As we start into the new year of 2019, it is a chance to review the year past and wow, what a year 2018 was!  Not all the plans I made at the beginning of the year came to fruition. Trips were cancelled, changed at the last minute, it turned out quite different to how to I thought it was going to go. 

Despite all the changes and setbacks, I still managed to cram in the following:

Continents: 5 – Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, South America
Countries: 10 – France, India, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Cayman Islands, Honduras, Brazil
Flights: 27
Transport: Car, Plane, Train, Bus, Boat
Bucket List Items Checked: Taj Mahal, Safari, Victoria Falls, Blogging Event,

So where did I travel to in 2018?

Rajasthan, India

After spending Christmas 2017 and New Year in Callas in the South of France, I came back to a cold and wet England, but within a week Alan and I flew off to Rajasthan in India.

We lanned to go to India later in the year for a couple of months, but I thought a quick break would be a good taster to see if we actually enjoyed enough to spend 2 months there.

Our 16-day trip took us from Delhi to Agra by bus, then on to Jaipur, Pushkar, Jodhpur and back to Delhi by train. We saw temples, palaces, forts, and the majestic Taj Mahal. We joined in the Kite Festival in Jaipur, rode camels, bartered, laughed and were blown away with the kindness and friendliness of the Indian people we met. India is definitely on my list of places to return to.

Taj Mahal at dawn
The Taj Mahal at dawn

Yorkshire & Scotland

We landed back from India to disappear off north to do one of 3 housesits this year. We spent two lovely weeks catching up with ourselves while we looked after a beautiful Golden Retriever called Shayna and exploring the surrounding countryside. Then it was on up to Kelso, one of my favourite Scottish towns, to see family and visit the Kelso Farmers’ Market!

Keslo Market
Keslo Farmers’ Market

Maun & the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Kelso was quickly followed by our second housesit. This time we flew via Johannesburg to Maun, on the edge of the Okavango Delta in Botswana to look after three lovely dogs and Losiento the cat. It was quite a chilled 4 weeks and we made friends with many of the locals, practised yoga, milked goats and even got involved with one of the charities: Feed a Child. Later in the year I raised money for them by giving up chocolate for 75 days!

Feed a Child Maun
Raising funds for Feed a Child in Maun

After our 4 weeks in Maun, we headed off into the Okavango Delta for 6 days of safari. We visited 3 different camps and saw an abundance of animals. It was one of the most amazing few days of the whole year, totally switched off from the outside world and immersed in nature. We didn’t quite see all of the Big Five, as there were no rhinos about, but it just means that we will have to go back!

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Although we flew into Botswana, our flight home was from Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. We only had a day to explore the town and visit the majestic Victoria Falls. We decided not to have protective waterproofs and got completely and utterly soaked by the spray coming off the Falls, much to the amusement of passers-by and ourselves!

Victoria Falls Zimbabwe

Somerset, England

I have followed the Bloggers Course by Monica Stott of The Travel Hack and when she announced a Bloggers’ Retreat, I signed up immediately. Three days of talking all things blog-related in a stunning Unique Homestay in Somerset, learning from both Monica and Claire and Laura from Twins that Travel. Despite the intensive nature of the retreat, it was actually very casual and actually, I think I learnt a lot more in that atmosphere than in a classroom environment.

During the retreat, we talked about niche and our blog names. At the time I had started blogging under the name The Barefoot Travellers but wasn’t totally comfortable with it. After chatting to the group about it, I came up with The Silver Nomad, and totally rebranded myself!

Monica at The Bloggers Retreat

Rotterdam, The Netherlands

I had a commitment to myself at the beginning of the year to go to Traverse in May 2018. Traverse is a blogging conference which starts with 3 days of experiences and culminates in 2 full-on days of workshops and lectures in subjects like podcasting, working with brands, photography and writing. It really brought home to me how vibrant and accepting the travel blogging community really is.

Pianfei, Italy

Every year in June, my client the F1 Grand Prix Driver’s Club, invites me along to their AGM. This year we were Pianfei in Piedmont in Northern Italy. It was quite a foodie few days with trips to a salami producer, the Ferrero factory where we were tempted by all the chocolate, an artisan cheesemaker and amazing Barolo wine. We also got to drool over a beautiful vintage Maserati, have dinner in an old convent and take part in a karting championship.

