Reflecting on my 2022 Travels

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I  can, without a doubt, mark 2022 down as incredible. I have never pursued with such vigour a delicious sense of freedom, liberation and intentionality, in a year marked by major changes in my life and with seemingly every corner of the globe explored.

I started out 2022 in California with my parents, before returning "home" to a wintery Europe. I came back to Austria as often as I could in between travels but I spent much of this year abroad. I spent my 26th birthday weekend in February in Bratislava, Slovakia, before running away for a three-month stint in Spain, punctured joyfully by visits to Belgium, Portugal, France, Andorra, Gibraltar and even a visit back to the UK, the country of my birth, after far too many years away. I was back home in Salzburg for the summer, delightfully spent in the mountains I had initially moved there for in 2021, with an epic midsummer once-in-a-lifetime holiday to Ecuador and the Galápagos. Then I found myself, as seemingly had been the trend all year, chasing the sun with a two-month trip to Türkiye - mostly spent in Istanbul followed by a holiday running around the country, plus a day trip to a Greek island squeezed in. The greatest year of my life finished off with a bang in Africa as I spent the final two months of the year traipsing across nine incredible countries in the far south, experiencing some of the most challenging, wild, rewarding and eye-opening moments of my life.

This was the year I fell more in love with life. I started weekly therapy (online, because I am never in one place for long enough) to put time, energy and effort into working on myself and through the struggles behind the scenes that I don't often share. I forged deep friendships with people I adore across the globe. I visited twenty-six countries this year (in my 26th year of life!) - the most I have ever seen in a single year. I celebrated my two-year work anniversary in Europe, having been able to keep my fully remote position that I had initially gotten in Belgium and then taken to Austria and also on the road to many other places around the world where I've worked from. I continued to run as much and whenever as possible, running more than 612km (more than double last year!) and hiking in nearly every country I visited, trekking nearly 370 km this year, not to mention the countless walks, bike rides, adult ballet classes and ski days in the Austrian Alps which I got to enjoy.

I continued to share much of my life on YouTube, a place I love to document what traveling is really like behind my perfectly curated Instagram feed. This year, I stepped foot on five continents, took forty-five flights between thirty airports, and stayed in thirteen hostels, eight AirBnbs, twenty-four hotels and ten campsites along the way. While curled up in trains, planes, cars and the many different beds I slept in this year, I read twenty-six beautiful books.

So with that, here's a summary of everywhere I went in 2022, with some of my favourite accompanying blog posts for you to peruse alongside:



I started out the year with my parents in California, after COVID-related border closures meant that I hadn't been able to visit them in the States for two years. It was lovely to get to be home for the holidays, the best place to be at this time of year. At the end of 2021, we did a day trip down to Pinnacles National Park to get out into the beautiful North American nature; otherwise I spent much of the holidays eating yummy vegan holiday food and catching up on my reading and family time.

Bear Gulch Trail, Pinnacles National Park, California

Posts to read from my time there:

2. Austria

January - February

I flew back "home" to Austria after the holidays to get back to my little apartment in Salzburg, dive back into my full-time job, spend as much time as possible on day trips exploring the surrounding countryside and - best of all - finally getting to go skiing again after three years, and my first ski days in Europe! I spent my weekends on the slopes surrounding Salzburg and I was thrilled and proud to be back up on the hills and actually doing a dang good job. Good thing too, since I had schlepped all my ski gear over from California where it had been sitting in boxes for three years...

Just under two months after I returned to Austria, and I had skiied myself through the season, I decided it was time to get back to chasing the sunshine and once again packed up my suitcases and took a one-way flight to a new adventure.

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Posts to read from my time there:

You can also check out all my blog posts and YouTube videos from Austria!

3. Slovakia


Before I jetted off to Spain on my one-way ticket, I had my 26th birthday to celebrate! I decided that it was high time I treated myself. I'm usually such a budget traveler and am always traveling tightly to make my money last as long as possible - mainly visible in my choice of accommodations, either in AirBnbs or dorm rooms in hostels. This year, I was lucky enough to have my actual birthday fall on a Sunday, so I grabbed a train out of Salzburg and crossed the border past Vienna into my thirtieth country of Slovakia - a wonderful achievement to make just in time for my 26th birthday.

I booked a three-night stay at a wonderful little boutique hotel in the heart of Bratislava and spent the weekend exploring the city, which blessed me with sunny blue days, perfect for discovering the quaint streets. I joined a free walking tour as I always do in new cities, to learn a bit about the sometimes tumultuous hustory of Bratislava and of Slovakia, a country that has had its independence for less than a hundred years and is now proudly taking its place in the world.

I celebrated my birthday solo with a cup of thick hot chocolate in the morning, a visit to a beautiful ruined castle in the day, and dinner at a vegan restaurant where the staff gave me a slice of birthday cake in celebration!

jana meerman bratislava (2)
jana meerman bratislava (2)

Posts to read from my time there:

4. Spain

February - March

After having spent three months in Portugal last year, which were some of the happiest months of my life, I decided to continue this trend of taking advantage of the freedom I get with my job being an entirely remote position. I jetted off to Sevilla in mid-February (well, by train from Salzburg to Munich, then a flight to Madrid, then the famous high speed train south to Sevilla) for a five-week stay. The moment I landed, I was greeted with warmth, sun, fresh air and quite possibly one of the most beautiful cities I've ever visited. Sevilla is architecturally stunning, clean, enticing, appealing and just a dreamy place.

