Just assume you have taken that huge decision to travel around the world. Where do you go if the world is literally at your feet? How do you choose where to go? There are over 200 counties in the world, and almost every country has something special that could be enough of a reason to visit it. Would you follow the ten most visited hotspots in the world? Or the ten most beautifull reefs in the world? Or would you travel following tips of others? Or your own dreams? Everybody has a different way to decide on their route, but I will take you along my decision process. This is how I decided on which country to visit on my year long trip around the world.
Choosing the first five countries of my trip.
It’s such a fantastic decision not to work for a year and travel around the world. But then the big follow-up question arises, where would I go? Both my husband Michiel and myself started out by making a top three list of the countries we’ve been dreaming of visiting but haven’t, because of a lack of time.
Myannmar is on the top of my list, and visiting the Machu Picchu in Peru is on the top of Michiel’s list. So those are the first two countries. In preperation for a prior four month trip through Asia seven years back we had to skip the country Laos because we didn’t have enough time. Because of all the preparations we made for our last trip we read a lot about the country, so Laos is country number three. Going through our lists and talking about them always makes us come back to the same discussion we have every time we travel through Asia (we are huge Asia lovers and visit almost every year) – we have always wanted to visit the islands of Coron and Mindanao in the Phillipines, but never managed to on a summer holiday because it takes a lot of time to reach the islands and travel across them.
The same counts for the islands South-Sulawesi and Flores in Indonesia. We would have had to travel through islands in express mood if we would have visited them on a summer holiday. But all these islands have so many beautifull things to offer that we put visiting them off for the future. It turns out it isn’t that difficult finding a route once you get into it. We have already picked country one through five. During further preparations we decided not to visit island Mindanao because many worldwide organisations give advice to avoid the island because of terrorism.
Adjustments because of Noa
Because we will be traveling with our three year old son Noa, we will travel much slower compared to previous trips. We will spend up to a week at one location and travel a maximum of five hours a day, with exception of the trans Atlantic flights. And on top of that we want to prepare as much as possible while still in Holland. Because we found out during our last trip that arranging flights, transport and routes during a trip takes a lot of time. It’s difficult to find good information while on the road, especially with slow internet connections.
Because most countries we want to visit have a maximum of thirty days validity on their visa, it automatically means we will have to arrange extenstions on almost all our visa. We wil travel about one and a half to two months per country. When researching I found out that it’s not as straight forward to arrange a visa extention in every country we want to visit. And we will have to do a visa-run (exit and re-entry the country to get a new visa) for some countries. The visa regulations determine a big part of the route.
Buying an around the world ticket or not?
After talking to numerous Dutch travel agents, as well as an American and British travel agent all specialized in trips around the world, we found out that traveling with an around the world ticket, with a stop in Australia and New Zealand might save a lot of money. We hadn’t considered those countries before because they seemed to be way out of budget. With the new insights we started wandering, can we afford to travel there?
We bought travelguides, talked to people who traveled to New Zealand and Australia, read blogs and researched hostelprices, food, campers, drinks, entrance prices of national parks, parking and gas prices. After a month of research we came to the conclusion that the costs we would have to make to visit these countries don’t outway the money we would save on tickets with a stopover in New Zealand or Australia. Too bad, but these two countries will remain on our bucketlist for the future.
What is the weather like in South America?
So that meant to keep on researching. I tried to find cheap tickets for a flight from Asia to South America. If we have to pay sky-high ticket prices we might as well visit other South American countries besides just Peru. After reading lots of blogs from other travelers, researching the seasons of the different countries in South America we narrowed the countries down to Bolivia and Ecuador. They are not only gorgeous countries to visit, we also expect to manage well on a backpackbudget there. These last two countries make up country eight and nine, the last countries of our trip. This is a summary of our total route:
1. Fly to Bangkok in Thailand to celebrate New Year’s (2 days)
2. Laos (1,5 months)
Travel with the nighttrain from Bangkok to Laos to enjoy 1.5 months of the expected friendliness of the Lao people, the food and nature.
3.Myanmar (1 month)
Travel through Thailand to reach Myanmar over land in the Northwest. We will travel from Inle Lake to the south of Myanmar in a month.
4. Phillipines (1,5 months)
Fly from Bangkok to Manilla in the Phillipines. From Manilla we will continue on to Palawan and travel from the North (Coron) to Puerto Princesca in a month. Than we will continue on to Moalboal on the islamd of Cebu, for two weeks of diving.
5. Indonesia (2 monts)
From Manilla we will fly to Makassar, on the island of Sulawesi. From there we will take a month to travel from the south to the north and end at the Togian islands. Via Kuala Lumpur we will continue our trip in Indonesia by exploring Flores from east to west, and we will be joined by my two sisters (so exciting).
6. The Netherlands ( ? days)
From Indonesia we will fly back to The Netherlands for a couple of days.
7. Bolivia ( 1,5 months)
From Amsterdam we will fly to Lima and continue on to La Paz in Bolivia. In Bolivia we will travel in a loop to the east and back to Lake Titicaca.
8. Peru (1,5 months)
Via lake Titicaca we will cross the border with Peru and travel from there to the north of Peru.
9. Ecuador (2 months)
Over land we will cross the border with Ecuador, and travel from the south of Equador to the capital Quito in the north. Then we will fly back to Lima to catch our very last flight back to the Netherlands.
It’s now December and our route seems set, but it’s changed a couple of times over the past few months. Sometimes we find out visa regulations have changed which causes us to change our route. Or we found out that a earlier planned route is no longer possbile or too dangerous with a three year old. Moreover, by reading other travel blogs I also find new insights, new destinations I want to add. But safety played the biggest role in our planning, last-minute we decided not to travel to Mindanao because of negative traveladvice by many governments. And for a long time we were unsure if it would be safe enought to travel to Myanmar. Fortunately the elections were peacefull and it continues to be quiet in Myanmar, so we feel save enough to travel there with a todler. So it seems we’re set, but you never know. I’m curious to hear where you would go if you would have the opportunity to travel around the world? Please tell me in the comment space underneath the blog.