Another year, another chance to overspend on travel. If my friends were to describe me in three words, I think they’d choose: writer, fighter, traveller. And oddly, I see these three words together very nicely, especially if you add on photographer.
So, with another year and plenty of unused annual leave at my disposal, the question arises: where am I going to go in 2024? I’m the kind of person whose travel bucket list will never be achieved because as I tick one place off, another three are added. That’s the beauty (and pain) of this enormous world we live in, you could travel constantly and never see everything. But I kind of like that. At least some of the world is going to remain a mystery, no matter how hard you try.
I thought I was well travelled. That is until I used an app called “Been” where you input where you’ve been to in the world, and it turns out I’ve done a whopping... 3% of it. That’s insane to me, since I’m one of my best-travelled friends. And I’m already 32... how am I going to get that number up to something a bit more respectable?
By simply trying.
So, without further ado, here is my travel wishlist for 2024. I may not end up going to all of these places, or maybe somewhere else will crop up and surprise me, but no matter where I go, I know this is going to be a great travel year.
Ever since moving to Scotland, I’ve been enamored by this concept of ‘Right to Roam’. The law states that everyone in Scotland has the right to be on land for recreational purposes. This is a wild concept to me as someone from Australia where the laws are a bit stricter, and you can’t just camp anywhere. In Scotland, you can’t necessarily camp anywhere but for the most part... this country is open.
And every time I drive through the impossible and incredible Glen Coe, I yearn to camp there. To go for a long hike, disappear into the misty valley crevices and discover some of Scotland’s secrets. Most people pass through Glen Coe and stop for a photo of the white house. And while that is incredible (something I’ve done many times), I’m eager to live in the landscape for a while. To sit quietly surrounded by swaying heather and babbling creeks, to stare at a canvas of purple and pinks as the sun sets over one of Scotland’s most beloved locations.
I have very fond memories of Ireland. Very fond. Back in 2014, I spent about 2 weeks cycling around parts of Ireland with my best friend Ash. There was the night we were in a quiet little town and was adopted by the locals in the pub, literally sang songs with them, stood by as a knife fight nearly turned the evening dark. There was that day when the rain was so heavy, we knocked on a random door in the middle of the beautiful Irish countryside and were taken in by this lovely elderly gentleman who fed us cookies and tea while we waited for the rain to subside. Or the time we rode past a group of young kids riding horses along a quaint country lane.
Ireland 2024 has a lot to live up to but I’m not worried. Where exactly do I want to go? That’s hard to narrow down, since I kind of want to go everywhere. But in particular, I’m dying to get one of those iconic shots at the Dark Hedges. The Giant’s Causeway. Cliffs of Moher. Maybe give the Blarney Stone a little peck. And definitely see a bit of the Wild Atlantic Way.
There was this moment last year, when I went to the Isle of Arran for the first time, when I marvelled at how quiet and serene this place was. I was walking down a quiet country pathway with my friend on our way to see the Machrie Moor Standing Stones. The sun was dipping low in the sky and there was a haze about the whole landscape. I was waiting to be whisked away by something magical. We managed to get a lot done in just two days but the one thing we missed out on was climbing up Goatfell, the highest mountain on the island. I’m a wee bit afraid of heights, however I hear this climb is more beautiful than frightening.
As we journeyed back to the mainland on the ferry, I was torn between gazing at the enormous pink jellyfish below and casting a longing glance back towards Arran. That large peak already summoning me back. And 2024 might be the year.
When I moved to Scotland, my dad gave me a list of things I had to do and see before I was ‘allowed’ to move back to Australia. That’s not happening any time soon and, in the meantime, I’ve been chipping away at this list – all of which I’m happy to do. One of them was to see puffins... done that! And another was to see Skara Brae.
Perhaps Orkney’s most popular site, Skara Brae is older than the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge. It’s been nicknamed the ‘Scottish Pompeii’ since it’s so well-preserved. This prehistoric village is only one reason I want to go to Orkney. What I’d really like to do is rent a car, drive all the way up to Orkney, get the ferry over and spend days driving around and exploring this archipelago of islands.
Last time I was in Spain, I was perched on a stool by the side of a bustling alleyway as a strange woman with a lovely smile painted on my arm with Henna. We didn’t speak the same language, we didn’t know each other from a bar of soap, but in that moment, we bonded over a common interest.