I spent my weekdays working, wandering the city in the evenings, taking in the views, joining adult ballet classes, going for long runs by the river and just feeling right. On weekends, I explored as much as I could of the surrounding countryside with trips to some incredible places including the legendary Alhambra palace in Granada, Córdoba's Mosque-Cathedral, the seaside of Cádiz, the Alcazaba of Málaga and the bridge of Ronda. I fell head over heels in love with the dreamy and sultry Sevilla and my time there passed by happily.

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Patio de Banderas, Sevilla

Posts to read from my time there:

You can also check out all my blog posts and YouTube videos from Spain!

5. Gibraltar


On my mission to see every country in the world, while spending time living in southern Spain, I of course had to make the trip down to Gibraltar. Now, you'll argue that Gibraltar is not a country - and you're right - but my list includes both countries and territories, because there are so many cool places out there that are definitely some degree of different from their motherland and so Gibraltar, while technically part of the UK, falls as a separate entity on my list too.

My trip to Gibraltar was just a day trip from Sevilla with a tour company that drove a group of us down to the border with Sevilla, where we crossed the border out of the EU (thanks Brexit!) and met with another tour guide who drove as around the enclave and up The Rock of Gibraltar, visiting the best highlights of this bizarre place that basically feels like any other British town except it's warm and has monkeys.

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The Rock of Gibraltar

Posts to read from my time there:

6. England

March - April

A work trip to London to finally get to hang out with some of my team members and meet them in person for the first time in over a year and a half of working with my organisation was a wonderful chance to get to be back in my country of birth.

Born and raised during my early years in England, I have always considered it one of my (many) homes. I don't really identify as British anymore, given my lack of cultural identity from so many years away, but it will always play a huge part of my life and background as it was the first place that I belonged to. The last time I was back on British soil was for a very quick layover in 2017 on my way to Cyprus, but really, the last time England was the destination was a whopping eight years ago in 2014.

And so, with the work trip as an excuse, I flew in a few days early to spend time catching up with my aunt, uncle and cousin, all of whom I haven't seen in far too many years, and we spent a delightful weekend wandering around Cambridge together, highlighted by a punting trip down the Cambridge river, perhaps the most idyllic of all activities one can do in this university town.

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Punting in Cambridge

Posts to read from my time there:

7. Spain II

April - May

After my time in the UK, I returned gratefully to a sunny and warm Spain, with my next month based out of Valencia, a bit further up the coast from Sevilla. Truthfully, I didn't love Spain's third largest city very much, but did find it a good central location for exploring much of central Spain. I did meet some wonderful people through the AirBnb I stayed at and enjoyed visits to yummy restaurants and weekly Ashtanga classes at the local yoga studio with them.

In fact, it was in Valencia that I realized I was so lonely and in need of proper support that I signed up for therapy through Better Help, an online therapy platform that enables me to meet weekly with a therapist without having to be restricted to a singular phyiscal place.

As ever, I dedicated all my weekends to exploring as much of the surrounding regions as possible, booking train trips on the Spanish Renfe trains to the resort-y seaside town of Alicante and its impressive Castell de la Santa Bàrbara high up on Mount Benacantil; to the litle Xàtiva where the Castelle de Xàtiva dominates the skyline and overlooks the entire region; to Buñol, not to attend it's world famous tomato throwing festival, but rather to go for a long walk through the beautiful waterfalls nearby; and to the darling Peñíscola Castle jutting out into the ocean.

The highlight of this stint in Spain was, however, my Easter long weekend trip down to the glorious Mediterranean islands of Ibiza and Formentera, two of the four Spanish Balearic Islands. Ibiza is notoriously a party island, but in mid-April, when the sun is shining but it's not yet too hot and the spring flowers are in abundance, the island is a much quieter scene, with the summer party-goers yet to descend and instead a more mature and calmer crowd seeking a sun-drenched escape from the mainland inhabit the hotels and hostels. My favourite part of this long weekend was my day trip out to Formentera by ferry where I rented a bike for the day to explore the little island and laze around on the hot sunny beaches.

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Old Town Ibiza

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Posts to read from my time there:

You can also check out all my blog posts and YouTube videos from Spain!

8. Belgium


And then, a work trip came up that required me to be in Brussels. I'd been back to Belgium in November 2021, but that was outside of Brussels. This was the first time I'd be back in the city and going into the company office there since I had moved away in September last year. Perhaps it was fate, or perhaps it was simply irony, but I landed in Brussels on May 8, 2022; my Belgian ex-boyfriend had broken up with me on on May 8, 2021.

