The beginning of the new calendar year is usually the perfect time for me to plan upcoming trips, buy at least one plane ticket and outline certain goals, both travel-ralated and those more personal ones. This way, I have something to look forward to and more motivation for everyday tasks. This year, of course, everything is completely different, and instead of planning trips, I prefer to focus on travel memories. I often get questions about which trip was the best so far or what was the best thing on a particular trip. I usually simply do not have the answer to such questions, because I find it impossible to point out only one destination, experience, place or adventure. That is why in this post I list those few trips and destinations that I have the best memories of – there are 8 of them so far, but I will be happy to add a few more the list in the future. It is not even necessary that I have seen the most beautiful and most famous sights on these trips. Usually, it is the feeling that makes the trip special for me. Trips can also be special because of the great companions and the exceptional atmosphere, because of unique experiences and adventures, as well as when something happens for the first time and is therefore even more interesting. They are also special, for example, when I am unexpectedly positively surprised while visiting a new place. In some places we simply feel better than in some others. Here´s my personal top travels and destinations pick.
INDIA | one month south to north backpacking trip
India is unique. India stinks, but India also smells nice. It is colorful and full of contrasts. It is alive and loud. You love it for five minutes and then you hate it for the next five. And for me, it’s one of the best travel experiences. Mowgli was one of my favorite stories when I was a child and I wanted to visit India from a young age. Then, in my student years, I finally succeeded. So we went, three girls, three backpacks, from Chennai to Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry, Tiruchirappali, Madurai, along the coast of Kerala, along lovely water canals around Alleppey and Kochi. Onwards to chaotic Mumbai, the soothing landscape around Lonavla and Pune and further on to the north – New Delhi, Agra, Varanasi, Kjajuraho, Panna National Park and Jaipur. Top trip and in almost a month we managed to see so many wonderful places, even though we traveled by public transport to which we added one domestic flight. I have a feeling I could go back to India at least twenty more times but I wouldn’t get tired of it yet. I hope there will be another opportunity soon.
MORE ABOUT INDIA
SE ASIA | a longer, budget backpacking trip to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos
The last decade I usually planned my trips months in advance, but during my student times I often made my decisions quite spontaneously. This longer trip to SE Asia was no exception, and when a friend from college told me over coffee that she wanted to go to Asia but didn’t have a travel companion, I was happy to help. So we went. We flew to Bangkok and on to Cambodia. No plan, no smartphones, no advance bookings. This is usually the best anyway. We travelled with local buses inVietnam from south to north and crossed the border into Laos, which impressed us the most of all four countries along the way. Besides, I also met Charlie in Laos back then, and yes, that’s now already 13 years ago. Therefore, I am even more grateful for this trip. Life is funny sometimes, isn’t it? Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, plus Thailand if you have enough time, are all great backpacking destinations. If you are traveling to Asia for the first time, these countries are also top choice. Safe, still relatively cheap, undemanding to travel, have excellent cuisine, rich history and diverse landscapes. I’m glad I visited them as a student and honestly we almost cried at the end of the trip in Bangkok because we had to go home.
CAMBODIA VIETNAM LAOS
UGANDA | one month backpacking
My trip to Uganda was quite a spontaneously one as well. On the way back to Europe from NYC I joined Katja, otherwise a colleague from an architectural office, in Munich airport for one interesting project. We flew to Uganda and stayed with a Slovenian missionary Danilo in Gulu in the north of the country for a couple of weeks. We got to submerge into the daily life of the locals, the vast majority of whom returned to this part of Uganda after the war, as well as other volunteers and employees of various organizations. The main goal of our visit was to prepare plans for a new girls’ boarding school in the village of Atede but of course, before returning home, we took a few weeks to explore the country on our own. We explored Uganda with local buses, matatu vans and boda-boda motorbikes and after our time in Kampala, Gulu and its surroundings and Murchison National Park, we visited the village of Wanseko and Lake Albert, Fort Portal. , Kibale, Kasese, the beautiful crater lakes Ndali Kasenda, the island-strewn lake Bunyonyi, Kisoro and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, where we also climbed Sabyinyo volcano and stood on the Rwanda – Uganda – DR Congo triple border. Our trip to Uganda has definitely been one of the more special ones so far and I am really grateful for this special experience.
MORE ABOUT UGANDA
OMAN | first big trip with 1yo Lu outside of Europe
I probably wasn’t the only one 10 years ago and surely a lot of first-time pregnant women and parents are also asking themselves questions about what all will change with the arrival of a new family member. Especially those who like to travel may have fears that many things will no longer be possible now. But oh what a mistake to think this way! Everything is possible, we just must not complicate it. Of course, traveling with babies, toddlers, and later with teenagers is a little different than before in the pre-kids times. This trip to Oman was the first one with Lu outside of Europe when he was one year old. I’m not going to lie that I didn’t think of a hundred and one things at the time, especially since Oman was still a pretty exotic destination back in 2012 and I didn’t know anyone who would have been there before. But it turned out to be a great choice and thanks to the universe I realized long distance traveling with children is not something impossible. There were many “first time” moments in Oman and that is why it remains one of my top destinations or trips.
