Photo from Botswana
I’m going to cut right to the chase – 2017 just turned into a batshit crazy year for me, in all the very best ways. Since living in London, I have been able to travel a lot – nearly once a month, if not twice – and the trips I’ve taken have mostly been European-based. Other than my return visits home to Canada, the only time I’ve strayed too far away from Europe was in late 2015, when I went to Thailand, Nepal, and Bhutan.
And don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love travelling in Europe. I feel so fortunate that I have been able to see so many European cities, and that it’s easy enough for me (and affordable enough for me) to jump on a plane for £20 and fly to Italy for a long weekend. And I see so many of my other long-term traveller and travel blogger friends wanting to settle somewhere, find a home base, and so on, and I totally, absolutely get that; I’ve been doing that for the past four years in London, after all. It’s so nice to have a home base, especially one that is such a travel hub and allows me to travel so easily.
I remember doing a reader survey in 2015, and someone anonymously said, “I wish Brenna didn’t live in London, I wish she was still out travelling.” At the time, I laughed that off. Two years later, however, and I can feel that familiar hum in the back of my mind, the one that’s calling out for a big adventure. It’s the same feeling I got in 2006, when I backpacked around Europe. Or 2008, when I moved to Japan. Or 2011, when I backpacked through Asia for a year. Or 2012, when I travelled through Central and South America for a year. It’s back.
But as I wrote earlier this year, I’m not ready to leave London just yet. It’s where my career is, and I love my neighbourhood and my friends and my flat. If you read my 2017 Travel Goals, however, you’d also see that I have a lot (A LOT) of travel goals to cover this year, way too many to be able to fit into one year or to be able to afford.
And so I compromised. Enter the summer of 2017. And oh my God, I’m so bloody excited I can barely stand it.
Photo from the San Blas Islands, Panama
First up, to kick off the warm weather… I’m going to Antigua and Barbuda! Other than the Scottish road trip I was just on – which was in collaboration with Visit Britain and Expedia – this is the only press trip I’ve accepted this year AND CAN YOU BLAME ME?! I haven’t been to the Caribbean since 2012, and I cannot wait to explore a new-to-me country in such a beautiful destination. I’ll be there covering Antigua Sailing Week, which means lots of being on boats and going to parties and OH YEAH a helicopter ride… so I’m freaking out. I have always dreamed of visiting Antigua and Barbuda, so the fact that I’m getting there because of this blog feels really serendipitous; I knew starting that Livejournal in 2003 would pay off one day!! Hah.
After Antigua, I’ll fly to Italy to meet my dad and his wife, who will be there on holiday. I had originally planned to go to either the Amalfi Coast or Puglia for my birthday, but when your dad invites you to come stay with him in Florence for a few days and eat delicious food and drink enough wine to last you a year, you go to Florence. I haven’t been to Florence since I was 22, so I am SO looking forward to being there again, and to visiting my beloved Italy again.
And only a short couple of weeks later, I will fly to… Dubai! The UAE is also a new-to-me country, and I’m pumped to be back in the Middle East. I’ve always known I wanted to see the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, so this was sort of an unexpected bonus of 2017. I won’t be alone on this trip, though – my mum will be flying from Canada to join me, so we’ll have a few fun days exploring Dubai.
But Dubai, as exciting as it is, is really only the appetiser for the trip my mum and I are embarking on this summer. Because do you know where Dubai has direct flights to…?
Photo from Botswana
The magnitude of the trip that I’m doing this summer with my mum hasn’t even begun to sink in yet. Ever since I was a little girl – I remember writing this in my journals when I was seven – I have wanted to go to East Africa. I dreamed of seeing these countries for myself one day, specifically Kenya and Tanzania.