It was good to see and work with my colleagues in person, but the trip was tense and wraught with emotion and I felt unease at being back in a city I had once called home but had been emotionally exiled from. On the Thursday of that week, I met up with my ex-boyfriend for what would end up being the last time I ever saw him. I couldn't wait to leave Belgium that Friday afternoon.

jana meerman brussels

9. Spain III

May - June

My final stint in Spain was a month living in Barcelona, a place I had heard so much about and had dreamed of visiting for so long. I adored Barcelona - I could live here one day. I had actually already been in Barcelona for a week before the trip to Brussels, but the bulk of my time here was afterward, and it was a welcome escape and a pleasure to return to this city.

I ate my way through the many vegan places in the city, found a regular running route through the Parc de la Ciutadella, made fast friends with a wonderful group of humans at the hostel I stayed at with whom I even went to a Sunday morning service at Gaudi's famous Sagrada Familia Basilica, and spent many of my working days in cafes with a colleague of mine who lives there.

During my time in Barcelona, as ever, I visited as much as I could of the surrounding area by train, trying to squeeze in as many brilliant places on Spain's southeastern coast, from Tarragona and its ancient architecture, to the iconic basilica up in central Zaragoza, and a trip up the cable car to the mountaintop abbey of Montserrat and the fairytale towns of the Costa Brava region. I was immensely happy here.

As I had seen all I wanted to do in the bottom half of Spain, and with my trip to Formentera and Ibiza over Easter, it made sense for me to end my time in the country with a trip to the other two of the Balearic Islands: Mallorca and Menorca. I took my first holiday from work since October 2021 and spent a joy-filled and very hot ten days wandering across the idyllic Mediterranean islands. On Mallorca, I hiked, swam, met up with yet another colleague of mine (how lucky am I!?), visited tiny towns, snorkeled and took some of my favourite summer photos ever here. I then took the little ferry between the two islands and spent a few days visiting some of the beautiful beaches of the much quieter and untouched Menorca, perhaps some of the most picturesque I've ever seen.

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La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

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Cala Pi, Mallorca

Posts to read from my time there:

You can also check out all my blog posts and YouTube videos from Spain!

10. Andorra


After Mallorca and Menorca, I ventured back to the mainland with a flight to Barcelona before boarding a three-hour bus north into the Pyrenees to Andorra to spend a week hiking these world class mountains. The entire country of Andorra - one of the smallest in the world - is pretty much all mountains and there are plenty of hiking trails to discover within these ranges. A reliable and regular bus systems connects the capital of Andorra la Vella to almost every nearby town in the country where many of the trails begin.

Andorra la Vella itself doesn't have much going for it; it's sadly quite an ugly, industrial town which they really could have done better. But that aside, I feel Andorra is probably Europe's most underrated country thanks to its simply breathtaking landscapes. The whole country is mountains and they are truly wonderful.

I had planned to spend a whole week of holidays here, but a friend of mine messaged me with an idea and knowing me...I couldn't say no. So I spent a few days at the beginning of the week here and returned for a few more days at the end.

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Estany de Juclar Hike



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Posts to read from my time there:

12. Portugal


Although I was planning to spend a week hiking and exploring the tiny little mountainous country of Andorra for a week, a friend invited me to Lisbon for a few days. I had spent three months living in Portugal at the end of last year, including three weeks based out of Lisbon, and loved the city (and the entire country) so much, so was excited to be back so unexpectedly soon. One of the best things we got to do was to explore more of the Sintra coast. I had visited both Sintra and Cascais last year, but really got the opportunity to visit some of the more remote beaches and coastal views - a dream.

It was a total whirlwind of a trip - my favourite kind.

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Praia da Ursa, Sintra

Posts to read from my time there:

13. Austria II

June - July

And then finally, it was home for the summer. Six long weeks stretched before me, the longest I had been home since the beginning of the year. I was still struggling to love Salzburg, and to have it feel like home (a biproduct both of feeling like I was only there because I couldn't be elsewhere, and because I had a tendency to not spend much time there) but it was in these six weeks that that feeling slowly began to shift.

I spent as much time as possible outdoors - I went for long runs by the river, I sat on my balcony overlooking the mountains of southern Germany across the border as much as possible to work and to eat and to read, I worked from little cafes in the city, I went for many long bike rides around the region and of course, I hiked. It was, after all, the mountains of Austria for which I moved to this country in the first place.

In those six weeks, my parents also came across to visit me after they took a trip to the Netherlands, my father's home country, for his 60th birthday. We had all visited Salzburg back in 2001 while living in the UK and so it was a full circle experience to now be living here and to show them around from a completely different perspective. My dad went back to work in the States and my mum stayed two weeks longer, during which time I took her out to the prettiest town in Austria, Hallstatt, and up a mountain near Salzburg. It was that hike which I was waiting for and which made me feel like, even though I still don't spend much time there, when I do, it feels a bit more like home.

I also spent a weekend in Innsbruck, a few hours away from Salzburg by train, to hang out and go hiking with Connor, a friend of mine I'd met once six years ago in Vancouver. What ensued was a wholesome and delightful weekend of sunrise hikes, rainstorms, many cows and hostel dinners.