Brussels, Belgium

Also in June, I was lucky enough to be invited on a surprise WOWTrip along with 7 other bloggers. I have travelled through Brussels several times, but never actually stayed there. I loved wandering through the streets admiring the architecture, the street art, people watching and enjoying the waffles!

WOW Trip to Brussels

Kelso, Scotland

My second visit to Kelso was for my Mum’s 80th birthday celebrations and yes I managed to fit in another Kelso Farmers’ Market.

Kelso Farmers' Market July 2018
Kelso Farmers’ Market in July 2018

Cayman Islands

By July Alan had been in Guanaja for 3 months and needed to renew his visa. So he flew up to the Cayman Islands as I flew in from the UK to join him. We spent 5 days exploring the north of the island, including the famous Stingray City, Starfish Point, the Cayman Turtle Sanctuary and the wonderfully named ‘Hell’ which turns out to be jagged limestone formations. Our 5 days up it was time to fly on to Guanaja, my home until mid-October.

Cayman Islands
Stingray gliding around Stingray City

Guanaja, Honduras

Returning to Guanaja after our 3 months in 2017 housesit was a pleasure. I caught up with friends and made new ones. Alan was housesitting the amazing Mariposa Estate for a total of 9 months, but due to work commitments, I could only stay for 3 months. Three months on an island in the Caribbean with boats for transport, waking up at 6 am to the sound of the breeze in the palms and birds twittering, being able to dip into the pool at any time, was utter bliss.

I set up a book group for some of my friends, had a night at The Treehouse at Roland Rumm’s Garden Guesthouse, opened my heart in an emotional blog post about my disability, but also chilled and enjoyed island life. All too soon it was over and I was saying my goodbyes again for another year.

The view of the Cay, the sea and lush planting that greeted us in the mornings on Guanaja
The view that greeted us in the mornings on Guanaja
Sitting outside the treehouse at Roland Rumm's Garden Guesthouse reading
Sitting outside the treehouse reading

Cayman Islands

After my 3 month stint on Guanaja, it was back to the Caymans for a few days before returning to the UK. This time we explored George Town and lazed by glorious turquoise waters and white sand of Seven Mile Beach before going our separate ways again as Alan headed back to Guanaja for his final 3 months.

The turquoise sea and white sands at Seven Mile Beach in the Cayman Islands
Seven Mile Beach in the Cayman Islands

London

The second of my commitments to my blogging self was to visit WTM, the World Travel Market in November held at the ExCel in London. WTM was an important place for me to make contacts with Tourist Boards, Travel Agencies and companies as well as meeting up with fellow bloggers.

Both sides of the exhibition hall are full of stands with Europe on one side and the Rest of the World on the other. I had forays into the European zone but spent most of my time in the Rest of the World.

Kelso, Scotland

In December I had 2 more trips up to Kelso to help out due to family illnesses. It did, by accident, tie in with the Kelso Christmas Farmers’ Market, but otherwise, it was a quiet and reflective time.

The stalls at Kelso Christmas Farmers' Market in Kelso Square
The stalls at Kelso Christmas Farmers’ Market in Kelso Square

Ceará, Brazil

A last-minute press trip at the beginning of December took me to Ceará in the northeast of Brazil for 6 days. I was with an amazing group of bloggers and travel agents from Europe and South America. We discovered the beaches, went on dune buggy rides, ziplined, tasted cachaça, visited the Ceará Beach Park and followed the Green Coffee Trail and learnt more about this beautiful part of Brazil.

Strolling along the Canoa Quebrada beach in Ceará in North east Brazil
Strolling along the Canoa Quebrada beach

And the ones that got away!

Sometimes the best-laid plans and intentions just don’t work out. So the following have been postponed from 2018 to – hopefully -2019.

  • 2 month trip around India – our decision to take the 9 month housesit in Guanaja meant putting our India trip on hold. In hindsight, it means we can plan it better for 2019.
  • Barcelona – as a treat for my Mum’s birthday we were going to have a long weekend in Barcelona, a first time trip for both of us. Sadly illness meant we had to postpone it until March 2019.
  • Marrakech – I was all set to attend Trabilin in Marrakech in November, but at the last minute my housesitters let me down, leaving me with no-one to look after the house, dog and chickens, so I cancelled.
  • Bali – I was all set to spend 2 weeks in Lovina in Bali in December, catching up with friends and grabbing some much-needed winter sun. A family crisis had me delay my trip until January, but I have extended it to 3 weeks to include a week in Ubud doing yoga!

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Review of 2018
The Silver Nomad Review of 2018

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