2018 travel plans and a new year request

My 2018 travel plans are non-existent. Yes, you read that right. The Anna-planner has no travel plans for the new year. It’s the same way we started 2017. And we liked that so much we’ve taken the same approach again to this new year.

Having no real plans has given me time to think and remember…

2018 travel plans and a new year request - Travel with Penelope & Parker

Travel, and the time and money to do so, is a privilege.

It gets forgotten. By too many. Too often. And in such a crass way, thanks to social media. Just the generation before us didn’t have the opportunities that we do today. Many people still don’t.

It’s for everyone to try a little harder to remember that.

Yes, I have a bucket list. And yes, we went to some magical places in 2017 and notched up a crazy number of flights on business.

But here’s the thing. Life isn’t a rush round the world to tick places off, to curate the most magical life and live the life of Riley.

No – to travel is to savour the experience and to be grateful for what is possible.

2018 travel plans and a new year request - Travel with Penelope & Parker

Planning trips as the year pans out means going with the flow and thinking about what we are doing, when we are doing it and why! Be it visiting friends and family or taking the opportunity for a last minute treat. Or more typically for us, knowing we simply need a time out from the rat race! In 2017 we stayed far closer to home and had one of our best years.

Here’s my two pence about how that will pan out this year, and a few other things interweaved…

Long haul isn’t necessary

Mostly true, as we do have a BA companion voucher that needs redeeming… And ‘Lady Anna’ wine is now served in BA first class alongside my favourite Camel Valley fizz which further increases the appeal… But 2017 taught us that short haul travel is such a lot easier, and avoids unpublicised zika risks. And you can do more without breaking the bank. Really there is no shortage of amazing places to be found locally. After all, it is someone else’s long haul!

2018 travel plans and a new year request - Travel with Penelope & Parker

Make the most of weekends

Visiting friends, having people to stay, going sailing or exploring another National Trust location? Maybe taking the occasional long weekend? In fact sometimes doing next to nothing is all that is needed. When you lead manic pressured lives, a quiet few days is all that is needed.

Space and privacy to cherish

It needs to be better than at home. And that is difficult these days. Whether a self-catering cottage or a spacious hotel room I don’t mind. But unique space to ourselves is essential. If nothing appeals I would rather be at home, where we have space, privacy and gorgeous views. What I don’t need is a chain hotel with an identikit lacklustre room. Or somewhere advertised using a wide-angle lens that is actually pokey as hell.

2018 travel plans and a new year request - Travel with Penelope & Parker

The best is not a big brand

Nondescript luxury business hotels [insert every (ev-ery) big fancy brand name] do have everything. I must say they are excellent for work trips (and priced accordingly)! But unique and personal those fancy brands are not. Just ask to see the suite next door to you, it’s the same! It galls me to think whether any of the money raked in even goes to the local economy? Do any of the staff come from the local area? The best places are the hidden ones, that don’t need to advertise. Smaller, less brash and doing a damn good job of being incredible. Some are smaller brands, but some are truly unique and privately owned.

The world outside the hotel

Lush as the hotel might be, it’s normally even better outside. And real and amazing and full of the culture of the country. That is what travel is really about. Go see it, climb it and enjoy it! Pack your trainers, find a locals-only non-star restaurant and embrace the fact no one speaks english! Some of our best adventures are when we get in the car with one of those useless Avis maps and we just follow our nose.

2018 travel plans and a new year request - Travel with Penelope & Parker

Know your style

Then stick to it, there’s a niche and it works. We have our favourite places – Cornwall of course. And now Portugal and Greece are also on that list. We absolutely know the kind of locations and accommodation we like. It is always fun to explore somewhere new but sometimes it is good to know you are getting back to some of what you already enjoy!

Latch onto a business trip

Mr P will often go somewhere interesting with work. Crying out for a mini-break to be latched on! The beauty is we don’t know where it will be far in advance, so it’s always a surprise. Sometimes I will join him, other times not. Marbella was one I declined… But having the ability to make a last minute choice is fun!