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Posts to read from my time there:

14. Germany

June & July

Living so close to the German border means trips there are a no-brainer. In mid-June, I rode my bike more than 60km from Salzburg into the Berchtesgaden National Park in southern Germany. The ride was exceptional, all along the Salzach River and then into the mountains of the Bavarian Alps. The Berchtesgaden National Park is perhaps most famously home to the Eagle's Nest used by members of the Nazi Party for meetings. However, it is the exquisite natural landscapes that draw many visitors to this incredible region, home to alpine lakes, hikes, mountain ranges and wonderful views; I am lucky enough to see the mountains of Berchtesgaden from my balcony.

I also went across to Prien am Chiemsee twice, once to visit my mum's brother and his family while my parents were in town, family I haven't seen in ten years, and once to meet up with a friend who I'd met in a hostel in Barcelona. The world is small 🙂

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jana meerman obersee berchtesgaden (7)


Posts to read from my time there:

15. Slovenia


I met one of my closest friends Ela over three years ago working in a hostel in Kaikoura in New Zealand, after which time we traveled together through Indonesia for a month. We had reunited earlier this year in Sevilla in March where we immediately made plans to go hiking together in her home country of Slovenia and one weekend in July we got to make that dream a reality. Slovenia is incredible and, as far as naturally stunning countries go in Europe, is way up there with surreal views and raw beauty to enjoy.

We did an overnight 31km hike on the Seven Lakes Valley trail through Triglav National Park (Triglavski Narodni Park), the country's only national park and one of Europe's oldest. The landscapes on this trail were seriously some of the best I've witnessed - and it was a joy to have my very first overnight hut experience with many baby cows, bowls of Slovenian stew at the hut, nine straight hours of card games with a group of Belgian Boy Scouts, a midsummer hailstorm, the best view from a toilet probably ever, at least 167 mosquito bites and seven glorious lakes to ogle over.

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Seven Lakes Valley Hike, Triglav National Park

Posts to read from my time there:

16. Ecuador

July - August

While my parents were in Salzburg earlier in June, it was my dad's 60th birthday and so on the day of his birthday my mum and I got to surpise him with a trip we'd been planning since the end of last year. Six weeks later, we all landed in Quito after long journeys; them from San Francisco and me from Salzburg, to spend two weeks in Ecuador, my first time in South America.

Quito was bustling - a vibrant, music-filled, modern and delightful city that offers a rich history and busy beautiful streets surrounded on all sides by the Andes Mountains. We spent a few days acclimatising to the high altitudes, wandering the colourful streets and doing a few day tours to the incredible Quilotoa Lake, where we met the alpaca Juanito, and hiking up to the refuge at Cotopaxi Volcano which sits at 16,000 feet, an elevation higher than Mont Blanc!

However, the real purpose of our trip to Ecuador and perhaps the most surreal week of my life ever was our week spent onboard a yacht in the Galápagos. We spent seven nights aboard Coral I and from the moment we landed, the trip felt like a dream. The islands are visited by so few people and in such a regulated manner so as to preserve the nature of one of the world’s greatest natural preserves that getting to actually be there in person was a privilege. We spent our days snorkeling, hiking, spotting the world's greatest wildlife and learning about one of the most diverse and wildly rich places on earth.

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Snorkelling in the Galápagos

Posts to read from my time there:

You can also check out all my YouTube videos from Ecuador here!

17. Austria III

August - September

After Ecuador, I returned to Austria for one more month of summer adventures, spent hiking in the mountains, on bike rides around the city and working from different cute cafes - in one of which I was approached by Sabrina who wanted to draw me. Obviously I was honoured - I feel like this kind of stuff only ever happens in movies. She’s a freelance illustrator, and she wanted to get in some practice in advance of an upcoming fashion event in Salzburg where she’ll be live drawing people. Well, while I sat there working away as she drew me, I had no idea what to expect. The result was this stunning piece. She captured my expression exquisitely, down to my concentrated eyes, my pursed lips. Her vision of me came to life in just twenty minutes. This was a highlight of my year and I am so lucky to now call Sabrina a friend in my little Salzburg.

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Salzburger Almenweg Hike

Posts to read from my time there:

18. Italy


Oh Milano. Can you believe, after all my worldly travels, that I'd never been to Italy!? Yeah. Me neither. I met someone in the Galápagos who is from Milan and decided that it was a good an excuse as any to finally dip my toe in the exquisite country that is Italy and book a very spontaneous trip to visit them and spend a few days revelling in the knowledge that I was finally there. The outcome, unsurprisingly, was that I'm completely obsessed with Italy, even with the five short days in one city that I've experienced so far, and there are many plans coming up that involve this country.

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Posts to read from my time there:

19. Netherlands


From Milan, I took a very special quick trip back to the Netherlands after eight years away to celebrate my cousin marrying the love of her life on the most love-filled, joy-filled day. I am one of twelve cousins on my dad's side (he has a lot of siblings) and this cousin is the closest to me in age so it was a very special wedding to be there for. Even though the entire thing was in Dutch so I didn’t understand a single word, the joy was felt just the same; particularly the Dutch rapping on the dance floor, that was a fav moment!

