Road trip to the Grand Canyon

Top Travel Moments of 2016 and Plans for 2017

By my standards, 2016 was not a busy year of travel.  Mr Ayla would say differently because his travel expectations are not quite as high as mine but when we only visit four different countries in one year, well, that’s just a little bit too quiet for my liking.  (I know I may sound completely greedy and unappreciative here but when your passion is travel, there is never enough of it that you can fit into one lifetime let alone one year!)

That’s not saying that I would change 2016 for anything though.  Falling pregnant in June may have scuppered some of the travel plans we had for the last six months of the year but I wouldn’t change anything about it for all the travel in the world and we still had some amazing adventures.

Top Travel Moments of 2016

Top travels of 2016

An American adventure

Our biggest and best travels of 2016 was a surprise birthday trip to the USA for Mr Ayla’s 30th.  The USA was not somewhere that I was ever particularly excited about visiting (this was, after all, Alex’s dream holiday, not mine) but there were so many moments from this trip that I simply couldn’t forget that it has ended up being one of my favourite ever trips.

There were so many highlights on this trip for both of us, just a few of which were unexpectedly loving Las Vegas, driving along quirky Route 66, watching the sun rise over the Grand Canyon, eating our weight in brunch in San Francisco, camping in Yosemite National Park in our exceedingly bright campervan and roadtripping along California’s Pacific Coast Highway, one of the most stunningly gorgeous coastlines I have ever seen.

Reasons to love Las Vegas

Fun in Las Vegas

Road trip to the Grand Canyon

Standing on the top of the Grand Canyon

Camping in Yosemite

Exploring Yosemite National Park

Spring in Amsterdam

Another highlight of the year was eating ALL the waffles and pancakes in Amsterdam (and I really do mean all) while strolling along the beautiful canals decked out with colourful tulips in spring time.  We also visited Anne Frank’s House – I’m not really a fan of museums but this is one of the most interesting museums we’ve been to.

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You couldn't get any prettier, Amsterdam 🌺

A post shared by Ayla & Evie ♡ (@mama_aylas_adventures) on



Our anniversary weekend took us to the lovely city of Copenhagen which I would go back to in a heartbeat and has definitely peaked my interest in seeing more of Scandinavia.


Then some down time along the Turkish Coast came at just the right time at the beginning of my pregnancy when I was in desperate need of some relaxation.  Lying in the sunshine, food and (non-alcoholic) drinks on tap and daily naps and massages made this another highlight of the year.

top travels from 2016


We also managed several staycations a bit closer to home in Brighton, Winchester and the cute little village of Rye, as getting to explore more of our own country is always something I love doing.

A weekend in Brighton

Travel Plans for 2017

Apart from the main glaringly obvious plan of having a baby some time in next three months, we still hope to travel as much as we can this year and of course I plan on making the most of my maternity leave.  As soon as Little Miss Ayla is here and she’s all good and healthy, I’ll be sending off for her first passport and getting her straight on the path to being as much of a travel addict as I am.  With two travel addict girls on his hands, Mr Ayla is going to have a lot to contend with!


I’ve only ever really considered visiting the UAE as a stopover for a couple of days enroute to somewhere else but I’ve heard so many great things about it being such a baby and kid friendly destination that I had to include it in my list of places to visit this year with bubba in tow.  While it’s classed as a long haul destination from the UK it still isn’t too far to go, so both Dubai and Abu Dhabi are calling my name.

I’ll be turning 30 at the end of this month (excuse me one moment while I just go cry in the corner) but as I can’t exactly be flying to some exotic location when I’m the size of a whale and about to pop means that any big birthday celebrations will have to be put on hold for a while.

Seeing as my birthday present to Mr Ayla for his 30th was our great American adventure, he was planning on treating me to something similar for my birthday – because it’s only fair right?  So he’s kindly told me that a trip to the UAE will be his birthday present to me – but of course I will still be the one planning the trip because that is ALWAYS my job (and I love it) – and I am already so excited to have some travels to look forward to after Little Miss Ayla arrives.

Source: Flight Center

Heading back to Gibraltar

Being the place we got married and having family living here, we try to visit Gibraltar as often as we can so for one of baby’s first holidays, Gibraltar is a definite for us in 2017 (plus we’ll have all my family there to help out with any babysitting duties!).  Even though she won’t really understand at such a young age, I can’t wait to show our little girl where we got married and take her to somewhere I have considered as my second home since I was little.

2017 travel plans

A RELAXING beach break

I’m not sure quite how relaxing a break with a baby can be but a sunny beach destination sounds like the ideal place to go to at least try to relax.  I’m thinking somewhere like the Algarve in Portugal, the Balearic Islands or the South of France which are all short plane rides away but all with gorgeous coastlines.

