Looking back 2019: a year full of highlights!

As we ride through the green rice fields of Sri Lanka, the realization suddenly comes in: the year 2019 is almost done! And what a year it has been. A year full of highlights! Sometimes it is hard to realize and comprehensive all these wonderful things which have happened the last twelve months. Hereby a review of the year 2019.

My ten highlights of 2019

There are so many more highlights, but because I love lists (and also round numbers), hereby my ten highlights of 2019.

1. I said ‘of course’ when Ries popped the ‘big’ questions and that’s how we got engaged in Finnish Lapland!

In the middle of the snow and in the presence of our good friends Thomas and Christine, Ries got on his knee and asked if I wanted to marry him after almost ten years of love and more than eleven years of friendship. Definitely one of the best moments of my life!

We are currently making the initial preparations and it seems that in 2021 we can actually say ‘yes’ to each other. Or ‘off course’ because apparently that’s also an officially valid agreement!

Read our engagement story and the part where I was afraid of walking on a frozen lake! Proposal

2. We resigned and started the journey of a lifetime!

Both a good job, good salary and good future prospects. And we all threw it overboard without doubting a second by giving up our jobs. After our first world trip, it continued to itch. And so we decided to go for it and travel again for a longer period of time. This time in a completely different way: without a fixed schedule and return ticket!

No, we didn’t regret this decision for a second. From East Africa, we travelled to Turkey and then Asia. And there are so many more beautiful places we will visit in 2020. Sometimes I pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming! Is this really our life?Coconut Three Hill JT

3. Together with my brother, I visited Naples

Certainly a highlight: drinking one of his first legal Aperol Spritz in Naples with my ‘little’ brother. My younger brother Maurits is nine years younger than me and turned eighteen at the start of 2019. And to celebrate that, we went together to Naples for a weekend, a place he had wanted to go to for a long time.

Morning coffee with chocolate croissants, Pompeii in the afternoon and pizza in the evening! A great weekend that I will not forget soon!

Are you going to Naples soon? Then take a look at my Naples travel guide!

4. Whale watching in Madagascar

Our main reason to visit Madagascar: to spot whales. After a hellish boat trip where we almost sank and Ries couldn’t eat a single meal, we arrived on Île Sainte-Marie. This island is a true paradise and from here you can best spot the whales.

The next day we hopped on a boat again, this time with plenty of motion sickness pills. And yes, less than fifteen minutes en route and the beautiful mammals showed themselves. They jumped out of the water, played with each other, were asleep and sprayed up water. We were so lucky since the chances of seeing a whale jump out of the water are very small: an experience to never forget!

Read here how you can spot whales in an animal-friendly and responsible way!Whales ile sainte Marie

5. I went on my very first safari ever!

Kenya: the land of wildlife and national parks! And for me the country where I went on my first safari, in the Masai Mara. We saw lions, elephants, wildebeests (which I really didn’t know beforehand), cheetahs, giraffes and so much more. I was sold, how cool this was! And so we went on more safaris, including looking for chimpanzees in Rwanda and mountain gorillas in Uganda. Soon a safari will follow on Borneo where we hope to see wild orangutans with Sticky Rice Travels. So fingers crossed to spot them too!

Game drive Maasai Mara Budget

6. We witnessed and celebrated the love of  our friends

A classic wedding on the Seine overlooking the Eiffel Tower of our dear friends Jeremey and Lester, a pleasant weekend in the Belgian Ardennes where Ries had the honour the be the best-man of Thomas, and a sun-drenched wedding on the magical Turkish coast of Axel and Gokce. We celebrated love with good friends in three special places, which we are very grateful for. Thanks to these beautiful and unique weddings of our dear friends, we are full of inspiration for our own big day coming up.Paris

7. I walked on one of the highest mountain passes in the world

On top of the world: that’s how I felt when we climbed the Thorong La Pass! After nine days of hiking, sleeping in tea houses and eating a lot of Dahl Bhat, we conquered the world highest mountain pass: at 5416 meters in Nepal. Tears filled my eyes and for a moment I did not feel the height, cold and tiredness. I was only proud. Very proud of Ries and myself and of all the other people around us who had just reached the Thorong La Pass. One of the highest accessible mountains passes in the world and we just climbed it! A detailed description of our two-week hike in the Annapurna Circuit will follow soon.Annapurna Circuit Thorong La Pass

8. Sleeping in the coolest hotels at unique locations

Travelling for a year means sleeping at many different accommodations: from luxury lodges with beautiful swimming pools to basic tents with a view of the rainforest and from resorts with infinity pools to cottages from where we saw the Northern Lights. Hereby, my 10 favourite accommodations of last year:

Finnish Lapland: Sleeping under the northern lights in lodge Giellajohka
Madagascar: admire the beautiful interior of Bakuba Lodge
Kenya: feeling at home in Jua House with their lovely staff
Scotland: Cairngorms National Park in a Spaceships campervan
Uganda: wild camping in the Murchison Falls National Park
Rwanda: camping in the Nyungwe National Park
Turkey: the beautiful beach resort of Akra in Antalya
Nepal: sleeping in the coloured houses of teahouse Alpine Home at a height of 3500 meters
Sri Lanka: Idyll homestay while overlooking the mountain valley of Ella
Madagascar: sleeping in the luxury resort of Villa Sakina on Nosy Be


9. We met a lot of nice people from all over the world!

When being on the road you meet very interesting and kind people. During our travels, we always meet nice people whom we join in travelling. We met lovely Canadians in a taxi in Kenya and in a train ride through Sri Lanka. We came across Belgians in Madagascar and in a small tea house in Nepal. And of course, we shouldn’t forget about the friendly smiling locals who make us feel very welcome wherever we are.

So many new friends!  Also special are the moments when we travel together with our friends from home. Cause friends and family are the ones you miss the most being far away for a while.

Yes, the saying is true: It is not about the places you visit who make the locations special, it is about the people you meet there who make destinations unforgettable and special. It’s all about the memories you make together.

10. Charlotte Plans a Trip is growing considerably!

And finally, it is really very satisfying to see how our site continues to grow. Every month we have more readers and we see the regular readers keep coming back. This means our hard work of keeping up and sharing our experiences on our blog, pays off:) Such a compliment, thank you for following us! We will certainly continue to write blogs and keep on travelling.

In the past year we regularly received emails, Instagram messages and responses from readers with questions, travel tips and advice and thanks to your notes. These kinds of messages are super motivating and actually much more fun than “growing numbers” because that’s how we hear from you personally! So if you have a question, comment or information that you want to give away, please send us a message! Thank you once again, without you we couldn’t keep continuing our current lifestyle.


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