Image 01 Image 01 Image 01 Image 01 Image 01 Image 01

Well hello there, 2016. A new year, a fresh start. The time for making ridiculously optimistic resolutions.

Join the gym. Eat healthier. Be on time more often. (No? That’s just me?) All mighty fine intentions, rarely carried through. Yet my good friends at Overnight — seriously, I know and love this crew — have made one resolution that I couldn’t be more excited about. They’re asking adventurers around the world to commit to travel. How great is that? Excited to pledge a New Year’s resolution I feel confident I can achieve, I enthusiastically signed up.

Here’s how I plan on keeping it.

Passport

First, the big new. Guys. I’M GOING TO BRAZIL. I’m not really exaggerating when I say this is the trip I’ve been waiting my whole wanderlusting life for – Brazil first captivated my attention in high school and in the decade since I first felt gripped to go there, it’s remained at the absolute top of my bucket list. Yet year after year, I haven’t gone. Why? There were times when I felt like I didn’t have enough time, or didn’t have enough money. I also think in a way I was scared – I wanted to do this dream justice!

And in 2016, I will. Going to Tomorrowland Belgium in 2014 was a highlight of my travels. So when perpetual travel buddy Heather proposed we make our way to the second edition of Tomorrowland Brazil in 2016, it was an impossible proposition to turn down — and with tickets in hand, we started building a trip around it. Suddenly, the dream is becoming a reality. Brazil and I are having our moment.

Passport Pages

Of course, that’s not my only destination on the docket for the year ahead. Here’s what I’m looking forward to in 2016!

Jan-April // Thailand (and beyond!)

My year is kicking off low key – just the way I like it. I’ll spend the first three and a half months of 2016 in Koh Tao, where I’ve been since October. I’m super excited to use this time to continue getting back in shape, geting ahead on work, and just soaking up every second of stillness before things get crazy again.

Koh Tao Travel

Of course, I am a travel addict after all, and so even this period of self-imposed downtime is dotted with bits of travel. On the docket are trips to both Khao Yai and Khao Sok National Parks, a weekend getaway to Thailand’s wine region with a big group of friends, two trips to Bangkok, and quick separate jaunts to both our neighboring islands, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui.

Koh Tao Travel

I also have to leave the country on more time for visa purposes, and while I could do a quick bounce to the Burma border I am looking at possibly heading to Penang, Malaysia for a long weekend instead. I haven’t been to Malaysia in years, and Penang is just a quick direct flight from Samui, where I plan to be anyway for a midnight fun run. Some of you may remember that I had big plans to visit Burma early this year. Unfortunately, that trip is once again postponed indefinitely – long story for another post. This one is about the places I am going!

Khao Sok Travel(source)

April-May // Brazil

I’M SO PUMPED ON THIS. I can’t wait to listen to all the samba music, eat all the açaí, drink all the caipirinhas, and lay my cheesy Brazil flag towel on ALL the beaches. And, of course, return to Tomorrowland!

Tomorrowland Brasil (source)

Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world and so clearly I have no plans to cover all of it in my five to six weeks there – or even come close. After much research and soul searching, we’ve more or less settled on a route. We’ll be kicking things off with the festival, buffered by some time in Sao Paulo prepping for and returning from it. After, we’re going to recover with a crawl up the coast to Rio, hitting several of the country’s top beach destinations en route. Finally, we’ll hop a flight to Iguassu Falls for one last hurrah before Heather heads home.

Rio de Janiero(source)

Due to the cost of traveling in Brazil (a little higher than its neighboring countries) and the shorter length of our trip (LOL, I know) this will likely be a pretty well-planned trip before we touch down. We just don’t want to waste our time on the ground deciding things like where to stay, or worrying about things like the cheap domestic flights getting snapped up before our arrival.

Iguassu Falls(source)

For the first month-ish, this is what we’re up to:

  • Tomorrowland // The festival that started it all
  • Sao Paulo // The biggest baddest city in Brazil
  • Paraty // A UNESCO-listed seaside colonial town
  • Ilha Grande // An undeveloped island paradise
  • Rio // Needs no introduction!
  • Buzios // The St Tropez of South America
  • Foz de Iguacu // One of the world’s most awe-inspiring waterfalls

Seven destinations in just over four weeks has this currently stationary blogger feeling frantic, but we don’t want to cut anything more than we already have, and some of them are shorter stops (Tomorrowland is four nights, and due to the internet situation we can really only stay in Ilha Grande for three or four as well). That said, we are still pulling together the details on this and I’d LOVE hearing from you guys in the planning stage. Have you been to any of these places? What did you think? How many days did you spend and did it feel like enough? Please spill all in the comments — I’ll be taking notes!

