2019 has been a year of saving money, which has invariably meant tightening the purse strings a little when it comes to travel.
As much as I’d love to jet off to South Africa, travel around Australia and tick off bucket list sights in Japan, I’ve finally realised this year that all of these dreams require money – but that doesn’t mean I’ve been sitting around doing nothing!
This year has well and truly been a year of microadventures – short, local adventures that have still got plenty of fun, thrills and culture thrown in.
These microadventures have involved seeing more of what’s on my doorstep here in the UK, from small suburbs of London to picture-perfect seaside towns. Here are six of my favourite destinations that I’ve visited in 2019, which I’d recommend adding to your 2020 list!
It might have been work that brought me down to Brighton, but I took it as a good opportunity to spend some quality time by the sea, meet up with a friend and see another side to this pretty seaside resort town.
Truth be told, before I went to Brighton this year I was a little apprehensive about visiting. The last time I was in Brighton was just before my mum got diagnosed with cancer; in fact, it was one of the last places we’d ever visited together. But traipsing around the Laines, admiring all the street art and admiring the pier from afar made me remember the special memories we had created on our previous trips.
How to get to Brighton…
I love Brighton because it is so quirky and friendly, plus it’s so close to London. Trains can whisk you to the coast in just an hour from London Victoria; and with trains travelling to Clapham Junction you’ve got plenty of options for onward travel.
Amersham is a cute market town in Buckinghamshire that’s at the very end of the Metropolitan Line. Not going to lie, it took me an absolute age to get there on the tube but I didn’t want to leave once we got there. It didn’t feel at all like we were in London. The old town was all spruced up in bunting, with market stalls, a classic car show and a vegetable competition to celebrate Amersham Heritage Day.
My friend and I also got to ride on a vintage 1950s tube train, as well as vintage London buses. It was a dream come true for a history nerd like me (and definitely worth the long journey there…).
How to get to Amersham:
Take the train from Marylebone station, or take the Metropolitan line all the way to the very end…
This year I went on a mini-coach tour of Somerset with none other than…my nan. It was the most wholesome week, filled with lattes, lots of early nights and helping my nan conquer the staircase of the most topsy-turvy hotel ever.
While the trip was a much slower pace than what I’m used to (we would routinely step off the coach, head to the nearest coffee shop for a hot drink, and then walk back to the coach), one of the highlights was visiting Wells. I didn’t have any expectations before coming here, but I knew my nan wanted to visit the Cathedral as she hadn’t been in years.
I wasn’t convinced she was going to make it all the way up to the Cathedral from the coach park, but lo and behold she did! It was an absolute delight watching her revisit one of her favourite places in the UK, and I was so proud of her for making the trip up there. Watching her little face light up as she took in all nooks and crannies of the Cathedral made my heart swell.
We also had some time to pop in a few shops on the way back and I fell in love with all the quirky stores. I’d love to go back to Wells in the future to have a bit more time to wander around.
How to get to Wells:
Wells is a bit of a trek from London – you’re looking at taking a train from Paddington to Brighton, followed by a bus over to Wells. The good news is it’s highly accessible if you live in/are visiting Bristol; it’s just a direct train from Temple Meads.
How have I NOT written about Whitstable yet?!
Whitstable was one of my favourite day trips of the year. I went with Sophie from Luggage Tags and Ticket Stubs after we clocked cheap day fares running from London.
I hadn’t really known what to expect, but Whitstable is so much more than just oysters and the seaside: within just a few hours we fell in love with its colourful buildings and charming character. It’s very Instagram-friendly thanks to its bright shop fronts and boutique stores, but there’s plenty to discover below the surface, including a memorial to actor Peter Cushing and an 18th-century castle.
How to get to Whitstable:
From London you’ve got your pick of starting points: head to Whitstable via direct trains from London Victoria, London Cannon Street or St Pancras International.
5. Knole Park, Kent
Earlier this year, Ian and I went on a little day trip out to Knole Park, around a half hour’s train ride from South London.
We went on a Sunday – which wasn’t ideal for taking a look around the town as half the shops were closed – but Knole Park itself was a gem. With over 1,000 acres to walk around, we were able to enjoy a little picnic with barely anyone in sight (apart from some friendly deer!).
While we enjoyed our cheap day out, there’s much more to see and do if you have the time: head to Knole house for a look around, or take in one of the many exhibitions or walking tours.
How to get to Knole Park:
The nearest station is Sevenoaks, and trains run direct from London Bridge.
Visiting Walton-on-the-Naze in Essex is my annual tradition.
Growing up, I enjoyed many a family holiday here during the summer all thanks to my Grandad. He had grown up with family trips in Walton, playing cricket on the beach and jumping over the waves in the water. When he passed away in 2009, we spread his ashes close to the beach and every year I go back to put some flowers down for him and spend some time wandering around. Sometimes I do this with someone, but this year I went by myself.
It was the first time I’d visited in the autumn months and I got super lucky with the weather. While the days surrounding it had been cold and drizzly, I rocked up to sunshine! I’d also taken a day off work to go, so the beach was empty. I had some sandwiches on a bench overlooking grandad’s favourite beach huts and didn’t hear or see anyone for a good hour.
Planning a day trip in the autumn months is always a bit risky because you never know what the weather’s going to be like. But if you have the ability to be a bit spontaneous, I’d thoroughly recommend a beach trip during the week!
How to get to Walton-on-the-Naze:
Head over to Liverpool Street and then you’ll take the train to Thorpe-le-Soken. You could stay and have a look around here, or hop onto another train for a short 15-minute journey into Walton.