My Travel Highlights from 2019 – Sun, Ski & Staycations

my travel highlights of 2019

15 trips, 200 blog posts and 1000’s of social media posts – I’ve been busy, but I wouldn’t want it any other way! I love discovering new destinations at home and abroad, and this year I enjoyed my fair share of both. From the Munster Vales to the Maldives, here are my travel highlights from 2019 – I hope they will give you some travel inspiration for 2020.

 

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Travel Highlights – Dubai and Maldives:

I have so many travel highlights from 2019 but the Maldives has to be the stand out destination for me. I wanted to visit the Maldives since I saw it on a travel brochure almost 30 years ago. I finally got there this year, and was fortunate to be able to bring my family too. It was the most expensive trip I have ever paid for, but it was worth every penny! Watching the sunset from our over water bungalow, and swimming with whale sharks (well swimming is probably over stating it a little) are just some of the highlights . The Maldives is my definition of paradise and I can’t wait to go back.  

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Read More: Our Magical Stay in Centara Grand Maldives
 

 


 
We stopped in Dubai on our way to the Maldives and its a great way to break the journey. I had been to Dubai before but this was the first time visiting with my children. There is so much for children to do in Dubai, it is a great family destination. We had a blast in Atlantis, went to the top of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, but the desert safari was my favourite activity in Dubai.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Read More: Top tips for a family holiday in Dubai

Read More: The best family activities in Dubai
 

 

 

Travel Highlights – Greece:

I also scratched another destination off my bucket list this year – Sani Resort in Thessaloniki, Greece. A big thanks to Best4Travel who invited me along with their staff to see all the Sani hotels. They really lived up to the hype and I strongly believe that if you can afford it, it is the best family resort in Europe. The cocktails in Bousoulas Beach Bar are pretty impressive too!

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Read More: My ultimate guide to Sani Resort 
 

 

 
We went to Crete for our family holiday this summer. I am a big fan of Greece but had never been to Chania before. With direct flights from Dublin airport, it is great value, even when you opt for a great five-star hotel. We stayed in Anemos Resort and loved it. The harbour towns of Rethymno and Chania are packed with great bars and restaurants and the nearby village of Georgioupolis has an idyllic church.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Cruise highlights:

I was fortunate to be invited on two cruise ship launches this year – MSC Bellissima and Norwegian Encore. MSC Bellissima has the promenade of dreams with an 80 meter dome overhead that changes images like a TV screen. Depending on the mood MSC Bellissima is trying to create, it can transmit sunrises, starry skies, or even live sporting events. Cirque du Soleil is also another highlight, and the choice of dining options and kids facilities are superb.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Read More: My review of MSC Bellissima
 

 

 
I was delighted to be asked by Sunway to join them on Norwegian Encore’s inaugural sailing – it was my first time to cruise with Norwegian. I was really impressed with the food, the quality and choice was excellent in the complimentary restaurants, even in the buffet – which I normally avoid at all costs when travelling! I am proud to say I was first person to ride the go-kart on Norwegian Encore! Yes I know it may seem hard to believe, but there is a 1,150 feet long go-kart track that sprawls over two decks and extends up to 13 feet over the side of the ship! The facilities for teens are superb on Encore, with the largest and most impressive virtual reality room I have ever seen.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Read More: My review of Norwegian Encore
 

 

 

City breaks:

I managed to visit two European cities this year, Toulouse in France and Palma in Majorca. Although I was on a press trip, I had lots of time to ramble around the colourful streets of Toulouse alone and loved it. Its ancient centre and amazing food market were my highlights, but I also loved how accessible it is – I think Toulouse is a great choice for food lovers and couples or solo travellers.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Read More: My Toulouse travel blog
 

 

 
I had the pleasure of visiting Palma with Google. I was asked to showcase the benefits of using Google Translate, Google Lens and Google Maps when travelling. We were brought to Valdemossa and Soller, two of Majorca’s most beautiful towns, as well as enjoying time to explore Palma. It was a super trip and I loved exploring parts of Majorca that I had never seen before.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Read More: 15 Travel apps that make travelling easy
 

 

 

Staycations:

I enjoyed some fabulous holidays in Ireland this year. We were so lucky to be invited to Center Parcs for the opening in July and for their Winter Wonderland experience recently. I knew the kids would love Center Parcs, but I was really surprised at how much Cormac and I did too – it really is, as their slogan says, Epic Family Time. We loved the outdoor activities during the summer time, but the Christmas experience was magical too. If you haven’t had the chance to visit yet, put it on your list!

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Read more: The ultimate guide to Center Parcs Longford Forest

Read more: How to save money at Center Parcs Longford Forest

Read more: Tips for visiting Winter Wonderland at Center Parcs 
 

 


 
Our trip around the Munster Vales was another surprise for me. I had been passing by attractions like Mitchelstown Cave and Cahir Castle for years, and never visited them until recently. We loved our stay in Nire Valley eco-camp, but the highlight for me was cycling along the Waterford Greenway – it was a terrific family experience in Waterford.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Read more: Top Things to do in the Munster Vales
 

 

 

Skiing

I love skiing and ideally would like to ski every year. It doesn’t always happen, but this year I was delighted to be invited to Söll, Austria with 2FM and the Austrian Tourist Board. I loved it so much that I booked a trip to fly out after Christmas with my family. It is the first time to bring my children skiing, so I hope they love it as much as I do. One of my highlights from the trip was when I paraglided off the top of Hohe Salve, the highest mountain in the Ski Welt region. I am delighted to see that I am getting more adventurous the more I travel, and I can’t wait to go back to Soll for New Year. 

 

Read More: Skiing in Söll, all you need to know and why you should go.
 

 

 
A massive thanks to everyone for reading my blog posts and for all the follows, likes, comments and shares – I really appreciate it. I know I wouldn’t have these opportunities if you were not supporting me on my journey. With trips planned to Austria, Portugal and Las Vegas already, I’m hoping 2020 will be full of more great travel experiences.

I hope my favourite travel highlights from 2019 will help inspire your next adventure too!
 

Keep travelling!

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert