January…a time for fresh starts, new beginnings and a hella lot of planning. As a former management consultant, I am unashamed of my love for a good plan, especially when I can start meeting goals and seeing desired outcomes come to fruition (I blame it on all the project management training, but truth be told I think I’ve always had a little bit of OCD when it comes to making lists and ticking them off). Cue my annual family travel wishlist which usually helps me to beat the post-holiday blues and get excited about what the coming year has in store.
This year is a little different to years gone by though because, unusually for us, we have no set travel plans yet. Yup, not one single booking or even a fixed decision about where we would like to go and when has been made. Instead, Mr Sunshine and I have a whole plethora of tentative ideas and aspirations on our family travel wishlist, and it’s grown a little out of control!
To help me to organise my thoughts and set some plans in motion, I thought I’d put together an A-Z of all our family travel wishes for 2018.
A is for Africa – the last of the world’s continents that I am yet to explore (apart from Antarctica), could this be the year that the Sunshines finally get to visit Africa? From the Souks of Morocco to the stunning expanse of the Serengeti to the magnetic draw of the Cape Peninsula, this continent never fails to invoke my wanderlust, placing it firmly on my family travel wishlist for 2018.
B is for blog opportunities – there are a few potential hotel review opportunities bubbling away which I don’t want to mention just yet for fear of jinxing them, but this year could potentially have in store a trip to somewhere exciting in Europe and a visit to a friend on her travels around Asia as well as a few more staycations at home in Qatar.
C is for Croatia – a country which holds so much magic and intrigue for me, this is a destination which I’ve rolled over on my family travel wishlist for several years now. It also happens to be on the list of places that Mr Sunshine’s best friend has chosen as potential locations for his stag do later in the year, so I’m already planning what we’d do if we met him out there for a family holiday afterwards!
In the line-up for 2019’s family travel wishlist: Canada.
D is for daring to go out of our comfort zone – this one is a big one for 2018. Since Baby Sunshine has been born we’ve played it fairly safe when it comes to travelling as a family, by choosing destinations that are easy to get to, or luxury hotels that provide all of the facilities that a young family could possibly require. 2018 could be the year that we decide to go out of our comfort zone and ‘rough it’ a little more by choosing a few less high end accommodation options.
E is for East – we keep saying that while we live in Doha, we need to make the most of our position in Asia, and take advantage of the ease of travel of some far-flung destinations to the East that would be difficult to travel to from the UK, especially with a couple more kids in tow. 2018 might be the year that we stop talking about it and get on and do it!
F is for family – It’s about time that we embrace travel, not just as a family of three, but with a larger contingent of our extended family too. As expats that get to see our wider family members only very rarely, it makes sense that we combine two of our favourite things – spending quality time with our loved ones and travelling the world.
G is for good food – an important consideration when planning any trip for us, a place which offers interesting cuisine and good quality restaurants always increases its draw as a travel destination. A great meal often ends up being a highlight of our visit so we spend so much time planning where we’ll eat when we’re away! For this reason, there are several places which offer incredible food on our family travel wishlist this year.
In the line-up for 2019’s family travel wishlist: Georgia.
H is for hiking – ever since we headed back to England for Christmas and had our annual injection of countryside and greenery, I haven’t been able to shake my desire for a good old hike. Whether it’s along a coastline, up a mountain or down a ravine, I hope that 2018 will provide us with a travel destination which will allow us to be immersed in nature for a while.
I is for island-hopping – we got a real taste for island life when we visited Bali back in July, and now I’m yearning for more. Could the Philippines be a potential destination, or maybe some of the Greek islands, or the Maldives (see M)?
In the line-up for 2019’s family travel wishlist: Ireland.
J is for juggling priorities – it’s a really busy year for Mr Sunshine and me both personally and professionally, especially as Mr Sunshine will be hard at work on some major sporting tournaments in 2018 (it’s World Cup year people!). This means that we’re going to have to be flexible about travel dates and our usual summer exodus from the desert may need to be put on hold until the late summer or early autumn.
In the line-up for 2019’s family travel wishlist: Japan.
K is for killer views – along with a yearning for countryside and nature (see H), I’m also yearning for a room with a view. There’s no better feeling than opening your curtains in the morning to find a stunning vista awaits you outside, calling you to explore.
