A new year brings anticipation for the year ahead and January is certainly the time to start looking towards any travel plans or holidays for the year. Just after Christmas is the best time to start researching, mapping out any savings plans and, quite possibly, booking up any deals that may be discounted. I’ve thought a lot about my travel adventures in 2018 lately and although I’m still looking for some inspiration, here’s what I’m set on.

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BERLIN
Much like many other travel bloggers, I have plans to cut back and budget my money/travelling better this year by doing lots of smaller short breaks if possible. First up is Berlin at the end of the month which is already booked thanks to a cheap deal discovered on Wowcher. It’s somewhere I’ve wanted to go for around a year now but when I saw the deal included entry into Tropical Islands – an amazing indoor faux beach with real sand and summer-like temperatures, I was sold. I’ve wanted to go to Tropical Islands for years now, so that’ll be another thing booked off my bucket list within the first month of 2018!

ICELAND
Iceland seems doable this year if I budget right. I haven’t researched a lot into this but I know I definitely want to visit Blue Lagoon and, if travelling in a couple, I’d like to pencil in a couple of nights in one of the transparent igloos in the hope of spotting the Northern Lights.

ROMANIA
Being that my week off at the end of the month was meant to be spent in Romania (now that I’m no longer going, I booked Berlin instead!), I still really want to go, perhaps in the summer. I’ll be sad to miss visiting the beautiful country in the snow, but after our adventures there last year, I feel like I know enough to navigate the cities alone. We saw a taster of a lot of places in the summer of 2017, so this year I might split it up and fly out two times a year for long weekends in a different city each time. LuckyTrip has tons of recommendations, but from past experiences I’d love to visit Bran and Cluj-Napoca again.

UP NORTH
Vague, I know! Although I’m in no rush to visit my old uni town particularly again (since myself and a friend visited a couple of summers ago), there is a lot I’d like to see and re-visit ‘up north’ and in Tyne and Wear/surrounding areas. I’d like to spend a little longer in Newcastle and spend some time in Durham, as well as fit in a visit to Alnwick Castle again. I’d really like to visit Beamish too, and The Forbidden Corner, as both of these places I wanted to visit when I was studying in Sunderland but never got the chance to.

EUROPE, IN GENERAL
Another vague one, but I’d like to visit some more places in Europe like Dublin, Budapest, Amsterdam etc. I’m set on visiting Edinburgh for next New Year’s Eve, but I’m hoping if I can budget probably I can maybe do a little bit of interrailing, if not this summer then next.

I’ve gone for the more cheaper ideas for 2018 and haven’t even thought about a ‘proper’ summer holiday, as I think smaller city breaks are going to be ideal for me this year. I think I’ll get some sun when I visit Romania but as a whole, smaller and budget adventures are appealing to me a lot more right now, as opposed to lavish beach holidays! Still, I am keeping my eye out on anymore TrekAmerica tours too!

What are your travel plans for 2018? Let me know!

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I’ve always wanted to travel and earlier this year, during my first time travelling in Mexico, I knew that that trip wouldn’t be the last one. I fell in love with discovering new cultures, exploring thousands of years of history and travelling different landscapes, from sandy white beaches to plush green jungles. 

During my trip, I travelled with a backpack I’d hastily ordered from Amazon just a week before. I wasn’t sure what type of luggage to go with and although I loved my backpack, I do wish I’d picked something more ideal for travel. It was a good size for my day-to-day activities – as I also brought a suitcase – but wouldn’t have cut it for long term travel. One of the straps also broke within the last few days of my trip too.
So I was delighted when CabinZero got in touch recently and asked me if I’d like to try out one of their specialized travel bags (how ideal would this opportunity have been back in April!). I had a look at the brand before choosing my bag and was overwhelmed with how ideal this company is when it comes to what they’re selling.

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CabinZero are actually avid fans of travelling – just one look at their blog will tell you that. Posts range from their favourite travel instagrammers to guest blogs about America’s best cities for fall travel. Basically, they know exactly what they’re talking about and what exactly a travel bag or backpack needs.
I picked the Classic CabinZero which is ideal for zero-hassle travel – perfect for a new traveller like me! I ordered it in Lipe Blue and the website states that backpack’s colour is inspired by the sea’s reflection of the last rays of a stunning Thai sunset – how inspiring is that?
My first impression of the bag is that the colour is beautiful. It’s bright and eye catching, meaning there’s little chance of it getting lost, but the colour is also slightly subtle too. It’s not too bright or in your face and I think it’ll go with anything.

