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As I stare at the rapidly filling fall calendar in front of me, it’s hard not to reflect on what an amazing summer I’ve just wrapped up. This summer brought me all across the USA, from Philadelphia to Denver, from Martha’s Vineyard to Myrtle Beach, and right across the border at Niagara Falls. I even squeezed in a big international adventure, visiting Iceland and the England and checking off my 17th country. I vacationed with both family and friends, soaked up sunshine and time with some of my favorite people on this planet, and when I wasn’t on the road I split my days between my dual hometowns of New York City and Albany.

It’s going to be hard to top that moving forward, but you know I’m going to try! I’ve still got tons of summer stuff to recap, but here’s what’s next.

Next Stop: A Month in Hawaii!

I’m headed off to the Aloha State! Back when I spent a summer living in The Cayman Islands, my friend Wim couldn’t stop talking about her love for her adopted home state. Remember Wim? Not only was she one of my Cayman besties, but she and her new husband Dave also came to visit me in Thailand before I attended their wedding this summer! Now that they are settled back in Oahu, I’m going to go crash with them for two weeks, and I’ve timed my visit to team up with other visiting Cayman bestie Heather.

We are planning on squeezing in tons of beach time, lots of hikes, a little yoga and painting, hopefully some scuba diving, and the most exciting of all… SKYDIVING! I’m completely terrified but also giddy with excitement. I’m sure there will be tears involved but afterward I’ll be so happy I did it.

Oahu TravelImages clockwise from top left: Sky Dive Hawaii, SMU Daily, Aloha-Hawaii, Akupara Yoga

After those two weeks are up, I’m heading to The Big Island for a week. Heather and I will be hosted by some generous family friends of mine who have retired there. We are planning to tackle the famous Manta Ray night dive, explore Volcanoes National Park, and hopefully spot sea turtles on one of the island’s black sand beaches.

Big Island TravelImages clockwise from top left: Beaches Uptake, Say Yes to Hoboken, Camping Tourist, Lonely Planet

Lastly, I’m swinging through Maui! Here I’ll be relying on the hospitality of my aunt and uncle, who live on the island part-time, and a fellow travel-writing-scuba-diver on the island who I met at TBEX. I don’t think I’ll stop moving on Maui, where I plan to dive, surf, stand up paddleboard and more!

Maui TravelImages clockwise from top left: Chron, Lonely Planet, Professional Surf Guide, Photography Match

As you can see, I have a rough idea of my plans, but to be honest I’m completely overwhelmed by everything Hawaii has to offer! A month is a long time but I get exhausted simply flipping through my Lonely Planet guide — I think I could spend a year on these islands and just brush the surface of all there is to do.

So far this is a totally free trip — I’m staying exclusively with friends and family and I booked my flight using credit card reward points (SCORE!), so I’m willing to splurge on a few big things. Do any of you have any insider tips or suggestions, any must-dos and sees that I absolutely cannot miss? I’d be eternally grateful for your suggestions!

Also in the Works: Nevada

Some readers may recall that back at TBEX I won a stay at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. So at the moment I’m trying to rally some friends for a wild weekend in Vegas, which I conveniently have just enough frequent flyer miles to get to for free (SCORE AGAIN!) If all goes according to plan I’ll go ahead a few days and take a side trip to the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately this whole trip relies on convincing other people to travel with me (Vegas is no fun solo!) which is not a position I love to be in. But fingers crossed!

Nevada TravelImages clockwise from top left: Me, Me, The Cosmopolitan, Terra Galleria

Holidays At Home

After those two trips, I plan on laying low and spending the holidays at home. Halloween, Thanksgiving and my birthday all fall within a month of each other. What else do they have in common? I love spending them with my friends and family! I adore throwing parties, getting dressed up, decorating and baking and doing holiday crafts — that kind of stuff is my idea of heaven. True story: One day in Thailand I was sitting on the beach with friends and we were all talking about what we missed most about home. The usual suspects were named: food, friends, etc. My answer, which was met with unending laughter? Crafts. I missed doing crafts.

I know some people love traveling over the holidays, but its just not for me. I had a great time spending Halloween in Sihanoukville last year, but it was nothing compared to the way we do it in New York. And Skyping into Thanksgiving dinner last year from Vietnam just did not cut it. This year it’s convenient for me to spend my favorite holidays at home, and so I’m going to do it.

