Those of you who have been following me since the start will know that we have had an absolutely incredible year of holidays.
Reflect First, Then Plan
I’d be lying if I said that we sit down on 1st January and plan out the whole year of holidays. In anticipation of January flight sales we try to have a plan for the year before it even starts. Even if its just a broad plan. We’ve already got one holiday booked, one planned and one in the planning!
That being said I think it is important to take stock and think about the year as a whole as we plan it all ahead. I know I keep banging on about balance but it is so important for me to make sure we are ticking lots of boxes. February will be an active ski holiday so there needs to be some sun and sea in there somewhere (fear not, there always will be). Holidays with friends and families need to be balanced with holidays just the four of us. And (dare I hope???) time just the two of us and even on our own! Action packed and sightseeing need to be offset against chill out and relaxation. A combination of villas and hotels keep things different too.
Before I book and plan any more holidays, I think it is also important to reflect on what we planned for 2017 and think about what we actually achieved.
Absolutely Incredible Year of Holidays in Summary
We’ve come a long way in 2017 even by our standards. Considering Me Wanderlust has full time job and the Things are both in school (well, since September) we’ve done pretty well. Someone said to me a couple of months ago “gosh you lot are always on holiday” and, while I got a bit defensive about it at the time… They were clearly right! Here’s what we did:
- 7 countries
- 9 trips
- 18 cities / locations
- 21 flights
Some More Detail
1. UAE: Dubai
Our first trip to another Middle Eastern country took us to Dubai. It’s not a place that had ever really appealed to me but Mr Wanderlust assured me I would love it. Being in the region we both agreed we should go at some point.
I have to admit it was pretty awesome. I felt like the country mouse staring wide eyed at all the shiny buildings, huge roads and bright lights. We didn’t manage one of the infamous brunches but we did head to Legoland with the Things before heading off on a private yacht for a friend’s 40th birthday. We are super lucky with our life out here that we can enjoy opportunities that others can only dream of. I’ll admit that we can take those experiences for granted sometimes. But this… THIS was something else altogether. We were literally all looking at each other like kids in a sweet shop, unable to believe our luck.
2. UAE: Dubai
Less than 3 months later and we were back again. Yes, after not going at all for the first 18 months of our assignment, now we were there 2 times in 9 weeks.
Mr Wanderlust had found tickets to Guns ‘N’ Roses. 5 families made the trip over and 5 couples headed to the Dubai Autism Rocks Arena. Other than Mr Wanderlust, I think the rest of us were a bit ambivalent about the experience. Until, that is, that they came on and started playing. There’s no doubt that they are masters in their craft and I will never ever forget the 10 minute intro from Slash to Sweet Child o’ Mine, much less the song itself nor the people that I shared that experience with. You know who you are!
3. USA: LA – Houston – Miami
An unexpected business trip to Arizona right before the Easter holidays and we decided it was too good an opportunity to miss. We booked the flights, volunteered to be flight buddies and I prepared myself for 11 days of solo parenting on the road. We got on the longest non-stop flight I’ve been on since I was 11 and hoped for the best. I was excited but nervous about so many things. Would the jet lag be horrendous? How would I cope without Mr Wanderlust, living out of a suitcase and doing my first flight with 2 Things? What would the Things’ reactions be to spending 3 weeks travelling, not getting enough sleep, out of routine and away from their familiar surroundings?
It. Was. Amazing.
Now don’t get me wrong. The wheels fell off more than once. I had several less than proud parenting moments of losing my temper in an ugly way. We all suffered from prolonged sleep deprivation. The Things got progressively more and more feral.
But we survived and we did some awesome stuff. Here are some of the things ewe did:
- Saw friends and family who we haven’t seen in far too long
- Went to DisneyLand
- We ate (oh, we ate)
- Went back to Houston for the first time since we left 4 years before
- Had R&R with my in-laws to finish off the trip.
For all the terrible moments where I thought I was mad for doing it, there were many others where we laughed and laughed with our friends like we had seen them the week before and we watched our Things get to know each other.
Yes it was hard. Yes I thought I was going to lose the plot. But it was totally worth it.
4. UAE: Ras Al Khaima
May half term was a 1 day affair due to the fact that term finishes so early here. We weren’t going to go away but then at the last minute some friends announce they were going, Granny Wanderlust announced she was going to surprise the Things with a visit and before I knew it everything was booked!
We had a glorious 3 days away starting with surprising the Things with the trip. Then we surprised them with news of their Thing friends coming too. THEN Granny Wanderlust appeared at the airport! It was too much!
6 days after we arrived back from this trip the blockade started against Qatar and suddenly I don’t see any impromptu weekends away to UAE in our future anymore.
5. Italy: Rome – Amalfi Coast – Lake Como – Sicily
The summer holiday to beat all summer holidays. I thought last year’s to Greece and the UK was pretty epic but this took the biscuit!
We started off with a single day in Rome exploring as a family.
From Rome we met up with Mr Wanderlust’s family to spend a week on the Amalfi Coast. It had poolside fun and trips in a bus along tiny, winding Italian roads. We age and drank more than I care to remember and I got to hang out with my best mate. Our 3 week extravaganza couldn’t have gotten off to a better start.
From Sorrento to Milan. We met Granny Wanderlust in the airport and set off for Lake Como. We’d chosen it because it was on her bucket list but quickly realized it should always have been on ours. It’s a spectacularly beautiful, family friendly place. I can’t think of a good reason not to go!
And then to end it all with a week in a Sicilian villa with some of our closest friends and their families. More amazing food. More wine. Things bonding with our friends’ Things.
We returned home so utterly relaxed and rejuvenated. 3 weeks of holiday on Italy is clearly the way forward.
6. Qatar – Doha
We spotted a deal that seemed too good to be true for a staycation and jumped at it!
Early check-in and late checkout at the St. Regis gave us just one night away but it felt like a proper long weekend away. We spent time by the pool, hung out in the awesome room (a TV in the bath was a highlight for the Things), went or for dinner and had a superb resort breakfast all together.
It was like we had gone away completely!
6. UK: Devon – London
6 weeks later and we were back on a plane to the UK. I went early to take the Things back to my hometown in Devon and then Mr Wanderlust joined us a few days later in London. We loved seeing friends and family as well as being tourists in our own town. Trips down memory lane and relaxing evenings looking out over the Thames was a perfect way to finish the summer.
It seems ridiculously extravagant to say we fancied a last minute break so we booked a trip to the Maldives but that’s exactly what we did!
While it wasn’t the nicest resort we have been to and the Things were pretty vile for the full 3 days that we were away, we had a really lovely break and came back once again re-energised. Not just that but I managed to score an exclusive discount for Wanderlust and Wet Wipes readers which you can find here!
8. Jordan: Amman – Dead Sea – Petra – Wadi Rum – Red Sea
And that brings me to our final trip of the year which I’ve had to wait until today to write about!
We knew we didn’t want to stay at home – with nearly 3 weeks off school we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to travel! We also knew we didn’t want to go home. And we were stumped for a while until we remembered Granny Wanderlust (who would be joining us) has an inspirational bucket list (remember Lake Como!).
Jordan was on her list, it’s close to doesn’t require too much travel and we all agreed we can’t live in the Middle East without a visit to such a beautiful country. 9 days and 8 nights in 5 locations later and we returned feeling like we had been away for a month! We went to Amman, the Dead Sea, Petra, Wadi Rum and Aqaba and had a blast.
I can’t wait to tell you ALL about it!
So there you have it. An absolutely incredible year of holidays if I do say so myself and it makes me super excited for 2018. Standby for 2018 Wanderlust planning notes!