One thing I know I need to work on during this trip is living in the moment. It seems like whenever I’m in the middle of a trip somewhere on the other side of the world I’m planning my next adventure instead of enjoying what’s in front of me. So I’ll end up in Cappadocia standing under the over-Instagrammed hot air ballons at sunrise while zoning out over how cool it would be to go to Egypt. Granted, I always end up with a bunch of pictures to remember the experience, but I’m not there in real time.
On the positive side, out of all this daydreaming I’ve got half-a-dozen once-in-a-lifetime trips kicking around in the back of my head. However, while they all sound really good in theory, I never actually vetted them for their feasability. Take the Egypt trip. Cairo to Nairobi overland through Ethiopia sounds amazing – pyramids, Danakil Depression and Masai Mara without having to get on a plane. Sitting down and looking at a map though there is a Sudan-sized problem with that plan that I’m not sure I’ll be able to overcome.
Now that I’ve got 8 months of free time to get myself from Berlin to Jakarta, I’m trying to take all those theoretical adventures and string them together into a coherent RTW itinerary. Not only do the destinations need to be incredible but they also have to be along my general route of travel, have sane visa requirements and not break the bank. Also, my arrival time in the destination has to make sense with the seasons. There’s a Korean restaurant on my way home from work that I visit regularly and when I told the woman taking my order that I was considering Seoul in January she pretty much laughed at me.
So here is the completely unfiltered draft itinerary. It will be interesting to look back next year and see what I’ve hit off of this list. I have a tendency to go with the flow and follow along with people I meet so bets are that I get 25% of this.
- Germany – Start in Berlin (the one must of my schedule is that I have to be in Bayreuth August 22)
- Poland – Been to Krakow but always heard good things about Wroclaw and Warsaw
- Ukraine – Kiev, Lviv and Odessa (Chernobyl?)
- Something happens here but I’m not sure what. It’s either Moldova and Romania into Serbia or cutting through Austria into Slovnia into the Balkans or completely skipping former Yugoslavia and trying for Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Or scrapping everything post-Ukraine in order to add more time elsewhere. While I’d love to see this region, I think I could do it later in life in smaller chunks rather thank going for 3 weeks straight. We will see.
- Greece – May make sense depending on what happens above but it’s more because it’s on the way.
- Israel & Palestine (and maybe Lebanon) – Need to see how the Israel thing affects ability to get into other countries (Lebanon for one).
- Egypt – I have a couple of Egyptian friends at work who are helping me out with the itinerary for this one so it’s happening.
- Potentially an overland trip from Egypt to Ethiopia to Kenya. Still have the Khartoum question about travel through Sudan. Airfare from Egypt to Ethiopia is expensive and I may bail on Ethiopia and Kenya if costs get too high.
- South Africa – Cape Town to Joburg (this is looking like where I will spend Christmas).
- Laos, Burma,Vietnam and Thailand – Some selection of cheap SE Asia backpacking. Burma is probably a no but leave it on the list for now.
- Japan – My sister wants to go to Japan to eat sushi so if she doesn’t bail on me this will happen. Probably will be too early for cherry blossoms.
- Malaysia – Not sure why but it’s en route to my final destination.
- Indonesia/Bali – Flying out of Jakarta so I need to get here eventually.
Other contenders that don’t quite seem to fit into the itinerary:
- Tunisia – Can’t get there from Egypt unless you go around Libya
- Algeria – Dream country but difficult border situations and an expensive visa
- Morocco – Heard great things but I’m not sure I’m excited enough to give it the 3 weeks out of my trip that it needs.
- Kazakhstan – I’d prefer not to rent a car this trip. Also I don’t drive stick. Yet.
There are way too many stops on my list to hit in 8 months, even with the best planning. Again, I’m not looking to check boxes but actually be present. I’ve only done some preliminary vetting on these anyways so once I check into transport options between destinations and local weather things should be a bit clearer.
Thoughts, opinions and suggestions are always appreciated!