I had taken the Thursday off work for the wedding, but was back to work on the Friday, and got to meet up with some Netherlands-based colleagues in The Hague to work together - working for an international remote network means I am lucky enough to have colleagues and connections to meet with and work with across the world!

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jana meerman wedding photography floral pastel summer (1)

20. Türkiye


I spent five weeks based in Istanbul, the cosmopolitan and bustling capital city that famously stretches across two continents, the only one in the world to do so. With the western half of the city still in Europe, and across the river, the eastern side in Asia, this city is unique. Perhaps it is the combination of these many different cultures and continents seemingly being flung together in Istanbul that make it so unique. One thing is for certain: I've never been anywhere quite like it. My month there was a mixture of feeling overwhelmed by the sheer vastness of Istanbul and the chaotic streets you need to navigate in order to get around, in combination with the discovery of peaceful little corners where you can sit and watch the world go by.

In the end, I loved Istanbul for all its madness. I flowed right in with the bustle of the city and felt completely at home in the chaos. When people ask me what my favourite part of Istanbul was, my answer is the hostel. It provided a sense of community, belonging, care, friendship and safety in what otherwise might be an overwhelming and chaotic city. I think the hostel and the exceptional friendships it blossomed really made me love this city more.

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Posts to read from my time there:

21. Belgium II


I returned to Brussels for another work trip, this time landing on the very same date one year later that I had moved away from the country to Austria in 2021. What is it with me and coincidental dates to Brussels!? The trip was short but sweet, for training purposes, and a lovely chance to catch up with colleagues based in the Brussels office over pasta, after which I hopped back to Istanbul to continue my time in Türkiye.

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jana meerman brussels (1)

La Cantinetta

22. Türkiye II

September - October

After an intense five weeks in Istanbul, it was so good to be on proper holidays again. While I do have the incredible privilege of getting to travel nearly full time as I work remotely, it's the joy of traveling purely with the intent of seeing the world and documenting my adventures that excites me the most. After the wonderful time I had in Istanbul, I was so ready to uncover more of Türkiye and, along with a colleague and friend of mine, took a ten-day holiday covering the many varied highlights of this totally underrated country.

We flew from Istanbul to Cappadocia to spot the balloons at sunrise and wander through the incredible rock formations of this fairytale landscape, before flying to Antalya on the coast for 24 hours of good food, waterfalls and sunsets over the ocean. Then we took a bus along the Turquoise Coast to Kaş where I hiked the Sleeping Giant, we ate tons of delicious vegan food and we visited probably the prettiest beach in the entire country at Kaputaş Beach. After, we took another bus north along the coast to Selçuk in order to visit the ruins at Ephesus said to rival Rome in power and commerical influence during its heyday. The final stop on our whirlwind tour of the country was to visit the famous pools at Pamukkale which ended up being nothing like we expected (they were better!). We both agreed this was one of the easiest, most affordable, most photogenic and enjoyable trips we've ever taken.

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Kaputaş Beach, Kaş

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Posts to read from my time there:

You can also check out all my blog posts and YouTube videos from Türkiye!

23. Greece


We totally did not plan to have this day out and I certainly did not have Greece on my list of countries to visit in 2022 but we managed to swing our schedule to squeeze the little Greek island of Kastellorizo into our itinerary. It's just off the coast of Türkiye, about a twenty-minute ferry ride from Kaş. When we learned that we could, instead of bussing back to Antalya and flying, take an overnight bus from Kaş to Selçuk, we realized we could have another full day in Kaş which would allow us the opportunity to take the ferry out to the exquisite little island of Kastellorizo for the day! Win win!

Kastellorizo was a true Grecian island paradise. We spent the morning on a tiny boat ride out to a blue hole where we could swim inside the stunningly blue waters before spending the afternoon snoozing on the beach in the sun and having an oceanside lunch at a Greek taverna. Dreamy.

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St George Beach, Kastellorizo

Posts to read from my time there:

24. Austria IV & 25. Belgium III

October - November

I flew home from Istanbul back to Salzburg tired out but happy and buzzing off of the good energy of our fantastic time in Türkiye. I spent less than a week home before one final trip to Brussels for the year in order to onboard a new team member at work, and then one more week at home upon my return before leaving it for the last time this year. Salzburg was rainy and brightly adorned in autumnal colours and it was good to be home even for a few days to do laundry, repack suitcases for warmer weather and sleep in my own bed.

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26. South Africa


A friend of mine asked me in early September if I was up for a three-week trip in Africa, starting in Cape Town and ending in Johannesburg, both in South Africa, and for traveling for two of those weeks in a 4x4 with a roof tent, camping and road-tripping our way through five additional countries. Knowing my adventurous spirit and my inability to say no, I did the natural thing and agreed, booking two weeks off work and arranging this great final 2022 hurrah. I ended up spending much more than just those initial three weeks in Africa, extending my trip for a solo month to squeeze in a few more places and continue to chase my never-ending dream of seeing the world.

