A brand new year dawns on the horizon, what are you going to do with it? Perhaps you want to build a house, learn how to ski, have a baby, rescue a puppy or take up salsa dancing? Or maybe there’s a voice inside you whispering: “I want to travel the world!” Well, you’re not alone. Four years ago that voice had grown too loud for me to ignore and I was preparing to leave the UK for a two-year travel adventure that has now become a full-time lifestyle. If wanderlust is knocking at your door, here are my top tips on how to make your world travel dreams a reality in 2017.
The sun is shining, the sky is blue and our cupboards are full of festive goodies. When we started 2016 we certainly didn’t expect to end the year back in Asia but here we are, spending Christmas in Chiang Mai after a year of intense highs and lows and many amazing travel experiences. Here’s our 2016 travel roundup and a look at the highlights from what turned out to be a rocky, yet transformative year.
Last week I celebrated my 33rd birthday here in Thailand. It was such a peaceful day filled with an almond-croissant breakfast at a cute café, an oil massage, swim in our pool and dinner at my favourite Italian restaurant down the road. I could never have predicted that at this point in my life I’d be living in Asia with my favourite person, working online and enjoying the freedom to travel whenever I liked. Somehow, through years of trial and error, I’ve ended up in an extremely happy place. With that in mind, here are 33 things that I’m thankful for.
The Christmas before we left the UK in 2012, Andrew and I announced that we didn’t want gifts and we weren’t going to buy any. Instead, we donated money to Shelter and took some groceries to the local food bank. At the time, we were in the midst of sorting through our tiny one-bedroom London flat, trying to narrow down our possessions so that they’d fit into two backpacks for our new life of travel. That was the start of our journey towards minimalism, and we haven’t looked back since.
Need to renew your Thai visa? This month we had a very smooth experience getting a Thai visa in Penang, Malaysia. Here’s everything you need to know about making a visa run to Penang, including what documents to take, how much it costs and how to find the embassy.
With a silent wish for peace, I dropped my boat of leaves and flowers into the Ping River. Entranced, I watched it float away with the current, joining dozens of other baskets all lit by pinpricks of candle light. Above me, against the black sky and a full silver moon, paper lanterns filled with orange flames sailed upwards. This was the climax of the Yi Peng and Loy Krathong festival in Chiang Mai, a three-day event filled with light displays, processions, and sadly for us, a little bit of lantern-related terror.
Picture a snow queen’s palace. A building as white as sugar icing, with a three-tiered roof spiked with icicle decorations, and a bridge guarded by troll-like creatures. Imagine a surface flecked with mirrors that sends the sun’s rays skittering in all directions. Look closer and you’ll notice a sea of outstretched hands and a fiery mural riddled with demons, Superman and Freddy Krueger. Welcome to the White Temple in Thailand, one of the country’s most beautiful, yet surreal, works of art.
We love living in Chiang Mai. Every day we wake up in the most luxurious apartment we’ve ever rented and get to swim for free in our outdoor pool. We can eat out at one of our favourite restaurants, meet up for dinner with friends or have a massage whenever we like. We’re pretty much living a dream lifestyle, but for what price? Find out in our cost of living in Chiang Mai breakdown.
I awoke to the sound of buzzing insects rather than the hum of Chiang Mai traffic. As Andrew slid back the balcony door crisp alpine air hit me and through the grey dawn light, I could spot a stripe of neon orange on the horizon.  The sun was rising over our Mae Salong mountain haven, illuminating dozens of peaks cloaked in mist and a vast cloud sea that filled the valley bowls. It was a sight that made me thankful to be living here in Thailand.
Our eight-week trip through Eastern Europe was one of my travel highlights of the year. Although we were on an extremely tight budget, we managed to save a lot of money by travelling by bus. This allowed us to visit five countries, eat loads of delicious food, and go crazy with sightseeing.