That day has finally come. After saving for years, the time is finally right to head to East Africa. I’ve been to Morocco, Egypt, South Africa, Botswana, and Zambia, but I really feel that I haven’t explored enough of Africa at all, so this trip is going to put me on the right track to remedy that. Over the course of five weeks, my mum and I will be exploring parts of Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania, ending with a few days of relaxation in Zanzibar. The things we’re doing include but are not limited to:
-exploring Kigali, Rwanda
-staying on Lake Kivu in Rwanda
-gorilla trekking in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park
-spending time on Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda
-visiting Uganda’s Kibale National Park for the Chimpanzee Habituation Experience
-exploring Nairobi, Kenya, including the Giraffe Centre and the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage
-staying in the Masai Mara National Reserve for safaris
-exploring Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater, including a hot air balloon ride
-staying in Zanzibar for beach time and scuba diving
My friend Helen from Helen in Wonderlust is helping us plan everything; she’s an expert in African travel, and even has her own tours planned for 2017 (seriously, her Rwanda/Uganda/DRC trip looks amazing). We couldn’t be happier to have Helen as our travel agent for this once-in-a-lifetime adventure!
Photo from Botswana
Needless to say… I’m so excited about this adventure I can hardly contain myself. I used to dream of being a zoologist or biologist long before I wanted to be a writer, and Jane Goodall was my absolute hero, so to have so many experiences where we might get to see some of the most beautiful animals in the world up close and personal – from gorillas and chimpanzees to lions and rhinos and elephants and giraffes, not to mention the scuba diving – I feel like my heart can’t take it already. And to experience all of this with my mum… oh, it’s too much.
Seriously, even though I’m turning 33 and I don’t think it’s been cool to say “YOLO” since 2014, it’s become sort of a mantra for my mum, sister, and I (both of whom have their own amazing adventures lined up for this year). Because, truly, you DO only live once, and sometimes you just need to splurge on the adventure of your dreams. I’m actually buying a new camera and lenses as well, just because I don’t want to go on safari and not have the proper camera to capture it all. Also, YOLO (I just gagged).
But that’s not the end of my summer adventures… because I’m also going back to North America for a bit, spending time in my hometown of Winnipeg and then flying to Arizona for a week or so (you might know that my dad, now retired, has a home there). I’m doing a road trip to Utah to see Monument Valley and might even spend a few days with Oneika the Traveller to have a girls’ trip to Vegas! *cue mayhem*
Photo from Arizona
All of this to say… holy SHIT 2017, are you for real? I’m blowing my entire savings, yeah, but I can think of no better way to spend my savings of four years on these adventures (rent, food, bills, my future… shhhh…). To top it all off, I’m also FINALLY redoing my blog, because the current design makes me want to cry. I’ve already started making some changes behind the scenes, but when the new design is revealed I’ll explain more about it. Basically, I want to showcase more of the 800+ posts that are already on this blog, and make it easier for you to find what you need.
Finally, because there’s just good news all around, I’m also having my second reader meet up in London on April 6th… so I hope you can join! If you’d like to stop by and chat about travel with like-minded people (or just get drunk off of Italian wine with me), head over the Eventbrite page to RSVP.
Phew. OK, I think that’s it. Honestly, I wake up every day thinking of how lucky I am to be able to have these adventures and to carve this career path for myself; there’s no doubt it took years of hard work on my part, but I owe so much of it to luck, privilege, and the support of my family, friends, and everyone who takes the time to read this blog. Thank you so much for sticking around! Expect lots more postcard giveaways, awkward live Facebook videos, Instagram photos, and 6,000 word ramblings on this here blog.
Now excuse me while I go pop open a bottle of Prosecco, because HELL YEAH 2017, I’m in love with you already.
Photo from Botswana
Do you have any travel plans for 2017? Have you ever been to East Africa or any of the other places I’m going this year?
Sounds like an amazing year ahead! I’m moving to Tanzania this week after 4 trips there in the last 3 years. Helen’s site was like a bible to me for my first trip so you are in safe and capable hands! If you guys find yourself in Dar es Salaam with a few hours to spare, I’d love to show you around. Happy travels and I can’t wait to follow your journey on the blog!