Paraty Brazil(source)

After Heather heads back to the US, I’m considering staying on for another week or two. However, I’m fairly undecided about where to go. Based on the time of year and what’s logical and easily accessible from my starting point, I’ve narrowed it down to:

  • Brasilia // The otherworldly capital, filled with alien-like architecture
  • Pantanal (via Campo Grande) // The wildlife-filled Everglades of South America
  • Bonito // An eco-traveler’s adventure playground near Campo Grande
  • Pantanal (via Cuiba) //  Another Pantanal port of entry, with higher quality tours and better chances of spotting jaguars

I’m very hung-ho about visiting Brasilia (I grew up hearing it compared to my hometown of Albany for their bizarre shared architectural syle), and then pretty much plan to choose to visit either Campo Grande and Bonito or Cuiba. The Pantanal in particular has me baffled and so anyone with first-hand experience, I’d love to hear from you!

Pantanal Brazil(source)

Overall, I think we’ve got a great itinerary planned — some idyllic beach towns, some dynamic cities, and a heavy hit of natural wonders. Want more? Check out my Brazil Bound Pinterest board for all kinds of Brazilian eye candy.

Ilha Grande Brazil(source)

June-August // USA (mostly!)

If you’ve spent much time around here before you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I love spending my summers stateside. This one will feature the usual suspects of New York, California, and Massachusetts (home bases for the Allen-Baackes clan), though I’m also trying to work in a trip to Chicago to see family and a first-time trip to Seattle to see friends. I have grown to truly cherish my domestic travels, and really look forward to this time.

Chicago Travel(source)

I’m also flirting with two possible international trips. One to Newfoundland, which I planned to visit last summer but scrapped after waiting too long to pull the trigger and accepting the reality of astronomical flight prices and too tight of a schedule. The other potential jaunt is a journey to Scandinavia to attend TBEX in Stockholm and visit a friend in Helsinki. This is one of the few regions of Europe that really captures my imagination, but it would be a pretty frivolously expensive trip, so whether it pans out or not will depend on finances and flights – and how the rest of the summer fills up.

St. John's Canada(source)

September-December // Who knows?

This is so far away it’s silly to even attempt to nail down where I’ll be. I’ve got a ton of events on the calendar (in pencil!) but am not sure which ones I’ll attend or what might fill in in between –TBEX Asia in Manila, Thanksgiving in New York, DEMA in Las Vegas… we’ll see how it all shakes out.

One thing I do know about this period is that I’ve blocked off election day and the three weeks leading up to it off in my calendar — with my little sister working on a big campaign, my mom and I have decided that we’ll dedicate those last three critical weeks to knocking on doors, handing out bumper stickers and volunteering at polling places. I have a history of getting chocked up at the polls, and so I can’t wait to get more involved in the democratic process!

Martha's-Vineyard_164_1_1

Exploring More

So that’s what’s on the docket for 2016. Much of it in pencil, little of it in pen. One – maybe three – new countries. A new state. A few months of familiar old favorites, a few months of wide-eyed exploring, and a few still up for grabs. One traveler buzzing with excitement for the year ahead.

Is this your year? Again, my friends at Overnight are asking adventure lovers around the world to make the pledge to travel more in 2016. I don’t know about you guys, but like I said — that’s a New Year’s resolution I can get behind.

Overnight-twitter

I understand how easy it can be to let work, money, fear and other obstacles get in the way of your wanderlust. But if you’ve been itching to make travel a bigger priority in your life, make this your year. Whether it’s a weekend trip to visit a friend in a nearby town or the international adventure you’ve been dreaming about for a decade, take the leap. Join the community and use the hashtag #ExploreMore2016 to stand with me in pledging to:

Take a trip with my best friend.
Have breakfast in one city and dinner in another.
Live out of a bag for a few days. Eat where the locals do.
Watch a sunset every week.
Learn how to say ‘Cheers’ in three different languages.
Say yes to unexpected invitations.