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Formidable Joy - UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Travel | CabinZero's Classic Travel Bag Review | CabinZero | Travel

The bag is super spacious inside with smaller zipped compartments for things like toiletries and important documents, and another large elasticated section which fits my laptop nicely. On the front of the bag there’s also a zipped area which works for bits that need to be accessed quickly.

It’s also very sturdy and a good size. It’s more square than anything, which works really well, and as well as a zip to get inside, there’s also four clips you can use to be extra safe if you so choose. My favourite part, however, is that there’s also a handle down the left side of the bag. This means you can wear it as a backpack as normal, or you can carry it as you would a briefcase.

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This is such a genius idea and one I haven’t seen before. I’m used to backpacks with one small handle at the top and I always worry the handle will break with how much I’ve overpacked. So with a larger and more sturdy handle on the side, it also means when you pick it up you’re lifting where most of the weight is, rather than the empty area/gap at the top of your luggage/items if you haven’t packed to the brim.
I have yet to ‘travel’ with this bag (but keep an eye out as we’re heading back to Romania after Christmas!), but so far, I use it when travelling between my boyfriend’s flat and home. Normally I shove all my stuff into my day to day bag (which I take to work with me), which means it’s heavy and weighs me down, or just in a plastic bag with my laptop in its separate bag.

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Lately, I’ve been able to keep everything in CabinZero’s classic travel bag and it’s perfect for that use. Of course it will obviously be perfect for travel – weekend, week or longer – but for the meantime, I’ve been getting plenty of use out of it.
Additionally, the bag is water resistant, designed to be the perfect cabin size, has a ten year warranty and has a lost and found tag built in – how nifty is that?!
Overall, I don’t think I would pick anything else for a travel bag now. It’s light but durable, it has all the compartments you need, it’s got extra safety additions and it’s really bloody stylish too.

What do you think? Would you benefit from a CabinZero Classic Travel Bag on your adventures? Let me know!

P.S Interested in purchasing your own CabinZero bag? You can use promo code CZLOUISEJOY for 10% off your entire order until 7th Jan!

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It seems so long ago that I went on my trip around Mexico with TrekAmerica; my first time travelling, my first proper adventure and my first tour with Trek America. I’d wanted to travel with them for a long time so when I finally got the guts to take my much awaited Mexican trip, there was no doubt I’d go with TrekAmerica.

TrekAmerica offers many other tours though – including road trips – to and around places like the USA, Canada, Central & South America. In fact, there’s almost too many tours to choose from, many more varied then the last.
Since I’m looking ahead to my travels and adventures next year, I thought I’d compile a list of TrekAmerica tours I’d like to try.

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MOUNTIE
I’m not a huge fan of the outdoors but I could definitely wear in my walking boots if it involves a trip like this. This eleven day tour involves exploring British Columbia and Alberta in the Canadian Rockies – can you even imagine the photos and views you’ll end up with?! Highlights include a stay at a rustic guest ranch, relaxing in hot springs and a visit to Lake Louise – well, visiting this lake has always been on my bucket list (a lake named after me, ha!). Let’s not forget the amazing alpine scenery and entry to national parks too.

BEST OF THE EAST
This tour offers an in depth look at the East Coast, with travels to New York, Nashville, Chicago and Niagara Falls to name just a few. Each visit to New York is different too, with the tour leader sharing their favourite places – recommendations straight from a local! Highlights include a bike tour of Chicago’s highlights and a visit to Mammoth Cave National Park. So though you’ll be visiting a lot of cities, there’s some nature and outdoorsy stuff thrown in too just to keep it varied.

HAWAII BIG ISLAND
For those of you who like your adventures short and sweet, Hawaii Big Island is a big favourite. This tour mixes the right amount of plush scenery and adventure; it offers an island cruise and snorkelling, hiking trails at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and camping by remote beaches. If you’re new to the idea of travelling – or looking for your first TrekAmerica tour – perhaps this is it. It’s not too long and isn’t too much to take on for the first time.

MEXICO CITY TO PLAYA DEL CARMEN BOLT

I’ve obviously done a Mexican tour with TrekAmerica – and cannot recommend it enough – but when I chose to do that tour, it was actually a close choice between the Mexican BLT and this one. Mexico City to Playa Del Carmen involves seeing more of a range of Mexico and includes a visit to Mexico city of course. The tours are quite similar in content, but this one includes a visit to a Mexican market and San Cristobal de las Casas. If I were to do another Mexican tour, it would be this one to coincide with visiting Mexico city during the famous Day Of The Dead celebrations.
THE GREAT 48
And, of course, I can’t not mention The Great 48. Anyone who is anyone has a full American road trip on their bucket list – myself included – and this tour makes that dream a reality. Visiting 48 of America’s 50 states (you’ll have to look for yourself to see which two are missed off!), this tour offers pretty much everything. The highlights are amazing: a party bus tour of Las Vegas, seeing the famous faces of the presidents at Mount Rushmore, watching the sun set over the Grand Canyon…need I go on?

