Those of you that read my blog regularly will know that 2015 has been a whirlwind year of travel for me. I’ve taken 32 flights, travelled through 11 countries and reached 16 new destinations, making it my biggest year of travel ever! I’m so thankful for all of the incredible travel memories that this year has brought so I wanted to bottle up everything in to one round up post.
When I look back on the year there have been so many epic travel highlights, but I will always remember 2015 as the year that I fell in love with Africa. Before this year, it was a continent that remained pretty undiscovered to me, but 2015 brought two extraordinary opportunities to visit South Africa and Tanzania. Here is my 2015 travel round up…
1. Dublin, Ireland – January 2015 – Group Press Trip
Why / How – To review the Westbury Dublin
My first trip of the year was a hop over the Irish Sea for a luxurious weekend break at The Westbury Hotel, one of Dublin’s most iconic 5 star hotels. During this trip I got to see the creative and artistic side of Dublin, proving that there’s so much to this city than just Guinness, pubs and Irish ‘craic’. This was a group press trip that I went on with Emma Gannon of Girl Lost in City and Emma Bates of Kuidaore – who I am now very proud to call my friends.
Read my Dublin post.
2. Barcelona, Spain – February 2015 – Personal trip
Why / How – A spontaneous invitation
Next up was my spontaneous trip to Barcelona. I flew to Barcelona and back in one weekend, proving to Brits that Europe can be done in just one weekend – no annual leave required! Of course, it was a very quick trip, but my friend Katie and I still found time to stroll down Las Ramblas, visit the Sagrada Familia, dine on delicious tapas and check out Barceloneta beach. We stayed at the iconic W Hotel on Barceloneta beach.
Read my Barcelona post.
3. Cape Town, South Africa
– March 2015 – Group Press Trip
How / Why – To review Qatar Airlines, Steenberg Hotel and Cape View Clifton
My trip to Cape Town was a real turning point in my career and a trip that will go down in history for me. I was invited to join a press trip of top travel journalists and I was the only blogger. I got to meet and travel with Victoria Mather, Travel Editor of Vanity Fair and a hugely respected travel writer by people in the know. We climbed up Table Mountain, visited the penguins on Boulders Bay and discovered beautiful Camps Bay. This trip also lead to my new freelance job as a Social Media Manager, for which I will always be thankful for.
Read my Cape Town posts.
4. Tuscany, Italy
– April 2015 – Individual Press Trip
Why / How – To review Castello di Casole on a magazine commission and Hotel Brunelleschi for the blog
My trip to Tuscany was a combination of a personal holiday and a press trip. I won a freelance commission to write an article about Castello di Casole, a traditional castle in the beautiful Tuscan countryside. As it was an individual press trip, I got to bring my boyfriend Scott along and we extended the one hotel stay into a Tuscany road trip. We flew in to Pisa, hired a car and visited Pisa, San Gimignano, Casole d’Elsa, Siena from our based at Castello di Casole. We then drove to Florence and spent 3 nights exploring the city. The trip a rustic and romantic adventure that I will never forget.
Read my Tuscany posts
, Monte Carlo – May 2015 – Working Trip
How / Why – To work at the Monaco Grand Prix
I didn’t blog about my trip to Monaco, because I was out there for an events job and didn’t get chance to capture any content. Every year I go and work for an events company at the Monaco Grand Prix. It’s a great money earner and of course, another opportunity to travel. I was working as a hostess on one of the super yachts in the Marina. Each night we would join the Grand Prix parties and even hopped on a speed boat to the infamous ‘Amber Lounge’ club. I also got to meet Liam Payne from One Direction on the last day at Anjuna Beach Club. To say I played it cool would be a total lie!
5. The Serengeti, Tanzania
– June 2015 – Group Press Trip
How / Why – To review the Four Seasons Serengeti
My trip to Tanzania was a group press trip to the Four Seasons Serengeti. I was with a group of other journalists and bloggers and we got to experience the magic of Safari in Four Seasons style. Going on safari and seeing so many beautiful animals in the wild is something you can’t put in to words. It’s surreal, magical and mind blowing at the same time, and there were plenty of ‘pinch me’ moments. Highlights of the trip included a sunrise hot air balloon safari over the Serengeti and seeing the elephants outside the Four Seasons watering hole every morning.
