How I plan my travels

The best and worst part of travelling is the planning. I'm not an overly organised person, and the whole theme of my blog is to get lost, but when you're only travelling somewhere for a few days or a couple of weeks you have to be realistic and plan ahead. Otherwise, you run the risk of missing out on stuff you really want to see, or not making the most of your holiday.

Here are some of the tools and sites I use when planning my travels:

Instagram

Yes, I have a whole album on Instagram of waterfall shots ;)

Yes, I have a whole album on Instagram of waterfall shots ;)

Instagram is the biggest one at the moment. I am soooooo grateful for the new feature which allows you to store up a bunch of photos that you really like. So whenever I'm scrolling through my feed and see something I like, I just save it. Then it's really easy to check the location later on and scope out other peoples' photos of the place and get a feel for it. 

Google Drive

Without sounding like a complete nerd, I seriously love Google Drive and Sheets. As I said, I'm not really a planner, but as a full time worker I only get 4 weeks a year, and I'm not one to spend half that time lounging poolside (not that there's anything wrong with that!).

I'm currently planning my trip to Myanmar and Bangkok, and I'll be meeting up with my partner when I get there. We currently have a Drive set up where we save our itineraries etc, and keep the planning Sheet. This sheet has several tabs; timetable, activities, accommodation and expenses. 

How I plan my travels - itinerary

It's cool to see it all laid out like this, to know what time slots need to be filled and when we're in one place too long etc. Because I'm really visual I added colours to the chart, then had a good laugh because my partner is colour blind and won't be able to appreciate it! 

Skyscanner

How I plan my travels - Skyscanner

I really like Skyscanner for it's visual approach. I like to travel on a budget so I'm often looking for the cheapest options, trying to squeeze a holiday around a long weekend or something similar. I really like using the map function, although it only does return flights, which can be a bit niggly, it's still really handy to see when is a good time to book somewhere, and who the cheap providers are. I haven't come across any other sites offering a similar function either, but I wonder if they will in the near future. 

TripAdvisor

Although I find TripAdvisor quite clunky and dated, it's still a really good tool for travel advise. I read a lot of reviews on it, though I take a lot of them with a grain of salt, and feel it's important to leave reviews in return (although I've been pretty slack at it). 

Other blogs

A stunning shot of bagan at sunset from the traveling honeybird

A stunning shot of bagan at sunset from the traveling honeybird

Of course, you can't have a travel blog and not get inspiration from other travel bloggers! It goes hand-in-hand with Instagram as I find a lot of great bloggers through that channel, but when I want a little more information I take to the blogging world. I have been lucky to have had the help of the wonderful Jean from The Traveling Honeybird, who has several great reads about Myanmar, where I'm heading next. Through Instagram I met Kiara from Galloping Around The Globe who has a great article about exploring the temples of Bagan, which was number 2 on my Myanmar bucketlist. There are heaps of blogs out there, so it's a great way to research a destination for future travels! 

HowIPlanMyTravels-thumb

 

What tools do you like to use when you plan your travels? Do you enjoy that side of it or do you prefer to wing it? 

Family holiday in the States

A throwback post

Don't worry, I'm not turning into a mummy blogger (not that there's anything wrong with that!), but I was looking through an old family photo album and thought I'd put together a throwback post about an awesome family holiday we took to the States.

Family trip States 1

Growing up, we only went on holiday within New Zealand, until our early teens when our parents took us to the Gold Coast. Those photos do not need to see the light of day ever again so I won't be writing about that experience! These photos of photos aren't great either, to be fair. Anyway, following that, our only other International trip all together as a family was to the West Coast of the United States. 

Family trip States 2

We traveled to 3 States; California, Nevada, and Arizona on accident. We hired a car and hit all the tourist spots along the way; Hollywood, San Diego Zoo, Santa Monica Boulevard, Hoover Dam, Las Vegas, and of course, Disneyland.

It was an awesome family holiday because there wasn't the stress of a language barrier, the people were very friendly and kind, we always felt safe and the food was very similar to what we have in New Zealand. As a parent I can imagine this would all help make travelling with kids a lot less stressful, and as a kid I can testify that there were no food-related tantrums. Expect when we struggled to find a breakfast joint in Las Vegas, because apparently nobody there is up at breakfast time. I get hangry OK... a girl's gotta eat! 

Highlights of the trip:

  • Watching the night light show at Disneyland
  • Also watching the fountain show outside the Bellagio
  • Seeing pandas at San Diego Zoo
  • Standing next to a Bugati on Rodeo Drive, which would've cost more than I'll earn in this lifetime
  • Spotting Jamie Oliver on the street, though it was kind of sad that he was the only celeb we spotted, and he's not even American
  • Witnessing an entire military base stand with their hands on their hearts, deathly silent, as they stood for the national anthem
  • Watching the Shamu show, which I now know I shouldn't have done, but it was incredible to see such majestic creatures showing off their acrobatic skills
  • Eating food of epic proportions
  • Tootsie rolls every day :)
  • Standing on the border between Nevada and Arizona, being in 2 timezones and 2 states at once

All in all it was a really fun trip and I'm still incredibly grateful to my parents for taking us. 

Have you been to the States? Where would you recommend visiting?

 

How to start a blog

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me how to start a blog, I'd have about $3. But if I had a dollar for every time someone asked Google how to start a blog, I'd be a millionaire. Literally!

So, after those three people asked me how to start a blog, I got to thinking; surely this would make a good blog post! I'm so passionate about blogging, why not share the love with others who are looking at getting into it too?! 

I have years of blogging experience, from starting and running a blog to working for a blogging agency and several companies who have worked with bloggers. I have also done countless hours of my research on it for my own purpose, and I want to share what I have learnt with others who are keen.

If you're looking for tips on how to start a blog, right from scratch, then this is a good place to start. If you already have a blog, stay tuned for further advice :)

Here are 5 simple steps to help you get started:

1. Pick a name

For me this was one of the hardest steps, and probably why it took me weeks to start my blog in the first place. There was more than one occasion I gave those "random name generators" a go, I'm ashamed to admit. You kinda need to do this first so you can sort out your URL, but you can always change it later on. 

You're not stuck with your blog name, but try and pick one that you're really happy with as it can be a hassle to change later on, and you want your audience to be able to remember you and find you easily. 

When choosing a blog name, keep in mind that you want people to remember it easily and be able to find it on social etc, but you also may want to make it obvious what your blog is about. My friend is beautylust.co.nz, it's pretty clear that her blog is going to be about beauty, and because she bought a local domain (.co.nz), it's easy for other New Zealanders to identify that her content will be relevant to them. Mine, on the other hand, is perhaps less obvious than many other names, but I think it has a certain ring to it. Plus, I hate alliteration. 

There's no hard and fast rule around names, so it's up to you whether you want to choose one that's memorable, unique, quirky or whatever else. If you're uncertain, think on it for a week and see if you still like it.

2. Choose a platform

If you just want to try this blogging thing on for size, start with a free site on Wordpress.com or Blogger.com. These allow you to get up and running with the basics, but your URL will be www. your name .wordpress.com or www. your name .blogspot.com. It's not too hard to move up later on, but I'm incredibly lazy so just went straight in and bought a Squarespace site after my old blog with Wordpress fell through.

If you want to commit to a blog for the long run, I would suggest you get a site with Wordpress.org or Squarespace.com. With Wordpress, you are able to do heaps of customisation and there a plenty of things called plug-ins and widgets which help you improve your site. The downside I found, is that it takes a fair bit of research into all these different things, and then you have to find a good host for your site (the easiest way I found to think about hosting is to imagine that they're your landlord, but for the internet instead of a house) and you will have to buy your domain name yourself. Squarespace also gives you heaps of freedom but those last two things are done for you once you've signed up and started paying. 

3. Find your style

I personally find this one really important, trying to decide the look and feel of your blog. When I worked for a blogging agency I would wince every time I came across an ugly blog. Maybe that sounds superficial, but people have short attention spans these days and you want to give a potential reader every incentive to stick around and read your content.

As in so many situations in life, your first impression is very important. 

Wordpress have heaps of options for free "themes" that you can choose for your blog, or you have the choice to pay for better ones when you want a bit more flexibility and options. Squarespace give you access to all its "templates" which I think are stunning and give you heaps of flexibility to edit. Wordpress also have nice ones too but the free ones aren't as good and there are literally hundreds to choose from, which can be draining! 

3. Decide which social media channels will work for you and get your handles ASAP

How to start a blog Instagram

I will do another post about how to choose the channels that are best for you, but consider what you think you can keep up with and what will benefit your blog and brand. Sometimes less is more, especially if you don't have time to dedicate to running them. My main ones are Facebook and Instagram, but I focus mostly on my Instagram as I'm quite visual and I love the simplicity of it. 

