Top 6 Travel Surprises of 2018 (+2019 Travel Inspiration)

Top 6 Travel Surprises of 2018 (+2019 Travel Inspiration)

Wow, each travel year keeps getting better and better and as I reflect on the places that I’ve gone, I still cant believe it! In 2018 I traveled to 7 new countries including Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, UAE, and Vietnam. I also re-visited some of my favorite countries including Greece, Norway, Italy, Croatia, Spain, Denmark, England, Albania, Canada, Iceland, and Northern Ireland. 

In 2018, I visited a total of 18 countries on 3 continents. It was extremely hard to pick my favorites but I’ve narrowed it down to the following 6 places (plus a few more). Hopefully it provides some new travel inspiration for 2019!

Lofoten Islands

The Lofoten Islands were a dream destination for me and high up on my bucket list. Norway is one of my favorite countries in the world and the natural landscapes in Lofoten Islands were just unreal. Lofoten Islands exceeded my expectations and literally took my breathe away. It’s also a photographer’s dream!

This trip was also special because it was my first ever GROUP TRIP that I led and it was so much fun to meet new girls and share the experience with others for a change. We stayed in the coziest cabin right on the lake and were dazzled by the Northern Lights on our last night there. The icing on the cake! I plan on doing another group trip there in 2019 since I loved it so much. Lofoten Islands was probably my favorite place I visited in 2018!

Bagan, Myanmar

Not many people I know go to Bagan…one of the reasons that it really appealed to me! I loved it and it was such a unique place that was different to any other place I had ever been. Riding E-bikes around dirt roads searching for the sunrise or sunset was magical. I was also there during the water festival (“Thingyan”) which was…interesting haha.

It took some work getting all the way over to Bagan, but I’d say it was truly worth it! If you want somewhere different or off the beaten path, Bagan is the place to go in 2019! PS: try to make it during hot air balloon season (I just missed it by like a week or 2).

Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands (made up of 18 islands) are a self-governing region of Denmark located in the North Atlantic Ocean halfway between Iceland and Norway. It reminded me a lot of the landscape in Iceland, but with NO crowds. The Faroe Islands are the place to go if you love nature, hiking, photography, and isolation.

I spent a total of 5 days there and couldn’t recommend it more. Just beware of car rental prices because they are absurd! Book in advance. Also, if you’re interested in seeing puffins, the season runs from late May to early September! For all of the details and the 5 day itinerary I put together, check out my post about the Faroe Islands here.

Banff, Canada

I had been to Canada several times before but nothing prepared me for what I would see in Banff. The most beautiful blue and crystal clear lakes you will ever see in your life are in Banff. This was also a group trip destination and it was such a fun time. Banff had some of the most gorgeous hiking trails and the scenery is hard to beat! Banff should definitely be at the top of your 2019 travel wish list!

Banff is the perfect place to go if you love hiking in nature and breathing in the fresh mountain air. Make sure to carry bear spray and try not to hike alone because some trails actually require a minimum number of hikers (but you can always join other hikers as well).

PS: some of the trails and roads are closed throughout the year due to snow so to be safe, travel there from June to early September if you want to make it to Moraine Lake, etc.

Ninh Binh, Vietnam 

Vietnam was one of those destinations that really surprised me in 2018, particularly the countryside. I took a day trip to Ninh Binh and Tam Coc and it blew my mind! You can easily take a 2 hour train ride from the crazy bustling Hanoi center to a whole different world filled with epic mountainside views and tranquility.

Make sure to take a boat ride through the valley with the Vietnamese feet rowers for a very cool experience that will take you through some caves and let you feed some goats on the way. And you cannot leave the area without hiking up to the Hang Mua Caves, pictured below.

Not only did I LOVE Vietnam, but I can now honestly say Vietnam has the best coffee in the world! (along with Italy and Colombia). The egg coffee is life changing (and i’m not even being dramatic haha). Oh, and did I mention endless Pho soup for only a few bucks? I was in complete heaven.

Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Iceland

It took my second trip to Iceland (and my last group trip) to finally make it to the lesser visited Snaefellsnes peninsula, and boy was it worth the wait! I had longed to visit Arrowhead Mountain from Game of Thrones and it was absolutely gorgeous.

One of my favorite memories was actually on the way up there stopping at a cute little hot spring in the middle of nowhere. What made it so magical was that we were the only ones there and it felt like a little gnome house or something.

My other favorite destinations from 2018 included Sicily (Italy), Rhodes (Greece), Northern Ireland Game of Thrones trip, Sri Lanka, The Cotswolds (England,  and an epic Norway road trip. 