I can’t wait to hear what you think of my announcement, and absorb all the brilliant travel advice I’m sure is coming my way (you guys always give me the best tips and tricks.) More importantly, I want to know about your upcoming travel plans and dreams — let me know what you’ve got on the docket!

2016, we’re coming for ya. Here’s to a year of adventures.

Alex in Wanderland

This post was brought to you by Overnight. If AirBnB and HotelTonight had a baby, Overnight would be their bundle of joy.

3-devide-lines
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY
152 Comments...
  • Hoping those summer plans involve the Vineyard with ME!

    Other than my trip to see you, a weekend to see Jade/Angie in Florida, and my family vacation to Europe for three weeks in August, I have no plans this year, and it feels pretty good to have the ability to be flexible for a change!
    Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate recently posted..Coastal Living: Going Off the Grid in Washington

    • Alex
      January 8 2016

      Wait, I thought Jade was in Cali? And also HARUMPH to you and Angie having fun without me. Is this revenge for Vegas? 😉

  • Mary B
    January 8 2016

    Those are some resolutions I can get down with! 2016 looks like it’s shaping up to be an amazing year for you – I hope it brings you some wonderful travel surprises in addition to all your plans!

    I’m moving to DC next week so a lot of my year will be exploring my new city and the surrounding area, which I haven’t spent much time in at all. I’ll also likely be traveling to Ghana several times for my new job (so excited!!) and I hope to maybe fit in some extra days in neighboring countries or European stopovers on those trips. I’m especially going to work on “saying yes to unexpected invitations” as I start to build a life in a new place!
    Mary B recently posted..Hasan and the Turkish Carpets

    • Melissa
      January 8 2016

      Welcome to DC!

    • Alex
      January 8 2016

      Indeed I’m sure it will! While things are pretty planned out until May, the rest of the year is pretty much just daydreams and guesses at this point. It’s always fun to go back and read this post for prior years and see what panned out and what didn’t!

      By the way, Ghana?! I’m so jealous! I have a friend there who I met at Burning Man and is has been there DJing (of all things) for a while now. So tempted to go to one of her dance parties!

  • Laryssa
    January 8 2016

    That sounds AMAZING Alex!! You are going to love Brazil. Friendly people, amazingly fresh fruit, and DELICIOUS meat. Ah, now I’m missing it…

    Things may have changed — and you likely already know this — but back when I went in 2012 it was impossible for foreigners to score cheap domestic flights within Brazil… you have to have a Brazilian ID number (I forget what it’s technically called). Fortunately, my friend whom I was visiting is Brazilian and was able to buy the ticket for me, but it was a pain in the neck. Hopefully it’s better now, but just a heads up!
    Laryssa recently posted..Is it Too Late for Me to Get a Job in Film?

    • Alex
      January 8 2016

      Now that you mention it, I vaguely remember reading about that when I first starting fantasizing about going to Brazil many years ago. Thankfully, it seems that restriction has been lifted as Heather managed to book one of our cheap internal flights the other day. But good to know if you run into trouble a Brazilian friend can help — I do have one of those too! 😉 We are traveling mostly overland, but there are a few flights in there. Fingers crossed all goes smoothly.

  • I loved the very small slice of South America that I’ve seen, so I look forward to following your trip to Brazil!

    My first “big” trip is 2 weeks in Thailand/Cambodia in March, a hiking/road trip this summer – Yosemite, Washington or Colorado. Hopefully kayaking in Baja at Christmas and if there’s any money leftover in the budget, I’d love to do a yoga retreat in Central America over Thanksgiving. Oh, and trying to save up to quit my job in 2017 and go on “sabbatical” for a bit.

    • Alex
      January 8 2016

      Wow, ALL those plans sound drool-worthy, Leigh! Crossing my fingers you get to head to the yoga retreat, because I want to hear all about it 🙂

  • Erin
    January 8 2016

    Awesome plans, Alex!! I was totally guessing Australia for your hinted-at international trip but Brazil is amaaaazing!! I went to Brazil on a tour a couple years ago and basically did the first part of your plan in (somewhat) reverse – Rio, then Ihla Grande, Paraty then Iguassu Falls (with a quick stopover in San Paulo). Obviously tours whip you through very quickly but I think 3 days in Ihla Grande is perfect. We were there 3 nights and that was a great amount of time. We were in Paraty for 2 nights and I could have used a little bit longer, though not too much. Maybe 3 or 4 nights. Rio, definitely need to go back as spent a very short amount of time there!

