• My 2016 Journey Plans (well... sort of!)

My 2016 Journey Plans (well… sort of!)

This post is in partnership with TripAdvisor and their #BookToWin campaign.

My travel plans never end up going exactly how I think they will. I had no idea I would spend the end of 2015 hanging out with the Apatani tribe of Ziro Valley, or that I would have headed off to Langkawi with Ben on a last-minute trip. I have always had my own travel plans lined up, but thanks to having this blog, new plans get added in throughout the year that I would have never seen coming.

I’ll give you a preview of the plans I know I have coming up this year… and then maybe next year I can see if any of them happened (lol) and what ones got added in! I know I’ll at least be in 5 countries for the year of 2016. Hopefully more!

Werkenntwen Journey Plans 2016

Goa, India

Obviously! Haha, I have spent the start of the year here at home and stayed put in January. I hit up South Goa for a getaway but that was it. For now, Goa is still set as my base for the year.

My 2016 Journey Plans

My 2016 Journey Plansthe swimsuit is from Onepeace Swimwear and it is the most comfortable thing ever!! So soft AND reversible!

My 2016 Journey Plans

My 2016 Journey Plans

My 2016 Journey Plans

Istanbul, Turkey

A last-minute trip, I just got back from Istanbul and was there February 2-13. It is one of my top cities now in the world and I have so much to share about my time there. I really want to travel in Europe more. Last year, we were lucky to go to London, Tunbridge Wells Hastings, and Rye in the UK as well as Vienna and Achau Austria to visit Ben’s family. I love being in Europe!

My Little Guide to Istanbul

istanbul best of blue mosque

My Little Guide to Istanbul

Galle, Sri Lanka

Although I’ve done my visa run to Turkey, Ben hasn’t left India in 5 months which means he’s got to go! We have 6 month maximums here. It is his 30th birthday so we are combining our mandatory visa run with a surfing celebration somewhere in Galle. About a year ago, we went to Colombo and Unawatuna for a quick 4 day visa run and really loved it there.

relaxing unawatuna srilanka

unawatuna beach resort cantaloupe levelsWe are leaving in a week (from the time I am writing this post) and I have nothing planned, so I”m going to take you through my planning process and how to plan a trip quickly when you don’t have a lot of time to search.

In this case, I’ve already narrowed it down to the Southern coast of Sri Lanka because we’ve been there before and the surf is good. TripAdvisor is a good place to start a search.

I found the best hotels in Galle which is an area in the South. I did a quick search of the best spots to surf in Sri Lanka and was glad to see a few places in Galle in the top slots, as I know the East coast is popular too. I mapped out how far apart the best surf places were to see if I picked a place that sucked, I could get to another beach easily enough by rickshaw. Considering how small Sri Lanka is, I figure it won’t make much of a difference which one I choose… I’ll let you know if I was wrong lol!


I see Cantaloupe Levels at #5 and I’m not surprised since I’ve been there before and loved it. I scroll more and see they have a sister hotel Cantaloupe Aqua at #22. I scroll through the top rest of the top hotels in Galle and am terrible by looking first at the main profile pic and judging the book by it’s cover so to speak (I know, I know…) and see Jetwing Lighthouse as well. A friend has mentioned this place in the past so I bookmark it for later. It’s come up #13 in Galle. I narrow the search to “beach” options and see all 3 I looked at in the top 10.

I know the surf is good near Unawatuna because we stayed there before, and their sister hotel is there, so I narrow the results to best hotels in Unawatuna and see Aqua at #12. It’s newer and only has 87 reviews while the others have hundreds so I take that into account as well, knowing they will soon move up that list. Photos show stunning rooms looking at the beach and a pool! I’m sold. You can compare prices there and book straight through as well.

So, you can tell this isn’t the most in-depth search, but sometimes you don’t have the time. If I did, I would add to my TripAdvisor search by reading reviews on travel blogs, i-escape, and just by googling the area for articles about it.

Now it just comes down to checking the TripAdvisor reviews to see what other travelers say. TA has 320 million reviews on their website across 6.2 million accommodations. The reviews and availability will help you narrow down your search. You can look at traveler photos to see the “real images” rather than the best chosen ones that would be on a website.