So, on a cold November evening in Salzburg, where we both live, we met up at our tiny city airport for a flight across to Istanbul before an eleven-hour flight directly down south to the tip of Africa, landing in Cape Town on a beautiful Saturday morning. In Cape Town, we picked up our rental car, immediately got dinged by the rental company for speeding (44km/h in an unmarked 20km/h zone so we take no blame, thanks) and drove through the city for the afternoon before making our way eastward to Stellenbosch.

From the moment we flew in, Table Mountain became a dominant icon on the skyline, its flat top juxtaposing the vibrant pink sunsets we would enjoy every evening. The equally famous pointed Lion’s Head stood just nearby constantly in our view and one we tackled on an early Tuesday morning for sunrise. The tide came in and out diligently along the city’s long coastline, from which serene beaches offered prime sunset-viewing spots. Vegan cafes and restaurants tucked along every corner, offered a likeminded haven where I felt like I belonged.

We did a quick drive-through the city on the first day we landed, visiting some of the city’s best-known spots. As the days went on, we explored more little corners, based in an AirBnb in the heart of the city and wandered more streets, tried out loads of cafes and hiked challenging and rewarding trails across the city. I was obsessed.

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Signal Hill, Cape Town

Posts to read from my time there:

27. Namibia


After our exceptional week spent in Cape Town, we dropped off our rental car at before spending the night sleeping on benches in Cape Town airport. From there, we took an early morning flight in a tiny airplane up to Windhoek in Namibia where we picked up our rental 4x4 truck with a roof tent and headed into the city, anticipation at an all time high for the adventure we were about to undertake.

We spent a few hours at a cafe in town - and within those first few hours, our car window was forced open and a suitcase stolen from inside. We got the entire thing on security camera footage (the city is full of them) and spent the bulk of our day filing a police report. It was a horribly unsettling feeling to start a trip on and while the suitcase and about a third of the belongings were recovered four days later and delivered to us in Johannesburg, we wanted out of Windhoek and so as soon as we could, we drove out of the city, four hours deep into the Namibian desert where we camped under the stars, trying to feel at peace and whole.

Although I'd love to say that the trip got easier, I want to be honest and say that it was a challenging six days traversing the intense and wild landscapes of Namibia. Having said that - we absolutely loved this trip. It was wild, challenging and eye-opening but it was also rewarding, raw and strengthening. If you've got some solid travel experience under your belt and are looking for an adventure that will push you to the far edges of your comfort zone requiring a large dose of resilience and perserverance to battle through, a roadtrip through Namibia might be just the thing.

During our roadtrip across Namibia, we witnessed extraordinary places, deep in the desert and thousands of years old. The incredible sand dunes of Sossusvlei took our breath away; the majestic spikes of Spitzkoppe rising out of the flat red neverending horizon were awe-inspiring; the rock carvings at Twyfelfontein are the best preserved in southern Africa; and Etosha National Park was supreme and by far our favourite visited on our cross-Africa trip.

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Deadvlei at Sossusvlei

Posts to read from my time there:

28. Botswana


From Namibia, we turned eastward and completed our first African land border crossing into Botswana. During our four days in Botswana, we visited two exceptional game reserves - the revered Okavango Delta, a wet river delta teeming with life, before entering Chobe National Park, home to a huge elephant population (and terrible roads).

We spent four days driving nearly 900km through Botswana, starting at the land border crossing from Namibia at Buitepos and traveling northeast through the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park, before heading east to cross the border at Kazungula into Zimbabwe.

Botswana was an incredible adventure, but we struggled with enjoying it as much as Namibia because truly the roads in Botswana are really horrible. We spent a lot of our time in Botswana focusing on getting safely to our next destination in one piece and perhaps would have opted for drivers to take us on some of the excursions. Thankfully, we scheduled our time really well and didn't have long drives to tackle every day, just short and tough ones, allowing us to spend a lot of down time catching up on rest.

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On the Okavango Delta in a mokoro

Posts to read from my time there:

29. Zimbabwe & 30. Zambia


From Botswana we continued east across the continent, making the long drive from Chobe National Park towards Victoria Falls, a famous spot in northern Zimbabwe and right on the border with Zambia.

I think it was partially due to the relief of being back on safe roads and the fact that my body had been on high-adrenaline fight or flight mode for so many days that within an hour of getting back onto the paved roads, I got quite severly ill. During the border crossing from Botswana to Zimbabwe as we were filling out our paperwork for our visa I temporarily lost my vision with the entire world going completely purple. I spent the next four days quite sick and weak which we reckon was entirely stress-based; it was too soon for malaria and COVID-19 tests came back negative. Given how sick I was feeling during our time in Zimbabwe, we forewent camping and booked ourselves for two nights into a darling little AirBnb in the heart of Victoria Falls to recover and have a warm and safe place to sleep. This was an exceptionally good decision in hindsight given the stories we heard about wild animals wandering the streets of town...!

Victoria Falls is a UNESCO World Heritage Site shared between these two countries. The falls are basically a gigantic sheet of water that stretches nearly 1.7km across the countries on both sides o the Zambezi River. While based on the Zimbabwe side, I walked across the land border into Zambia one afternoon and spent a few hours exploring Victoria Falls on the Zambia side.