2018 travel plans and a new year request - Travel with Penelope & Parker

Go where you want

It is so obvious when someone is somewhere because they were invited. Or for the ‘Gram. Especially when it would otherwise be unaffordable. Or a red carpet is rolled out to influence the stay. We are lucky to stay at some stunners each year that are hosted and I know it is very difficult to be objective. But I wouldn’t stay at all if it wasn’t somewhere we can afford and desire. My job is to deal with something called unconscious bias. I am professionally good at spotting it. Sadly the bias comes through in the writing on all blogs. Unconsciously. I sigh and hope others spending hard-earned cash aren’t misled.

2018 travel plans and a new year request - Travel with Penelope & Parker

So my New Year request

It’s a simple one!!

Remember the privilege travel affords.

Stop needing to ‘go somewhere next’.

Enjoy and be grateful for the here and now of a trip well-planned, in a place that ‘fits’.

Then when you get home, enjoy the memories of the trip taken.

And the pleasure of living a good life, at home.

That is your life. Make it your best life.

Make it a treat to travel again.

Savour that occasional privilege.

We did that subconsciously in 2017 and love it. For us, all that’s needed for magical travels is, well, us. We run around the world enough at work and don’t need to go far to be happy on our holidays and weekends.

2018 travel plans and a new year request - Travel with Penelope & Parker

Cheers to a real life well lived in 2018!

Linked up to the lovely #travellinkup with Adventures of a London KiwiSilverSpoon London, and Follow Your Sunshine
















    • January 1, 2018 / 4:28 pm

      Thanks Stacey, I have been thinking about it for a while and decided it was good to share!!

  1. January 1, 2018 / 12:29 pm

    Great post lovely! As you know I’m 100% with you on feeling frustrated about bloggers staying in hotels they can’t afford. Seriously how can you recommend hotel that you would never pay for yourself! I semi-agree with your point on big branded hotels with a few notable exceptions such as the Four Seasons which always give a sense of place when you stay. Actually small ‘chain’ hotels are incredible such as the Singita properties and Aman group.

    Happy healthy new year hon!
    Angie Silver recently posted…Travel Plans and Wanderlust Wishlist for 2018My Profile

    • January 1, 2018 / 4:30 pm

      Not a fan of FS personally, fine for work but they are so expensive and don’t have the local charm and uniqueness that the price should command. The small chains I love, and the one offs. GHM and Grace and Oberoi we like best

      • Annie
        January 5, 2018 / 9:58 am

        Ok, so you’ll edit your response by deleting the bit about the Sheraton and premium economy but you’re too embarrassed to actually just publish my comment and openly admit it sounded pretentious and just apologise. And this in a post all about being more thoughtful? Do you see the irony? Why not just be open and transparent rather than delete so no one notices and not even acknowledge my comment? I was such a fan of your blog till this.

        • January 5, 2018 / 10:03 am

          I replied directly by email to your earlier comment.

          At first I thought it was one of the most hurtful things someone has said to me but then I looked at the comment and realised what it said. I can see why you said what you did but I assure that is not me. I am the person writing that post that has tried desperately hard to politely put across to a lot of people who have read it quite how privileged the blogger bucket list and rush around the world seems to be! It wasn’t even what I wanted to say – the joys of replying on iPhone. I am the least snobby, entitled and stuck up person around – every trip we take is paid for through hard work and challenging jobs, we take none of our travel for granted. When we get the occasional reason to be hosted (recently through friends in two hotels) we pinch ourselves daily – you can see that in the posts (although of course that comes back to my hatred of unconscious bias and being able to write a balanced review in that situation).

          Back to why I wrote what I did, in case you are interested. What I wanted to point out was that when a blogger is hosted (as most are these days it seems) they write about a Sheraton like it is the Ritz, or like premium economy flights like they are first class. On a blog that normally writes about the Ritz and first class. For this reason the reader trusts them to get it right and be balanced. Their up-selling of these places in comparison to their ‘norm’ is because they are either free trips, or they are being paid. If they are being paid to write a glowing review and miss out the rest. And by not having to put their hand in their pocket they don’t value the cost either. These are what I eye roll about, because honest people (like you or me) wanting to spend their money are misled by this sort of thing. It is prevalent across the blogosphere. We’ve been caught out by it a couple of times – bloggers I trusted reviews of were sending us to places that are quite frankly horrid. As for definition of luxury – we all have our own. I would always stay in a stand-alone hotel to a chain hotel as they are unique and people know you by name.