SINGAPORE | 4x visits to one of my favorite big cities in the world
Without a doubt, Singapore is one of those places I am always happy to return to. I can even imagine living there for a year or two. Not only is the journey there with Singapore airlines a real luxury even in economy class (for a reasonable price), Singapore is also a great starting point for visiting Australia, NZ, the Pacific Islands & some other Asian destinations which also makes it a great opportunity for a day or multi-day layover. In addition, it is extremely safe, clean and modern, but at the same time exotic and genuinely Asian in certain neighborhoods. The subway system is great, we always ate yummy meals, there are a bunch of interesting things for the kids, which are usually free of charge. During my last three visits to Singapore I explored it also with the help of my cousin who lived there just until recently – you always get a better taste of a place if you have a local by your side and maybe my love for the city grew due to this as well. I am happy to come back with our new offspring someday.
MORE ABOUT SINGAPORE
SOUTH PACIFIC | 2 months backpacking with 6yo Lu as a single mom to Singapore, NZ, Rarotonga, Fiji and Vanuatu
After a divorce, some people get a younger lover, some change their hair color, while others buy a sports car or a bunch of expensive clothes. I took 3 months of unpaid leave at work, bought plane tickets, took 6-year-old Lu from kindergarten, packed one 42L big backpack and we left. On the craziest trip I could have ever imagined as a single mom. Before that, we went alone to the Philippines, Hong Kong and Macau, and many other places in Europe. This time we went to Singapore, New Zealand, Rarotonga, four different Fiji islands and three Vanuatu islands. Just the two of us. We climbed an active volcano, swam with sharks and turtles, caught an octopus, slept in a tent on the beach, slept in a hotel for almost € 300 a night, spent two days in the middle of the jungle in a village where no one spoke English, drank 127 fresh coconuts, navigated the waves on a mini wooden boat, unexpectedly extended the trip for almost a week trapped in Vanuatu due to a cyclone, visited one of my best friends in the Cook Islands and my cousin in Singapore, met a whole bunch of new people and had an unforgettable time over all. During all these weeks we connected even more and yes, although at times I wanted those 5min for myself, I would repeat everything right away and I warmly recommend it to all single moms with itchy feet – don’t think too much, just go! It takes a little more organization, but it can be done. And it pays off. This will be one of my most beautiful and unique trips forever and I am really happy that we did it.
THE SEYCHELLES | dream family vacations
The Seychelles were downright top! Our trips are usually way more active, but we took it fairly easy for a change this time. In 8 days on Mahe, La Digue and Praslin islands we enjoyed a good number of more expensive meals with cocktails and bottles of wine in restaurants, besides all those amazing beaches of course. When I look back today I´m happy we splurged a little bit! Sometimes you just have to enjoy and not think too much. And sometimes there just comes a time when it’s the right time for such a more leisurely trip. Since we got relatively affordable plane tickets and slept in Airbnb accommodations, the whole trip was still not too expensive in the end. Charlie, Lu and I, beautiful uninhabited beaches, lush vegetation and tropical atmosphere, sun and warm sea, good food and recharged batteries. Glad to take the opportunity for such a holiday while there were still just the 3 of us – from this year onwards it will be different again. Great destination for families and couples, and of course for honeymoons.
SCANDINAVIA & BALTIC COUNTRIES | longer wild camping road trip with Land Rover Defender
The first trip you take after you quit your job definitely has that extra special effect. We drove off just one day after my last office day and it was the most amazing feeling of freedom I must say. The feeling when you don’t have to count the vacation days and when you can relax to the maximum because you have “all the time in the world”, you are full of optimism for the future and looking forward to everything the future brings. And on top of that, you’re traveling in your dream car, which you converted into a camper, sleeping in the wild and sharing a small but comfortable bed with a soul mate. I’m usually more of a sucker for warm places, but Scandinavia is simply magical. Fjords, lakes, dream beaches, endless forests, interesting cuisine, charming towns, red wooden houses, orcas and whales, and more. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland also impressed us. In short, this is definitely one of the best road trips in Europe, especially if you have, like us, more than a month for the whole trip.
SCANDINAVIA & BALTIC COUNTRIES
So much on my part so far, now I´m curious what are your favorites places and travels? I can’t wait to (hopefully soon) add some more to this list with a new family member joining us this year at the end of May.