Social media is a great way to get eyeballs on your site. There's also SEO which is paramount to your site's visibility with search engines, but baby steps for now. Social media is a good place to start as most people are already pretty fluent in it, or at least proficient enough to get their friends and family to notice them. 

Once you have your blog name it's a good idea to lock in your social accounts to ensure you get the handles you want. 

4. Think about who you are and who you are talking to

This will also get you thinking about what you want to achieve with your blog. Are you writing to fellow travellers to inspire their journeys? Are you creating a blog to house extra information about makeup, that you think would compliment your beauty vlogging? Do you want to provide other parents with helpful reviews of baby food?

I used to have a blog that I classed as "fashion, beauty and lifestyle", because I worked for a fashion event in New Zealand, but I actually don't love fashion that much, and I certainly don't have the best sense of style around. I didn't particularly enjoy it, and I had no idea who I was creating content for; if I didn't love my content, why would anyone else? So, it was no surprise when I lost interest and it fizzled out. I still cringe when I think about it! 

Don't forget to get a clear idea of yourself and why you are blogging. There are thousands of blogs out there, so what makes your one unique and valuable to a potential reader?  

5. Start writing

Once you've got your blog up and running, you could spend hours stressing over little details and getting everything perfect, but don't let that distract you from what you're really here for. Just start writing. There's no point having a fancy new website to show your friends if there's nothing on it!

Spend a good few hours coming up with headlines and potential topics that will get you going, and then work from there. Sometimes the hardest part is just getting started. 

You started this blog for a reason, time to let the world know what that is! 

Images: Unsplash

Fiji & Springbreak highlights video

Yeah, I know it has been a wee while since I was in Fiji (OK, maybe a long while), but after tossing up whether or not to post my video, I've decided I will. Bit of a waste to take so much footage and not use it! So, here goes:

Check out my full blog post on the experience here.

Fiji video

The Tongariro Crossing

Finally ticked off one of my big bucket list items and I really don’t know why I haven’t done it already!

The Tongariro Crossing is a 6-8 hour walk from the base of Mt Ngauruhoe (a.k.a. Mt Doom from L.O.T.R), past a couple of craters and the Emerald Lakes, along the ridge that leads to the Mt Tongariro summit and then down to ground level at Ketetahi.  

The Tongariro Crossing 1

Gear  

You only need a day pack with a big water bottle (at least 1 litre), some snacks, sunblock, maybe some first aid and a packed lunch. Most people wore hiking boots or sturdy sneakers (I wore my old netball shoes with long socks because I don’t own hiking boots yet) and hiking clothing/active wear. It starts off very cold so you will need a jumper, and it can be wet so a waterproof jacket is recommended. 

The Tongariro Crossing 2

Tip: pack a pair of jandals or sandals; once you get to the end of the walk you won’t need proper footwear and although I thoroughly enjoyed walking through the bush with bare feet, jandals would’ve been more comfortable.  

It’s about a 5 hour drive from Auckland CBD and there are plenty of options for accommodation in National Park which is about 20-30 mins from either end of the walk. We drove down on Friday, stopping in Otorohanga and Taumarunui, and stayed at the charming Tongariro Crossing Lodge for Friday and Saturday night. On Saturday morning we were picked up by the shuttle van that was arranged by the lodge and driven to Mangatepopo where we started the walk at 7.30am.

The Tongariro Crossing 4

They recommend everyone start at Mangatepopo and finish at Ketetahi to avoid congestion, but it also makes sense in terms of ease. From the Mangatepopo car park it’s an easy walk for the first hour or so, then it there’s a lot of winding uphill as you quickly ascend.  

Ngauruhoe

Once you get to the top of the first leg, up the hill from Soda Springs, you have the option to walk to the summit of Ngauruhoe which they say takes about 3 hours to the top and back down. One of the couples from our shuttle did it and they said it took them about 1.5 hours to get to the summit and about 30 mins to get back down. There’s a path that takes you up the base of the mountain but once that finishes you basically have to just make your way up the steep face, navigating the loose rocks and shingle and keeping an eye out for ones falling on you from above. Apparently someone had to be airlifted out a few weeks ago when he was hit in the head by a falling rock. They said the view was good but the best views can be seen from the crossing. It sounds like it's a walk for the bragging rights, not the view.

