I didn’t do it on purpose, but recently I sat down and realized that 2014 was pretty much penciled in. And so I figured I’d post a little preview of what’s ahead!
Based on the self reflection I’ve been doing lately and the fact that I don’t see my nomadic lifestyle coming to a halt anytime soon, I’ve devised a basic layout of how I’d like to see the next years roll out. I want to spend roughly a third of the year in the US with friends and family, a third of the year in my home away from home of Southeast Asia, and about a third actively exploring new places.
I am actively trying to slow things down, adding in more domestic travel and longer recharging breaks in New York. While 2013 brought me to five new countries, so far 2014 looks like it might feature “just” three — though there will be no shortage of adventures.
January February / Playing in Panama
Yesterday, Anders and I flew from Ecuador to Panama. We could not be more excited for diving and warm weather and beautiful beaches! I’ve been feeling somewhat burned out and as a result have a nice and slow itinerary sketched out for Panama with just four main destinations: Panama City, Santa Catalina/Isla de Coiba, Boquete, and Bocas Del Toro. If you’ve been to Panama, I’m dying to hear your tips!
I’m actually flying out of Costa Rica at the end of February, but I’m not putting any pressure on myself to spend time there other than a brief visit with my high school exchange program host family.
Bocas del Toro via cntraveler.com
March / Party in the USA
March is going to be madness. While originally I planned not to return to the US until mid-month, I decided to cut my Latin America trip two weeks short in order to spend Mardi Gras in New Orleans with my little sister. She just moved to the Big Easy for a two-year gig with Teach for America, and when else will I get the chance to do Mardi Gras with a local? I scored a super cheap frequent flyer reward flight (15,000 AAdvantage miles plus $30 bucks in fees!) from San Jose to New Orleans, which should help offset the ten days of debauchery that I’m sure awaits me in Louisiana.
Post-Mardi madness, I fly to California (a 12,500 mile, $5 deal!) for a whirlwind two-week trip that involves a wedding weekend in Palm Springs, a girlfriend getaway to Disneyland, and friend-filled stops in Los Angeles and San Francisco. While the wedding hotel is going to be a splurge, the rest should be fairly budget-friendly thanks to the generous hosting of friends and use of my Dad’s Disney Vacation Club points.
At the end of March I’ll return to the East Coast, starting with an extremely brief stop in Albany for tearful reunions/unpacking/laundry/repacking/picking up the family car. For that flight, I finally had to bite the bullet and pay full price for a plane ticket — Aadvantage miles don’t allow you to fly into Albany. Suburb discrimination! A week later I’ll drive to New Jersey for a weekend-long slumber party with Justine and to spend the weekend volunteering with the Woman Diver’s Hall of Fame at Beneath The Sea.
Mardi Gras via pompo.com
April May / A Much Needed Break
At the moment, April and May are relatively quiet months — and I’m determined to keep it that way. From New Jersey I’ll drive down to Philadelphia to see my Dad and pick up my pup, and for one wild weekend hometown bestie Kristin and I are sneaking off to Vegas, which promises to be eventful. Other than that, I’m planning to spend the rest of this period splitting my time between Albany and New York City. In mid-May I’m attending the wedding of one of my high school friends — the first of the group to get hitched!
June / Mystery Month
June is pretty booked up at the moment — in pencil. All my plans are yet to be confirmed, so I’ll be curious to see how things shake out.
I’m holding the first weekend open for the (date and location yet to be announced) TBEX conference, and am crossing my fingers that plans work out for a trip to Hawaii mid-month. For the remainder of June, I plan to be in Martha’s Vineyard with my family.
July / Europe
I have big plans for July — too bad they all hinge on extremely hard-to-get festival tickets! Fingers crossed, Heather and I will land tickets for Tomorrowland (go watch that video and see why), a major music festival in Belgium. Considering the cost of getting to Europe I’d love to make it into a three-week trip with stops in London to visit friends and Greece to island-hop.