Because I travel often, I don’t really look too much past this but if you’ve got less vacation time you would want to check out more places. Now that you can book directly on TripAdvisor, it’s easy to just do it all in one place. They use a compare search engine to check 200 websites for the best price. I’ve actually found a couple activities on TA and will share about this this week while I’m in Sri Lanka!

unawatuna beach resort cantaloupe levels

Himalayas, India

I’m in talks with a really exciting young company about joining them on a trip to the mountains in May. Nothing is confirmed but I’m hoping it will happen. I haven’t been to the Western side of the Himalayas for 3.5 years and remember really loving traveling up there. I hit up Manali which is kind of the “cold Goa” and Rishikesh “the Beatles’ yoga place” as well as other cute towns. I spent about a month there but was new to India so think it’ll be really interesting to go back. I also went in the winter, so May there will be totally different.

manali india himalayas hippie

Ohio, USA

Sometime in the monsoon I”ll be heading back to Ohio as I do each year for at least a month. I always coincide these trips with friends weddings and my best friend from college Alex, is getting married August 13. I’m a bridesmaid in the wedding and am so excited to see my college friends that I rarely get to see, or even Skype with. If you’ve read my blog a bit, you know that I live in the middle of nowhere and spend my time at home laying out in the backyard, eating all my mom’s good food, and going shopping with her… I don’t have an American phone, health insurance, car, or car insurance so I’m basically 15 again and my friends call the house asking if I can come out and play and I have to beg my mom to take me over their houses… fun stuff!

home in ohio about me

home in ohio about me

Las Vegas, USA

Alex’s bachelorette party is July 8-11th so I’m really trying to plan to get home in time for that before the wedding. I’d go home to Ohio first, then fly out to Vegas for her party. I’m not totally sure on this yet and also have to weigh out the costs as I have a lot of flying to do around this time!

New York City, USA

My family takes a summer vacation each year which used to be to Gulf Shores, Alabama or Myrtle Beach. Last year, I planned a trip to Toronto with my mom and dad and we had so much fun. My mom suggested NYC this year and my brother and his wife could come to, as well as Ben since he will be coming out to the US too and has only seen NYC while changing airports during a layover.

London, UK

Ben’s sister gets married September 24th, so we’ll be heading up there sometime in September. I imagine we will go back to India first but really don’t have a clue!

london uk

london uk


As an update, I ended up going a lot more places than I thought I would, including a few new countries. Here’s the updated travel plans.

Where will you go in 2016?

So, there we go… some of my upcoming travel plans. I am excited to see what trips come up this year. Istanbul was totally unexpected and I didn’t know about it until a couple of weeks before I went. With some luck, more trips like that will come up this year! I’d love to know what your travel plans are.

We are trying to save up some money this year, and for that reason I don’t have as many trips planned as usual. Although we live in India, we travel a lot and eat out at restaurants, etc so haven’t saved as much as I think more responsible people would have. I’d love to go to Bali this year, but it’s on my “not responsible” list, a list which I may end up burning. We’ll see.

TripAdvisor #BookToWin Trip-A-Day Giveaway

To celebrate the new booking feature, TripAdvisor is giving away 60,000 worth of trip money. If you book any day in March on TripAdvisor, you are automatically entered to win one of the prizes: 31 winners will get 1,500 (one each day) and 1 lucky winner will get 15,000 towards a getaway anywhere in the world.

Even if you want to book from another site, just click-through from the hotel of your choice on TripAdvisor to book somewhere else then fill out the contest entry form to still be able to enter. Make sure to tell this to your friends planning a trip, because who knows maybe if they win they will invite you along!


Did you enjoy this post? Let me know in the comments or by sharing it with the social media links! I’d love to keep giving you travel tricks & tips so feel free to subscribe by e-mail in the big box below. Don’t forget you can follow me on , , & bloglovin‘.


About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Werkenntwen, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Werkenntwen has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. Sasha March 2, 2016 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    Sri Lanka is on my list! As is Istanbul. I love your bit about your stay back in Ohio. I can definitely relate to that. :P

    • Rachel Jones March 4, 2016 at 1:23 pm - Reply

      I love going back home! Already counting down the days!

  2. Sasha March 2, 2016 at 9:13 pm - Reply

    Oh and the tripadvisor part!!

  3. Colleen Brynn March 3, 2016 at 7:56 am - Reply

    Girl, I LOVE your life. I’m so lucky/happy I got to glimpse some of it.
    2016 could possibly turn out to be one of my more epic travel years to date… so I’m very excited about that!!
    I love your striped swimsuit! And hi to Priyanka!
    Hopefully I can come visit again :) and catch up where we left off.
    Wishing you all the best xoxox

    • Rachel Jones March 4, 2016 at 1:24 pm - Reply

      I hope you can come back!! I can’t wait to see what you get up to this year – I think you wrote on FB or somewhere that 2016 was going to be epic – maybe in your Florida post! The suit is from onepeace swimwear.. I love it

  4. veena March 3, 2016 at 8:44 am - Reply

    sounds like you’ve got a lot on your plate for this year! while you guys are in sri lanka, check out fortaleza inside the galle fort — the food is absolutely delicious, and i imagine their rooms are also pretty nice. it would be a nice place to visit for a day / night, if you have the time.

    i have still never been to vegas and have it on my list of things to do before my next milestone birthday in 2018. i am also incredibly intimidated by the idea of vegas, so i can’t wait to read about your visit. fingers crossed you are able to make it there in time!