What’s On My 2019 Travel List

There are SO many places I can’t decide! But i do know I am going back to Asia for a few weeks and also going to try to visit the few countries left in Europe that I haven’t been. And my ultimate destination will be Patagonia (which I have been trying to go to for the last 3 years). I’m hoping 2019 will finally be that year!

I also have a few destination weddings I am going to in North Carolina and Mexico so it’s going to be a busy year!

More Group Trips

I had a BLAST doing group trips last year and I want to continue them in the new year! I will probably host 3-4 trips in 2019, the first being Lofoten islands, Jordan, and Beirut! Check the details here.

Other group trip options for the second half of the year are Azores islands, Peru, GOT Northern Ireland tour, Scotland road trip, Oman, Lapland, and Patagonia!

Crazy Travelista’s wish list for 2019:

7 re-visited countries: Italy, Croatia, Greece, Jordan, Spain, N. Ireland, Scotland 

9 new countries: Luxembourg, Moldova, Monaco, Lebanon, S. Korea, Malaysia, Chile, Argentina, Brazil

Here’s to another awesome year of travels and new adventures! 2019, I’m ready for ya!♥

Where would you like to visit in 2019?

 

2019 Crazy Travelista Spring Group Trips: Lofoten Islands & Jordan (+ possible Beirut add-on)

2019 Crazy Travelista Spring Group Trips: Lofoten Islands & Jordan (+ possible Beirut add-on)

Spring 2019 Female Group Trips 

Lofoten Islands: March 7-12, 2019 (Update: will be moved to Oct/Nov now)

Jordan: March 27-April 3rd

Beirut, Lebanon add-on: April 3-7th

My 2019 Group Trips will all be run based on demand. Since these destinations got the most votes, these are my first set of group trips for 2019. I will do 2 more trips by the end of the year (in the fall) so stay tuned for those as well.


Lofoten Islands, Norway Group Trip (Oct/Nov 2019)

UPDATE: Due to some schedule conflicts, this trip will be moved to Oct/Nov now. Stay tuned for the exact dates in the next few months.

Last March, I took a small group of adventurous ladies to the remote Lofoten Islands in Norway and it was an absolute blast! I can honestly say that it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen (& I’m pretty sure all the girls would agree). 

Not only that, but we had the most breathtaking cozy cabin right on the lake with the most AMAZING VIEW of the mountains and water, the perfect setting to view the Northern Lights! (which we saw right from our living room!).

The Northern Lights from our living room in Lofoten

We had such a great trip that I wanted to open up a second trip in March 2019!

The Lofoten Islands are an archipelago off of Northeast Norway known for their cute little traditional fishing villages, epic mountain peaks, stunning fjords, and breathtaking panoramic views.

The Lofoten islands aren’t the easiest (or cheapest) to get to, which is why they aren’t on the main tourist track (another reason they are so intriguing to me). The good news is I took all the stress out of planning this trip for you!

The Lofoten Islands are a photographer’s dream, especially because they are a good place to see the Northern Lights. And there is nothing prettier than seeing these cute little seaside towns all covered in snow.

Trip Details:

  • Dates: October/Nov 2019
  • Start: Bodø, Norway 
  • End: Bodø, Norway
  • Activities: photographing arctic landscapes, hikes (weather permitting), Northern Lights

On the Agenda

We will meet in the town of Bodo, Norway, which is like the gateway to the Lofotens. The next morning we will take a short 20 minute flight to the islands.

I have rented a car and plan to drive around to some of the best photo spots on the islands like cute little villages, arctic beaches, and viewpoints over the islands.

There are also some EPIC hikes to do in the Lofotens, although only some are accessible during the winter time. But I do plan on doing 1 of the smaller hikes if the weather gods permit. We will check the avalanche warnings the night before and decide from there. So ya, you kinda should be into hiking and be in moderate shape.

That being said, you will need waterproof boots/hiking shoes and microspikes. It is still very much snowy this time of year and we will be walking around all day so it would suck to have wet and soggy feet.

At night, it’s gonna be all about searching for the Northern Lights. There is never a guarantee that they will come out to play (so you have to set your expectations accordingly). However, the Lofoten Islands are 100 km above the Arctic Circle so that gives me lots of hope! We saw them on our last night of our trip and it was MAGICAL!

Morning coffee with a view

We will stay in a cute little cozy red cabin (just like you see in all the pictures…and the same one as last year) right on the water in Homnøy, the most photographed village in the Lofotens. There is a deck overlooking the water and mountains, which is the perfect setting if the Northern Lights appear. How cool would that be to just walk outside and see them without having to go anywhere? My dream! (Update: this actually happened!!!)

