What is it about January that makes feet itch? I was fortunate enough to travel quite a bit last year; six countries, five of them new. That satiated me for a while.

But when the days are short and the nights are cold, it’s easy to start dreaming about travel again.

It’s somewhat of a cliché. People book holidays in January. That’s why the airlines have sales. It feels basic to go through the same cycles as every other office worker in the UK and beyond. December: get excited for Christmas and New Year, put on weight. January: go to the gym, restrict your food and alcohol intake, book holidays. Part of that is that we have a whole new year of holiday allowance at our fingertips, and part of that is just plain old January misery.

I’ve already booked a couple of holidays for this year. I’m visiting a friend who lives in Bahrain in March. This is exciting because I’ve not been before, and it’s also not a well-known destination. I’ve been to the UAE as I’ve visited Dubai twice; once with work and once, again, to stay with a friend. I enjoyed it a lot, although I wouldn’t live there. I imagine Bahrain will be a similar sort of vibe but on a smaller scale. Ex-pat friendly bars and restaurants and sunshine. Have you been before? Do you have any tips? I’ve heard there might be some marine life around the tiny island, which would be right down my street.

Secondly, I’m staying at a friend’s family villa in Alicante, Spain. I went once before with a bunch of university friends and we had an amazing time lounging by the pool, using the barbeque and meandering down to the small town for paella or a few drinks in a small bar. This time we’re older and fewer, but I’m really looking forward to warm skin and submerging in the cool pool water.

Besides these trips, I’m planning a longer holiday. My boyfriend and I are keen to go further afield for two full weeks. Which is the longest amount of time either of us can take off while in full time jobs. Currently, New Zealand or Japan are top of our shared list. I’ve not been to either before. Which we choose is somewhat dependent on budget. Another January cliché that is depressingly accurate is that everyone is poor due to the holidays and not having been paid for an aeon.

Naturally I’d be incredibly happy with Japan or New Zealand, or anywhere else for that matter. An adventure is an adventure as far as I’m concerned. However, these are our reasons for shortlisting these two countries:

I am somewhat of an Asia-phile, so the idea of going to a new country in that region is always going to excite me. Japan appears to have a very diverse, beautiful landscape and a unique culture. Attractive to me are the various animal experiences I’ve heard of, such as rabbit island, cat island, a historical monument surrounded by resident tame deer, and of course the macaques who use the hot springs. I’ve not looked into the geographies of all these attractions, and I’m sure we wouldn’t be able to see everything in one trip, but it certainly seems like there’s a lot to see and do.

Japan

New Zealand is a very different place, but similarly its landscape is one of its major draws. Rugged coastlines and mountains paired with all the accompanying outdoor activities make it particularly attractive to us. We would look to hire out a camper van and drive around, do a sky dive and – most importantly for me – look for whales and dolphins. The cost of the flights is the major obstacle in this case. But is it worth it?

What do you think? Have you been to New Zealand or Japan? Which would you choose and do you have any recommendations for us? I’d love to hear from you.

Here’s to spring!

 

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