Every New Year I sum up the year that was in travel. In 2017 I recapped my favourite memories and all the places I’d been to. This year I’d like to do something different… and tell you about my travel lessons from 2018. The beautiful journey from parts of Europe to the far corners of South East Asia and everything it taught me. So here goes:

Explore your own city

Walking around St Pauls Cathedral

While still getting used to the cold British winters, I decided to stay close to the comforts of home and explore the city I live in. There’s always something new to discover just around the corner of almost every street in London. In January I took a self-guided tour of the magnificent St Paul’s Cathedral where I absorbed the architecture in all it’s glory. In February I explored Notting Hill’s cafes, bookshops and markets. Have you ever tried exploring your own city? Here’s a handy article on How to be a tourist in your own hometown.

Walk in the shoes of great men

Eiffel Tower

My role models have always been explorers, adventurers and other travellers. My love for travel started at age 7 when I watched Ian Wright and his TV series Globe Trekker. This was reinforced a few years later at age 10, when I read Pico Iyer’s Falling off the map. They had so unique experiences to share, and I wanted to go out there and create my own. Towards the end of March, I followed in the footsteps of Anthony Bourdain and mimicked his Layover itinerary in Paris. It was a gastronomic experience. There have always been explorers and adventurers to learn from, do you have any favourites?

The natural world has infinite beautiful species.

In April I took a trip to Wales and scaled Mt Snowdon in Snowdonia National Park. I also visited the town with the longest name in the world: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. But the experience that stood out the most was the sailing trip to Puffin Island where we spotted these beautiful birds. A lot smaller than I imagined them to be, yet so colourful and magnificent. I even spotted a few arctic seals basking in the sun. A massive treat for the wildlife enthusiast in me!

Always see things from a new perspective.

The main reason for getting a drone and learning to fly it in May was to see things from a new perspective. I set out searching for dinosaur footprints since several locations on the Isle of Wight reveal huge casts of prints in the stone if the depth and angles are right. These can be discovered during low-tide between Compton’s Chine and Shepherd’s Chine. What I thought was just a bunch of rocks in the sand were actually full-blown footprints after I zipped up high and flew above them. I managed to capture this with the help of my new DJI Spark drone. Over 25 different species of dinosaurs are currently recognised to have lived on the Isle of Wight when it was still connected to mainland Europe. A sight we’d have missed without the aerial view. Click here for more unique experience from the Isle of Wight.

Drone view of the beach

Aerial drone view of Dinosaur footprints.

Get out of your comfort zone.

This one seems relevant travel lesson every time, from trying new foods to solo sea kayaking, I love how travel pushes me out of my comfort zone. So in June, I signed up to become Zoo Keeper for the day at the Zoological Society of London. Nervous at first, I thoroughly enjoyed being behind the scenes, in the enclosures. up close and personal with giraffes, penguins, coatis, Galapagos turtles, spider monkeys etc. We learned how to care, feed and groom them.

Make new traditions.

Biking around Rutland Waters

There is nowhere better than Rutland Waters to enjoy time cycling in the great outdoors. This has gladly become our annual tradition, and we spent our Wedding Anniversary in July cycling. 37km through villages, woodland and some spectacular views, before checking ourselves into a spa for some pampering.

Learn something new.

Berlin is like a large canvas, where every nook and cranny has some jaw-dropping graffiti. It may just be the world’s most colourful city and since I absolutely love graffiti, and found myself there in August, I took a class to learn this art from the best in the city. I can’t imagine a better city to do this! Look up Alternative Berlin Tours if you ever find yourself there.

It’s ok to switch off and do the unordinary.

September was a whirlwind of emotions as I journeyed on a long haul trip through South East Asia. Vietnam taught us to embrace the chaos and move fearlessly through traffic to cross streets. Everything has its own chi and will move around you. Cambodia brought out the tears with its dark genocide history and from meeting survivors from the Khmer Rouge regime. It was okay to feel and to cry. With Thailand as our second last stop, I realised it was ok to switch off and have a digital detox. There was no writing, tweeting or checking emails which is contrary to my everyday ordinary.