    I’m super excited to hear your coverage of places I’ve been and also places I wasn’t able to make it to, like Buzios and all your potential destinations after Heather departs! As for my plans, I’m heading to both Thailand and the Philippines for work!! Cannot wait – my first time to Asia! 🙂

    • Alex
      January 8 2016

      So glad to hear that about Ilha Grande! We were considering trying to stretch it to four nights since I do want to dive but I also know that I might start to get twitchy without reliable internet for that long (especially after just coming back from a festival with no internet) and if we were unlucky with the weather it seems like it wouldn’t be the best place to be stuck. We are planning to stay for a nice chunk in Paraty because it will be basically our first stop post-festival, so we want plenty of time to both recover and to catch up with our online businesses. And explore, of course!

      And welcome to Asia in 2016! I hope it blows your mind as much as it has mine 🙂

  • Kristen Sarra
    January 8 2016

    Those plans sound fantastic Alex! I’m also taking an epic trip with my best friend. She’s been married for 5 years so wanted to go out with a bang before trying to gt pregnant so we’re spending a few weeks in the Balkans – mainly Montenegro! I also booked my first trip of this year for next month in Guatemala – it’ll be my first time to Central America and couldn’t be more excited! All the best for 2016 and I look forward to following along.
    Kristen Sarra recently posted..Time and Place Combinations: A Travel Destination For Every Month

    • Alex
      January 8 2016

      That sounds amazing, and a great excuse for a trip 🙂 Central America has my heart in a big way, so I’m always excited for people to head there. I think it’s the most colorful place on the planet (at least that I’ve seen so far!)

  • Molly
    January 8 2016

    Awesome itinerary! I’m looking towards Brazil as well after a few weeks in Colombia, now with the lax summer visa requirements! Can’t wait to hear about the rest of your travels! 🙂
    Molly recently posted..Potrerillos, Argentina: Off the Beaten Path

    • Alex
      January 8 2016

      UGH I’m so bitter about the fact that they are going visa free over the summer — I wish they were extending it a little earlier 🙂 It’s going to be super complicated/expensive for me to get the visa as I’m coming straight from Thailand. But ah well, it will be worth it! And I definitely understand it’s only a fraction of what we put other countries through, too.

  • Adrienne
    January 8 2016

    Our big trip for 2016 is two weeks in Thailand over my birthday in May! I’ve been casually planning this one for years (your blog has been a fantastic resource, of course) so I’m super excited that it’s finally happening this year. I’m also hoping to go Mexico or the Caribbean towards the end of the year and I’ll be traveling a lot within the US, mostly for friends’ weddings (I’m at that age where everyone is getting married…).
    Adrienne recently posted..A Day Trip to Delphi: The Ancient Center of the World

    • Alex
      January 8 2016

      All those plans sound amazing! I think traveling for weddings can be fun, depending on the destination and the required expenditure. Talk to me in a few more years though and ask me if I still feel that way 😉 This is the first year in four or five that I haven’t had a wedding on the docket.

  • Marni
    January 8 2016

    Your year sounds amazing! Congrats on finally getting to Brazil!! Prices for airlines are outrageous up here in Canada and driving times can reach astronomical lengths, but starting next month, New Leaf airline is starting up and offering amazingly cheap flights. The catch is they’re only out of 7 smaller airports so far. Even though none of the airports are located in Newfoundland, I thought I’d pass it along to you in case your plans for Canada change slightly and you want to change your destination: http://flynewleaf.ca/travel-info/route-map-south/

    I only have one big trip planned for this year, and that’s to Scotland & England this summer, which I am beyond excited for. What Brazil is to you, Scotland is to me. Other than that, I’m also a bridesmaid in my cousin’s wedding this year, so my vacation days are already almost accounted for. It’s not the worst thing, though, because next year I have 3 big trips planned, so saving up is probably a really good idea.
    Marni recently posted..2012 – New City, New Experiences

    • Alex
      January 8 2016

      Thanks for the tip, Marni! We were just looking up flights to Newfoundland recently and they were SO reasonable — like $320ish from Boston. I think they go up and up though so might be something I need to lock in early to avoid last summer’s disappointment, when they were almost $600.

