing so.  Exercise always boosts my energy levels, my focus, and my productivity, so it’s important to incorporate it regularly into my life.

Sudado de Trucha

Regarding my diet, I’m lucky that I don’t suffer from any food intolerances, and as a result of being vegetarian (well, pescetarian to be precise) and genuinely loving salads and greens, I generally eat quite healthily.  But I do consume a lot of dairy (I’m  officially addicted to cheese, and eggs, yoghurt, and milk form part of my daily food intake) so I’d like to be able to cut back on those.

In terms of personal aspirations, I’d like to achieve the following by the end of the year:

  • Move house.  Whilst this is very much out of my control (my mum and I had an offer accepted on a lovely old mid-terrace house that’s full of character, but all sorts of issues were highlighted in the survey and we’re currently investigating these further), it’s something that’s been praying on my mind and making me feel really unsettled.  If we do have to pull out of the purchase I’m going to have to move into temporary rented accommodation until I can find somewhere more permanent to live.  So I’m desperately keeping my fingers crossed that the issues highlighted in the survey can be resolved, and that I can move house by the end of February.
  • Pick up my Spanish books again and re-install Duolingo on my phone.  Whilst I cannot afford to take Spanish lessons here in Shrewsbury at the moment (unless I’m able to pick up any more work off the back of this blog), I don’t want all the effort I put in previously (I studied for a GCSE here in England and took three weeks of lessons in Bolivia) to have gone to waste.
  • Do something with mum (whether it be a day trip, catching a film at the cinema together, or going out for a meal) at least once a month.  I know it’s all too easy to get caught up in our own lives but I have to remember that for her life is going to feel incredibly empty for a long time now that dad is no longer here.  I want to be able to give her lots of little things to look forward to throughout the year.
  • Read a book every month.  I set myself this same goal last year and only managed six books.  But there’s nothing I love better than getting lost in a good book, and I’m also very aware that all the best writers are also avid readers.  So for the purpose of self improvement as well as my own personal enjoyment, I’m determined to make 2017 the year I manage to do this.

I’m not setting myself ridiculous goals, because I know how disheartened I’d feel at the end of the year when I looked back at how few of them I’d achieved.  Instead I’ve tried to make my goals realistic and choose things that I have I have a good chance of accomplishing, given a bit of extra focus and organisation.

How about you?  What are your 2017 travel plans, goals, and aspirations?  Let me know in the comments below 🙂

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6 Responses to 2017: Travel Plans, Goals, and Aspirations

  1. Diana - MVMT Blog January 8, 2017 at 7:44 PM #

    Wow those are all lofty goals, and I am so excited to see you accomplish all of them in 2017! Your Tuscany trip will be so meaningful – I’m really excited for you and your mom to take that trip. And I’ll have to take a look through your blog for any posts on Myanmar as I am headed there in March!

    • Kiara Gallop January 8, 2017 at 8:49 PM #

      So excited for your trip to Myanmar! I’m publishing my first post on the country tomorrow evening, so keep an eye out 🙂

  2. Anna January 10, 2017 at 11:13 AM #

    The Tuscany trip is so sweet and it’ll be such a special time! I have snuggling orangutans in Borneo on my list for this year too – maybe I’ll see you there! And your blog goals sound like mine every single month (mine has been over 3 years now too!), and I still manage to never get to them! I’m also hoping to be less of a perfectionist about blogging, but I think I may just need to accept the fact that that’s not me!

    • Kiara Gallop January 11, 2017 at 8:16 PM #

      After writing that post (and proposing to be publishing two posts per week by the end of the year) I’m kinda thinking the same as you: maybe short-form posts are just not me! Hey, time will tell! Even if I stick to my once-a-week posting schedule but free up some time to concentrate on other projects, that’s still a win as far as I’m concerned 🙂

      And if I see a flight deal to Borneo on the Secret Flying website (or anywhere else for that matter), I’m there! Definitely a bucket-list experience 🙂

  3. Clazz - An Orcadian Abroad February 11, 2017 at 4:57 PM #

    We have some pretty similar goals! I’ve installed Duolingo and I’m already 25% through the German course which is my goal this year. Lots of it was what I learned at school so I picked it back up quickly but now we’re getting into unknown territory so the refresher lessons every now and then are testing whether I’m ACTUALLY learning the new stuff!

    I’m also working on Pinterest images for some of my older posts, I’ve got one book a week on my list, and I’ve just moved house a few days ago!

    (also addicted to cheese. lol)
    Clazz – An Orcadian Abroad recently posted…Why It’s Important To Travel Now More Than EverMy Profile

    • Kiara Gallop February 11, 2017 at 7:12 PM #

      Lol, there are worse things to be addicted to! 😉 I’m actually STILL in the process of moving house…we had to pull out of our purchase due to dubious survey results and now our buyer is having second thoughts about purchasing my flat! So it could be right back to square one unfortunately 🙁

      Wow, a book a week is pretty impressive, I just wouldn’t have the time. Although I am on target to reach my one a month goal so that’s something. And I absolutely love that I’ve got back to Duolingo, although it drives my boyfriend crazy having to listen to it every night! 😉

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