Then there’s the big one — Christmas. My heart is really pulled in two directions on this one. On one hand I want to throw my annual dinner party, sing carols in church on Christmas Eve, and spend Christmas morning with my family. On the other hand, my feet are already itching for my next big international adventure and I’m just not sure if I can hold off until December 26th.

Spending the Holidays at Home
And Beyond…

Looking way forward into the first days of 2013, I hope to be at the beginning of my next big backpacking adventure! Long term readers will recall I’ve been debating whether to head back to Southeast Asia or to go to South America for this trip, which will include doing my Divemaster Training. I’ll have about a five month window before I need to get back to New York to watch my baby sis graduate, and right now I’m leaning towards heading back to Southeast Asia. Stay tuned!

What are your upcoming travel plans this fall?

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66 Comments...
  • kami
    September 5 2012

    that’s some pretty awesome travel plans!I’m already looking forward to reading about these adventures and seeing your great pictures! 🙂
    I have some serious plans for upcomming months too: Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Balkans, China, BeNeLux, Ireland, Cyprus, France, Morocco, Spain and Ireland again – I’m gonna be pretty busy but I don’t mind that at all 😉
    kami recently posted..Wanderlust Wednesday: Australia

    • Alex
      September 5 2012

      Thank you so much Kami! Wow, you have a seriously busy travel schedule coming up! Morocco sounds dreamy, I’d love to get there someday.

  • Kristina
    September 5 2012

    I usually rely on Lonely Planet as well, but my husband and I went to Maui a few years back, and found the following travel book to be light years better: Maui Revealed (http://www.amazon.com/Maui-Revealed-Guidebook-Andrew-Doughty/dp/0981461034/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1346857913&sr=1-1). I don’t know how the other books in the series are (for the other islands), but I can say that the Maui one is a must.

    • Alex
      September 5 2012

      Kristina, thank you for the tip! I’ll definitely have a look for that, I think I’ve seen it mentioned online once or twice. I really appreciate it!

  • Vicky
    September 5 2012

    Very exciting plans! We will be spending Thanksgiving in Vietnam this year as you did last year — though I’m hoping my parents will be visiting during that time! My vote is that you head to SE Asia after xmas and that we can hopefully meet in person somewhere!
    Vicky recently posted..A Couple Travelers By The Numbers – August ’12

    • Alex
      September 5 2012

      My parents were able to visit for Christmas last year, and it made all the difference in the world! And yes, I’d love to meet up in person!

  • Sarah
    September 5 2012

    How exciting! Can’t wait to hear about Hawaii!
    Sarah recently posted..I’ve Been Shellac-ed!

    • Alex
      September 5 2012

      Thanks Sarah! I can’t wait to get there! So soon…

  • Savvy Scot
    September 5 2012

    This is AWESOME!!! Majorly jealous but excited to ‘travel’ with you! PS Skydiving is amazing…. You could become an instructor and add that to your skillset 🙂
    Savvy Scot recently posted..Scottish Insolvencies Rise – How does this compare with the rest of the UK?

    • Alex
      September 5 2012

      Thank you so much Scot! Well, I think I should do my first jump before I make any plans to become an instructor 🙂 But I hope I love it that much!

  • Hannah
    September 5 2012

    Wow, that all sounds amazing Alex! I have always wanted to go to Hawaii so it will be great to follow your journey. And if you do decide to travel over Christmas you should come and spend it was us in Goa 🙂
    Hannah recently posted..The truth shall set you free

    • Alex
      February 4 2017

      Came back to this post to fix a broken link and saw that somehow I never replied to a Hannah comment?! How could this be 🙂 Well, here I am righting that wrong!

  • Bonnie Toth
    September 5 2012

    When I was (much) younger, I took up skydiving and absolutely loved it!!!! 207 jumps to my name (and one broken ankle!) … you know how much you love scuba diving? This is like scuba diving, only up in the air… you can see for miles and miles, with just the sound of the wind rushing by. No other feeling or experience like it!!!! You’re going to love it, although the first time happens so fast, you really need to do it a few times to appreciate it.