Tomorrowland via doandroidsdance.com
August September October November / Southeast Asia
From Europe I hope to fly directly to Southeast Asia and camp out there until returning to New York for the holidays. I have no idea what this bazillionth visit to the region will hold, but luckily, this is my second home now — I feel little pressure to rush around and see it all. I do plan to visit Burma, which will be a new country for me.
December / Home for the Holidays
One thing is for sure — I will be home for Thanksgiving and Christmas 2014.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I’ll end with my typical disclaimer that plans and minds have a habit of changing — rarely do I strictly stick to the schedules I outline in these posts! As for this round, everything from here to the end of March is locked in, while the rest is still fairly flexible. Thanks for coming along for the ride.
Have you been to any of these destinations? If so, I’d be eternally grateful for your advice in the comments! What are your travel plans for 2014?
Went to Tomorrowland last year with a group of 15 people and we all managed to get tickets (hotel, flight and ticket package)…It really is one crazy festival!!! For internationals its not too hard to get tickets (if you get the package) as they can make lots of money. For Belgian people its really hard to get tickets cuz they dont make much money off them. We were 15 people and all got tickets, so good luck, fingers crossed and looking forward to your 2014;)
Hm, the problem is that I only need the train one way from London as I will be flying east after the festival directly from Belgium. But I may write and price it out because I have heard getting the Global Journey tickets is significantly cheaper. Thanks for the tip!
Sounds like you’ve got an awesome year planned Alex – that festival in Belgium sounds amazing! Hope you get tickets 🙂
Cross your fingers for me in February 🙂
Alex!! I’m riding in the Krewe of Tucks on the Saturday before Mardi Gras! We should coordinate and I’ll give you the hookup of fancy beads 😉
Hey Laryssa, that would be amazing! Drop me an email, I’d love to meet up 🙂
So glad you’re going to Panama!!! I had a great time there.
If I could suggest one place it’s to check out San Carlos/El Palmar. Stay at Ranchos Los Toros and meet Joe the owner. An expat from California. He is THE BEST!
I took surf lessons in El Palmar. An uncrowded chill beach close by.
Awesome to hear from someone who has been to Panama! Off to read your archives 🙂
Loved hearing about your year, it should prove to be a very exciting yet relaxing 2014. I am pretty jealous! Love the blog, by the way, I check every day to see what you are up to. It’s my favourite travel blog.
Hey Rachael, you just made my day! Thank you so much for saying hi! I’ll try to keep things interesting for ya 😉
You have a pretty much perfect and exciting year ahead!!…cant wait to read all the posts and follow along this years journey…
Thank you Carla! I’m pretty excited about it to. A great balance of familiar and foreign.
Woah, lady. That is a serious schedule. Awesome! I’m still not sure about Panama, but how long are you in Costa Rica for?? That’s way cheaper for me to get to!!
My travel plans for 2014 include following all yours while I sit at the desk at the dive shop 🙂 SO JEALOUS OF TOMORROWLAND. I can never justify the price of getting to Europe for this…hopefully by the time I can afford it I won’t be too old. Every time I watch the video each year I feel like the attendees are getting younger and younger…
Right now it looks like I’ll only be there for a few days before I fly out :/ As I’ve already spent some time in Costa Rica I’m just prioritizing Panama and taking it super slow. I’ve been in Panama City for three days now and I’m totally in love and not leaving anytime soon!
I know how you feel about Europe. It’s so pricey and it’s not very high on my priority list. So I’m trying to pack in one or two bucket list items (Tomorrowland, partying in Mykonos, etc.) with a visit to the many friends in London, and do it all en route to SEA to get a little more bang for my buck!
Wow! i’m extremely happy to read that you plan to go to Belgium! I would like to meet you, and hope maybe we can meet there! 😀
And of course I will also envy you because you plan to go back to Southeast Asia, a place where I belong.
