It’s all been a bit quiet on the blog over the past month. To be honest we’ve been in hibernation, enjoying home comforts and relishing the break in our travels (which doesn’t make for quite such riveting posts….) 9 months into our family gap year, it’s been absolutely lovely to stop for a while. Perhaps too lovely. So lovely if we didn’t have our onward flights booked we’d be tempted to stay longer in Melbourne. Don’t get me wrong we love our adventures but after so long on the move we’ve realised how much we crave normality, routine, familiarity and creature comforts. Travelling offers us the ultimate freedom and the excitement of new experiences, new places and new people. But it also demands stamina, energy and resilience, familiarity is long forgotten and you can’t take anything for granted. Our travelling life has taken on a bit of a surreal quality as we prepare to dive into our 2015 trip next week. Right now it feels a bit like entering a parallel universe but I’m sure as soon as we board the plane we’ll be right back in our stride. So where are we headed in 2015…. in a nutshell it’s all about beaches, getting up close with nature, island hopping, food and slow travel. We’ve planned our travels so we can mix up being on the move with the opportunity to dwell in a few places for longer. So here are our plans for 2015... January & February: Vietnam After a brief stopover in Kuala Lumpur, our first proper destination is Hoi An. We’re spending 3 weeks in a graceful colonial style house in the peaceful village of Cam Thanh so we can savour the area slowly. Located on the banks of the Thu Bon River, we’re just a hop-skip into the historic, atmospheric old town with it’s meandering streets and grand architecture. Rural hinterland and alluring beaches are also only a short bike ride away. Hoi An is known as a foodie mecca so we’re looking forward to sampling the gourmet Vietnamese cuisine. Finally, it’s a hot-spot for tailoring, and the prices are rock-bottom. I know I’m going to be seriously tempted with the incredible designer imitations they can whip up I just need to work out how I can fit them in my backpack…. From here it’s a whistle stop few days in Saigon before we head onwards to the Philippines. March: Philippines This is where things get a bit interesting, a lot more rustic and the travel really ramps up. For 6 weeks, we’ll be hopping our way across paradise islands dotted throughout the Philippines. We’re going back to basics with limited power supplies, low-key accommodation and plenty of hours bumping our way along roads less travelled. We’re mostly excited and ever so slightly terrified - this is by far the most ambitious bit of our trip with more time on the move than we’ve attempted before. On the flipside, our efforts will be rewarded with splendid isolation in flabbergastingly stunning surroundings. We kick off exploring Palawan - the World’s number one best island as voted by Conde Nast readers. With palm-fringed, white powder beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters and natural lagoons for wild swimming it certainly has the wow-factor. It’s also home to one of the new seven natural wonders of the world, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River which runs for over five miles underground. Next up is Cebu - a gem of an island at the heart of the Philippine archipelago. The ocean around Cebu is dotted with small islands to explore and teeming with nature and wildlife. We’re basing ourselves in Bohol to explore the surreal Chocolate Hills and are looking forward to meeting the tarsiers, the world's tiniest monkeys. We finish up in Boracay an itty-bitty island in the Western Philippines. A tropical paradise with postcard-perfect endless beaches and incredible sunsets it’s become one of the top drawcards for tourists in this region. April – May: Seychelles Our dream destination for 2015 is the Seychelles. With its luxury resorts and royal honeymooners I’d always assumed this idyllic island getaway is solely for the uber-rich. Luckily for us there is a simpler side to the Seychelles. With a little pre-planning and some island know-how, we’ve discovered that it’s possible to experience these beautiful islands without totally blowing our budget. We’ll be kicking back on the island of Mahé for a month. Exploring talcum-powder beaches lapped by brilliant blue seas and backed by lush hills and dramatic granite boulders. When we feel like getting energetic there are jungle and coastal walks, boat trips, and diving and snorkelling to keep us busy. We’re then off to Praslin a smaller island with a much quieter vibe. As well as plenty of glorious stretches of sand and sheltered coves the island is also home to the Vallée de Mai Nature reserve, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Tiny La Digue is our final stop and offers the classic Seychelles escape, a sleepy island where everyone travels by bike. It’s also blessed with spectacular beaches, such as the lagoon of Anse Source d’Argent and the secluded coves of Grand and Petite Anse. May & June: Greek Islands Towards the end of May, we make our way back to Europe and are planning a 6-week trip around the Greek islands. We’re still putting our ideas together but are seriously tempted by dramatic cliffs, ancient ruins and picturesque towns of whitewashed houses nestled into the hillsides. Neither of us has travelled this part of the world for a long time so any recommendations very much welcome! We’re also delighted about making our way closer to England and the possibility of friends joining us for parts of this trip. July: England July sees us homeward bound for London which I am already bursting with excitement about. You can travel all over the world, but there really is “no place like home”. One of the biggest sacrifices we made when heading off on this trip was saying goodbye to our nearest and dearest and the missed moments in the lives of people so dear to you. We can’t wait to get back and enjoy summertime in this wonderful city with good friends. A road-trip around the country will give us cherished time with family and allow the girls to build precious bonds with their grandparent, aunties, uncles and cousins on this side of the world. Then who knows…… Now we’ve tasted freedom it would be hard to go back to the 9-5 and the daily commute of “normal life”. Our Curious Plan is more than just a one-off trip, more than a stint before we return to our everyday lives. It is a fundamental shift in how we approach life. Happiness is no longer about things, how much money we can earn or how big our house is. It's about experiences, exploring, discovery, independence, freedom and time. We are hoping that 2015 is the year we can find “our thing”. We’re not sure what that thing will be, it could be a business, a product, a service or an idea. But whatever it is it will allow us to "earn to live rather than live to earn" and that this freedom and way of life will stay with us way beyond this trip. Heading off travelling I had this idea that once we were free of our daily routine we’d enjoy all this head space and time to think about “what next”. The reality is a bit different. Our days are noisy, chaotic, jam-packed and full of interruptions - not exactly ideal conditions for hatching the next great plan. So somehow we need to carve out space for thinking new thoughts, trying new things, taking some risks and discovering what “our thing” could be. One thing is for certain the second half of 2015 is a blank page for us right now, full of possibilities, opportunities, uncertainty and plans. Exciting times ahead. One Response Gurpreet February 2, 2015 This is amazing Cath. Team Toms are a great inspiration. Looking forward to more blogs and travel tips. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.