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It’s going to be a pretty awesome year (of travel) after all!

Still a month ago the pages of my travel calendar for this year were too blank to be true. I had one week winter holiday in Eastern Finland behind me, but future travel plans were just distant plans. Dreams and thoughts, no booked hotels, purchased flight tickets or anything tangible.

Then all of a sudden something happened. The plans weren’t only thoughts anymore, they were slowly becoming reality. Now I am actually sitting by the kitchen table looking at that calendar and trying to squeeze in one more trip between work deadlines and, well, other trips. Even if I still have lots of dates waiting to be confirmed, I must say the next few months will be quite entertaining and full of new experiences.

Iceland, New York, return to Långvik in Kirkkonummi, Finland and PING Helsinki, Israel and if possible also Jordan. There is also a little sparkle of hope about visiting friends in Northern Italy and New Zealand and much much more. How does this sound to you?

Well, now when I started to talk about visiting friends, I have also promised finally to go back to Spain to catch up with my ex colleagues and neighbourhood in San Pedro de Alcántara. And once I started listing things I have been supposed to do for a long time, it would be nice to carry out our roadtrip to Scotland and/or Ireland that we wanted to do last year already together with Daniel. Let’s see how much we’ll be able to execute this year.

Less than a month left to Iceland

I still haven’t done any trips abroad yet this year, but I bet it will be eventually worth a wait. And who knows, maybe I’ll still find a tempting last minute deal for approaching Easter weekend. Whether we’ll travel before April or not, our trip to Iceland is only less than a month away. On the 17th of April we are flying with IcelandAir to Reykjavik and exploring the wonders of Iceland for 4 full days.

It's going to be an awesome year of travel | Live now – dream later travel blog
A Finnish travel blogger Maarit from the blog Pää pilvissä ( = meaning having her ‘head up in the clouds’) used to live in Iceland and is sharing so many great tips what to do over there. Maarit took this picture on a roadtrip to Lake Mývatn in Iceland. Clicking the photo will take you to her blog, which is written in Finnish. Photo: Maarit / Pää pilvissä travel blog.

You might remember when I found the fantastic deal from IcelandAir to fly from Finland to New York with a 4-day stopover in Iceland for a great price.  Well, it only gets better: A few days ago I found a tip from a Finnish travel magazine Mondo saying that when having a stopover in Iceland during March or April, you can ask for a Stopover Buddy to spend a day with you in Iceland completely free or charge!

I guess you guys know me well enough – I had to try this out! A couple of days ago I filled in a form requesting a Stopover Buddy for the 18th of April, our very first full day in Iceland. In order to make your own request you need to have your flights booked with IcelandAir with a stopover in Iceland as you need your reservation number to complete the request. You also need an idea what you’d like to see and do during your day with your personal Stopover Buddy.

Stopover Buddy is not exactly a professional tour guide, but a local employee of the airline who wants you to explore his or her own favourite things and hobbies in their home country. There are several themes to explore, like food, adventure and nature, and even if all of those categories seemed very tempting, we decided to go with a lifestyle buddy. Why is that? Because it was the only category where volcanos were mentioned in the description, and we thought volcanos would be better to explore with a local. Other nature formations like waterfalls and such we would be able to manage ourselves.

IcelandAir promises on their website to provide you an answer about the availability of requested Stopover Buddy within three working days. I received my ‘yes, we have a Stopover Buddy for you’ email already the very next day after sending the request. So fast! At the moment I am waiting for further information what we’ll actually do during our day with a local buddy. After that it will be a lot easier to plan the rest of our stopover in Iceland. I’m so excited!

It's going to be an awesome year of travel | Live now – dream later travel blog
Viking Rafting sounds like a fun activity in Iceland! A Finnish travel blogger Maarit tried it when living in Iceland. Clicking the photo will direct you to her Finnish blog post about the adventure. The photo is taken by Barbora Chovancová.

After a stopover in Iceland it’s time for New York City

After four days in Iceland we’ll continue our trip to New York City. Even if Daniel has visited the Big Apple several times, for me this will be the very first time in NYC. And it has turned out to be quite a challenging destination for a spontaneous low budget and nature loving traveller like me. A lot more challenging than I ever expected.

Even if we got our flights with a very nice price, the hotels in Manhattan are quite valuable. We have already booked a hotel for our five-night visit, and we will spend it in The Paramount Hotel at Times Square. The location couldn’t be much better, so I truly trust it will be worth the 700 euros spent on five nights (yes, you read correctly). We were hoping to pay 100 euros per night at the most, but we couldn’t quite get a room for that price. However I’m sure that we’ll save a lot of time and money thanks to the excellent and central location (we like to walk).