Also regarding to your previous post, it’s really nice that you’re going to slow down a bit and have a long time at home. I hope you can regain your power back 😉
Thanks Aftri! Are you going to be there in July? If so, you should definitely get tickets to Tomorrowland 🙂
BOOM! See you soon sissy!!
HIDE YO KIDS HIDE YO WIFE NOLA
Sounds like an amazing plan! The best part is having these things in pencil! Bring on the adventure!!! Thanks for sharing your upcoming travels, as a nomad myself its inspiring to hear what like-minded wanderers are up to! I’ll actually be in Costa Rica and Panama in a couple weeks, perhaps we will cross paths!! And can’t wait to hear your take on Tomorrowland! 🙂 I won’t get there this year, but i’m glad to have a reliable source for stories about it! Keeep it real girl! 🙂 xx Jessie
That’s awesome Jessie! Email me your plans and let’s see if we will cross paths! And YES the internet is desperately lacking good info on Tomorrowland… I hope I can be the one to provide it!
Wow, even your times of relaxation seem packed full! You are going to have a superb year by the sounds of it. I’d love to experience Mardi Gras!
I am SO excited about it! Mostly because I’m not planning a thing! I’m going to shop up and let my little sis lead the way 🙂
When trying to get Tomorrowland tickets definitely get a travel package, even if it is just the one from London with the Eurostar included (probably the cheapest). It’s the easiest way to get tickets. I managed to get tickets last year when I was living in Australia but was then offered an amazing job that was too good to turn down here in Canada and couldn’t go…couldn’t sell my tickets either. :'(
Wow Kaya I’m surprised to hear you couldn’t sell them! Why was that? I thought there was a great resale system and a huge market for it?
I tried to sell them by registering them on the website for them to re-sell them (they say that if someone has registered to buy that type of ticket then they will sell your ticket to them and refund your money on to the card you paid with) but I never heard anything from them nor got a refund. A little annoying considering the travel package I bought cost $900!!
Come visit ireland while you’re in Europe! 🙂
I would love to if I have the time! I had hoped to go to a conference in Ireland in 2013 but it didn’t work out. I was bummed!
What an exciting year you have ahead of you! I wish I could see five new countries this year. All in due time. 🙂
Okay, to be fair one of them was Singapore for 24 hours 🙂 I did a LOT of sightseeing in those 24 hours, though!
My frstival days are over but Tomorrowland is still up on my bucketlist!
I am dying to go! Praying to the ticket gods every day! 🙂
Looks like we’re in for a similar year, and by that i mean a year of pencilled in plans. Might bump into you in Hawaii mid june though! I’m sure you’ll swing something with airline miles anyway, but flights from orlando to London are only around $300 in july if you’re quick to book (and your mystery month takes you further south). enjoy!
I’ve actually been finding NYC to London flights for around $400! But I will try to use miles if possible, of course 🙂
It’s nice to see you taking much needed breaks this year Alex. And so nice to see you back in SE Asia! It’s a region close to my heart as well. Even though you’ve been there many times I’m sure you’ll find something new. I’ll be in Japan if you make a detour round that way.
Yeah, it sounds like we came to similar travel conclusions recently. While I know this isn’t a relaxed year by any means, it it compared to what I did in 2013… and I really need that!
Ugh, that sounds horrible! I’d much rather be behind a desk 5 days a week, how will you manage 😉
I will try to stay strong, Tyrhone! Wish me luck in this critical venture! 🙂
India is in your future so hard. Even if I have to carry you, dammit.
I’d like to hear more about this carrying option?
Awesome plans Alex. You have struck the right balance there. I as always will look forward to reading about your adventures in 2014.
Thanks Steve! I think I finally have it all figured out 🙂 (Cue the universe laughing.) Okay, not all figured out, but I’m starting to strike a better balance…
July probably won’t be your best time to go island hopping in Greece – it’s peak tourist season and rooms are often double what they are in May or September, which is when I’d recommend going.
