I’ll be honest, I never thought the time would come. Everything I’ve been working toward for the last few years is finally about to happen and it doesn’t even feel real. Two weeks ago I got on a plane and left behind my life in Korea forever, and I haven’t even wrapped my head around that fact yet. Now I’m sitting in the California sunshine, eating ALL the Mexican food and living it up with my friends; it feels like I’ve never left and I’d really like to stay a while. But whether I’m ready or not, the next adventure is here: it’s time for my round the world trip!
Despite my history working in the travel industry, I’m not much of a planner. I prefer to figure things out on the road by talking to people and getting a feel for a place. I like to have a flexible schedule so that if I love a place I can stay longer, or if I’m not enjoying it I can hit the road.
That being said, a trip of these proportions needs some kind of framework so I’ve laid out a rough itinerary and timeline. I am completely open to these plans changing as I go, and they likely will change based on people and opportunities that I come across along the way. I’ve booked flights for my first two countries, and after that I’ll make it up as I go. All I know is that I want to volunteer for at least one week in each country I visit and will possibly take on some seasonal work somewhere.
I’ve got $20,000 and all the time in the world, so here’s what I want to do:
The Philippines: March
My trip begins on world renowned beaches and the party center of the Philippines: Boracay. I’ll only be staying here for a few days as I really just wanted to see the famed white sand beaches and do a little partying while my money is still in full supply.
Next I’ll fly to Palawan to meet up with one of my best friends from Korea. We’ll spend two weeks exploring El Nido and Coron. I’m so excited to dive shipwrecks, island hop, and see the breathtaking scenery.
April will be spent making my way north to south through Vietnam. I’ll start in Hanoi, visiting the picturesque Halong Bay and venturing into the moutains to Sapa. After two weeks of solo travel I’ll meet up with my friend from Santa Barbara for a week in Hoi An. I can’t wait to get some custom made clothing here!
This is where my plans start getting fuzzy. Obviously I’ll visit Angkor Wat but I’m looking forward to exploring some of the lesser known countryside and doing some diving and relaxing on beaches.
Thailand, Laos, Myanmar: June-August
I’ll have to figure out the order of these once I’m on the road. It’s the hot and rainy season in many places so weather will play a large role in deciding where to go. I am strongly leaning toward renting a flat in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand for about a month to avoid getting travel burnout. But I’m so excited for the beaches, waterfalls, and adventures these places offer.
I fell in love with Bali a couple years ago when I visited and I’ve been dying to go back. I convinced my dad and stepmom to fly out for the month and meet me there (yeah, I really had to twist their arms…) so we’ll spend some time scuba diving, island hopping, and getting lots of Balinese massages.
New Zealand: October- December
Around this time my bank account might need a little replenishing so I’d like to get a seasonal job. I’d originally thought about going to Australia and doing the working holiday visa, but the visa costs around $400 and decent work can take a while to find. New Zealand, however, offers a free working holiday visa and I’ve heard work can be easier to come by. Not to mention New Zealand looks freaking AMAZING! It will be nice to explore peaceful, wide open spaces after the chaos of Southeast Asia.
South Africa: Christmas
Chelyn, one of my best friends from Korea is from South Africa and she’s invited me to spend Christmas with her family in a beach house. How could I pass that up?! We’ll spend some time exploring her home of Capetown and drinking lots of delicious South African wine.
I don’t know much about this place other than it’s a small island off the coast of Tanzania and the photos look breathtaking. Chelyn wants to go there for a vacation so I’m going to join her for some relaxing beach time.
One of my friends grew up in Kenya and still has lots of family there so since I’ll already be close (Kenya is just above Tanzania) I might head there to stay with her family. Hopefully I’ll find a way to afford a safari!
I’ve always enjoyed yoga and I’m really interested in exploring the practice further and learning more about the spiritual side so I’m going to do a 6-week yoga teacher certification course in Rishikesh. A friend recommended a certain place and it’s quite affordable so I’m going to devote 6 weeks to learning more about yoga–and getting into the best shape of my life! Afterwards I’ll spend a few weeks traveling around India, hopefully with people I’ll meet in the program.
Western Europe: May-June
One of my close friends lives in Scotland, and I have several other friends who live in England and Ireland so I’d like to pay them all a visit. Bring on the castles!
Europe was originally my final destination for this trip, but then my friends from Korea suggested a summertime reunion in Brazil. It’ll be my 30th birthday–GULP–so I figure I should probably spend it somewhere cool, so Brazil it is! I’m going to have to start working on my booty now to rock those cheeky Brazilian bikinis!
And that’s the plan! What do you think? Suggestions and travel tips are always welcome!