Jaillan Yehia

My Winter 2019 Long Haul Holiday Wishlist

Written by Jaillan Yehia

Post Categories: Africa | Americas | Asia | Continents | Egypt | Europe | Iceland | Mexico | Opinion | Sri Lanka

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Banyan Tree Mayakoba Beach

The beach at the Banyan Tree Mayakoba, Mexico

I started planning travels with a mind map instead of a list about 2 years ago.

It’s not just travel I plan this way now, it’s everything.

From blog-related tasks to personal and financial to-do lists they’re all on a mind map above my desk, to keep me focused on what I want to achieve amid the endless distractions of life.

Before using mind maps I would have struggled to narrow down my long haul holiday wishlist to a realistic number like 5. That’s because like all true travel fans I want to go everywhere, all the time.

I was constantly tempted by the myriad of ideas, places and deals that are flying around the internet in front of my eyes and I really struggled to focus on what my travel priorities were.

Fixing UGG Boots

I love travel, so it can be hard to stay focused!

I feel like holiday wishlists or bucket lists are always being referenced  – but is it just me or do you find that you go into each year wanting to see lots of different destinations and catch up with various friend and family overseas then reach the end of the year and somehow find you’ve done none of it?

Since switching to mind maps and having very clear priorities about which trips are next on my list, I feel so much more in charge of my travel planning, and the longer I’ve been working with mind maps, the better they work.

Importantly I try to put trips to see my parents (who both live far away in different places) on the maps and give them equal weight (ok very close to equal weight) with the more exciting long haul holidays, otherwise I tend to put off travelling to see my family, which is not cool and I end up missing them.

I try to make time to visit Denmark to see my family at least once a year

I make a new map every 6 months or so  – once most stuff is crossed off the old one.

I do this by cross-hatching the box with the task or trip in it, in green pen to signify that it’s now done, and when the paper is almost all green I know it’s time to make a new one! It’s incredibly geeky and I LOVE it.

So, what’s on my mind map for long haul travel in the next 6 months?

Well, I’ve got quite a few trips on my long haul holiday wishlist that have been up there on my mind map for a while…

1.Wellness Retreats in Sri Lanka

buddha Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a good place to find your zen

This has been on the mind map for nearly the whole year, so I’m excited it’s definitely happening.

I went to a press conference about Sri Lanka in 2017 and even though I’ve been to the teardrop-shaped island at the foot of India previously, I found out a lot of new information about the kind of travel you can do in the old Ceylon – including wellness retreats.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s beaches aren’t bad either

I was the victim of a car accident about 2 months before this press conference, and the idea started to take shape in my mind that I could travel to Sri Lanka to focus on my health and wellbeing in a beautiful setting surrounded by jungles and beaches and do yoga and meditation as well as trying Ayurvedic medicine. I decided that if I didn’t make a full recovery within a year I would do it.

I’m now spending all of October 2018 in Sri Lanka.

2. Seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland

Things you should know about Iceland

This picture was taken in Iceland in May – at around 9pm

I’ve put this one on the long haul list because I’ve often found cheap flights to the States via Iceland and am tinkering with the idea of using one of the deals that seem to pop into my inbox all the time and combine a shopping weekend in New York with a few days in Iceland.

I’ve been to Iceland before and absolutely loved it – but previously I deliberately chose the month with the most hours of sunlight to visit: May.

Icelandic Nature

Icelandic nature is pretty awesome

This time I want to do the opposite and go around my birthday in January when I have a good chance of seeing the Northern lights in the dark skies. As a bonus the sales will be on in America so it would be a great time to go from both points of view.

3. Taking a Luxury Safari in Tanzania

Port Lympne

The last safari I did was in England – at Port Lympne.

After you’ve been on safari once, you’ll always be looking for a way to go again, especially if you love animals like I do. But of course after you’ve been on a specific kind of trip you’re usually ok to leave it a little while before booking the next one, and are happy to turn your attention to a different kind of travel.

Well I haven’t been on safari in 5 years now, and I am desperate to see some more animals in the wild which is why going to Tanzania on a safari holiday is creeping closer to the top of my long haul holiday wishlist.

I realised last year that the desire to go on safari again was steadily building, so I made sure to set up some meetings with some African holiday companies, and when looking through brochures I was really taken with how exciting Tanzania looked as a safari destination.

From views of Kilimanjaro to the Ngorongoro Crater the place names in Tanzania conjure up a kind of excitement that can’t be matched, and the less-visited south of the country really appeals to me as I don’t like crowds or being surrounded by other tourists.

Importantly Tanzania is a year-round destination (save March-May when the rains are too heavy) and January-February, outside of school holiday dates is a good shout as it’s low season and therefore quieter and cheaper and you’re more likely to see baby animals.

4. Going on a Nile Cruise in Egypt

River cruises - Egypt

Me, by the Nile

I always preface anything I say about Egypt by clarifying that I’m half-Egyptian  – so I am completely biased as to how brilliant a destination Egypt is.

Egyptian tourism really does struggle to catch a break, and the country is often in the news for the wrong reasons. Having visited last in 2017, I found that the welcome was even warmer than I remembered as people were so happy that British travellers were coming back.


I’ve been on boats in Egypt, just not on the Nile

I’ve spent most of my time in Egypt either in Cairo where I have family, or in the beach resorts like Sharm and Hurghada, but one thing I have never done and always wanted to is a Nile Cruise.

Last year I found an insanely good deal for 2 weeks in Egypt, All Inclusive, with 1 week on a Nile cruise, the other in a beachfront hotel for a staggering £499 including flights. I wasn’t in a position to book at the time and I have regretted it ever since, so onto the mind map it went.

5. Booking a Fly & flop Beach Holiday in Mexico


And finally, along with all these different places to go, things to do, I also want to just mooch around a long haul beach resort and eat tacos and drink margaritas.

Last time I went to Mexico on holiday I had a great time, and my only regret was that I didn’t have enough time to just kick back and do nothing.

So I’ve been keeping my eye on package holidays to Mexico and now that I know the difference between resorts on the Mayan Riviera I would find it pretty easy to pick out the holiday that is right for me. Before going to Mexico I found the whole Cancun vs Playa del Carmen vs Tulum thing a bit confusing, and don’t get me started on understanding where the Yucatan ends and the Mayan Riviera begins!

After you’ve been somewhere once and ‘done’ all the major cultural attractions, it’s a lot easier to go back a second time and just chill, without feeling guilty.

Which Mexican Resort Is Right For You?

So, that’s what I have on my long haul holiday wishlist for the next few months – but it’s not all the travel I have planned, not by a long chalk! I’ve also posted about my Autumn/Winter travel plans including Christmas markets and city breaks – and like all good travel obsessives, I’m sure I’ll add more to the list.

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