Source: On the Beach

European Christmas Markets

I know Christmas 2016 is only just over (although the ridiculous amounts of chocolates we still have left seem to disagree) but I like to plan ahead!  I always hope to visit a new Christmas market and 2017 will be no exception.  Whether it’s the wintery wonderland of Vienna or one of the popular German markets, just a weekend in one of these festive locations sounds magical.

Source: Travelzoo

What are your travel plans for 2017?  Do you have any tips or recommendations for any of our planned trips?  Or any other suggestions for destinations to travel to with a baby in tow?  Let me know in the comments below or at:

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58 thoughts on “Top Travel Moments of 2016 and Plans for 2017

  1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) says:

    I’ve loved seeing your USA road trip blog posts Ayla – actually hoping there will be more coming! Abu Dhabi is such an easy place to visit and the hotels are really luxurious and well priced BUT I would say definitely try and avoid going in UK spring or summer months as it can be roasting to the point of unpleasant. We went in May and it was so hot that we only survived 25 mins when ww tried to walk outdoors and the pool was so warm from the sun that you couldn’t really swim in it to cool down! But amazing & convenient place to escape during the cooler months of the year!

    • Mrs Ayla's Adventures says:

      There may just be some more USA posts coming soon! Oh god no, I wouldn’t put myself through the summer temperatures of the UAE let alone a baby! We’re aiming to go end of October so it will almost be my next birthday by then but at least it will be cooler!

  2. Clare Thomson says:

    Love the sound of your travel plans and very much looking forward to reading about your travels with baby in tow. What adventures she’s going to have!

  3. Sarah says:

    I love the huge range of destinations you’ve visited and experiences you’ve had in 2016 – no doubt a memorable year and 2017 will be too! There are some great travel blogs written by parents with small children in tow.

  4. Rachel ¦¦ A Nesting Nomad says:

    Congratulations! I’d say falling pregnant is one of the better travel stopping scenarios 🙂 Your US trip looks epic and I’m glad you enjoyed it more than you thought you would. It’s often the places we least expect! I’m sure you’ll get out and about with your little one, looking forward to following your travels when you do.

  5. Taylor Hearts Travel says:

    Yay! So pleased to hear that the little one is going to be having some amazing adventures straight away. Family travel is definitely different, but it’s so much fun and rewarding. 2017 is going to be great! Good luck with the last few months of pregnancy 🙂 xx

  6. Upasna | Life On My Plate says:

    Your US trip was so much fun to follow, I’ve only ever been to New York but I loved everything you got up to on the West Coast ! Also, Love that photo of the icecreams.. !

    Looks like you’ve got some great plans ahead for 2017 … all the best, and Happy New Year ! 🙂

    • Mrs Ayla's Adventures says:

      It is a small and pretty quiet place so isn’t for everyone but where I have family who live there I’ve grown up with lots of trips there and love it like a second home. It’s basically a crime-free, friendlier and sunnier UK! 🙂

  7. Jane says:

    Good luck with all your plans for traveling and becoming a mum this year! Your plans sound gorgeous – I’ve wanted to visit the south of France for ages, as well as explore more European beaches and locations!

  8. Nano @ Travel With Nano B. says:

    I know what you mean by saying 4 countries is not enough. We’ve spent a year exploring Japan and got to visit Hong Kong only besides it, and I was a bit disappointed by my stats at the end of the year lol. But it’s important to stay positive and greatful for the experiences we get to have. Being thankful and patient is my biggest resolution for 2017 🙂 You have some really exciting adventures ahead of you this year. I love Dubai, that’s where we got engaged and I have nothing but fond memories of the place. Looking forward to your travel stories to come 🙂 xoxo, nano |

  9. Suzanne Jones says:

    I loved following your road trip last year – so many gorgeous and fun stops along the way. Good to see you gave me home town of Brighton some love! Lots to look forward to this year 🙂

  10. AndysWorldJourneys says:

    SO many reviews! 🙂 it was quite the year 2016 for so many including you! 🙂 Dubai is awesome – I thoroughly recommend the Wild Wadi Water Park. I’m in my forties but if i had a stopover in Dubai I would certainly be returning there to spend a day in the water!

  11. The Jetset Boyz says:

    A long weekend in Vienna the weekend before Christmas has become a Jetset Boyz annual event. Vienna’s prettiest squares transform into magical Christmas markets. The aroma of Christmas baking & hot punch sets the mood in the run-up to Christmas.

    We usually stay at the Hilton Vienna Plaza because it’s so close to the fabulous Christmas market at the Rathaus and about five other markets. Last year there were fourteen different markets – you’re absolutely spoilt for choice and you’ll feel like a kiddy in a sweet shop! So, if you’ve never been to Vienna in December why not make a plan and do it this December?

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