          Hopefully from what I have written above you understand why your comment upset me and why I have removed my words from the site.

  2. Kelly
    January 1, 2018 / 12:30 pm

    YES, YES, YES and YES again!
    I’m so glad you’ve posted this Anna and I love it…travel is such a privilege that I wish people would remember this as it’s now taken for granted.
    My brother in law has learning and physical disabilities hence he doesn’t even have a passport; all he asks for is a postcard from our trips. He gets very excited on receiving the postcard and it makes me appreciate that I’m lucky in so many different ways, from travelling, health and life.
    2017 taught me to live and travel for myself, not others hence a few weird and wonderful destinations. We have a few flights booked already for our birthday weekend and we are heading home for Easter, other than that we will see where money and time allows us to go…I quite enjoy snuggling up on the sofa with a good book these days.
    You are a shining star in the blogging world Anna and I love you for it!

    • January 1, 2018 / 4:32 pm

      Thank you! It’s been in draft for a while until I could get the right phrases! The tick lists are starting to make me feel sick these days! Feeling happy at home is what’s important! And like you, the rarer and perfectly planned treat away! Speaking of which… Hampshire???

      • kelly
        January 1, 2018 / 6:27 pm

        Yes to Hampshire…will message you for a date xx

    • January 1, 2018 / 4:33 pm

      A blessing to start the year 😇 it needed saying, there’s too much ticking and bashing going on!!

    • January 1, 2018 / 7:34 pm

      Thanks Tanja, happy new year to you too!

  3. January 1, 2018 / 6:38 pm

    Totally know what you mean with this, I’ve really slowed down my travel and stopped just trying to tick a list off and actually go where I want (even if it means going back to the same place!). Here’s to a year of lovely travel x

    • January 1, 2018 / 7:35 pm

      It is so much more pleasurable to travel a little less, a little slower and only where you really want to! Enjoy 2018!

  4. January 1, 2018 / 10:24 pm

    Travel is very much a privilege. I do try to remember this when I’m booking flights and complaining about how challenging I find planning a trip. It’s not til I get somewhere that I have to pinch myself and really appreciate the opportunity I have to be there.

  5. January 2, 2018 / 4:33 pm

    Anna this is a great and super refreshing perspective that is much needed in the blogging community, in my opinion! I have been thinking about this a lot lately, especially after working in France in the refugee camps, about how depending on which passport you were born into, how privileged you can be with cross borders. It’s pretty crazy! In 2018 I am also trying to live a bit more in the moment, slow down, and enjoy where I am rather than always yearning for the next dream destination. Let’s see how it works out! Happy New Year 🙂

    • January 2, 2018 / 4:51 pm

      Thanks Sarah, I have found it all pretty disgusting recently just how entitled so many people seem to be. Decided it was time to put it into ink!! I saw your piece about your time in France, I agree. I travel fortnightly with work, but it costs my firm money, so we take trips when we have to. Pleasure travel is a different kettle of fish whether hosted or otherwise and the former needs thinking about carefully, even when it is someone’s job! I don’t even want to think about the carbon footprints…

  6. January 2, 2018 / 5:52 pm

    Great post Anna! There’s definitely a tension between wanting to see ALL the places and wanting to have meaningful experiences in them, one I’m trying to balance better this year as well. I look forward to seeing where 2018 takes you!
    Jessi (Two Feet, One World) recently posted…My Favourite Adventures of 2017My Profile

    • January 2, 2018 / 7:55 pm

      Thanks Jessi. I love your trips – I always look forward to where you go next because you really ‘see’ the place and enjoy it like a local!

  7. January 2, 2018 / 8:29 pm

    This is such a refreshing take and I love it! I looked at my plans for 2018 and thought – wow, there’s not much there. But we are hoping to move house this year and once we won’t be able to throw all our spare money at travel so it’s very much going to be about spontaneous trips and stay-cations in 2018. Happy travels – wherever you end up!

    • January 2, 2018 / 9:14 pm

      Thanks Emmalene. Us moving house in 2017 was part of the driver for this – so important that home life is your best life, we just love being at home now!!