The Tongariro Crossing 5

From the bottom of Ngauruhoe, the walk crosses through the South Crater, then leads steeply up some rock faces, and then even more rock faces, and once you get to the high point of that section there’s the option to walk to the summit of Tongariro which is another 1.5 hours return. We didn’t do it, we stuck to the main path where we were offered incredible views of the Red Crater. Once you come over the other side of the highest point near the Red Crater you’re treated to an incredible view of the Emerald Lakes.  

Emerald Lakes

The Tongariro Crossing 6
The Tongariro Crossing 7
The Tongariro Crossing 8

There are three lakes in this area, two emerald coloured lakes and one that is more bluey. The area is very active and there are steam vents just to the side of the lakes. Getting down to the lakes is a bit of a mission, it’s all loose rocks and shingle, and you can see why they don’t recommend doing the walk in reverse; it would be a tedious walk getting back up that! The lake area smells strongly of sulfur and although I'm struggling to find it online anywhere, I'm fairly sure you're not meant to swim in them as they're unsafe and you definitely can't drink from them. 

The Tongariro Crossing 9

From there you press on across another crater and up to the Blue lake, which is much bigger, but not quite as striking. This lake I could find more information on and it is tapu (sacred to the local Maori) and so you cannot swim in it or eat near it. From there you have to go up hill a bit more, but for the most part that is the end of the hard slog.

The Tongariro Crossing 10

It’s not long until you come out the other side of the ridge and can see Lake Rotoaira and Lake Taupo in the distance as you begin your descent. It’s a relief to get the breeze along there and the walk gets easier as it is mostly downhill back to the Ketetahi hut; a much welcomed relief at this point! From the hut to the carpark is about 2 hours if you’re on the slower side, and it does tend to go on and on, and on and on, as the landscape doesn’t change for ages. Once you finally get to the bush it’s a little steeper but lovely and cool in the shade. The path eventually runs alongside the river and you can see plenty of little waterfalls, which is always a plus for me!

The Tongariro Crossing 11

I couldn’t recommend this walk enough, unless you hate walking!  

For more information, you can find plenty here, or feel free to comment below if you have any questions! 

The 10 best day trips from Auckland

This summer I've been trying to squeeze in heaps of day trips and mini getaways, since I've used all my annual leave for International travel (check out my trip to Fiji here). I don't have a car but I'm super lucky to have friends that are happy to go away for the day or do a little weekend roadie, so here are some of my recommendations for places that can be visited from Auckland in a day!

These are all under 3 hours from Auckland CBD, so they're a decent way out but still manageable for a day trip. Some are technically in Rodney but the rest aren't actually in Auckland because that might have to be a whole new post. I'm just going to order them from North to South, so here goes: 

Matapouri (Mermaid Pools)

Drive time (all from Auckland Central): 2hrs 37mins

Road trip 1
Road trip 2

I was really gutted that the day I planned to go to the Mermaid Pools wasn't warm and sunny, but it was still beautiful at Matapouri nonetheless. The beach itself is stunning and quite a distance from Auckland (it's past Whangarei), so you really feel like you're on holiday. At the end of the beach you can do a bush walk up through a hill and down the other side to the stunning "Mermaid Pools". Though it's a fairly short walk, maybe 20 mins, it's very, very steep, so don't take grandma up! 

Whangarei Falls

Drive time: 2hrs 8mins

Road trip 3

If you're already up that way, the Whangarei Falls are a beautiful place to visit too. There's an easy loop track down to the falls that takes about 15 minutes return, and it's very well paved. Be careful to lock your car and take your belongings with you though, especially if the attendants aren't there. Yikes! Thanks to my girl Steph from beautylust.co.nz! She was so patient with all the photos I wanted to take and drove the whole way :) 

Mangawhai Heads

Drive time: 1hr 24 mins

It's been a long while since I've been to Mangawhai, so as with a couple of other places I don't have any recent photos, but it's a stunning spot and a popular place for summer vacations. The surf is pretty good too, and it's a short drive to plenty of beautiful beaches like Waipu and Langs Beach. 

Matakana & nearby beaches

Drive time: 47 mins

Road trip 4

Matakana is lovely area north of Auckland, it has a delicious ice cream store, quaint movie theatre and a great farmers market every Saturday. But the best part about it is the surrounding beaches. Omaha has been an old favourite of mine with its stunning stretch of white sand and calm water, as has Tauwharanui, a reserve just around the corner with awesome rock pools and a few more waves.