The best piece of advice I can give you, though, is to start at the furthest island out that you plan to visit and then work your way back to the port (you’ve got two to choose from, Piraeus or Rafina). I haven’t been since 2008, but unless things have changed ferry times won’t always match up with what’s online so you don’t want to be leaving your longest journey until last (we once ended up having to make an unplanned stopover on Paros where we were going to have to spend the night on the beach until a hotelier took pity on our broke asses and gave us a double room for 10 euros and some free food).
Oy, good info for Greece. I typically hate traveling anywhere in peak season, but as I’m going to Europe for the festival (I hope) my timing is kind of set in stone! I will DEFINITELY keep that in mind about the ferries though — yikes! I can only imagine being stuck on an island while my international flight departed from the mainland!
Oh that sucks about not getting to visit! If you are in london, you can usually get really cheap flights to ireland with Ryanair or aerlingus!
I thought you were working in Panama–was I making that up? I hope that time in the US includes a trip to Nashville! 😉
No, you didn’t make it up! Originally we planned to go straight from Peru to Panama and stay put in Bocas del Toro for a while… and sometimes I kind of wish we stuck to that. But it was cheaper to fly from Ecuador and we were just as close to Quito as to Lima, so and then we “just had to” check out a few places in Ecuador while passing through — it added up to almost a month! And then I cut my Latin America time short by two weeks, and we decided to go on a week long dive trip in the Pacific and blah blah two, two months evaporated before my eyes. Anders will still be there till Mid March so he will do some freelancing for a month but for me Bocas will just be a two week trip-ender. Kind of sad, but ah well!
I wish I had such an action/travel packed YEAR ahead of me – I had to take on a second job (I am a freelance photographer) in order to save more money TO TRAVEL!!!! I am planning on going to Bahrain and the rest of the middle east in December – but hopefully I will be able to travel to more than once place a year – but to fly out from Namibia,Africa is VERY expensive, and having a nomadic lifestyle is not for me 🙂 Enjoy 2014, safe travels!!!
I definitely am grateful for all the opportunities ahead of me! I too am working multiple jobs on the road (blogging, freelance writing, graphic design) and did the same before I took off. Wishing you the very best in work and travel!
Thank you!!! Good luck to you too and I’m looking forward to seeing and reading about your 2014 travels!!!!!
Sounds like you have a great year ahead. Mardi Gras will be awesome. We’d love to say hello when you’re in Philadelphia if you have time.
That would be fun! I’ll definitely email you when I know my exact dates!
WHEW! For slowing down, you sure are busy! Fingers crossed we can make something happen this year – I miss ya!
Girl, tell me about it! The problem with having such a spread out family and a roster of friends starting to get married is I could fill a fairly robust calendar simply doing the necessary (and of course wanted!) rounds of family visits and showing up for the major friend events. Throw in a few work trips and personal journeys and bam — there goes the relaxing year! Hope you can be a part of the madness, I miss you too!
it’s too bad your not gonna be in koh toa or else where in Thailand from march to april (since this is my first trip and your story’s got me so excited) i wanted to thank you in person but i’ma do it like this than.. Keep up the beautiful story’s and inspiring people like you did me the past months! this is my first time going to Tomorrowland as well so maybe i’ll bump into you there 😉 I wish you the best!
This comment is a great “thank you,” Daniel! Say hi if you see me at Tomorrowland 🙂
That sounds great Alex. Shame you can’t make it to Germany, as that would be great in the summer, especially Berlin. But cruising around the Greek islands sounds quite fun too! 🙂
Due to the cost I like to do Europe sparingly… just a little bit at a time 🙂
What a great year! My friend did Mardi Gras last year, and her advice was bring earplugs, it was super loud.
Good tip! I always travel with earplugs. Couldn’t sleep in a dorm without them!
You’re an inspiration! I can’t believe how much you travel in a year. After discovering your blog, I keep coming back everyday to check for new posts to inspire me. You’ve awaken the wanderlust in me 🙂 one day.. I’ll be off to where you’ve been!
