My 2020 Travel Plans and Gluten Free Travel Wish List

Hello and Happy New Year!

My travels in 2019 involved visiting 12 different countries along with a number of breaks in the UK. Of the 12 countries I visited last year, 5 were new destinations to me. These new countries included Bulgaria, Slovenia, (the former Soviet state of) Georgia, Vietnam and Singapore.

The theme of new destinations continues in our plans for 2020 with a big trip planned for the school summer holidays.

One large omission – so far – this year is Italy. Much as I adore visiting Italy (and I love it so much I got married there…) now the twins are increasingly able to navigate more complex travel plans and destinations, I’m keen to explore new and off usual the beaten track destinations for family holidays.

The Weekend Breaks

Bucharest, Romania

Who needs Paris when you can spend your birthday in Bucharest, once known as the Paris of the East?!

I’m looking forward to touring the Palace of Parliament which was the infamous creation of former dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu. This massive – and still unfinished – structure is the second largest administrative building in the world; the largest beingthe Pentagon.

I’m currently researching gluten free eating in Bucharest but have not currently found anything very promising so far. If you’ve visited Bucharest, please do let me know any tips you can share.

Helsinki, Finland

This won’t be my first trip to Helsinki (I’ve been visiting since the ’90s) but it is my first trip to Finland’s capital with the kids.

I’m hoping the weather will be reasonably kind, but if not the kids have snow boots bought for our recent visit to Oslo.

While we’re in Helsinki, top of my list of places to visit is the Amos Rex gallery. I’ve been looking forward to visiting this futuristic-looking art gallery since it opened in 2018.

For a chance to warm up, the Moomin Cafes (there are several in Helsinki) look fun. Not sure what gluten free options they offer for me but I think the kids would enjoy a hot chocolate there.

Tirana, Albania

I visited Tirana back in 2011 (there are some posts on what to do in Tirana here and here. It was a gorgeous sunny bank holiday weekend and the weather was so warm we enjoyed swimming in the hotel’s outdoor pool and wondering around the outdoor cafes in the evenings.

I’m really looking forward to returning to see how Tirana has changed in the last 9 years. I find it incredible that more people don’t visit this country – which is Greece’s next door neighbour – and still to date I only know one other couple who have ventured there.

I’m looking forward to visiting the National Art Gallery of Tirana. I visited on our last trip to Tirana and really enjoyed the collection which includes some fantastic Socialist Realist art works.

The Hague, The Netherlands

A weekend away in The Hague to see my sister who is working there is definitely on the agenda. I’m already looking forward to exploring more cheese shops and perhaps a side trip to Rotterdam.

The Child Free Weekend Escape

This year I visited Tbilisi in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Having spent a large part of my life studying and living in Russia this was a true bucket list trip for me.

This year I’m keen to venture to another ex Soviet state and explore for another long weekend. And again, I’d like to go somewhere that is a bit off the usual tourist radar. Moldova, Belarus, Ukraine, Crimea….not sure where yet but I do love an overnight train journey so perhaps it could be a two centre getaway.

The Big Summer Adventure

Last school summer holiday (as a working mum) nearly broke me. Five weeks of chasing the kids around the house to get them to summer holiday clubs starting earlier than they would school, along with 5 weeks of making packed lunches (which I loathe doing) just so that I could get to work seemed so wrong on so many levels.

This coming summer we plan to do things a bit differently. Not all of the details are sorted yet but we will be in New York in August and I am SO excited. I love NYC and I can’t wait to take my kids to the Big Apple and explore. I’m very much hoping to finally meet fellow long-time gluten free travel blogger Erin while I’m there too.

We are still undecided on what to do for part of this trip. So if you have suggestions on kid friendly (i.e., must have a swimming pool and somewhere to run around/playground) places to travel to (open to any suggestions on that!) after spending time in NYC, I’d be very grateful if you comment below.