      Scotland is so gorgeous, I can see why you’re super excited to go there! And yes, saving is always a good thing. So is plenty of time to daydream and plan!

  • Fernanda
    January 8 2016

    Alex i feel I have so much to say! Not only I am from Sao Paulo last year I went back for 5 months (as home is NZ now and I’m currently on the road) and also had a Californian friend visiting me. Lets do it by parts:
    Sao Paulo – can really be amazing but you have to know where to go and its big and hard to navegate. I highly recommend that you stay either in the Vila Madalena/Pinheiros or Vila Mariana/Paraiso neighbourhoods, those are super cool, full of bars, served by the subway and reasonably safe. Staying somewhere else could completely change your experience in a bad way…
    Rio – you will soon learn that people from SP are not usually fans of Rio, I went to Rio for the first time last year and took my friend, we both felt is overrated but I hope you have a blast and call me crazy! Rio can be super expensive, and although I know there are some hostels around I believe airbnb is the way to go, we stayed in a AC basic flat in Copacabana and got a pretty cheap deal, budget permitting I recommend you to stay in Ipanema or Leblon as those are a bit nicer than Copacabana.
    I haven’t been to Ilha Grande in over 15 years but its great, 3 nights will be ok. I haven’t actually been to either Buzios or Paraty but I believe they are pretty similar places, maybe you can skip one and use the time for a more different experience.
    Foz do Iguacu – we did that last year as well, we stayed at a great hostel called Poesia and we visited both the Brazilian and Argentinian side, they Are pretty different, in Brazil the park facilities are top noch and the waterfalls huge, in Argentina the park is run down and the waterfalls smaller but there are so many of them! I enjoyed both but as you know you need a visa for both countries and it is not cheap and if you are crossing the border by public transport it can be a bit hard, the busses usually stop only at the Argentinian Immigration but you guys would have to stamp exit from brazil and entry in Argentina and the other way around on the way back, we ended up missing one stamp because the bus driver didnt believe we had to stop and almost got fined on the way back. Also there was a huge line and we missed the last bus that crosses the border. In the end my friend thought that going to the Argentinian side was not worth the effort.
    I have only been to Brasilia as a kid and I like it but I am not sure I would recommend to a foreigner, there was a big music scene there in the 80’s but I am not sure what the city has to offer now a days apart from the architecture, I would say don’t spend too long there if you really want to go.
    Never been to Pantanal but heard it’s amazing, I believe most people do a river tour and stay in the boat for a couple of days, I would definitely do it.
    One place that my friend and I really enjoyed was Ouro Preto, a city built around the gold mines back when Portugal ruled, its full of history and great architecture and its the place I felt the safest in the whole country. This is in Minas Gerais estate, border with Rio, its not close but it wouldn’t be too hard to do it on your way to Brasilia I guess.
    I guess that is what comes to mind at the moment but don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. I would definitely take you guys out if I was around, maybe my brother can do it, he follows your blog as he is a diver and his gf lived in NY for a bit, I am sure you guys would have heaps to talk about.
    Let me know if you have any doubts.

    • Alex
      January 8 2016

      Hey Fernanda! Thank you so much for all your amazing tips!

      I’m actually pretty excited for Sao Paulo. I heard someone compare Sao Paulo to New York and Rio to LA or Miami, and I thought that was an interesting comparison. For the first two nights before the festival I’m planning to stay in a design hostel in Vila Mariana, and then after we are looking at AirBnBs in Vila Madalena. So hitting both your recommended spots 🙂

      We are also looking at AirBnBs in Rio — we’ve found some that look like a great deal! All the nicer ones seem to be in Copacabana, so we are trying to decide if we’d rather stay in a basic place in Ipanema or a nice place in Copacabana.

      Interesting to hear your take on Iguacu. It is definitely a bit frustrating to pay $130US for a visa to go for just one day — I wish they had a day rate! 🙂 We debated this a bit but in the end felt like it would be crazy to go all the way there and then not see such a big chunk of it so we will probably just suck it up and pay. We might do the organized transfer to and from to avoid any of the border problems you mention, they do sound annoying! Actually in my original plan I wanted to go to Ouro Preto instead of the falls, because I was too put off by the distance and the visas and all that. Heather convinced me we had to do the falls and it wasn’t too bad of a compromise to make! 😉

      I do really want to go to Brasilia which I know is strange for a tourist 🙂 But like I said I grew up hearing it compared to the strange architecture of my own hometown in Albany, New York and so it feels a bit like a pilgrimage. I found a hostel and since it is easy and cheap to get there with flights I think it will be a nice little detour for maybe two days.

