During my primary school era, I thought seeing the world was something that just came with adulthood. I pictured going to the Bahamas or Seychelles. I’d be sat on the white sands, as the turquoise ocean brushed over my legs and coincidently the song ‘I’ve had the time of my life’ out of Dirty Dancing played from the blue skies, providing the perfect soundtrack to the best time of my life.
That’s what TV ads every 15 minutes by Caribbean travel agent Sandals will do to you. I grew up and the ad was still going strong, but this time the end shot that showed “packages starting from £2,999” didn’t seem realistic. Well not in my home anyway.
My holidays as a child consisted of going to Ghana, where my family are from. It was supplemented with quite a few UK excursions, which I was grateful for. Day trips to Alton Towers was always win!
Disregarding a school trip to Lille, in the North of France, and Ghana, my first certified holiday abroad, without real adults, was to Benalmádena in the south of Spain (Near Malaga). I guess at 17 it was a no brainer to head to the south of Spain. 1€ shots that tasted of white spirit, mild March weather, clubs that had women dressed in thongs wrestling in mud, male ‘performers’ that revealed it all, was what my friends signed us up for and I was here for it.
Once I reached a new era, my 20s, I developed a hunger to go to certain places. Mostly anywhere with sun. 20 years dealing with London’s barely 10 degrees weather was starting to grate. Of course I decided to go to Sweden…in the winter. I was inflicted with minus 10 degrees weather…if I was lucky! The reason for this I’ll touch on later.
Now when considering where to travel to, i’ve built a resource of constant inspiration. Mainly from things I consume on a regular basis. So here are my 10 travel inspiration sources.
1 // Fiction Books
At 13 I read Memoirs of a Geisha. It’s the story of a 9 year old girl that gets sold to a Geisha house in Kyoto and as she grows up she works really hard to become a top ranking Geisha. Getting sold into prostitution didn’t sit well with me, but made a great story. Also the author painted the prettiest picture of Kyoto. The rituals and enchanting nature all around them really stuck with me. This book planted a seed that Japan is someplace I NEEDED to see.
My interest in Japan peaked further and I eventually made it happen years later, in the year 2016. Japan was REALLY enchanting on a level I didn’t even expect. Kyoto was a real place and as much as the author painted a great picture, my 29 year old self appreciated the authenticity of the place more than I could have at 13.
When a writer does a great job of capturing a place through their words, my curiosity to see for myself spikes. Another writer that does this well is Carlos Ruiz Zafron who really transported me to Barcelona in his book Shadow of the Wind. When I visited years after reading it I felt its familiarity immediately.
2 // Instagram
Instagram has been nothing short of revolutionary when it comes to my travel plans. It’s a constant scroll of inspiration, even when you didn’t ask for another instababe flexing her arse on the beach.
Thanks to the geotag feature that people use 99% of the time, I can locate that remote mountain they took that “EPIC!” picture from, the café they had that “Nom Nom” Avocado toast, or the must-see exhibition that is “Sooo Instagrammable!”
Another amazing feature instagram has is the save button. You can create folders and collect all your inspirations in one place. That way when you are ready to take off you can add these places to your itinerary. This has been game changing and particularly shaped my itinerary on-the-go when visiting Japan.
3 // Travel Magazines
Gazing through the travel section of Glamour magazine, then daydreaming I was living my best life in a luxury resort they mentioned, was a part of my teenager years. Now I find myself building up quite a collection of well curated coffee table travel magazines, for the coffee table I’m yet to own.
Favourites include Suitcase magazine. They focus on locations that aren’t always in the spotlight or in someway niche. Their photography is stunning and they tie-in fashion and interviews with noted people, living in the places featured.
Once upon a time I managed to bag myself work experience as young publishing and journalism graduate. This was at Wallpaper* City Guides, an off shoot from their big sis, interior and design magazine Wallpaper*. Fact checking and copy-editing the guides provided by travel writers across the world, gave me an insight into some of the worlds most luxurious hotels and dining establishment.
They were certainly aspirational. But at 20, doing unpaid work experience, with the weight of student loans firmly crushing my dreams, meant this type of high-end travel was definitely not accessible to me. So I stayed grounded.
4 // YouTube
Unsolicited beauty videos, quite a bit of ‘lifestyle’ content (people making dinner), mixed in with a healthy dose of how to get your shit together/Ted X content, account for most of my viewing habits on YouTube.