Then there's Goat Island, a marine reserve with possibly the only colourful fish we get in NZ waters (Blue Mau Mau) and a cool little island you can swim out to. I haven't been in years but it was a favourite when I was a kid, even though the water always seemed to be a few degrees colder than other beaches. There's also Leigh, Kawau Island and the beaches around the Snells Beach peninsula. You're spoilt for choice really! 

Karangahake Gorge

Drive time: 1hr 40mins

Driving through the Karangahake Gorge can be very daunting, but if you detour there you'll find some stunning scenery and a great place to explore. There's a historic walk there while follows an old railway line, passes through a 1km tunnel and follows the Ohinemuri river in places. 

Cathedral Cove (Te Whanganui-A-Hei), Coromandel

Drive time: 2hrs 24mins

Road trip 5
Road trip 6

If this list was ranked, Cathedral Cove would definitely take out the top spot. The 40 minute walk does little to thin out the crowds as the beach is well worth the trek. It took to the big screen when it made a cameo in Prince Caspian from the Narnia Chronicles, which you can watch here. Gives me tingles seeing my beautiful country shown off like that!

I visited recently on a long weekend, which didn't help with the crowds, plus the weather was stunning. It was really hard to get a photo without at least 20 other people in it, which I suppose is pretty normal for people from more populated parts of the world but for me I was a little put off. Still, I jumped off the tiny island and went wandering along the rocks and marvelled at how clear and pristine the water was. 

The Pinnacles

Drive time: 1hr 50 mins

This is one walk that I've been really keen to do for a while, and am very excited to do soon. The walk is about 5 hours to the top and back, depending greatly on your fitness as it can get quite steep I've heard. It can be done in a day, or you can hire out the hut at the top, complete with BBQ. I have heard only good things and am looking to go in the next few weeks. 

New Chums Beach

Drive time: 2hrs 53mins

This is another hidden gem that was a lot quieter a few years ago. Search for it on Instagram and you'll see why it's worth the walk. From memory, the walk from the carpark isn't too bad, maybe 20 minutes max, but you may get wet if the tide isn't out. Make a day of it, even if there are plenty of other people it's a big enough beach that you can sit far away from others if you want to. 

Mount Maunganui

Drive time: 2hrs 42mins

Road trip 7

Climbing Mount Maunganui and getting a selfie at the top is a pretty standard thing to do if you're visiting the area, so why not? The view is incredible and the walk itself isn't too hard. Just don't wear jandals. Or do, if you're ambitious/unprepared like me. 

Omanawa Falls, BOP

Drive time: 2hrs 27mins

Road trip 8

I have one big regret in life right now and that's that I didn't climb down to the bottom of the Omanawa Falls. In my defense, you're not allowed to, and when I was there I was alone, wearing jandals (it was the same day I climbed Mount Maunganui), carrying my belongings in a plastic bag, it was raining, I couldn't actually find the dangerous walkway and it gave me the heeby jeebies. There's an abandoned hydro-electric dam at the top, complete with creepy, gloomy staircases, broken gates and graffiti everywhere. I'll go back one day though, more prepared, and get some awesome shots from the bottom. 

The Blue Springs, Putaruru

Drive time: 2hrs 18mins

Another regret of mine is only taking my GoPro to the Blue Springs. I was still getting used to it and so I only have shaky footage from one and only trip. Honestly, I did it no justice and I'm determined to go back and shoot it again with my DSLR, or at least my phone camera. 

It's absolutely stunning and the water is so blue and pure, but bloody freezing as it stays a chilly 11 degrees Celsius all year round. You could easily get down there in a day and back from Auckland, as the walk itself isn't too long and very easy to do; I went with my whole family, including grandparents. Sadly, grandma wasn't up for a swim though. 

Of course, those aren't the only spots just out of Auckland that are worth visiting, but I wanted to keep it to 10. Here are some other honourable mentions: 
Uretiti, Te Arai, Waipu Cove, Kai Iwi Lakes, Piroa Falls, the giant L&P bottle, Hot Water Beach & Hahei, Whangamata and Pauanui. 

Do you have any highly recommended day trips from Auckland? I'd love to hear them! 

Top places to travel to in 2017

Travel is always on my mind, and heading into 2017 has been no different. I've been thinking about, and researching, interesting and inspiring places to travel to that aren't as popular or well known. Us Kiwis have all been to Fiji, Raro or Gold Coast for a sunny beach escape, or ventured over to London and from there embarked on a journey through Europe, probably going as far east as the Czech Republic. 