Wow! That is so cool! I will definitely let you know… and have fun! 😀
Wow, that sounds amazing! But you have to fit a trip to Bristol in there somewhere!
Ha ha… on it! 😉
Have a great time at all the places u are going to in 2017.i love to travel too i have done 56 countries and still travel as often as i can.I am off travelling around europe next month with my wife and later in september we are off to India thats a new country for me and my wife.still plenty of weekend trips around europe i want to do.Take care on your travels and i look forward to all your blogs and pics.
Wow, very cool! Thanks a lot, Lee 🙂
Ahhhhhhh that is the coolest trip ever!! I have dreamed of going to Africa as well for a long time, hopefully I’ll make it there too one day. In the mean time, I am looking forward to living vicariously through your posts about it. This summer I am going to Belgium, Malta, and then Peru for a month! After that its home for a bit then to New York for a week and then school begins. What a whirlwind!! Excited to follow your blog even more, I just love it
Aw, thank you very much, Cate! You have some very cool adventures lined up, as well… have an amazing time! 🙂
Wow, that sounds like the most incredible summer! I went to Kenya with my Mum for two weeks back in 2014, and it’s one of the most amazing trips I’ve been on. I’ve wanted to go back to East Africa ever since, so I can’t wait to follow along with your adventures!
Thank you so much, Katie! I will try to do it justice. 🙂 I’m so glad that you had such a fantastic time there!
Sounds super exciting! Can’t wait to read all about your travels! I think savings are specifically for travel, I’m blowing all mine on a trip to South East Asia this summer! As you say, you only live once. Have fun!
Ha ha ha yessss! Glad someone agrees with me 😉 Have fun!
Oh Brenna, this sounds soooooooo exciting! I lived on the island of Antigua for 5 years and you will fall in love with the beaches. My first trip to Africa was to Kenya years ago, and it still holds a special place in my heart even though I have been to many other countries in Africa. I’m off to Cape Town in May (I cannot get enough of that place), then back to Botswana, Vietnam and hopefully Zambia before heading back to the USA. Mauritius is also calling my name 🙂 Have a fantastic time, and I will definitely be following your travels. Woohooooooo!
Oh wow – yes, I can’t WAIT to see Antigua! What a cool list of adventures you have lined up for this year… I hope you have a fantastic time, too! 😀
I spent 5 days in Nairobi last February and I absolutely loved it. It is a great city.
I am so jealous of your travel plans for the year. Do have fun.
Thank you very much, Lara! So glad that you liked Nairobi 😀
Wow Brenna!! This is awesomesauce/cool beans (see! There are even more annoying things to say than YOLO.) As always so inspiring to read about your trip. My 2017 is also shaping up to be a year of dreams that continues to evolve, haha. I also think I might go to Portugal after Christmas? Lol 🙂 Also, Utah road trips are the best (I’ve done two with my family and it’s one of my favorite states to visit.)
Ha ha… OK, you’ve made me feel better. 🙂 I’m so glad that you have a year of exciting adventures ahead, too! Thanks for the comment, Paige.
What an awesome year of travel! Can’t wait to read all about it! My husband and I leave for South Africa (Cape Town) and Botswana on April 21st. It was a tough decision between those two and Kenya/Tanzania!!
Wow, how amazing! Have an incredible time… I loved South Africa and Botswana 😀
YESSSS. I love every single word of this. I spent a month in Tanzania & Zanzibar last fall. We stayed on Paje beach for a week and it was like living in a post card. I would love to make it to Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda one day too. You will have an amazing time in Eastern Africa!