Travel content isn’t something I actively look for. Luckily travel vlogs creep into the ‘lifestyle’ content I watch.
A place that was put on my radar was Positano, in Italy’s Amalfi Coast. YouTubers and creators of the Productivity planner, Alex and Mimi Ikonn gifted their viewers with beautifully shot vlogs of their holidays in Positano. They said every time they went back it would be busier than the previous year. They had people approaching them in their vlogs, letting them know they are the reason they visited Positano. I totally was a part of that bandwagon and I’m appreciative for people like them sharing their experience in a visual way.
5 // Music
A place may not be on my ‘Must Travel To’ list, but because of the beauty of music festivals I get the chance to experience a place, with an intention to have a blast at the festival and to also experience the local area. I really didn’t have a trip to the suburbs of Paris in mind, but I wanted to go to festival called We Love Green. It was in Vincennes, a town on the edge of south east Paris.
When we went it was great because we roamed the area with time to spare before the festival started, and got to indulge on some of the MOST DELECTABLE PASTRIES EVER for breakfast.
This year I’m going to my dream festival, in a place that I have been putting off visiting, but remained firmly on my list. Check back as I will be sharing all in all good time.
Local cuisine has an authenticity and freshness only local ingredients can provide.
In London you can pretty much find international cuisine just about anywhere, which is awesome. But let’s be real it’s no substitute for the local cuisine you have in the country of origin. Local cuisine has an authenticity and freshness only local ingredients can provide.
I didn’t think Sashimi (raw Japanese fish) was for me, having tried it in the UK. However, trying this in Japan was a whole other story. The fish was caught probably less than 24hrs before it entered my mouth and consequently didn’t have that overtly fishy smell. Paired with ingredients native to Japan, like wasabi, daikon etc, it was without a doubt mouthwatering.
For this reason places like Vietnam and Columbia remain high on my travel list, as I really believe it will beat the London offering and at a very affordable price (minus the flight cost).
7 // Geological
Mountains and coastal environments really speak to me.
As I mentioned the weather is a major player in my travel inspiration. I gravitate towards warm weather and love packing light. I haven’t been skiing yet because I think ‘why pay to be cold?!’ But in all honesty if the opportunity presents itself to me, I wouldn’t be mad. Of course the epic views, the fluffy snow and cozy fires sound awesome and would be an experience I haven’t had before.
As well as the weather, the environment is a major incentive to visit a place. Living in a hyperactive city like London, I long for clear open space, where the echo of my voice is far reaching. Mountains and coastal environments really speak to me.
One of the top 5 places I must visit is New Zealand. I mean… it just looks like how I imagine earth to have looked like on day one! I’m sure dinosaurs roamed happily in New Zealand for years. However it could be the magical cinematography in The Lord of the Rings trilogy… which takes me on to my next point.
8 // TV & Film
Sometimes TV and Film can be a really great source of inspiration, depending on how much of a place is shown. Sometimes it’s all character and action. But really great cinematographers and directors know how to capture the location in a beautiful way that makes it a part of the story, not just the location the characters are in.
Who can tell me they didn’t want hop on the Eurostar to Paris and experience whimsical love like Amélie?
Another great film that the location is embedded into the story of blossoming love is Before Sunrise, when two strangers decide to ditch their travel plans and explore Vienna together.
9 // Friends and Family
I have the good fortune of having a few friends and family dotted around the world. These are often in places that aren’t even top 10 on my travel list. But having them based there is a great incentive to visit.
Previously I have found myself in Stockholm (three times!), Madrid (twice!) and Milan. These city weren’t at the top of my list but it was awesome each time and exceeded my expectations.
Having a friend as a tour guide can be hugely useful and great way to experience the best things a place has to offer and not just the tourist traps. Also it can be great way to save on accommodation if they are kind enough to take you in.
10 // Blogs
Okay I’m going to be honest, when looking for travel inspiration I only visit blogs if I’m being super intentional and it’s a day before my trip.
Blogs really are a great source of inspiration as they can be detailed with a lot of pictures. But sometimes I find too much information overwhelming.
As a travel blogger I hope to share my experience of places that really made a difference to my trip. Whether it was a hidden gem, lived up to the hype or an avoid at all costs. I’m genuinely quite positive so the last one will be hard, but honesty and speaking my truth is fundamental! So, I will TEAR A PLACE APART… in a constructive way of course.
Please use the comment box below to let me know if you find the details I share useful. And leave a comment on how you find travel inspiration.