Good riddance, 2021! You were less like a year, and more of a mutated variant of 2020. Yet again we, monotonously, spent the majority of the year working from/staying at home, watching too much telly and feeling uncertain about everything - particularly travel, where plans were everchanging to align with fluctuating COVID-19 infection rates and restrictions.
Some were fortunate enough to have traveled domestically in 2021, mostly dipping their toes into staycations. Few were lucky enough to have gone away internationally - returning home, visiting loved ones or maybe even ticking off a bucket list trip. Others were left with only tales of cancellations, monetary losses and quarantines.
In 2022 though, civilization rebooted, and we emerged from the pandemic with restored confidence. Society reimagined what travel looked like and realized new experiences.
But there were setbacks as we eased into The Next Normal. According to CWT, air fares in 2022 rose by 48.5% and hotel rates by 18.5%. This was due to pent-up holiday demand coupled with skyrocketing inflation, rising fuel prices, labor shortages, strikes, the Russian-Ukraine conflict and travel companies trying to claw back lost earnings from the previous few years.
This year, instead of racing to get the next passport stamp, I found that I traveled more intentionally. I took fewer, but longer, trips. Being a digital nomad, liberated me from having to go into the office and afforded me extended stays.
Highlights in 2022 included dining in caves (Lanzarote and Polignano a Mare), drifting above mystical and magical landscapes in hot air balloons (Cappadocia and the Serengeti) and straddling continents in intercontinental states (Turkey, Georgia and Armenia).
Read on for more about the lands where my tiny green shoes tread.
I managed to completely switch off during my winter break in the Canary Islands. The eight days spent in Fuerteventura and Lanzarote were incredibly relaxing and left me feeling revived, refreshed and ready for a fresh year.
With Omicron still sweeping the globe, most of the remainder of January was spent at home, with reduced social contact and taking the recommended precautions to avoid infection...unsuccessfully. After nearly two years of avoiding the virus, I joined the COVID club, alongside 334M others worldwide. Luckily, I wasn't all that ill, didn't have too many plans to cancel/reschedule and no travel plans were affected.
Recovered from COVID, but sick of the UK's dark, damp and dreary winter weather, I really appreciated a solid dose of Floridian sunshine. After 21 hours of transit, I was pleased to arrive in St. Augustine, for a family wedding.
At the end of President's Day weekend, I headed south, to Naples, where my next few weeks consisted of dolphin watching, airboat cruising, fantasy house hunting, suntanning, playing tennis/pickleball/bocce, living it up in Miami and enjoying lots of quality time with family/friends/colleagues.
On my penultimate day in Florida, I attended the 2022 Swamp Buggy Cup Championship in Naples. Unique to Collier County, I had never seen anything like this before. It was like NASCAR met mud wrestling on Tinder and had a baby out of wedlock. Buggies lost wheels, capsized, broke down, got caught in sink holes and crashed into each other. The spectators were as interesting as the races.
I returned to London in time to observe the first St. Paddy's Day in three years where we were able to celebrate outside of our living rooms. You can bet your pot of gold that I was shaking my shamrocks.
I took advantage of the first two bank holidays of 2022 by visiting Polignano a Mare, Puglia, Italy, for the Easter long weekend. The high point was dining at Grotto Palazesse, a restaurant built into a cliff, that I've been wanting to eat at for many years!
Just four days after returning from Italy, I traipsed down to the South of France to meet up with a friend who was on gardening leave (lucky girl). We visited Nice, Cannes and Antibes over the course of five days, experiencing all the glitz and glamor that Côte d'Azur had to offer!
The bank holiday weekend was spent exploring the 'Hawaii of Europe' (AKA Madeira, Portugal). The island was truly stunning, with its old-world charm, excellent gastronomy and adventurous spirit!
Her Majesty The Queen became the first British Monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, after 70 years of service. As such, we in the UK received an extra day off, providing a four-day weekend. I took two additional days off and jetted off to Turkey, which officially changed its name to Türkiye whilst I was there. I visited Cappadocia and Istanbul. I absolutely adored everything about this trip! The hot-air balloon ride over the surreal terrain of Cappadocia, in particular, was an experience I won't soon forget.
A long weekend was spent in Marbella, Spain with some friends. We had a nice, relaxing time, eating all the Spanish tapas and exploring swanky beach clubs like Nosso.
Then I went to the bohemian city known as Tblisi, Georgia, with a day trip to Armenia. If for no other reason (although there are many), go to Georgia for the food! Georgian cuisine is highly under-rated.
Anyone keen to visit the ugliest European capital, in one of the least visited, poorest and unhappiest countries, which also happens to border a nation at war with Russia? I did. So off I went to Chișinău, Moldova. And I must say, I was surprised at how much I liked it. Low expectations did help.
After a year and a half of planning, I finally made it to Kenya and Tanzania. I went with my parents, to celebrate my mum's 70th. The trip was exceptional! There's nothing quite like being out in the African bush, up close and personal with free-roaming lions, buffalos, leopards, zebras, elephants, cheetahs, giraffes, hippos, etc., etc.
Japan reopened for tourists (yay!), fall colors were on display in a big way (gorgeous!) and the UK's political system was crumbling (eek!).
Kwasi Kwarteng was dismissed as Chancellor after his 'mini-budget' was negatively received by the world financial markets, resulting in the British Pound falling to near-historic lows against the US dollar. Shortly after, British Prime Minister Liz Truss announced her resignation just six crisis-filled weeks after taking office, becoming the shortest-lived PM in UK history. Rishi Sunak took office next. He would become the fifth PM we've had in the UK in the eight years I have lived here.
Leaving politics behind, myself and eight family members met in Ireland to watch my cousin cross the finish line at the Dublin Marathon.
Four of us escaped to Marrakech, Morocco for a luxurious and relaxing girl's weekend filled with all that the Red City has to offer: sunshine, massages, shopping, dining and rooftops.
My annual United States Thanksgiving Turkey Tour started off in mid-November, when I flew into Boston, Massachusetts. It continued on to Connecticut and then New York City.
Turkey Tour 2022 ended with six days spent in Nashville, Tennessee, which was absolutely brilliant! Nashville was oozing with Southern hospitality, endless entertainment and was delicious in every way!
While many aspects of travel returned to pre-pandemic normalcy this year, there is still plenty to remind us that things aren’t quite the same as they used to be. It is encouraging, however, to see that our world is getting a little bit easier to explore.
As this year comes to a close, I’d like to say good bye to a smattering of UK Prime Ministers, crossbody bum bags, Kanye West, endless strikes and Twitter...And a great big hello to a four-day work week (a girl can dream), steps towards lifting the 100ml liquids restriction and a new year filled with travel, laughter and adventure.
STATS FROM MY 2022 TRAVELS:
Trips: 14 (23 in 2019; 8 in 2020; 10 in 2021)
Air Miles Flown: 53,719 (it's 24,900 miles around the world)
Airline Segments Flown: 29 (48 in 2019; 18 in 2020; 12 in 2021)
Airlines Flown: 10 (14 in 2019; 5 in 2020; 4 in 2021)
Amount of Time Spent in the Air: 121 hours (183 in 2019; 57 in 2020; 55 in 2021)
Total Countries Visited: 16 (17 in 2019; 6 in 2020; 6 in 2021)
New Countries Visited (blue bubbles below): 7 (9 in 2019; 0 in 2020; 1 in 2021)
Continents Visited: 4 (North America, Asia, Africa & Europe)
Nights Spent in a Hotel/Airbnb: 60 (67 in 2019; 35 in 2020; 25 in 2021)
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