Not to say that there's anything wrong with these places; we keep going back for a reason! But I want to start travelling to less touristy places to see what they have to offer. I haven't been to any of these places yet, though all are on my bucket list, and I'll be visiting Myanmar in a few months time.

Just a warning, some of these are not for the faint hearted! 

Myanmar

Formerly known as Burma, Myanmar borders several more well travelled countries like India and Thailand, but it has managed to survive for years without a great deal of tourism by comparison.

Explore the ruins of Bagan and feel like a tomb raider, or take a tour down the famous Irrawaddy River or visit the glorious, golden Shwedagon Pagoda. I am really excited to be visiting in May, so stay tuned for my own experience of the place! 

Colombia

With the gorgeous Caribbean coast in the north and west, and the jungles of the continent to the south and east, the Central American country, Colombia, has a great deal to offer those who are a little on the adventurous side. 

2017 Colombia

In recent years, this paradise has become a lot easier and safer for tourists to travel to. Last year the government signed a peace deal with Farc after 4 years of negotiations (click here for more info) and peace is being spread far and wide in Colombia. 

Russia

If you know anything about history, you'll know that 1917 was a pretty big year for Russia. Revolution ended the 300 year rule of the Romanov dynasty, and communism took hold of the vast country. Though there haven't been any plans publicly announced for the centenary, it will be very interesting to see if something does happen. If nothing else, visit Russia and experience all the history it has to offer and find out more about the events of 1917. 

Namibia

Namibia is a photographers wet dream. Ironically, thanks to the outlandish orange landscape of the Kalahari Desert.

Plus there's the Skeleton Coast, the quirky old German town Luderitz, the fascinating Himba people, black rhinos, plenty of sand-dunes to board down, Fish River canyon, ancient rock carvings in Twyfelfontein and just a whole bunch of African wildlife. Brb.....booking tickets to Namibia. 

Canada

Canada is by no means untouched by us kiwis. We all have a friend, or a friend of a friend, who has been to work on the ski fields.

But 2017 is making it better than ever for a visit; Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary with free entry to all its national parks. According to Parks Canada, that's "46 national parks, 171 national historic sites, four national marine conservation areas, one national urban park and eight historic canals". I struggled to find out how much that would save you, but it's a pretty cool place to visit, regardless.

Oman

With Emirates and other airlines from the middle East being a popular choice for travelling to Europe from our end of the world, more and more deals are cropping up with cities like Dubai and Doha as stopovers. But why not use them as a stopover to somewhere a little less travelled, just as historic and stunning, but perhaps a little less touristy, like Oman? 

The capital, Muscat, is visually stunning with its low white-washed buildings is surrounded by desert, mountains and the Gulf of Oman. With a population barely larger than Auckland (1.5mil), it is humble in comparison to its more ostentatious neighbours, but nonetheless a place worth a visit. 

Cuba

I work in travel full time and my company have recently been doing a huge push of the Caribbean and the surrounding area, and I'm completely sold on Cuba!

It's an island stuck in time thanks to the Communist government which has been in place since the 1950s. Reportedly every family was given a car by the government back then, and thanks to a foreign vehicle import ban, these cars are almost all you'll see today. But tourism has been on the rise in Cuba for the last few decades, and it's a place I'd love to go to soon, while it's still in the old ways. 

South Korea

Japan is always a top destination for travellers, but just across the Sea of Japan, tourists are flocking to South Korea as well, though I don't think the hype has yet reached NZ. From stunning temples, to the gorgeous Busan coast, the bustling nightlife of Seoul to the sub-tropical island Jeju, this country has so much to offer. It's time to say Annyeong to South Korea! 

Portugal

Portugal is like the beautiful, creative, unassuming little sister of Spain. At least that's my outsider's perspective. Spain and its surrounding islands are so appealing to travellers, but if you go just a little further west, you'll discover something magical. 

There are so many quirky, colourful buildings, especially in Sintra. Lisbon, is the second oldest oldest capital city in the world, after Athens, and is a great mix of the old and the new, with lively modern day culture oozing out of the streets that are older than the hills (not literally older than the hills....I think).

Of course, there are so many more places I would travel to if I could, maybe I'll get around to some more of these later in the year?! 

Have you visited any of these places? Or have you got another country to recommend for people to visit in 2017?