If you’ve ever felt tempted by the idea of travelling, I can only recommend a tour with TrekAmerica. They’re perfect for first time travellers or adventures wanting to really get a feel of a place – and the tours are so varied too.

Would you ever (or have you ever?!) gone on a tour with TrekAmerica? Let me know!

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If you’re considering booking a tour with TrekAmerica after reading my recommendations, you can visit their website to see the full variety of tours on offer.

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Last weekend, my family got together for a trip to Shropshire to celebrate my sister’s 40th birthday. Between the eight of us, we rented two ‘tents’ at Love2Stay, arriving on the Friday and heading back Sunday afternoon (though some of my family stayed on until Monday morning check out time).
I’d never been glamping before; only camping and staying in hotels so I was excited to try a mix of the two. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the site however. It looked stunning in the photos and was right up my sister’s street, but a rural weekend away wouldn’t have been my first choice for birthday plans, so I was open minded and eager to see how it would turn out.
The site is only a ten minute drive from central Shropshire, a charming little town with cute gardens, quirky shops and lots of yummy cafes (and vegan choices too!) and it only took us a couple of hours to drive up from Luton.
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We were greeted with a lovely sight when we arrived. We faced beautiful countryside surrounding a real glam and welcoming glamping village. When we headed inside our tent, we were gobsmacked to find it was more like a rural hotel apartment. It was fully kitted out with heating and electric (as well as a wooden fire pit outside!), a huge bathroom with a stand-alone bath and large shower and one double bed, two bunkbeds and a sweet den-like bed hidden away up a ladder. This is where my boyfriend and I slept, naturally!
The whole ‘tent’ was decorated tastefully too with a breakfast bar and a mustard yellow and duck egg blue theme throughout.
Oh, and did I mention the amazing hot tub outside each tent?!
We loved the hot tub. Each hot tub was large enough to fit four to six people and it was a real hot tub if you get what I mean. It had strong jets, mood lighting and it was actually hot, meaning that even though it was in October, we were at the perfect temperature once in the water.
On our first evening, we lit the fire and had a few drinks surrounding the firepit before retiring to the hot tub. It was really nice and a lovely experience overall.
Although there was lots to do on site, I had mixed feelings about the activities. It was the perfect option for families; my niece enjoyed it, as did the adults and even though I am an adult, for those like me in their twenties I would say there wasn’t a whole lot except for the hot tubs and natural swimming pool (which was of course way too cold to go in!). 
Some of the activities I wanted to try were not possible either. The army style assault course had to be booked out as a PT session early on the Sunday morning, which meant you couldn’t just do this of your own accord. The forest walk was actually just a short walk leading to the main road with half grown trees either side, and the barefoot sensory walk was not yet ready at all as they’d decided to move it from where it was supposed to be and build it elsewhere. This did make me giggle because it was still on the map when a) it wasn’t built yet and b) was going to be built somewhere else entirely.
However, it is also Love2Stay’s first season so understandably there are teething problems. Obviously the trees were not fully grown for the forest walk, and we often had long waits for food in the cafe (we waited half an hour for two coffees and two cans of pepsi on one day). The cafe also did not offer vegan choices as previously stated (my sister had rung up in advance to check), apart from a vegetable pizza but without cheese.
Despite this, our stay was a lot of fun and I would still recommend a visit to Love2Stay for families or anyone after a rural weekend escape that’s a bit different. I would say it’s very similar to Centreparcs, only cheaper and with a little less to do. 
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The best part about the weekend though was that it brought family together; I don’t often see my dad anymore and see my brother, sister and niece even less. So it was really nice to head into each tent for a big breakfast together or home cooked chilli (vegan option included) courtesy of my sister. It was also nice to get out in the countryside and do some walking. We spent some time exploring Shropshire where we walked along the river and visited some beautiful gardens.
I wish I’d had time to take one of the fitness classes or visit the spa, as I feel the spa in particular would have really redeemed the small issues we did have and would have outweighed the few negatives – but maybe next time!
Overall it was a lovely weekend and although it wasn’t my first choice for birthday plans, I enjoyed spending time with family and could see why someone like my sister who is a huge fan of the outdoors enjoyed it so much. Other than a few of the teething problems, it was a fun experience to go glamping and I would recommend it.
Have you ever been glamping? Let me know!
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The amount of travelling I’ve done may seem small and insignificant to some, but to me, the few places I have visited have given me memories I’ll never forget. 
I hope to continue adding to these memories by visiting new and exotic places, but one thing I’ve realized is that although I look back and appreciate and reminisce countries and trips as a whole, there’s also a few moments that really stand out for me.
There are experiences that reflect whole trips or really make a place and there are moments that you instantly think of when you hear the name of the place you have visited.

