For around 18 years, this time of year has been spent either in the mountains, or counting down my days until I would be in the mountains again.
I saved all my work holidays to be able to spend weeks and weeks in the snow, took time out between jobs to spend time in Morzine, was lucky enough to work in the snowboard industry for 10 years, spent 3 weeks shredding in Japan, and got jobs in Canada and New Zealand, just to scratch that continuous itch of needing the snow.
I didn’t say all of that to “show off”, more to show how addicted I was to chasing winter, no matter what. Amazing friends, awesome experiences and some of the most incredible memories.
Motherhood may have reset my focus, but I do cherish those weeks I’ve managed to share in the mountains with my little lady.
However, this year is different – surgery on my ankle in January has meant getting up the stairs is a challenge, let alone up a mountain!
So, while I’m sitting here with my foot in a cast, living the dream through friends’ Instagram stories out in the snow or through Facebook Memories, I thought I’d join in the Alikats Bucket List Challenge while planning our next adventures.
1. Tokyo, Japan
Japan has always mesmerised me, and after visiting as a child, then spending 3 weeks there in my 20s, I dream of heading back and taking Lily with me.
It is an all-round sensory experience, with incredible culture and traditions running parallel with super advanced technology.
I want to jump on the bullet train again, hop on a bus from Tokyo to explore the countryside, and roam the streets or Harajuku, with Lily in tow. I want to share this whole experience with her, let her senses be immersed in all the new scents, sounds and sights while we both enjoy such an immense city.
2. Hokkaido, Japan
So, while we are up that way, it would be rude not to jump on a flight back up to Hokkaido, and swim through the deepest, softest powder snow known to man. Their mystical trees provide a snowboarding paradise where you can feel the spirits as you watch the sun set through the branches. No queues, no people, just you and the powder.
And maybe a random samurai platypus to greet you at the bigger resorts too!
I’d also like to discover some Japanese snow monkeys as they bubble away in their own mountain hot springs, warm up with some fresh ramen, and maybe even giggle at their futuristic “cleansing” options on their toilets again 🙂
3. Queenstown & South Island, New Zealand
I left my heart in Queenstown and so need to go back and find it!
Such a stunning country and an incredible place to hire a campervan and road trip across the island to crystal lakes, watch the sunrise across the Maoraki boulders, and enjoy all the thrilling activities in the mountains all year round.
Queenstown itself is perfect for families, with so much to do, and so much to discover. You can drink coffee on the beach, take in the views of the Remarkables, snowboard in the winter, mountain bike in the summer, hire a kayak, camp out in Middle Earth, or throw yourself off a bungee-bridge.
Take me back to feel the adrenaline and bliss of Queenstown every day!
4. Banff, Canada
I spent 6 months here when I was 18 and feel like there’s so much more I could explore now I’m “older” and less prone to wasting days with a hangover!
Banff is such a beautiful place with unparalleled views, emerald lakes, and some of the most exciting mountain activities all year round – snowboarding, paragliding, ice-hockey on frozen lakes, woodland hikes, camping, biking and more.
Such friendly people, delicious food, and a perfect place to just blend into mountain life.
5. Easter Island
For no particular reason, I’ve had a lifetime ambition to head to Easter Island and see the giant Moai statues. I even had a very scaled version of one in my fish tank for years – hopefully not the nearest I’ll get to a real one!
6. Santa in Lapland (Finland)
Christmas means so much to me – I love everything to do with the festive season, and although I’m not one to have my tree up in October, I wish it was possible to bottle up that pure feeling of festive magic.
So, while my daughter still “believes”, it would be incredible to take her (and my inner child!!) to visit the big man himself in his Lapland grotto.
The snow, the reindeer, the twinkling lights, making even the most skeptical person feel those festive tingles down their spine… and maybe a cheeky shred while we’re there!
7. Glass igloos / Northern Lights, Finland.
Perhaps linked to point 7, one of my ultimate bucket list trips has always been to sleep under the stars and see the Northern Lights. I’d like to ride on sleighs across endless frozen lakes, towed by Huskies, before cosying up in a glass igloo and witnessing the spectacular Northern Lights from my bed.
8. Aspen, USA
Is it wrong that watching Dumb and Dumber on repeat as a child has made me want to visit “a little place called Aspen”? Yes, it probably costs more than my year’s salary, but we can all dream, right?!
A little more realistic than most of the others on the list, but my inner-geek has always wanted to visit Pompeii. I studied ancient history at uni, my dissertation was in ancient Greek and Egyptian medicine, and I was obsessed with ancient architecture, so the historian in me would be fascinated by travels around Pompeii.
10. Alternative camping
I hope this counts, but rather than a destination, I’ve a separate bucket list of camping options to work my way through.
With school tying us down to holidays, Lily and I love heading off on weekends to remote farms and wooden pods I find on airbnb – a cheeky weekend escape from reality before we are back to work/school – and so much cheaper than hotels.
I’ve already booked an eco tin shed for us to stay in this spring, but I’ve a hit list of treehouses, shepherd’s huts, wooden igloos and yurts to work my way through across England.
Find out more about our ideas for camping and glamping adventures here!
Find out more about taking your kids to the mountains here…