So What’s It Gonna Cost Me?

  • Non-Refundable Deposit: $400
  • Total Trip Cost: $1675 

Another important note: As with all group trips, travel insurance WILL be required for this trip. Plus, it’s foolish not to travel without it anyway.

Norway is expensive AF! In fact, Norway is one of the most expensive countries in the world, so this is definitely NOT a budget trip. This is more like a bucket list trip!

Norway is also one of my top 10 favourite countries in the world (out of 83 that I’ve been). The natural beauty is unmatched and keeps bring me back for more (this will be my 4th trip). Trust me when I say the steep prices are 100% worth it!

I’ve also taken a look at photography tours of Lofoten Islands and they run anywhere from 2500 EUROS to 4500 EUROS! I am not a professional photographer, hence the lower prices. But I definitely have more skill than the average person, which I will use to help you get some awesome shots!

What’s Included:

  • 5 nights accommodation in double occupancy (you will have your own twin bed in a room shared with another female traveler..possibly your new BFF)
  • Return flights from Bodø to Lofoten islands and back
  • Private transport around the islands
  • Lifelong memories and friendships!

What’s NOT Included:

  • International flights to Norway
  • Food (however, there will be a kitchen where we stay and I will be making grocery store runs…restaurants are limited on the islands so this is a good option to eat cheap). I think we all spent less than $80 on food for the few days we were there. 
  • Alcohol
  • Travel insurance (mandatory)

Where Can I Sign Up?

I am only taking 4 other adventure travellers with me so spots are VERY limited. You can sign up HERE (Oct/Nov dates will be announced at a later time, but feel free to fill out this form so i have your email and to assure you get first dibs on spots!). Please only fill this out if you are super serious about gong.♥


Jordan Group Trip

Dates: March 27-April 3rd, 2019

Trip starts in: Amman, Jordan on March 27th

Trip ends in: Amman Jordan on April 3rd

Visa Required: YES (for US citizens, this can easily be obtained during your passport check on arrival)

Activities: Petra, Petra by Night, luxury stay on Dead Sea, desert glamping (with actual beds)

I am SO excited to go back to Jordan as it is one of my favorite destination of 2017 and my favorite country in the Middle East! I went solo and felt totally safe, in case you are wondering!

On this trip, we will spend 2.5 days in Petra and I will show you all the epic viewpoints I found on my last trip. There is some hiking involved so you must be ok with this! But no hiking experience needed, don’t worry!

World nomads insurance review

After Petra we will spend one night glamping in the desert (there will be beds inside your tent so it’s not roughing it by any means).

We will also visit the Dead Sea and stay in a luxury hotel with a sea view.

The trip starts and ends in Amman so we will have time to explore the city as well.

Jordan Trip Itinerary 

March 27: Amman

March 28-31: Petra

March 31-April 1: Wadu Rum desert glamping

April 1-2: Dead Sea resort luxury hotel

April 2-3: Amman

Trip Cost

Non-refundable deposit: $400 due by January 23rd

Total Price: $1600 (due by February 23rd)

*For any past guests on my previous group trips, you will get a special discount, just ask 🙂

What’s Included:

  • 7 nights accommodation in double occupancy (you will have your own twin bed in a room shared with another female traveler). 
  • Private transport around Jordan
  • Petra by Night entrance fee
  • 5 breakfasts
  • Lifelong memories and friendships!

What’s NOT Included:

  • International flights to Jordan
  • Jordan Visa Fee* (see below)
  • Entrance to Petra for 2 days* (See below)
  • Food (other than the breakfasts mentioned above)
  • Alcohol (It’s a dry country so there will not be much alcohol consumption)
  • Travel insurance (mandatory)

*I did not include the 2 day entrance fee to Petra since its cheaper to buy the Jordan Pass before you enter Jordan, which reduces your visa entry fee. I’ll give you more details about it once you book the trip, don’t worry! It’s pretty easy 🙂

Where Can I sign up?

To book, fill out this form here


Beirut, Lebanon Add-On (April 3-7)

Beirut, Lebanon is a quick and cheap flight from Amman, Jordan so it makes sense to add this onto a Jordan trip!

After zipping around Jordan I will be heading to Beirut, Lebanon for 4 days, hoping to explore but also relax after the jam-packed Jordan trip.

It will be my first time in Beirut myself. I plan on exploring the city and coastline, as well as going on a day-trip to Byblos (one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world).

Based on demand, I will put together an actual itinerary, so if you’re interested, let me know (there is a question about it in the Jordan sign-up form above). ♥