    i am still figuring out my travel plans for this year, because i have a lot i want to do before i relocate back to the states around the beginning of july. at the moment, it looks like a 3-week trip to cambodia-malaysia-singapore at the end of april / beginning of may, back to bangalore for a week, and then to bhutan-srinagar-leh-delhi for 2-3 weeks. i would love to get back to coorg and say goodbye to honey valley before i leave, so i am trying to see how i can work that in. it would be a hectic 6 weeks, but it would also be an amazing experience!

    safe travels on all your stops! can’t wait to see the photos :)

    • Rachel Jones March 4, 2016 at 1:25 pm - Reply

      Damn I wish I had seen this sooner! We just left SL. We did go to Fort but didn’t eat there. Vegas intimidates me too and it’s not really my “thing” I don’t think? I guess we’ll see but it’s a place I’ve always been curious about.

      Oh nice, I actually may be in Singapore too just found out, for a wedding, in MAY! Maybe we can cross paths!

  5. Caroline March 3, 2016 at 9:07 pm - Reply

    Wow, that’s some amazing travel plans for the year! Istanbul is amazing, I really want to go back as well.

  6. Eva-Marjan Lamot March 4, 2016 at 1:49 am - Reply

    My first solo trip outside of Europe was to Sri Lanka actually!
    I’ll never forget my experience here. I’m always so jealous when I see other people heading off there.
    I hope I can visit my Sri Lankan host family again soon.
    Have fun on your trips to all these countries!


    • Rachel Jones March 4, 2016 at 1:26 pm - Reply

      It’s always an interesting experience to go back to the place you first went abroad too – that would be really cool for you!

  7. Sebrin March 4, 2016 at 4:24 am - Reply

    GIRL! You’re going to some of my favorite places. I lovvvve London and I love love love Vegas!! A drive from LA (where I live) to Vegas is only 4 hours so we try to go a few times a year. Maybe we’ll see you there!

    PS. Where did you get that cute, striped one-piece bathing suit pictured above??

    • Rachel Jones March 4, 2016 at 1:27 pm - Reply

      Oh great, I’ll have to search your site for some Vegas tips! I haven’t got a clue what to expect. The suit is from onepeace swimwear – it’s reversible, and the softest fabric EVER!

      • Sebrin March 12, 2016 at 4:58 am - Reply

        And now it’s posted, haha! You def inspired my latest post so I hope you enjoy it :)

  8. Nikki March 4, 2016 at 4:57 am - Reply

    I need to start re-directing more of my funds towards travelling. I’ve never really been a traveler but in the last 2 years I’ve made a concentrated effort, and I’ve been able to visit quite a few new spots in the U.S. (I’m in Canada). Other than that – I’ve really only been to Jamaica and Australia! There’s so much more world to see! Thanks for sharing – you’ve inspired me! :)

    • Rachel Jones March 4, 2016 at 1:28 pm - Reply

      Happy to hear that! I Hope you get to some more places this year. I recently went to Canada for the first time last year, and really loved it – there’s a lot to explore in your own country!

  9. Tempesst March 4, 2016 at 5:57 am - Reply

    That striped one piece is everything! Love it. So far in 2016 I have been to Denver, CO (where I’m currently doing my first travel nurse assignment!), and after my contract ends I am backpacking in Eastern Europe for six weeks. When I get back to the states I am hoping to finallyyyyy have my California license and do a contract (or several) in the bay area!

    • Rachel Jones March 4, 2016 at 1:29 pm - Reply

      Ah I know, it’s the cutest !! It’s from once peace swimwear & is reversible! They have lots of colors, and it’s low cut in the back .. so cute. How has your 1st assignment been? My first one I got thrown in float pool even though it was supposed to be cardiac tele! I was so annoyed! Cali would be cool – if you need tips my bff has been travel nursing there for like 2.5 years! I can get you in touch.

  10. Joella March 5, 2016 at 4:02 am - Reply

    Ahh I wish you would come out to CA when you go to Vegas! :) Next time! I’m with you on the trying to be responsible and save up money thing though. We’re trying to do that this year too..I’m not very good at that though. I always want to eat out or book a trip. Being responsible is too hard and boring hehe.. :)

    • Rachel Jones March 5, 2016 at 10:58 am - Reply

      There’s a small chance we are coming to CA actually and if we do I will definitely get a hold of you … I will email you about it!

  11. Kate March 5, 2016 at 1:44 pm - Reply

    What amazing travel plans – I can’t wait to virtually tag along :)

  12. Nicole March 8, 2016 at 5:23 am - Reply

    Wow so many places! So exciting! I’m curious to see what Galle is like in Sri Lanka as I didn’t go there, I’m sure it’s beautiful. I always have fun seeing someone in a country I’ve been to, makes me very nostalgic.

    • Rachel Jones March 8, 2016 at 7:24 pm - Reply

      I’ve just got back! I’ll be posting about it next week :)

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