Wow, so cool! I just looked up Paje and it looks so beautiful… I think we’re staying further north but I will have to stop by for a visit. Thanks for the tip! 🙂
Wahoooooo!! Sounds like you’ve got one big epic year coming up!!! I’m looking forward to following all of your travels this year. 🙂 🙂
Aw, thank you so much, Korii! 😀
Sounds an amazing year! I am also heading to East Africa starting in Kenya and ending in south Africa. So I may ser you there! Can’t wait to read what you make of it all
Amazing! Maybe we will bump into each other… how cool. 🙂 Have fun!
Sounds like an awesome summer! Can’t wait to hear about everything! Hate that your meetup is at the beginning of April. I’ll be in the U.K. Starting on 4/20 for a couple weeks. Would have been really cool. Oh well, that’s how it goes! Safe travels friend! I bet Dubai is going to be phenomenal!
Aw, that’s too bad! I wish you could have made it. 🙂 Thanks a lot for your comment, Tera!
Congratulations, Brenna! It must be such a liberating feeling to be able to carve out this sort of lifestyle for yourself. These all sound like wonderful plans, and you’ve inspired me to take some time tomorrow evening and map out some more travel plans for 2017. 🙂 Will you get to see some of Mt. Kilimanjaro while you’re in East Africa?
Thank you so much, Danny! I won’t be climbing it, but I definitely hope to see it while we’re in Tanzania. 🙂 Good luck with your travel planning!
That’s awesome, Brenna! It sounds like your year is off to a great start! I’ve also been dreaming of East Africa – reading Martha Gellhorn’s accounts kind of sealed the deal for me! Even her sunburnt misadventures in Zanzibar sounded like a good time. I’m not sure I’ll make it this year, but in the meantime I’ll be following your travels. Enjoy!!! 🙂
Ohhh, I love Martha Gellhorn, I need to read more of her stuff! I hope you get to East Africa very soon, Audrey… thanks for the comment! 🙂
Soooooo freaking excited for your travel plans (particularly our potential girls’ getaway)!!!!! But, um, ahem, I don’t see a visit to New York City anywhere in there, you might need to change that…. AHEM.
Ha ha!! I might not be able to fit it in this year… but you best believe I’ll be there next year. And oh man, I’m so excited about Vegas…!
Awesome Brenna, I am excited for you! Africa will be incredible. I have only been to South Africa, Lesotho and Egypt myself but might be heading to Mozambique and Tanzania at the end of this year – we are tossing up between doing that, going to India and Nepal, or heading to Patagonia – all would be amazing! I can’t wait to read about your adventures
Wow, those are all amazing adventures! I’m sure that, no matter what you do, you’ll have an awesome time 😀
So exciting! Really looking forward to reading and seeing pictures of your adventures. 🙂 Also, it’s so nice you get to do this with your mum!
I know, I’m always so happy to be able to travel with her! Thanks for your comment, Julia 🙂
Hello Brenna, thanks for choosing to come to East Africa. You most definitely can never really say you have traveled Africa without coming to East Africa. Your itinerary looks perfect with mountain gorilla trekking included on the list – This is unmissable!
Thank you very much!
WOWWWWWW this sounds incredible!! What a year!! I stumbled on Helen’s tours last week and this just solidified for me that I definitely need a trip to east Africa on the agenda. I’m itching to get to Zanzibar, Tanzania and Mozambique to get some scuba diving in there. I’m so excited to follow along on your trips this year!
