I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m having one of those starts to the year where I continually have to keep double-checking the calendar. Are we really in February? How has that happened so quickly?!
February is traditionally the month when those optimistically-made New Year’s resolutions begin to fall by the wayside and we all reassure ourselves that it’s okay because we can just pick them up again in 11 months time.
This year I didn’t actually even bother to make any, as it’s been such a busy few months that mine would have probably just have been ‘manage to move house without losing my mind/killing Mr A etc…’
But last year I wrote a post about how I’m not really a big fan of giving things up at the start of the year and prefer to set myself challenges instead. So, after reading about it on blogs such as The Travel Hack I decided to take on the 12 Trip Challenge.
As the name suggests, the challenge involves taking a different trip every month for a year. What appealed to me was the fact that the trips can be as long or as short as you want, so you don’t always have to be jetting off somewhere exotic, it’s more just a means of ensuring that you make the most of your free time by getting away when you can.
As a ‘grown up’ unless you’re planning a sabbatical or a career break, chances are that you’re working full-time and have all of the added joys of running a house/paying the bills. Likewise if you’ve got children, pets or family members who rely on you it’s so easy to get wrapped up in your hectic schedule and the weeks can just fly by as you count down to your one annual holiday and we really shouldn’t live like that.
Even though both Mr A and I love travelling I’d noticed that it was often something which slipped to the bottom of our priority list. We’d tell ourselves that trips needed research and planning that we simply didn’t have time to do. Weekends would get taken up by household chores and food shops. Sometimes I’d get to a Sunday evening and realise that my biggest accomplishment of the weekend was cleaning out the fridge (side note: anyone else have a husband who fails to ever notice when the fridge is dirty?)
So we decided to commit to the 12 Trip Challenge, jokingly naming 2016 The Year of Adventure, to see whether we could get out of our travel rut and explore new places.
Our Year of Adventure really was a fantastic year and when we looked back in December we couldn’t believe how much we had managed to do. I would totally recommend the 12 Trip Challenge to anyone and, if you need any more persuasion, here’s why:
12 reasons to take the 12 Trip Challenge
1. It allows you to get away and switch off
This has to be the biggest one. I love the feeling of jumping in the car on a Friday night, driving somewhere and checking into a hotel. By the time you’ve been out for a nice meal it’s hard to believe that you were at work earlier that day. And there’s still two whole glorious days before you have to go back to the office.
2. It helps you spend quality time with your partner/family/friends
Being away from home gives you time to hang out properly with your favourite people. It allows you the opportunity to properly catch up on each other’s news and your time doesn’t get taken up talking about the house or having arguments about the state of the fridge.
And if you’d rather travel solo, then you get to spend quality time by yourself – and that’s just as important.
3. You don’t have to go far
It’s amazing how easy it is to travel to far-flung places and yet never get out to explore what’s on your own doorstep. My friends couldn’t believe that I’d never been to Bath so that was one of the first weekends away we organised. It’s just an hour and a half from Reading and, of course, I totally loved it so we’ll definitely be going back!
Hanging out at the baths in Bath
4. It doesn’t have to be expensive
Obviously going on 12 trips in a year could get pricey, but they don’t need to be expensive. There’s loads of great last minute deals out there, which it’s easy to take advantage of if you know when you’re planning to get away, and you can always go and stay with family and friends to keep costs down. Look for cheap things to do as well, one of our favourite weekends away was camping in Wiltshire which cost us £7 each a night – bargain!
5. It allows you to catch up with old friends
You know how it is, there’s always certain friends that you’ll make vague plans with: “We should catch up soon. Let’s get a date in the diary. It would be lovely to meet up.” But it never gets any further than that. Well this year we took the bull by the horns and made a list of people we wanted to visit and, shock, horror, we actually did it! The visits included a fab weekend exploring Nottingham on a trip to see one of my old uni friends.
Visiting Robin Hood’s home town
6. It encourages you to say yes to more things
We sometimes get asked to do things that we umm and ahh about for ages. ‘Have we got the time? Can we afford it? Is it something we would normally do?’ By the time we make the decision our friends have got fed up and gone ahead and booked it without us anyway. But last year we got into the habit of saying yes to things. This meant we ended up going on some trips which we’d never have normally done. That included our first ever visit to Center Parcs, somewhere I’d always thought of more as a family destination and had never really considered going to. But it turns out when you go with a group of adults outside of the school holidays it works out really cheap and was one of the most fun trips we did all year. So fun, we immediately booked a return visit!
7. It helps you tick more off that travel list
The only downside to being a travel blogger is that reading other people’s blogs make you add so many more places to your travel wishlist. So if you’re adding more places to the list you need to make sure you keep ticking them off too!
8. It gives you things to look forward to
It was so great throughout 2016 to have lots of things in the diary to look forward to. When we got back from our amazing honeymoon in Japan it was nice to still have exciting things planned, rather than just feeling sad that our trip was over.
9. It make you more spontaneous
Trips don’t always need to be planned ages in advance. After deciding we’d probably left it too late to book anywhere for our first wedding anniversary, Mr A booked us into a B&B in Derby the week before and we ended up having a fantastic weekend – even though we’d done zero pre-planning.
Not bad for a last minute booking 🙂
10. It stops you putting things off
We sometimes get into the habit or telling ourselves we’ll do something next year, when we have more money or more time. But in reality that’s never going to happen. There’s always going to be reasons to put things off and the more you do that the harder it will become to get back into the habit of going away. 2016 was the year that we stopped making excuses and started booking things in and it was so great to go on some of the trips we’d been promising ourselves we’d do for ages.
11. It allows you to revisit the places you love
Sometimes if feels like we spend so much of our time trying to tick new places off our travel list that we forget to appreciate the old ones we love. Doing so many trips in a year allowed us to return to places we both love, like Brighton, where we checked out the new British Airways i360 and I also got to take Mr A to Newcastle, the city I went to university in. It was so much fun taking a trip down memory lane and showing him all of the places I used to hang out in during my uni days (thankfully my fashion sense has improved since then!).
Head in the clouds in Brighton
12. It makes your weekends memorable
At the end of 2016 we looked back at the previous year and couldn’t believe how much we had managed to squeeze in while working full-time. We had so many fantastic moments together and with our family and friends and both the holidays and weekends away have given us memories to last a lifetime.
A year of love and adventures
Have you ever done the 12 Trip Challenge? Or do you have any tips for fitting more travels into your year?
I love this idea and agree that it has many advantages. Once we are home from our year of travel, I plan on adopting it. It will make the transition from sabbatical to work more bearable.
Good idea! That’s one of the main reasons I wanted to give it a go, as I was travelling significantly less after my 9 month RTW trip. Enjoy your travels in the meantime!