L is for luxury – I know I said I’d like to rough it a little this year (see D), but we wouldn’t be the Sunshines if we didn’t pursue a little luxury on our travels. You can expect one or two more luxury breaks and a few more luxury hotel reviews before the year is out.
M is for The Maldives – a short four hour flight away from our home in Doha, the beautiful island nation of the Maldives has been calling our name for a while now and I’m hoping that 2018 might be the year that we finally get to see it.
N is for Norway – we loved our visit to Oslo is 2017 and Storfjord hotel is up there amongst our favourite hotels of all time, but with Rich’s brother and his family based over there, and a growing love in our hearts for this incredible Scandinavian nation, we are sure to be making another trip over there soon. Could Christmas 2018 in Norway be on the cards?
O is for Oslo – while we’re in Norway, I’m hoping that we’ll get a chance to explore more of Oslo, and tick off some of the sights that we didn’t manage to get to first time around.
P is for perfectionism (or lack of it!) – when you love travel, and spend as much time researching destinations as we do, you can fall into the trap of expecting your travels to be perfect. Perfect itineraries, perfectly timed with perfect memories to take away at the end of the stay. Well, I hate to break it to you but travel with a toddler in tow rarely turns out that way, so in 2018 we’re not only going to lower our expectations a little, but you can expect more honesty about the reality of travelling as a family on the blog too.
In the line-up for 2019’s family travel wishlist: The Philippines.
Q is for Qatar – with my new role as Lonely Planet writer for Qatar, I’m looking forward to the increased opportunities to explore more of our adopted home country. This will mean investigating entertainment options, yet more delicious meals out and about and some trips out to the desert. I’m looking forward to sharing some of these adventures on the blog too!
R is for road tripping – both at home in Qatar and while travelling, you can expect a few more road trips in 2018. I’m planning a few blog posts on this theme later in the year, so keep an eye out if you’re interested in planning your own.
S is for snow – seeing Sophia’s excitement for the snow at Christmas in England was one of my favourite memories from 2017 and now I’m looking forward to making more snowy memories in 2018 in Norway. Could we squeeze in a ski lodge somewhere Alpine too do you think?
T is for toddler-focused travel – it goes without saying that wherever we end up going, it has to be right for Baby Sunshine. That means easy travel, easy food options and places that are friendly and safe. I’ll be investigating our options and reporting back on the blog in due course.
In the line-up for 2019’s family travel wishlist: Thailand.
U is for UK – of course, a year of travel is not complete without at least one trip back to the homeland to see family and friends. In 2018 we’ll have an abundance of new babies to visit and I’m already excited about the little squidges that I’m going to get with them!
V is for visiting people we love – which is, quite frankly, our favourite part of all of our travels these days. We miss our loved ones every day while we are away from them and there is no travel that is quite so exciting as the travel that involves a special someone waiting eagerly to greet you at the other end.
W is for wedding – there is one wedding back in England lined up in 2018 and at least two more potentials, so we’ll be planning our visits around these (see J).
X is for x-ploring more of the world – while we’re revisiting a couple of places this coming year, we also want to make sure we are scratching that insatiable itch by ticking off a few brand new destinations too.
Y is for yearning for more – I genuinely think that a well-spent year of travel should leave you craving yet more travel. I’m not one for cramming too much in and exhausting ourselves in the process (especially since we had a child). Instead, we’ll take things at a leisurely pace, soaking it all in and enjoying every moment, safe in the knowledge that there’s always time to return to explore some more in years to come.
Z is for Zzzzzz… – in between all of our travels my biggest wish for 2018 is that we all get a little more sleep! I’ll be looking at time zones carefully to ensure that jet lag isn’t going to bite us on the a*se and putting a sleep plan in place before we travel. I’m surviving on three hours sleep as I type this, so mark my words, mum boss will be fighting back against sleepless nights in 2018!
So that’s it! One big long list of hopes and dreams which when cobbled together make for quite an impressive family travel wishlist for 2018. I wonder how many we’ll tick off? I hope you’ll stick around to find out!
What’s on your travel wishlist for 2018?