Looking out of a temple in Cambodia.

Work hard + Play hard.

I’ve never had the perfect work and life balance as a freelancer in the past, but in 2018 I’ve learned how to do this right! In October my entire work team arrived in Singapore for our annual divisional catch-up. Whilst most of my days were filled with meetings, every evening after work I explored all that Singapore had to offer. From getting lost in Chinatown to night safaris, and learning to cook local cuisines to pub hopping, I managed to pull it off!

Celebrate the seasons.

Summer and winter vacations seem like a long gone dream after school has ended. You’d be surprised at how differently you can experience places just by visiting them during different seasons. November brought with it my favourite season, autumn. This doesn’t exist in India, so when it does arrive it seems almost magical for me. Damian loves seeing me get excited about something as mundane as falling leaves. To celebrate autumn in its truest form we explored walking trails through the New Forest and Winkworth Arboretum, and both these woodlands were gorgeous in their autumnal colours.

Indulge in fairytales

I’m not one for sappy fairytales, but when your favourite movie is shot In Bruges… you want to be “In Bruges”. For our final travel for the year, in December we found ourselves on the Eurostar to Belgium to spend time in Bruges. It really was like a “Fucking Fairytale”. Have you visited places where your favourite movies were shot?

While I had Damian by my side for most of these travels, I have to be honest when I say I miss my solo travel sometimes. If you’re thinking about getting out solo and learning from everything travel can teach you, Here are some tips for first-time travellers. Because the biggest classroom is just outside your door, I encourage you to turn the knob, get out and move. Everything has its own chi and will move around you.

16 thoughts on “Lessons that travel has taught me in 2018.

  1. I adore this alternative way of thinking about where to go. I live near Caen in Normandy but rarely go as it is something I feel I can go any time. I must make 2019 the year I actually visit it properly. But I do always holiday out of summertime as I own my own holiday cottage so that means I cannot get away in peak time … but other seasons are just as good, especially as I have no desire to sunbathe all week!

  2. I so agree about exploring the area where you live. Sometimes we tend to focus on our travels elsewhere that we tend to forget the many beautiful places that’s just outside our doorstep :) Lucky for us since we live in Cornwall, there’s many to explore!

    1. nickolai.kinny says:

      I absolutely love Cornwall. We picked St Ives for our honeymoon <3 There's so much to explore around there.

  3. Helen says:

    This is such a nice way to look back and reflect! I think going outside your comfort zone is so important and something I really need to do more of in 2019 :)

  4. It’s very true about the visiting places during different seasons. They can look so much different from the Summer to the Winter. The New Forest is a gorgeous place to explore.

  5. Its so true about exploring where you live more. We need to do this more as we always go to the same places!

  6. What a brilliant year you had! I know what you mean about exploring your own city. I live just 20 mins north of London, and I commuted into the city for years … and I was blind to all the amazing things there. With the children we’re now experiencing it together – it’s a fantastic city, but I couldn’t see that when I commuted in every day.

  7. fashionandstylepolice says:

    Great lessons here. I need to travel more this year. Love travelling.

  8. Talya says:

    I love that you got a drone to see things from a different perspective recently we went to the national space centre and saw our earth from space above and virtually travelled through the galaxies and it gave us such an amazing sense of perspective.

  9. It sounds like you had an amazing year of exploring and making memories x

  10. Laura Dove says:

    I love this! Explore your city is a great tip, there is so much to see on our own doorsteps!

  11. Wow what a year. I’d love to own a drone. That is so fascinating and equally amazing. I will have to show my son the dinosaur prints tomorrow. I agree with you. Puffins are much smaller than I imagined as well. Have a fab 2019

  12. Kara says:

    I love exploring and nothing makes me happier than heading off the beaten track, exploring the places that no-one normally visits

  13. Anosa says:

    When I started solo travelling a few years ago I embraced most of these lessons and it’s liberating though at first was scary

  14. Such a beautiful read Nickolai and inspired me to travel more this year <3

  15. Tarun says:

    “Make New Traditions” is a brilliant idea! Thanks for sharing, I am going to apply it soon :)

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