The School-Holiday Holidays

Lanzarote

Although my kids have been very lucky to have travelled extensively (for two 6 year olds), if you asked them where their favourite place in the whole world is, they would both immediately scream “LANZAROTE!”. Yep.

We’re returning this year to the same hotel in Lanzarote as last year. They love it for the swimming pools, play areas, kids club, sandy beach, sunshine and food they like to eat. Which is lucky because the gluten free food at this hotel is fantastic.

Singapore

2019 gave me great opportunities to visit some new and exciting countries. Of these, Singapore may have been the biggest surprise of them all.

It turned out that my preconceptions of this southeast Asian island city-state were very wrong. I’d imagined a very pristine city full of tall buildings, akin to spending a holiday in the City of London. I hadn’t bargained for the colours and carpets of orchids everywhere – even in the centre of the baggage carousel in Changi airport!

Our trip over Christmas and new year was definitely not long enough to explore properly and I left feeling that I’d barely scratched the surface of Singapore. We are now in the process of booking a return trip to Singapore.

So many fellow travellers gave me fantastic recommendations for places to visit in Singapore, including Singapore resident and gluten free blogger, Karen. On our next visit I will be checking out Karen’s super helpful recommendations including Tiann’s Bakery and The Butcher’s Wife which are both 100% gluten free. You can find more gluten free Singapore recommendations on Karen’s website.

My Travel Wish List for 2020

Since this is a travel wish list for 2020, I’m going to include a couple of travel wish list destinations that I’ve never visited but am very curious to explore.

Portland, Oregan

Billed in many online travel articles and gluten free travel forums as the US’s most coeliac friendly city, Portland is high on my list of places to visit. It may be where we head to after New York in the summer but we shall see.

Matt over at Wheatless Wanderlust states you can get almost any kind of food and cuisine gluten free in Portland. His comprehensive gluten free guide to Portland certainly describes and shows an amazing assortment of different dishes. Check out his post for some seriously good looking gluten free food and beer at Ground Breaker brewery.

Aside from the food scene in Portland, it looks a great city to explore with quirky shops and plenty of parks and waterfalls nearby. I’ve written before about wanting to visit Portland, Seattle and Vancouver in a previous travel wish list. Maybe 2020 will be the year!

Costa Rica

I’m keen to visit this Central American country to combine some up close adventures with wildlife, volcanoes and cloud forests, along with stunning white sandy beaches.

It also seems a very easy country for a coeliac to visit since the cuisine is predominantly corn based.

Cape Town

Cape Town has been on my travel wish list for so long. Hopefully I’ll make it there soon! The flights are always so ridiculously expensive when we’ve looked at going and then rapidly discounted it due to cost. I’ll definitely be keeping a look out for any good flight sales this year – it looks beautiful and would be easy to do for a week as no jet lag due to there only being a 2 hour time difference with the UK.

A final note on flying frequently

Like many other frequent flyers, I’m concerned about the impact of flying on climate change.

I was interested to see British Airways have recently introduced a carbon offset scheme. BA aim to carbon offset all domestic flights this year (2020) and eventually plan to be net carbon zero by 2050 (althoug2050 seems a long way off).

Having just booked a BA flight, the option to carbon offset your flight now appears as you process the payment for your flight.

I’ve previously looked in to carbon offsetting for my flights and I find it confusing and somewhat opaque. It’s not clear to me precisely how – and how much – of the money donated to carbon offset schemes is used.

Clearly some of the funds donated will go to cover their administration and advertising costs. However, I’m yet to get a clear picture on what happens with the money donated as a carbon offset. I plan to look in to this further in 2020 and will likely share my findings on the blog.

Where are you planning to visit in 2020? Did you discover any fantastic gluten free gems this year on your travels? Please do leave a comment below and share your ideas for travel destinations in 2020 below.

For more travel inspo in the year ahead, check out the other fantastic travel bloggers participating in this #travellinkup by clicking on Emma’s post here.

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