After Victoria Falls, we made the 910km drive southward across all of Zimbabwe, stopping to spend the night in Matobo Hills, before crossing the border back into South Africa.

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Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwe side

Posts to read from my time there:

31. South Africa II

November - December

We gratefully re-entered South Africa in late November after our wild roadtrip across southern Africa. After managing the border crossing from Zimbabwe, we headed eastward to Kruger National Park. Like all the national parks we visited across southern Africa, it can be visited with a guide or you can simply self-drive through the park, stopping whenever and wherever you may choose. We entered Kruger at the Pafuri Gate in the far north and spent three days / two nights driving south through the park.

Whilst Kruger was certainly the most developed and best maintained national park we visited, we found the paved roads, while easy to drive, actually to be a detriment to animal viewing as the animals all avoided the areas or ran away as we approached in our car. We looked up the best bush routes to drive through the park, getting off the paved roads and back onto the gravel and, while they were bumpier to drive, that’s where the animals came out in full force. Not only did we witness hundreds of wild animals, but we also watched eighteen giraffe all coupled up on a massive open plain before coming across all of the big predators: three buffalo, two lions and a cheetah. These animals are completely wild and we have zero say so on what they do or where they go, so every single sighting is a rare and lucky chance and somehow our stars aligned and we got them all. Feeling utterly privileged for moments like this.

We left behind Kruger and looked towards the final few days of our cross-African roadtrip with anticipation. Our final stop in South Africa was to drive the revered Panorama Route, a 160km loop near Graskop connecting mountain passes, waterfalls, hikes, viewpoints and other incredible natural formations of the region. One of our favourite moments of the entire roadtrip was the hike down to the base of the exquisite Lisbon Falls.

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Elephant spotting in Kruger National Park

Posts to read from my time there:

32. Eswatini


Our final hurrah of our big cross-African roadtrip that saw us traversing six incredible countries, spending two weeks and nearly 6000 kilometres chasing views, wild landscapes, epic experiences, incredible animal sightings and most of all, life-changing adventures that pushed us to the edge of our comfort zones, was to visit the tiny Kingdom of Eswatini.

We left the Panorama Route in South Africa and headed the 260km southward to the Oshoek Border Post crossing into Eswatini. The capital of Eswatini is Mbabane and where we had our AirBnb for the night, so we entered at the closest border crossing. The border crossing between the two countries was a total breeze, perhaps one of the easiest of our trip. Maybe it was a combination of it being our sixth African land bordering crossing and we were pros by this point as well, but certainly it felt like there was no corruption and no strange expectations; we picked up our gate passes, got our immigration departure stamps, paid our customs fee, got our immigration entry stamps and then we were in Eswatini!

Once we had entered Eswatini, we made our way to our accommodations for the night. It ended up being probably the nicest AirBnb I've ever stayed in, with gorgeous chic contemporary decor and a jaw-dropping view that looked right over Sibebe Rock, the largest rock in Africa and only the second largest in the world. It's three billion years old and made of volcanic rock, reaching nearly 1500 metres tall and covering 165 square kilometres. It's BIG! Because it's so big and so nestled into day-to-day life (and not sitting protected off somewhere in the distance), there is no singular "viewpoint" where you can look at the whole rock and take in the enormity of it. Short on time, we instead drove a big chunk of the loop road that circles around the base of the rock and, even though the sky was overcast and moody, we thoroughly enjoyed the varying views of this gigantic ecological feature.

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Overlooking Sibebe Rock from our AirBnb in Mbabane

Posts to read from my time there:

33. South Africa III


Our southern African roadtrip was an intense adventure, witnessing surreal landscapes and facing adverse struggles, and we both came out of it exhausted and pushed to the very limits of our comfort zones, yet utterly grateful for the privilege of such an experience. I then faced another solo month on the continent. And so the struggle to decompress and comprehend the wildness of our roadtrip and process what we'd been through laid the foundation of my week in Johannesburg, the end point of our southern African roadtrip.

I was so grateful to return to my beloved Cape Town after my weekend in Lesotho where I checked into a hostel and spent most of the weekdays working and enjoying wandering the streets of Cape Town in the early evenings. When the weekend rolled around, I was amped to get back out onto the many trails of Cape Town. The city is exceptionally lucky in that there are simply loads of hikes literally right in town, what with Table Mountain and Lion's Head both in the heart of everything; in fact Cape Town wraps itself around these two beautiful mountains offering numerous places to explore. I have a few colleagues based in Cape Town and am endlessly grateful to them for hiking with me, doing a 10km early morning run in celebration of Reconciliation Day through a township, brunching with me and inviting me over for my first ever South African braai. What a privilege to know people across the world.

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Bakoven Beach, Cape Town

Posts to read from my time there:

34. Lesotho


After my week in Johannesburg where I felt virtually trapped in my hostel, I was so ready to get out and explore again. With my mission of visiting every single country (and some others) in the world, I booked a guided tour from JoBurg down to Lesotho, the other tiny little fully-enclaved-by-South-Africa country just like Eswatini. The company was excellent; it was with a private tour guide who collected me at 6am from my hostel in JoBurg on a rainy Friday morning and drove me all the way down through eastern South Africa towards Lesotho.