      Thank you so much for all your advice! It is really helpful. And I’d love to be put in touch with your brother, always great to know a local in a big city!

      • Emma
        January 9 2016

        I was also going to suggest going to the Argentine side of the falls, but wasn’t sure if they had a special visa waiver for one-day hops across the border. You get fet helicopter trips from the Brazilian side which will give you a different perspective, but if I remember rightly the boat trips out to the falls themselves are based in Argentina.
        Buzios is beautiful, two things I recommend eating:acai (with or without granola) and tapioca, which are more like pancakes, and can be sweet or savoury. There’s a really nice café in Santa Teresa in Rio which also does great acai and granola.
        Really looking forward to reading about your Brazilian adventures, it’s a country I’d love to explore more.

        And if you do go to Penang, the Indian quarter has some really good curries, as you’d expect!

        One thing we discovered the hard way in Khao Yai is that they don’t sell alcohol in the park (at least they didn’t 10 years ago) and as we definitely didn’t bring enough for the weekend! But it’s a beautiful part of the country, rubbish stealing monkeys included 🙂

        • Alex
          January 9 2016

          Ugh, yeah, I wish they had like a one day discount or something, ha. Full $130, even just for a few hours. They have boat trips on both sides, and I’ve gotten mixed reports on which is better (a lot say that the Argentina ones get closer, but my guidebook insinuates the Brazil ones are safer and more organized). I guess we will just see what fits with our schedule.

          And good tip on Khao Yai! We’ll be sure to stock up before arrival 🙂

      • Fernanda
        January 24 2016

        I will send you an email with my brother’s contact details. As per your travel plans, have you considered spending a few days in Buenos Aires to make the most of your visa? It is an amazing city, very European and very different from anything in Brazil, I don’t think the flights should cost too much, you probably have considered this already but I thought I would mention it. In the meantime time, I am in Bangkok right now and will be heading to Ko Tao soon, possibly with my brother who is considering doing his dive master. If you have the time and would like to meet up I would love to have drink and give you some more tips about Brazil.

        • Alex
          January 25 2016

          Hey Fernanda, that’s awesome! I’ll look out for your email. I’m heading off the island on Wednesday for a bit but perhaps our paths will cross.

  • Ashley
    January 8 2016

    Ahh, such exciting travel plans!! I can’t wait to read about your experiences in Brazil – your itinerary looks awesome. I have yet to step foot on the South American continent, but Brazil is high on my wish list!

    I took the Overnight pledge to explore more – I love the idea of committing to spending one weekend away every month, especially since I’m living abroad at the moment and have so many amazing weekend trip options! I don’t have definite travel plans for most of 2016 yet, but I’m heading to Berlin in Feb and thinking of spending St. Paddy’s Day in Ireland 🙂
    Ashley recently posted..The Best Things I Ate in 2015

    • Alex
      January 8 2016

      Those sound like some awesome plans! Yeah, I am basically doing the “one weekend away per month” thing while being here in Thailand. Some of the trips are a little longer than a weekend since it takes quite a while to get on and off this island to anywhere else. But I love it as a general guideline for life!

  • Kacy
    January 8 2016

    Ah! I get such second hand excitement hearing about people visiting Brazil. It’s such a beautiful, magical place! Sao Paulo and Rio are amazing, and Paraty is simply perfect! (Although if you’ll be driving from SP, be prepared for a somewhat terrifying experience – look up alternate routes if you can!) You have to be sure to go to the Saco do Mamangua (a tropical fjord) – so gorgeous. Trindade, a little beach town nearby, is totally worth a visit as well since there really aren’t any great beaches within the town of Paraty itself (the local beach is cute, but leaves a little to be desired). I agree with above commenter about knowing where to stay in SP. Jardins/Pinheiros/Vila Madalena are definitely your best bets. And based on your blog, I think you would LOVE Casa Jaya – a vegan restaurant and eco center with yoga classes and more. I couldn’t get enough of it when I discovered it on my last visit, right in Pinheiros. Oh and ZaZa Bistro Tropical in Rio is another must! Gah, I could go on but I’ll give it a rest 🙂

    I would have loved to have gone to Iguazu or the Pantanal while there, but missed out last time. Looking forward to reading about your experiences and going myself one of these days.
    Kacy recently posted..2016 Travel Wish List

    • Alex
      January 8 2016

      I was all over your blog while researching 🙂 We are taking a shuttle transfer from Sao Paulo to Paraty — hopefully that will be okay? Thank you for the tips on Casa Jaya and Zaza, I just added them to my trip notes! Heather is a vegetarian which I think may be a struggle for some parts of this trip 🙂 I’ll be splitting my time in Sao Paulo between Vila Mariana and Vila Madalena. I’m actually so excited about that city!

