I know I’m a little bit late to the game here but I can’t believe it’s 2019 already! Just a year ago I was planning the trip of a lifetime to New Zealand and the South Pacific. I was a new solo female traveller, a new blogger, in fact, new to the travel world completely. Then, quick as a flash, my trip was over and I was back at the beginning again with distant memories of swimming with sharks, climbing mountains, and wandering around cities. So incongruous these memories felt after returning home, that, at the risk of sounding dangerously cliched, I’m sorry to say I almost wondered if my trip had been a dream.
But before I get too nostalgic about ghosts of holidays passed, if you’re thinking about travelling in 2019 then January is the time to get booking. I find that the cold weather and perpetual winter darkness are perfect motivators to get me looking for ways to escape to the sun. It’s the time of year when I spend hours on Skyscanner wondering if I could feasibly afford £500 flights just to remember what it was like to be warm again (the answer is crushingly no). But, although I may not be able to afford as big a trip as last time, I know exactly what my travel destination will be this year.
Make your birthday one to remember
2019 is a big year for me in the birthday world. It’s the year I turn a quarter of a century (*screams*), the big two five. So, like any respected individual in their mid-twenties, I’m marking the occasion by running away from all responsibilities to go backpacking in Greece.
It’s a fascinating country. Bursting with history, romance, and culture, it is top of the list for honeymooners, families and travellers alike. Greece is a paradise of gorgeous sunsets, white-washed domed buildings and of course the acropolis, one of the greatest relics of ancient civilisation. But funnily enough they aren’t the reasons why I was drawn to the place.
The happiest memories
The real reason is a little more personal…and because I’m far too nostalgic for my own good. Have you ever had a memory of a time or place where everything is just so utterly perfect? For me, it was Greece on a family holiday almost nineteen years ago. Perhaps half glazed with child-tinted spectacles, I have nothing but happy memories of that summer. We travelled to Skopelos. Hardly a household name like Santorini or Mykonos but fans will likely recognise the island as the very same setting on which the hit musical Mamma Mia was filmed.
There we had a blissful two weeks eating baklava, rescuing a lost puppy, and watching the tiny fish circle our ankles as we took a dip in the clear mediterranean sea. Each house on the island had a garden bursting with the most sumptuous roses in bright colours which lit up the white-washed stones. I will never forget the bray of the donkeys as we passed by their field on our way to a long day snoozing on a secluded beach.
It was even the first time I saw dolphins, although the memory is somewhat tarnished by the most terrifying boat ride of my life. To a landlubbing six-year-old such as myself, sea swells were more like sea storms, and seeing huge great waves buffeting the hapless boat from right to left was certainly a sobering realisation of our human vulnerability in the face of the elements. Yes, unsettlingly mature thoughts for a six-year-old indeed.
A little bit about Greece
Aside from the slightly morbid encounters with our own mortality, Greece was a beautiful country which is why I can’t wait to go back and see it again on my twenty-fifth birthday with a more adult appreciation. So, if you’re planning on going abroad this year and you haven’t a clue where to start, make Greece your destination. I mean, do I need to persuade you more?
It’s a country which accommodates all budgets from shoe-string to luxury although you may want to start doing some research if the former is your ideal. Since Greece is a popular destination with holidaymakers it’s advisable to avoid the peak season between July and August as prices skyrocket and the country gets very busy, especially on some of the prime destination islands like Santorini. Aim instead for the shoulder seasons like late spring and early autumn for the best prices without losing the warm weather.
It’s also worth noting that mainland Greece is a little cheaper than the islands and you can get a very reasonably priced dorm in a hostel in Athens. Having said that, there are hundreds of islands. If you can’t quite afford Santorini, there are islands nearby which capture it’s charm just as well at a cheaper price.
Hostels are a staple when it comes to accommodation on the road, but on the Greek islands, they are few and far between. If you want to save money then avoid hotels and opt instead for AirBnBs. You can find a whole range of deals and the Greek people are so warm and friendly you definitely don’t want to miss their hospitality!
Travel has the power to leave lasting memories as my six-year-old self could tell you. That’s why re-visiting a country which left such an impact on me for my birthday feels like the perfect way to celebrate. So, whether it’s for the sake of nostalgia or you just need to think about going somewhere warm, start booking your next trip for 2019. And if you pick Greece then I can assure you it won’t disappoint!
Thanks for reading,