Whitney and I spent the entire weekend just outside of New York City for the wedding celebration for our good friends Puja and Andy. They held a grand Indian wedding that was truly fit for the stars. We dressed in our best and soaked in the new experience. The pleasure of embracing a new culture and really taking advantage of time with friends, both new and old, provides a perfect kick-off for what’s to come (Thanks Puja and Andy for making us a part of this celebration).
We are now resting and preparing to take-off this evening on the trip of a lifetime. We will head to Iceland for the first stop on a one way trip around the world. We want to see all the world has to offer before eventually making our way home to Georgia sometime next year. Initially we thought we should plan all the lodging, flights, trains, buses, tours, excursions…you name it we wanted to plan it and get the best deals (Yes, we spent hours upon hours looking these things up in the beginning). Our past trips have been only a couple weeks at most and we did our best to make the most of every single moment creating a pretty tight schedule to keep up with (Best example was our road trip through the South Island of New Zealand). The issue we are facing now is it’s nearly impossible to plan such a long trip down to the details and actually keep it enjoyable. So we are going to slow things down to the pace we feel like having at each moment in time. We will trade our suitcases and set schedules for backpacks and water bottles. We will let go of the planning and embrace the freedom to move with the ebbs and flows of each day.
The number one tip a few of our friends gave was to make a very basic itinerary of where we hope to go and leave a set schedule out of it as much as possible. I read an article by a fellow traveler who writes how people spend hours and hours looking up the best deals and options and may or may not ever actually book something, or will book something that fits a difficult schedule and end up cancelling/changing it later (causing the added stress of changes, wasting time, and usually not saving any money.) His suggestion was to travel with an idea of what you would like to do and without a set schedule…except maybe the first stop or first couple days.
Given this tip, Whitney and I developed the following general itinerary. We will spend about 3 months touring through Europe, then make our way to the mountains of Nepal and Tibet, before traveling further into South East Asia to explore for another 3 months or so. We have kept all our options open regarding stops on the Middle East if possible as well as other places along the way (although, recent events pretty much preclude this completely) Here is a map of my original list of destinations from a few months ago…but again, nothing is set.
The only general time constraint revolves around hiking in Nepal. Through my research I understand that hiking in the Himalayas is best done in October and November which sort of gives us an ending to the European portion of the trip, but still with plenty of time to tour.
The next dilemma is how many days we will spend in a location. As mentioned we are going to slow down our previous travel habits. We are aiming to spend about 4 days in each city or town as we move along, however this too is not a guarantee. If we are captivated by the city of Vienna or choose to get lost in the mountains of Switzerland and absolutely love it, then maybe we will stay a few more days. If the weather changes cancelling a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia, then we can wait another day or so for the skies to clear. If we encounter other travelers that encourage us to go somewhere we didn’t even think about, then we will be able to do just that. Lastly, if we simply need a break from the journey, we can stop anywhere and simply relax…most likely this would be at the beach, just saying.
So here is where we are today: We have the basic itinerary that includes 3 months in Europe, 1 month in Nepal/Tibet, and 3 months in South East Asia. We have only booked our room, flights, and trains for our first 3 stops simply because we expect July in Europe to be more crowded with tourists and want to make sure we have these set up early. We will fly out of New York City today to spend July 4th to the 8th in Reykjavik, Iceland, July 8th to 13th in London, England, and July 13th to 18th in Paris, France. From that point on we will embrace the freedom of backpacking. We have yet to decide where to go from there and we look forward to the adventure that awaits. We will continue reaching out to other travelers for suggestions and certainly find our way.