I would love to go to Mozambique, too… the diving is supposed to be incredible! I’d definitely recommend one of Helen’s tours… 😀
What a fantastic year! I can’t wait to read about it all 🙂 Africa is one of my favorite places – I’ve been lucky enough to visit Tanzania (Ngorongo crater, Serengeti, Zanzibar), Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and now I’ve just spent a month in Cape Town. We are about to go to Mauritius for two weeks and I’m incredibly excited! Thanks for telling me about Helen’s blog – I wish I would’ve had that resource when I was planning our previous travels, and I’m glad to know about it for our future ones! Best of luck to you and keep being awesome 🙂
Wow, that’s amazing! You’ve seen a lot so far. Yes, Helen’s blog is a fantastic resource for Africa, I definitely recommend it! Thanks a lot for your comment, Brittany 😀
Wow, so different places from all parts of the world! We are especially looking forward to your posts and pics about Kenya. Our greatest highlight this year would be Iceland! We have it on our list since… uhm.. a long time ago 😀 It is such an unspoilt wonderland and we have already booked our trip for two and a half weeks in the summer… can’t wait! 🙂
Wow, Iceland for 2.5 weeks? Amazing!! I really need to go back and spend more time there… it’s such a beautiful country. Have fun 😀
YOU ARE GOING TO DSWT????!!!! Sorry, just soooooooooooooo jealous!!! I want to see those babies so bad! Please take a ton of pictures and write about the experience. Actually, I’m jealous of all the animals you’ll get to see in Africa. lol
And you’re coming to the US!!! Yay!! I feel since trump has been in office, we are getting a terrible reputation. It breaks my heart.
I can’t wait to see pics and read all about your trips 🙂
I’m very, very excited about all of the animal encounters, that’s for sure! I will be taking lots of photos, don’t worry 😀
So excited for you!! I’m hoping to make it to Tanzania & Zanzibar this summer as well… can’t wait to hear your stories!
Thank you so much, Jessica! I hope you get there, too 😀
How exciting! I couldn’t be happier for you that you’re going to have a fantastic year this year 🙂 Also, you will love Kenya! Beautiful country with beautiful people 🙂 Have fun on your upcoming adventures and I’m excited to read all about them!
Aw, thank you so much, Ella! I’m so excited to finally visit Kenya. 🙂
That’s amazing Brenna! I got dizzy reading about all your upcoming adventures! That’s a lot and that’s awesome. I’m sure you will have an amazing time. Can’t wait to read about it.
Thank you so much, Christine! I will be posting a lot… 🙂
YOLO SISTER!!!!! I am so excited for all of your upcoming adventures this year!!! xoxo
YOLO ha ha! I’m excited for you, too 😀 xoxo
Wow! This is marvellous news and after the musings at the beginning of the year, you so deserve this!
I’ve never been to East Africa, Antigua, Barbuda or Dubai, but I have been to Thailand, India, South Africa and Dubai. And of course, being a British person living as an expat in Germany, now that I no longer live in the UK, I’ve been all over it lol!
I look forward to reading all about your exciting adventures. Well done you!
Thank you so much, Victoria! I really appreciate all of your support 😀
Ahh this sounds like such an incredible trip, Brenna! Kenya and Tanzania are high on my Africa travel wish list, so I can’t wait to follow along on your adventures there! I’m also seriously jealous of your Zanzibar beach time – it looks amazing!
I’ll be travelling for 6 or 7 weeks this spring/summer – starting in Istanbul, working my way up through the Balkans, and then heading over to Italy. Much like you, I’ve been living in the UK and taking short weekend trips, but I haven’t been on a longer adventure in over two years – so I’m reallyyyy excited 🙂
Wow – what an amazing adventure you have ahead! Sounds so good. 🙂 Thanks for your comment, Ashley, I’m sure you’re going to have a fantastic year of travels!
Sounds amazing!! I’m not sure I believe that we only live once, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t live it up every time. 🙂 I can’t wait to read about these adventures!! (And I still think you should hop down to Amalfi from Florence. I mean, as long as we’re spending your money… it’s totally worth it.
Ha ha – I know! I want to go to Amalfi so badly. I’m thinking I might save it for a road trip later on in the year… this spring/summer is already so packed! Thanks for your comment, Katie 🙂
2017 sounds like it’ll be pretty awesome!! Looking forward to hearing about it as it unfolds 😀
Thank you so much, Chewy! 😀
Congrats on everything. Every time I come to your blog I leave feeling energized and inspired! I’m looking forward to reading about your travels and seeing your new blog design (blog design dork that I am). Also, for some reason I thought I read on your FB page that you would be coming to Spain and I freaked out because I thought I’d have a chance to meet you and be one of those weirdo fangirls that I never am for anything (except awesome bloggers), but I guess I misread? Either way, congrats!!!