Wow, thank you Ing! I’m touched 🙂 I love travel and feel lucky to be able to build my life around it. Good luck with your own travels… and please swing by again soon!
I’ll keep my fingers crossed for those Tomorrowland tickets!
Let me know if you get them and come over to our little country:)
Thanks Sofie! I should know in a month! Eeek!
It’s funny because I’m really passionate about traveling, photography and I scuba dive as well and I FINALLY came up with a name for my blog “asiainwanderland” but then I came across your blog and it’s basically exactly what I had in mind. So on to the next idea haha! Anyways I’m backpacking around Southeast Asia for my first time this April so if you have any suggestions I would love to hear them! x
Ha, I know how the domain name hunt goes! It took me a LONG time to come up with this one 🙂 As for Southeast Asia… yay! Have a look through my archives (I’ve written hundreds of posts on Southeast Asia!) first and let me know if you have any questions from there! I’d be happy to help!
great plans! ive been to bocas…will send you a quick email 🙂
I already sent you a private email saying so, but just so everyone knows publicly how awesome you are — thank you for the awesome advice, Megan!
Just FYI, you could probably get even better value for your frequent flyer miles if you save them for international redemptions to Europe or Asia. 12,500 miles from Nola to California seems like a good deal, but since I know you like making it over to Europe occasionally, you’d be best off saving those miles.
I’m a mileage nerd so let me know if you have any specific mileage redemption questions that I can answer!
I definitely agonized over whether or not to cash those in! In the end I decided it was worth the $300+ baggage fees in savings as I was able to nab a 12,500 point flight. Normally I can’t find them in that category, and I can’t fly to or from my hometown of Albany with my AA miles (ugh!) But I am definitely hoping to cash some in to fly to London this summer!
I envy your knowledge… I’m always feeling flustered!
Bummer you can’t use your AA miles from Albany!
London would be a great award redemption. Just make sure to fly on American Airlines over the Atlantic. If you use your miles on AA’s partner British Airways, they’ll impose nearly $300 in fuel surcharges in each direction! It’s insane.
Yikes! I will keep that in mind. Yeah, bummer about Albany, that’s why I fly out of NYC for all international flights. But I just signed up for a Southwest credit card to start racking up points for domestic flights — they are one of the major airlines out of ALB.
I lost half my live in Bocas del Toro. $.50 Happy Hour beers at Mondos.
I can’t wait 🙂 We get there in a few days. Wish me luck.
I can’t wait to follow your trips through the rest of year! I know I’m a little late to this post though. It doesn’t look like we’ll be in the same spot at any given time, but hey, there’s always 2015! If we ever are, I’d love to meet you as you’ve been an inspiration to me. Thank you, Alex!
Absolutely Mike! I’m going to try to do some more reader meetups once I’m on the road internationally again.
Love your writings about Malaysia and Perhentian. I’m a Malaysian and you know how proud it is when someone praises your homeland. I scuba dive too and almost every month I will escape from Kuala Lumpur to Perhentian, except during monsoon. It has been my most favor place on earth! 😉
If you planning to come again to South East Asia, I would like to recommend another state of Malaysia i.e. Sabah a.k.a. Borneo. You will see the most beautiful sunset in Kota Kinabalu, the most beautiful underwater heaven in Mabul and Sipadan, the most gorgeous scenery at Mount Kinabalu.
I bet you won’t regret it. 😉
Can’t wait to read more of your travelin posts!
Owh. And thank you very much Alex! Loads of luv from Malaysia! :*
Thank you for reading and commenting, Mitch! You should be very proud of your beautiful country. I absolutely plan to make it to Borneo one of these days… hopefully sooner rather than later!
I must say that this plan of splitting your years into thirds sounds ideal….a great way to get enough of the things you want and care about most without getting too much of them or burning out from constantly exploring new places.