Read my Tanzania posts
7. The Maldives
– June 2015 – Individual Press Trip
How / Why – To review Hideaway Maldives and The Four Seasons Kuda Huraa for a magazine commission
My trip to the Maldives was out of this world and by far the most relaxing week of my entire year. I visited the Maldives on an individual press trip where I combined visits to two hotels; Hideaway Maldives and the Four Seasons Kuda Huraa. When we were shown to our water villa at Hideaway our jaws fell to the floor – it was the most stunning accommodation I have ever stayed in. Four Seasons Kuda Huraa was equally as spectacular, and here I got to go scuba diving and spot 7 sharks in one dive!
Read my Maldives post
8. Bath, UK
- September 2015 – Individual Press Trip
How / Why – To review the Francis Hotel
Believe it or not, I did stay put in the UK for nearly 3 months, with no overseas travel in July or August. At the beginning of September my boyfriend and I enjoyed a Londoner’s weekend break to Bath, where we stayed at the Francis Hotel. The hotel was perfectly central and had beautiful interiors and friendly staff. This was also a press stay.
Read my Bath post
9. Almunecar, Spain – September 2015 – Personal Trip
How / Why – A family holiday
When the time came to fly to Spain I had seriously itchy feet! This was a 4-day trip to go and join my family holiday in Almunecar, Spain. My parents have recently bought a holiday home out there, so my boyfriend and I flew out to join my parents, my sister and her fiancé. Almunecar is a charming and authentically Spanish town on the south coast of Spain. We spent a day in nearby Granada, where we got to visit the famous Alhambra Palace. The rest of the trip involved exploring the local town, going on a catamaran boat trip and enjoying lots of sangria and churros!
Read my Almunecar post
– October 2015 – Personal Trip
How / Why – A girls holiday
Dubai was a girls holiday to go and visit my best friend Fi, who now lives out in Dubai with her boyfriend. There were 7 of us in total, and we all crammed in to Fi’s apartment in Dubai Marina for the week. Because Fi had got to know the city, she planned the most incredible week of beach clubs, restaurants and day trips. I came back with tonnes of tips and recommendations, which I wrote about on my blog.
Read my Dubai posts
11. Cancun, Mexico – November 2015 – A Content Campaign / Press Trip
How / Why – To create content on behalf of lowcostholidays for 2 Palace Resorts
My trip to Cancun was part of a content campaign partnership with lowcostholidays. With ‘low cost’ in their name, people often think that it’s a budget travel brand for cheap 3 star hotels only – but it’s not! As a luxury travel blogger, it was my mission to show that the brand also specialise in stunning luxury hotels around the world, that can still be ‘low cost’. Stay at the Moon Palace Golf Resort & Spa and Le Blanc Spa Resort, both of which are located in Cancun. Highlights included visiting the famous Chichen Itza, and dancing the night away at Coco Bongos.
Read my Cancun posts
12. Val d’Isere – December 2015 – A Group Press Trip
How / Why – To host a group press trip to Val d’Isere on behalf of Powder White
Talk about rounding off the year in style! My final trip of the year took place earlier this month and was a skiing trip to Val d’Isere. This was a blogger press trip hosted by UK ski chalet specialists Powder White. We stayed in a gorgeous chalet in central Val d’Isere called Chalet Marwari, which was fully catered with two talented chalet hosts. We brushed up on our skiing with lessons by New Generation Ski School, and enjoyed long al fresco lunches up the mountain. We were incredibly lucky with the weather, with every day being a blue sky ‘blue bird’ day, which apparently is unheard of in December! I also got to enjoy the trip with an awesome group of bloggers; Mollie, Zanna, Laura, Emma, Leyla and Rachel.
I hope this post has helped to outline the various ways I manage to travel over the year. I also want people to know that in between these trips, my year has been full of unglamorous and long days at my desk, late nights, deadlines and a limited social life. I believe you get out what you put in to life, and these opportunities didn’t fall on my lap, I work hard for them.
In terms of my blog and career, 2015 has been my most successful year yet. I cannot put into words how much all of these trips have meant to me, and more so, how much it means to know there is an audience of people interested enough to support what I am up to. Thank you so much to everyone who has followed my adventures over the year. I am so focused and determined to make 2016 bigger and better, so stay tuned, there will be plenty more wanderlust to come!
Next trip: Bali, January 2016
What did you think of my 2015 travel round up? If you have any questions about my trips or simply enjoyed the post, I’d love you to leave me a comment in the box below, and I’ll reply to them all! Thanks, Jess x