Aw, thank you so much, Nina! I am still working out the blog design – it takes AGES as I’m sure you know. I might be in Minorca for a long weekend, so no, you didn’t misread that! It’s just not 100% so I didn’t include it in the post. If you’re ever in London please let me know and we can meet up 😀
WOWZA! This sounds so amazing Brenna! I can’t wait to see it all and read about it – I’ve never been to Africa but I’ve wanted to go for so long! I’ll be traveling around Mexico for another few months then I have ZERO plans – so I’m excited to see what unfolds. Here’s to an exciting year ahead!
Thank you so much, Laura! Sometimes it’s nice to have no plans… that was my year last year, and it ended up being very exciting. I hope you have a great time in Mexico! 😀
So excited for you… and a bit jealous! I understand what you say about the need to have a home base but at the same time want to travel more. It’s always a compromise!
What a fabulous year to have planned. I’m not jealous at all! (*quietly seethes in the corner*).
Aw, thank you…? 😀
Let me know when you will be in Dubai! I study at New York Univesity in Abu Dhabi and can share some advice (which, side note: are you really coming here in the summer summer? Not like late September? Because the heat is very very very very (did I mention very?) real).
Yep, I’ll be there in June, but only for a couple of days! I’ve also spent time in Israel, Morocco, and Arizona in summer (it registered 44 degrees one day in Arizona) so I’m aware of what I’m getting into. 🙂
Just seen your going to rwanda and Botswana and I am damn jealous! I’ve been to both and I have to say they are incredible. The Okavango delta is 100% amazing and there’s some fantastic volunteering opportunities in Rwanda with a charity called SURF. I’ve been there twice with them and had incredible experiences. Happy to tell you more!
Hi Eppie, I went to Botswana in 2014 and I definitely agree that the Okavango Delta is fantastic (where some of the photos from this post are from). This time around I’m going to Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania. 🙂
Hi Brenna! Firstly, I am from Winnipeg too and moved to Southern Ontario after teaching on a remote First Nation island in Northern Ontario called Kasabonika from 1999-2000! I relate to your feelings about moving away yet still always feeling as a prairie gal and excited to be back in Winnipeg. My husband is retiring from teaching bit we have lots of ideas about what we’d like to do and where we’d like to travel including an African Safari, India, Asia and Europe as well as our very first winter vacation to a warm place, my dream has always been to go to Hawaii, Fiji and Belize and then over to Arizona, Grand Canyon and Vegas then head over to the Pacific Coast and back to Canada likely Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Meanwhile, we are still exploring an RV trip east from Toronto to the Maritimes and then down the Eastern coast as I’ve always wanted to visit and explore all the beautiful cities and country side. I’m looking forward to us retiring and doing lots of traveling as my dearly departed Dad always talked to me about the importance of experiencing the world by traveling because life is short. I’ve enjoyed reading about your travel plans for 2017 and it all sounds exciting! I’ve waited a lifetime to do the travelling I’d hoped to do when I was in my 20s but plans changed when I got married and became a mother at age 28! Now my daughter and her new husband have been travelling to Greece and other places. I instilled the love of travelling in my daughter when she was just 4 years old and we went to Vancouver to visit with family and we saw the beautiful Vancouver Island! My daughter is your age and loves travelling too! Well, enjoy your travels and I will look forward to reading your travel blog and seeing great photos of East Africa and Kenya! I will be buying a good camera to take on our travels! Enjoy and stay safe! Your Winnipeg friend, Maureen! ?
[…] in 2017, I wrote a post called “Holy &$@% 2017, Are You For Real?”. In that post, I talked about how excited I was about the year of travelling ahead, mainly […]