  • I can’t wait to read about your Brazil adventures! I have watched a lot of Brazilian soap operas in the past (thanks to my Portuguese grandmother) and Brazil just looks insanely gorgeous! Looking forward to the pictures and stories! 😀
    Amanda | Lesson Plans & Layovers recently posted..What I Miss Most About the Highlands of Scotland

    • Alex
      January 9 2016

      Ha, that’s hilarious. I might have to watch a few to get into the spirit!

  • madlen
    January 8 2016

    Your plans for 2016 sound amazing! I’m sure that you’re gonna have a fantastic time in Brazil!
    I have a five week vacation coming up, starting with visiting family in New York and Charleston and three weeks in Nicaragua after that (thanks to your Posts about that area). I mostly want to spend time at the pacific coast, surfing and doing yoga. It would be awesome if you could give me some advice on where to go and how to travel around (I also sent you an email a few days ago). I know that you’re really busy and it will be a fantastic trip for sure!
    Thank you for inspiring me to see a country I wouldn’t even have considered otherwise!

    • Alex
      January 9 2016

      Oh man, Nicaragua! My favorite! Just went and searched for your email — sorry, the pile is enormous right now. But I do have it — will respond now 🙂

      • madlen
        January 10 2016

        Thank you so much for your advice. Knowing how busy you are it really means a lot. Can’t wait for the trip 🙂

  • Leah
    January 8 2016

    Putting me to shame in the planning department! I feel like my year is still entirely up in the air, and that’s a sort of frustrating feeling when I was hoping not to move around as much as I had been. Now I’ve got all kinds of ideas swirling around in my head and only time will tell what’s going to actually come to fruition. You’re going to have an amazing year though and I’m excited to follow along! xx
    Leah recently posted..Friday Snapshots: New Year’s Eve and Then Some

    • Alex
      January 9 2016

      I know how you feel — it sucks when practicalities and logistics get in the way of our grand plans! Here’s hoping it’s smooth sailing for you in the year ahead 🙂

  • Cassie
    January 8 2016

    I really hope you end up visiting Newfoundland! I finally made my way over there last summer despite being born and raised in Canada myself, and I absolutely loved it. St. John’s is such a lovely place, and the people are truly the friendliest. Sounds like you have an exciting year ahead of you, can’t wait to follow along!

    • Alex
      January 9 2016

      I really hope I make it as well. I was so pumped to go last year but with an ever filling calendar and flight prices over $600 I just couldn’t justify it. Fingers crossed it works out this time!

  • Catherine
    January 8 2016

    Hey Alex! I spent last year living in , Sao Paulo Brazil. I got a chance to go to both Pantanal and Bonito and I loved them both! In Pantanal I went on wildlife tours, eco tours, and got to go horseback riding. In Bonito I went scuba diving, snorkeling, and rafting. Both places are great!

    • Alex
      January 9 2016

      Hey Catherine! So you went into the Pantanal from Campo Grande then? I like the sounds of the tours going out of Cuiba better but do love that from Campo Grand I could visit Bonito. I’m torn!

  • Melissa
    January 8 2016

    If you can fit it in, I highly recommend Fernando de Noronha while in Brazil. Hop an Azul Air flight from one of the eastern cities.

    It’s a super small island that only allows so many people to be on it at one time. It’s home to several of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and has some prime diving excursions as well. It would be an awesome spot for a low-key weekend in the middle of the otherwise chaos that is traveling domestically within Brazil. It was my favorite part of the two weeks I spent there for the World Cup.

    Also, Natal is fairly nice, a bit farther north. It’s home to the largest Cashew Tree in the world, and Pippa is an amazing beach town a short drive away.
    Melissa recently posted..The Monthly Wrap – December 2015