I can’t remember exactly where I first heard about the 12 countries in 12 months challenge but I do remember thinking in 2016 that I could easily manage the challenge one day. So when Luke when self employed meaning he was the master of his own holidays for once (not restricted to the minimum holiday entitlement) I figured it would be as good a year as any to give it a good shot.what I didn’t account for was my perfectionism to kick in and the rules I kindly set myself to start making it that bit difficulter to achieve. I didn’t want to do 12 in 12 by just going on a cruise and going to Scotland and boom! It’s complete- I wanted to do it properly so I defined some rules which I now wish I hadn’t! :
- One country per month. Two in May do not allow for Zero in June for example. It’s not called 12 countries in one month is it!? (Also helps rules out cruising as a quick win)
- A worthwhile time must be spent in each country. You can’t just drive over a border and back!
- Only one visit to a home county as I called it so Wales/ Scotland or even England
So if you follow me on social you’ll know I did it and here’s where I managed to visit in 2018:
- January- Reykjavik, Iceland 2 nights
- February- Wroclaw, Poland 3 nights
- March- Amsterdam, The Netherlands 1 day (2 nights on a ferry)
- April- Riga, Latvia 1 night
- May- Llandudno, Wales 1 day
- June- Marrakech, Morocco 4 nights
- July- Amnes, Kefalonia 4 nights
- August- Barcelona, Spain 3 nights
- September- Civitanova, Italy 7 nights
- October – Dublin, Ireland 1 day
- BONUS TRIP- October- Las Vegas, USA 5 nights
- November- Brussels, Belgium 1 night
- December – New York, USA 5 nights
So that’s a grand total of 37 nights away from home in 12 different countries! I’m super glad I didn’t set a rule of visiting new countries to me as I love my annual trip to Barcelona and I was so eager to go back to Kefalonia I would have burst if I had to wait another year. I’m also glad I did put a few rules in place too, I just couldn’t consider going to France , driving over to Italy for a couple of hours, then the next day doing the same with Belgium and classing it as 3 countries! Every trip was exactly that, a trip! I’m also lucky that I do get quite a lot of holidays compared to most, plus lieu days for working bank holidays and things , and my holiday year goes from April to April so allowance was used across the two years as such. Overall I used 30 days holiday allowance for all these trips- some I used more than I would have usually due to timings of other people as two were hen do’s, and the family trip to Italy only had Monday flights there from London so took a bit more than it needed to really. I also allowed for jet lag for the two USA trips so actually without the bonus trip to Vegas and the extra few days I think I could have got it to 20 days annual leave- which isn’t something to be sniffed at really!
It’s not all amazing trips and galavanting all the time though (although sometimes it is!), it’s taking early flights to make the most of time or money! It’s constantly being in that cycle of washing clothes, sorting clothes and packing clothes and it’s costly on a cattery front!
It’s also missing out on things because you are away, missing family events, birthdays, blogging opportunities and nights out and for me this was the kicker in it all. You’ll have noticed a drop in events I attended blogging wise and in all honesty people stopped inviting me as I was always turning them down! We had to have our friends Christmas in mid November because we were away, and we missed family meals because timings clashed. Wow is me I know, but it did have an impact to this and what’s helped the withdrawal of not travelling so far this year is the knowledge that we can actually say yes to stuff!
So would I recommend this challenge? If you’re looking to maybe a bit easier on yourself than I was then I’d say go for it! Maybe look at some trips that do lead onto one another to save travelling as much too and prioritise things you really want to do oh and save up beforehand as it’s not worth getting into debt for! I’ll do a run down on what this all cost in another post as it was surprisingly affordable considering but still 4 figures!
Is the challenge something you’re considering? Get in touch with any questions!