So today I’m going to share with you some of my favourite travel experiences; each of which I’m forever grateful for.
Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Travel | My favourite travel experiences | Mexico | Romania | Ibiza | Paris | Egypt | York | Amsterdam
WATCHING THE PERSEIDS METEOR SHOWER IN ROMANIA
What better place to stargaze/check out a meteor shower then at a remote cabin on a mountain; miles away from civilisation? My boyfriend and I picked the perfect spot to watch our first meteor shower together and even though we only got to see a few shooting stars – and an amazing storm – it really was one of the most unique experiences.
TREKKING THE JUNGLE IN MEXICO
Before my trip to Mexico, all I could imagine was plush green jungles and stunning waterfalls. Luckily my trip included visits to both and one of my favourite experiences from my time in Mexico was going off the beaten track to explore a jungle at Palenque. And, speaking of Palenque, the ruins were out of this world too. There are actually so many experiences I can talk about from Mexico, so I’m going to just stick with the one!
CELEBRATING NYE AT CHAMPS-ELYSEE
My sister took me to Paris a few years back for my birthday and we had the pleasure of seeing in the new year at Champs-Élysée. I loved every minute of that trip, but NYE was particularly special. We went for a seven course meal before legging it to the subway to get to Champs-Élysée, where it was PACKED at the other end and I was honestly scared about getting crushed. We made it out and onto the famous street with about sixty seconds to spare, and then popped some champagne to celebrate. It was without a doubt the best new years eve of my life.
EXPLORING THE SHAMBLES IN THE RAIN IN YORK
This might sound like an odd one, but one of my favourite moments in York was simply not doing anything touristy but taking a slow walk around the shambles with my ex boyfriend/boyfriend at the time. My ex boyfriend was never terribly romantic and although the idea of having a weekend away was romantic overall, it was that evening that I really felt the romance. We were walking along slowly, eating some chips from a chippie when it started to spit and a few streets away a busker began to play music. It was simple, but really bloody lovely.
WATCHING THE FAMOUS IBIZA SUNSET
Although the sunset in Mexico was arguably better, the feeling of seeing the Ibiza sunset was an amazing one. So many people gathered on the beach to watch it and there was a real nice sense of community; especially when the sun finally disappeared behind the scene to a heartfelt applause.
Formidable Joy | UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog | Travel | My favourite travel experiences | Mexico | Romania | Ibiza | Paris | Egypt | York | Amsterdam
GOING COCO LOCO IN AMSTERDAM
This is another odd one, but during my time in Amsterdam, my friend and I got up to so much. But I’ll always look back and smile/laugh about our first time trying space cakes (soz all family & potential employers but you can’t go to Amsterdam and not try space cakes!). We scoffed them whilst exploring the red light district, headed into a museum and not long afterwards fell out almost wetting ourselves with laughter. I don’t know what was so funny but all I know it that the next few hours were a whirlwind of emotions; from my friend getting scared and refusing to go in a pub because she thought the bartender was a waxwork to me being too scared to check the time because I thought everyone would laugh at how slowly I was being trying to get my phone. Oh and then we got stuck in a room because someone was standing in the doorway and we couldn’t comprehend how to ask him to move out the way. After half an hour of sitting at a table being too scared to do anything, we then realized there was another door…oh Amsterdam, you so crazy.
P.S I am not glamourizing or recommending drugs here!
RIDING A CAMEL & STARGAZING IN EGYPT
Riding a camel was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done, ha, but when I look back at the photo, I can’t help but think how lucky I was to do so. My sister and I travelled on camels into the Egyptian dessert to learn about Egyptian history, visit a traditional tent to eat some traditional Egyptian food, and, again, do some stargazing. The fact that I got to stand in an Egyptian dessert and watch the stars is a memory I’ll always treasure.
DRIVING TRANSFAGARASAN
Although it was terrifying at times, driving transfagarasan was one of my proudest experiences. It was really scary but the view at the top of that famous Romanian road was more than worth it; plus though it was a tough challenge, a lot of the drive was enjoyable too.
This is just a small list compared to so many experiences; it’s so hard to pick just one experience from each trip. I’m very much the type of person who wants to go out and do stuff on holiday rather than just sunbathing or relaxing by the pool, so I suppose I really throw myself into these things.
Still, I’m so grateful for these opportunities and can’t wait to see this list grow with time.
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