Feeling envy about your Tomorrowland plans, hope everything works out for you there!
As far as Burma is concerned,I highly recommend finding out what you can about local holidays and festivals and, if you can swing it, to be there for one of them. I happened to be there for Thingyan (the Burmese Songkran), and it was so cool because it was not something travelers were planning their trips around and there seemed to be zero Western/backpacker influence on the festival and its events–it was all so local and authentic and overwhelming in so many good ways. I also recommend renting bikes (cycle or motorbike, whichever you prefer) and cruising through villages in the areas surrounding popular traveler destinations like Inle Lake. There are still loads of people living in these areas who have not seen Westerners in person or on a digital screen, and the unadulterated curiosity on their faces (if it is something you can process in the midst of dealing with your own curiosity and fascination at observing them in their environment) makes for a priceless experience as far as I’m concerned.
Something cool about the beaches in Burma is that they almost all face due West and the sunsets can be spectacular, but given that you have already spent so much time in SE Asia and intend to in the future, I wouldn’t even bother with them unless you are dead set on experiencing them or somehow left feeling like you have time to kill. At least when I was there (“spring” 2012), there was not a lot of accommodation directly on the beaches I visited so you typically had to stay in town unless you wanted to shell out a fortune. + the beach culture in Burma is very different (again, I would use the word unadulterated because I think it has as much to do with how little Burma’s customs changed for the sake of travelers who can fuel their economy as it does with the customs themselves) from the beach culture in other parts of SE Asia. Most Burmese swim fully clothed and I had the sense that there wasn’t a beach party within 500 km of coastline on either side of me when I was there. They are beautiful, don’t get me wrong…but SE Asia has loads of beautiful beaches that I think are cheaper and more paradisiacal, regardless of whether you are looking for buckets and fire dancing or near-isolation from anything that is not completely natural.
Bagan (although I must add as a disclaimer that there has been some funky, borderline kitschy temple restoration going on here that baffles me and I hope will be or already has been undone before it becomes impossible to restore these temples to their former glory), the Inle Region (the region, not so much the town where everyone stays and the gimmicky boat tours), and Yangoon–definitely allow for a few days here: eat at the ChinaTown street stalls (food in Burma, for better or worse, is something I could write several essays about); see the Schwe Dagon, Sule, and Botatuang pagodas beecause they are splendid; seek out the trash alleyways and let me know if they are still there; and talk with the friendly Anglophones who strike up conversations with you because they’ve all got great stories and you will learn from them. Also, if you are interested in meditation at all, Burma is a place to learn. I don’t have first-hand experience but was so fascinated by what I heard and learned about it. When I went to Burma, travelers could get an additional month tacked on to their travel visas for free if they intended to spend some serious time meditating.
2014 has been an Asia year for me. I flew to India for a friend’s wedding in January and spent three months there and two in Nepal–a country that has stolen my heart and earned the title of my favorite. I’ve been in Thailand since the beginning of June and have another month here before I fly to the States for two months of weddings, catching up with family and friends, and laying the groundwork for my anticipated move to NYC in less than a year.
In mid-September I’ll fly to Sri Lanka to start the last six-month leg of the beautiful journey I’m on. I’ll probably be in South and SE Asia the entire time, trying to balance my desire to explore new locales with the magnetic pull I’ll undoubtedly feel to pass the months in places I already know and love.
It looks like we will just miss one another in Thailand. I hope your return here is everything you could hope for it to be, happy trails!!
Hey Jason, thanks for all the tips about Burma! I will definitely be checking back when I finally make it there. It has been calling me for quite some time now! Sounds like you’re having an amazing journey of your own, and thank you again for sharing some of your experiences with all of us! Happy travels!
How about going to the Middle East this year ? Try AbuDhabi or Dubai in the UAE.
Actually, I’ll be checking out the Middle East for the first time this year during a 24 hour layover in Bahrain 🙂 Looking forward to it!