Along the way, we stopped for some beautiful excursions in the Drakensberg Mountains, a wild and expansive mountain range traversing both Lesotho and South African land. On the Saturday of my tour, I was met at my accommodations by another guide from another tour company with a 4x4 vehicle who'd be taking me and five other travelers up the epic Sani Pass from Underberg into Lesotho. The final 8km between the two nations' border posts is completely gravel and really quite a steep treacherous trek. You can only drive this route with a 4x4 and it's strongly advised not to try to attempt it on your own. We had gorgeous conditions on the way up and were able to see for many miles across the pass, but on our way back down, heavy rain made the drive even more sketchy. We conquered the top of the Sani Pass and entered the little kingdom of Lesotho, nicknamed the Kingdom in the Sky.

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Sani Pass

Posts to read from my time there:

35. Réunion


 Traveling, while rewarding and exciting, is also exhausting and challenging, and with the sheer volume of it I've undertaken this year (26 countries in 2022!?), the end of the year was the ideal time to find a small island in the Southern Indian Ocean and unwind for a while. And so, for the final week the year, I escaped to two small African islands - starting with the French overseas department of Réunion, tucked between Madagascar and Mauritius, the latter of which was my final destination for 2022.

Initially, I had booked all four of my nights on Réunion a hostel in Saint-Pierre. And so, I waited outside the airport shortly after 6am for the long distance bus that would take me around to the opposite side of the island and the sleepy little town of Saint-Pierre. Many delayed and canceled buses later, I arrived seven hours after landing and was miserable. I could find no fault with the hostel itself, but with the arduous journey (and having to face it again for my return journey to the airport) and the lack of anything to do within even walking distance made me miserable. And so, after resting my head for a night in Saint-Pierre and eating a plate of noodles at the only open restaurant in town, I made the cumbersome journey back around the island to Saint-Dennis.

When I finally returned to Saint-Dennis, many hours later on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, I checked into in a luxury villa. Given that Christmas is very much my favourite time of year, I figured it’d be cute, cosy, welcoming and about as close as I could get to that feeling of being “home for Christmas” while being on a tiny island where it’s the peak of summer and 30°. Well, it turned out I was the only guest, so I spent a very quiet and hot Christmas by myself in this big villa on a tiny dot in the middle of the southern Indian Ocean. The villa itself was an oasis in the heart of Saint-Dennis. Beautifully and tastefully decorated in Creole style, the large, cool space was welcoming and peaceful.

As it was 30° for Christmas in Réunion, instead of stomping around in snow, I headed up into the mountains over Saint-Dennis for a long hot Christmas Day hike. If I had to be solo for the holidays, I wanted to spend it in the mountains, my favourite place of all so I hiked up to the Belvédère du Cap Bernard, a lovely little viewpoint overlooking the city of Saint-Dennis on the northern coast of Réunion.

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Belvédère du Cap Bernard Hike

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Villa Marie Lucie in Saint-Dennis

Posts to read from my time there:

36. Mauritius


For my final adventure of the year, I landed in my 26th country (in my 26th year!) of Mauritius, a stunning paradise island off the coast of Africa, just a bit further east than Réunion. Mauritius, while in Africa, is very much Indian-influenced, with a population that is more than 50% Hindu. This is prevalent in every facet of life on the island. My first afternoon in Mauritius was a delight, spent exploring the little village of La Gaulette where I'm staying near the coast. I found a local Indian family-run restaurant where I had delicious roti and noodles for less than 4 euros.

My second day was a let down but thankfully my last day in Mauritius was phenomenal. One of the most famous spots on the island is the underwater waterfall in Le Morne, on the southwestern tip of the island. The underwater waterfall is an optical illusion where light blue shallow reef meets a dark blue deep underwater channel, giving the impression that the water is falling under the surface. The best way to spot this incredible natural wonder is by plane, which was my Christmas present to myself this year. My pilot was brilliant, and she showed me all the beautiful spots where I could poke my camera out of the window and getting stunning shots. At one point as we flew over the waterfall, she even instructed me in how to fly the plane myself and for a few minutes, I was the one controlling it in the sky - it was a surreal experience and a phenomenal way to finish off my year.

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Underwater Waterfall by seaplane

Posts to read from my time there:

In summary, I think the word I would use to describe my 2022 is wild. I pushed every limit, worked harder and was more driven than ever. In between all these highlights there were also many struggles I worked on behind the scenes - weekly therapy is amazing - and while I am proud, honoured and grateful for the life I have worked hard to build, it's a real life, too. In 2023, I can't wait to see what adventures life will bring, and where in the world I will end up.

And, before you go, check out my 2019, 2020 and 2021 travel round-ups, too.

Jana Meerman

Hi! I’m Jana, a British-Dutch-Canadian with a dream of seeing every country in the world. I am a storyteller, photographer and adventurer passionate about documenting and sharing my travels.

Find me on: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook


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