  8. January 2, 2018 / 9:45 pm

    I love to travel but I’m always happy to come home at the end of a trip. If travel with work gets excessive it’s a real treat to spend time just enjoying being at home. I agree that long haul isn’t necessary but when that companion voucher’s dangling…

    • January 3, 2018 / 7:05 am

      Ahah I know, we have so many air miles from business trips you would think we’d always be away… but it is a bus man’s holiday!!

  9. January 3, 2018 / 5:00 am

    How inspiring, Anna! I definitely agree with not wasting weekends and not wasting money on hotels that are, quite frankly, not all that. I’ve seen some blogger reviews of hotels that are possibly extortionate, and I remember thinking “my boutique hotel had more space and more modern and chic-er amenities than that!”. There really is a world beyond hotels and I’m a true believer of this.

    Thanks for sharing this, it’s absolutely something we travellers need to hear!

    • January 3, 2018 / 7:07 am

      Thanks Honey! You see it so much in cities, we saw it in Lisbon. Bloggers stay in the chain hotels but I found a former Palace for ~€100 and it was amazing, original Portuguese tiled features in the room, space and even a dove design on the ceiling because our room used to be the chapel! Yes – these places take time to find but they are local and special!!

    • January 3, 2018 / 5:51 pm

      It’s worth a try – it’s so nice to go with the flow as the year pans out! We really appreciated how things slotted together for us

  10. January 3, 2018 / 7:54 pm

    Enjoyed this post and definitely will take your request to heart / will whole-heartedly back you in this one.
    In the travel blogging community, you definitely see travel treated in such a way that continually, well, fails to inspire me. It’s not a race or a competition.
    I even felt strange sharing my travel plans for this year so far because nothing is booked and they are just ideas and dreams that I mean to achieve… but you never know, sometimes life gets in the way or you just want to change your mind.

    • January 3, 2018 / 9:36 pm

      Thank you Cynthia – I agree with how you put it, it does feel competitive which is sad. Having nothing booked is a blank canvas, so many decisions and options you’ll do just the right travel all year!!

  11. January 5, 2018 / 1:20 am

    As much as I’m a planner, I’m also spontaneous so have to appreciate your care free nature in thinking of travel for the year.

    • January 5, 2018 / 9:46 am

      It’s fun isn’t it – last year Crete, Madeira and Tallinn were all unplanned… And excellent!

  12. January 5, 2018 / 6:17 pm

    I’ve been reading a lot about people wanting to slow down and be a bit more spontaneous for 2018 – must be something in the air! I’m definitely looking to do it too, to take time to really appreciate each trip and explore close to home too.

    • January 6, 2018 / 9:47 am

      Excellent, I loved your trip last time but this time it will be a total local experience – the best type!

  13. January 5, 2018 / 9:38 pm

    Great post and you make some excellent points about taking time out to remember how fortunate we are to be able to travel. I definitely agree that it’s not all about long-haul; last summer we did the NC500 road trip around Scotland in a campervan and it was one of most enjoyable and memorable trips to date! Like you say, it’s someone else’s long-haul! Although I appreciate a big, fancy hotel for work, I know how much it costs and at the moment we choose not to pay that expense for personal travel (mainly because we’re saving for other things at the moment) and typically use AirBnB. We’ve honestly found some amazing hidden gems through that and no holiday is complete for us without a fun trip around a local supermarket to stock up on cheap breakfast and snacks!

    • January 6, 2018 / 9:46 am

      My eyes water at the prices of hotels for work, just because they are in a city it’s $$$. I want to use airbnb more, tried it last year with success and my parents are onto it as well now!! I know what you mean about local shopping, we have bought some terrible wine doing that!!!

  14. January 8, 2018 / 3:27 pm

    Very interesting post, Anna – and some thoughtful comments about unconscious bias – very similar to confirmation bias, which is also very challenging to manage. I’m definitely more about the surroundings than the accommodation, unless it’s a particularly quirky property, such as the Celica Hostel in Ljubljana or a small, family-run B&B with a great location and warm service, which I value highly.

    • January 8, 2018 / 3:41 pm

      That’s one of the bias family – it says it is good, or it costs such a lot, so it must be good… I agree – I am more interested in the surroundings and views too!

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