That was in Granada, Spain. One of my favourite spots on Earth that I’ve visited so far. Looming above the winding alleyways of the Old Town is the incomparable Alhambra palace. If you’ve never visited Spain and are wondering where you should start, Granada and the whole south of Spain is an area I’d highly recommend.
I would love to go back; however, I’d also love to see a new part of Spain. I’ve got my eye on the northern part of Spain, on these amazing little regions called La Rioja and the Basque Country. If you’ve never heard of Basque, here’s a quick rundown: the Basque region has one of the oldest cultures in Europe, with their own unique language, a ‘cuisine in miniature’ to die for, and they’re masters of improv. If they sound like your kind of people, you can read more about them here. Ever since I wrote that blog, I’ve been so curious to go and see this interesting part of Spain... and maybe try some improv?
Rabbie’s doesn’t go to Iceland but that’s not stopping me from having this one high on my travel bucket list. You might be wondering... Bron, why are you ‘fighting to the death’ in Iceland? Well, I do martial arts and my plan is to go to a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu seminar in Reykjavík in July. There are plenty of these seminars held all over the place, but I opted for this one because the last time I was in Iceland was 2014 and I was obsessed then, and I’m obsessed now.
Granted, this trip won’t involve too much ‘travel’ but I’m looking forward to getting to know Iceland’s capital a bit better.
For those who haven’t ever considered Iceland as a destination, I’d say it’s the place for you if you have a love of the outdoors and adventure sports. Maybe you simply want to explore the capital, do some shopping, try the local food, go for a few hikes, and visit the Blue Lagoon. Or perhaps you want to explore an ice cave, go snorkeling at Silfra Fissure, and drive the Golden Circle. I can see myself returning to Iceland time and again.
One of my goals while living in Scotland is to see all the major islands. In 2023, I managed to see Skye (for the 3rd and 4th time), Arran, Iona, Mull, Staffa, and the Outer Hebrides. Not a bad haul. But that leaves at least Orkney and Islay on my list... so this has got to be the year.
Islay is known for being the ‘whisky queen’ of Scotland. This country itself is known for many things, one of which is the powerful taste of our delicious whisky.
Now, I say this as someone who doesn’t drink... so I won’t be going to Islay for the ‘traditional’ reason. But, like every good Scottish island (of which there are many), there are plenty of beautiful views and fascinating spots to visit. As a photographer, I’m more inclined to be outside anyway, taking a picture of an incredible beach or some standing stones. So, that’s my plan. But perhaps yours would involve lots of whisky and that’s alright too (I suppose).
I have fond memories of Wales. Back in 2014, I spent some time exploring this little country. I admit I have a pretty bad memory, but what I do remember is me endlessly gazing at beautiful landscapes, a pretty epic castle (not surprising, since there are over 600 of them in Wales alone) and having to retreat to our hotel after a yellow weather warning... ah, Wales. But the wildness of Wales is honestly half the fun and what’s travel if there’s not a few fun stories to regale people with on your return?
For me, travel is at its finest when I’m in the middle of nowhere surrounded by a beautiful view. That’s Pembrokeshire National Park in Wales. Densely packed woodlands, rolling green hills, coastlines that would make the Amalfi Coast jealous... I need to be there immediately.
Looking over this list, I realise 2024 includes a few places I’ve been to before but feel an obvious need to return to. Glastonbury is one such place. Back in 2014, I spent 6 months galivanting around Europe and one of those spots was Glastonbury. Now, if the festival comes to your mind, wipe it away immediately. That is not my vibe. My vibe is this: a row of hippy shop after hippy shop (my wallet screaming in protest as I peruse yet another glass cabinet of shiny jewelry like Aladdin in the Cave of Wonders), and anything remotely related to the Arthurian Legend (King Arthur, Merlin, Camelot... yknow).
Glastonbury may not be for you but if you love history, a cheeky shop, or just a quaint little town, then you might want to give it a go.
For me, the Arthurian Legend draw is a massive reason why I went here in the first place. There’s the Chalice Well, where the symbol on the well’s seal has links to the Arthurian Legend. There’s Glastonbury Abbey, where the bodies of Arthur and Guinevere are believed to be buried. I could go on – about the Tor, about the whole of Glastonbury... but you get the point. It’s the place to be if you’re a fan like me.
The question remains: how much of this will I get done? I’m going to check back at the end of this year to see where I managed to get to. It would be great to say I will do it all, but the years seem to go by faster and faster, don’t they? Still, that won’t stop me from trying and, who knows, maybe I’ll see you out there.