You might wonder what I mean by ‘challenging’ besides NYC being an expensive city. Well, while reading tips to New York from other Finnish travel blogs, I soon realized my travel habits are not exactly made for New York. While I enjoy going by the feeling and deciding spontaneously what to do and where to go, in New York you need to book your tickets to certain attractions months in advance! Oops! So we are NOT going to the Statue of Liberty during our trip, apparently.

It's going to be an awesome year of travel | Live now – dream later travel blog
A Finnish travel blogger Teea from Curious Feet travel blog visited New York in January. By clicking the photo you’ll find her top moments in NYC, unfortunately in Finnish only. Photo: Teea / Curious Feet travel blog.

Luckily I have many great ideas for New York that I don’t need to plan ahead or book in advance. Once our plans are getting a bit clearer, I will tell you more about them in a separate post, so stay tuned. And hey, all tips to NYC are still more than welcome!

At the moment I am exploring fresh experiences from New York for example from a Finnish travel blog called Curious Feet. The writer of the blog, my good friend Teea, just visited NYC only a few weeks ago.

Coming up in May: Return to PING Helsinki and the lovely Långvik!

Yesterday I received a long-awaited email message welcoming me to the 2nd ever PING Helsinki event in May. PING Helsinki is an event dedicated to content creators and businesses interested in co-operation with Finnish content creators. I was lucky to participate the first even PING Helsinki in 2015 and I could say it truly changed my life – or at least helped me to change my life. It was the first networking event for me, and it felt so cool to meet in person all bloggers I have been following behind the screen for years. And I was invited to PING Helsinki to be one of them! Awesome, right?

It's going to be an awesome year of travel | Live now – dream later travel blog

And it only gets better (again): This year PING Helsinki will be held in the lovely Långvik Congress Wellness Hotel in Kirkkonummi, near Helsinki, where we spent an amazingly relaxing Långweekend together with Daniel last November.

This must be the luxury they talk about - Långweekend in the lovely Långvik Congress Wellness Hotel in Kirkkonummi, Finland

Mysterious plans for the summer season

June, July and August are still a little bit of a mystery, even to myself. I have big plans for this summer, but I am not in charge of deciding which ones will actually become reality. Let’s just say that if everything goes as well as I am secretly hoping and planning at this very moment full of excitement, this summer is going to be the most awesome summer of all times!

Not to leave you completely hanging and biting your nails in anticipation, my plans include, among others, exciting experiences here in Finland, explorations in the Middle East spiced up with adventures and reunions in Northern Italy. Hopefully I could provide you more details about these mysterious travel plans in the very near future – and hopefully very positive details!

I got invited to New Zealand – finally!

Oh god, it’s ages since my friends Agnès ja Alex moved to New Zealand! Now when this lovely couple has had enough time to settle down in Auckland, it would be a good time for me to travel there and interrupt their lives! Don’t get me wrong, they have actually invited me to visit, and we have already had a brief discussion about November being a good time for a trip to the other side of the world. If everything goes well, it would be quite ideal to stay for a month at least, and if life treats me well, perhaps I could also visit Australia during the same trip.

How about these travel plans?

It’s been 3,5 years already since I packed my bags in the lovely little Spanish town of San Pedro de Alcántara and moved back to Finland. I can’t even count how many times I have been talking about returning to San Pedro and meet up with my ex colleagues. Now I have sort of promised to make this trip happen during this year. And oh boy, would I love to do that! I miss San Pedro and its’ lovely people so much that it actually hurts!

Last year we were planning a couple week road trip in Scotland and/or Ireland together with Daniel. During this trip we would love to visit Loch Ness and the little piece of land my brother bought me for my 30th birthday, spend nights in old castles and visit places that are said to be haunted (my weird ghost fixation is picking up again) and enjoy the beautiful views. Due to our work situation we had to cancel the road trip last year. Once that happened we decided that 2016 will be the year of execution! Let’s see if we are able to stick with that plan.

During the past couple of years we have explored Europe quite a bit, but there are still some destinations to visit or even re-visit. Our goals for this year would be at least to see Riga in summer (I have only visited Riga at Christmas in 2010, so it’s been a while and it was all snowy and cold) and Prague, that neither of us has visited yet. And once I started listing destinations I’d love to see, I have to mention at least Croatia, Slovakia and Slovenia, but I guess I have to leave something for next year as well.

So, this is how plans change and the blank pages of the travel calendar slowly fill up. How is your calendar looking like, are your pages half empty or half full?

Hey, did you know that Live now – dream later is also on Facebook! By following you’ll receive all my travel tips and stories also when there are no new posts on the blog.  Once we started, why not to follow also on Twitter and Instagram, where you can find me as @saanajaakkola.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Iceland will be amazing! Can’t wait to read about your trip. And New York is such a fun city as well, you’ll definitely enjoy staying centrally.

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