We don’t really have a plan for the trip, per se. It’s more of an idea of what we want to do. A very, very, VERY vague idea. Ready? Here it is: Southeast Asia (Nov – Mar), Nepal/Tibet (April / May), Eastern Europe (June-Aug), South America (Sept – ??). However, we only have two tickets so far: Denver to Manila, and Manila to Hanoi.
Yes, that is about as detailed as it gets. I can see all you structural, planner types out there sweating and obsessively trying to plan the trip for us in your head. If it makes you feel better, go ahead and forward us your sample itineraries and Microsoft Project Plans.
It’s not that we’re extraordinarily bad at planning (seriously? TWO tickets?!) or allergic to itineraries — our complete lack of structure is by design. We highly value flexibility in our travels, which is also why we chose NOT to buy RTW tickets — they require you to set the itinerary up front.
We anticipate our plans on the road will change quickly and frequently, and we don’t want to be tied down to a plan that was created before we even know what’s out there. What if we really like a place and want to spend a few more days or weeks or months there? What if we meet people we’d like to travel with for a while? What if we get burned out by constantly being on the move and want to veg out and lay low for a bit? Also, we’ll constantly be meeting locals and other travelers who will have recommendations on where to go or not go, and we want to be able to pursue those leads without throwing our schedule out of whack. We avoid that by having no schedule at all.
While the idea of traveling where the wind takes us appeals to my adventurous side, my structure-oriented side has minor (and some major) panic attacks when thinking about this. Not knowing where we’ll be sleeping every night will definitely stress me out. But Matt and I agree that it’s worth the stress to be able to travel freely. Ideally, we hope to choose a handful of things that we’d like to do in each country and try to do those while also spontaneously exploring our surroundings. If we find that we get too stressed out without a plan, we can always take a day or two somewhere to plan the coming days and weeks.
The first incarnation of this trip actually had us following the Southeast Asian ultimate tournament circuit for the first several months. We are no longer planning on hitting all of them, but we will try to play in some of the tournaments (Manila, Ho Chi Minh, Bangkok, and Phnom Penh). Hopefully, we will be able to meet other ultimate players who we can hang out with and will give us recommendations and/or couches to crash on. Playing ultimate isn’t a huge priority for me, but if I’m going to haul my cleats around the world, I might as well use them!
There are so many places to see, and so little time (and money)! It is impossible to even visit a fraction of what we want to in a single year, and so we chose a few areas to focus on. The three regions we chose (SE Asia, E. Europe, S. America) were selected primarily for their cost-of-living. Budget is very important to me, and I’d like to stretch my money as far as I can. These three regions are much more cost-effective than, say, western Europe or Australia and New Zealand. Additionally, Asia and S. America hold much more appeal to me than Europe does simply because they are not as westernized.
And, to gratuitously beat a dead horse, it’s not the destination but the journey. Our goal is not to collect as many passport stamps as we can but instead to really explore a country and its culture and, along the way, ourselves. Just being out of our native country (and the West) will open our eyes to many things and change our perspectives. I will never be able to capture why we travel more eloquently than this article. Regardless of where we go, we will come back with new eyes.
It’ll be interesting to see how closely the final trip actually resembles this “plan.”