    • Alex
      September 5 2012

      Bonnie you are amazing! I hope I love skydiving as much as you do, but I’ve heard before exactly what you said that the first time goes by in a blur. I’m going to try extra hard to be in the moment and experience it all…

  • Chris Shaw
    September 5 2012

    How excellent!!! Everyone back in Upstate NY is SO happy for you! Thanks for sharing your adventures!!! Since Bourdain is leaving the Travel Channel for CNN Weekend,…I sense a void in their schedule,…hmmmmm who do we know that could step into that gap? ;>)

    • Alex
      September 5 2012

      Ha, I’d love to step into his time slot, but not his show! No way would I eat all that stuff…

  • Alejandro
    September 5 2012

    I can’t wait to read your post about Hawaii!!! But you should come to South America next year!!

    • Alex
      September 5 2012

      Thanks Alejandro… I’ll keep your vote in mind 🙂

  • Nomadic Matt
    September 5 2012

    I believe I have already offered to come to Vegas,….multiple times!
    Nomadic Matt recently posted..15 Reasons Why Flying United Airlines Sucks

    • Alex
      September 5 2012

      Haven’t you been banned yet?

  • Shannon
    September 5 2012

    Hi Alex – I got my open water on the Big Island on Boxing Day in 2006 – the next week on New Years Day we celebrated the beginning of a new year (and being newly certified) with the manta night dive with Big Island Divers! BEST experience diving – it is not to be missed. It is one of my biggest accomplishments to date! You will have an amaaaazing dive. Can’t wait to read all about it and relive it! Hawaii is heavenly. PS for the record, I’m voting you visit South America instead of SE Asia.. only because I’m going there in Feb for 5 months and I’m thrilled at the (rare) possibility of running into you! Me and some girlfriends are going to be diving in Colombia and Galapagos and I simply cannot wait. Camera shopping commenced today!
    Shannon recently posted..The Fabulous “LA Life”

    • Alex
      September 5 2012

      Hi Shannon! That sounds like an amazing introduction to diving! Who did you dive with? Any other Big Island tips? And if we’re both in South America at the same time, I’d love to have a dive buddy!

      • Shannon
        September 6 2012

        It was absolutely fantastic! Big Island Divers was who my family dove with, they were great, knowledgeable, very attentive and fun! They are located in Kona. http://www.bigislanddivers.com/ I would absolutely recommend them and dive with them again! On our own we went down south to Honaunau Bay which is often referred to as the “City of Refuge”, after the Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historic Park. Tons of turtles (we saw at least 20 including one with a 5ft diameter shell!), drop offs, amazing coral and fish – often see dolphins there too. You’d have to rent and transport your own dive gear there – we just snorkelled but would definitely return with tanks there. Wasn’t busy and we spent several hours exploring in the water! Waipio Valley is amazingly natural and beautiful, but you need a 4×4 vehicle to access it. There’s really cool lava tubes/tunnels you can walk through at Kilauea volcano and around the crater rim.. we also did a small plane tour of the island which was spectacular – could see lava and TONS of waterfalls around the islands coast which you would never be able to see otherwise, as well as humpback whales! Rent kayaks and visit the Captain Cook Memorial – good snorkelling there, we saw a few octopus and tons of schools of fish! the Big Island is BLISS! Would be stoked to dive with you in South America!
        Shannon recently posted..The Fabulous “LA Life”

        • Alex
          September 7 2012

          Thanks Shannon! I’ve written down all your tips in my notebook… hopefully I’ll have time to get to all of them!

  • Adrian
    September 5 2012

    I recommend zip lining, bike ride down Haleakala volcano, definitely surfing, road to Hana, and check out the bars in Lahaina when you’re on Maui. 🙂 I would say also go on a whale watching boat, but you’ll be out of season, but not out of the ordinary to spot one. The submarine adventure was pretty cool (Mark/Linda’s friend is the submarine captain). Also, go scuba diving off Lanai where you can check out the First Cathedral – its a boat ride from Maui. That was my first diving experience, and it was amazing! We’re going back in Decemeber will plan to do that again. Kirsten will probably have more ideas for you when there.

    • Alex
      September 5 2012

      I didn’t know you guys were headed back in December! One of these days we are going to have to go at the same time. Now that I know people on three of the islands I’m hoping this won’t be my last trip to Hawaii. Thanks for all the suggestions!

  • cody
    September 5 2012

    I vote for South East Asia! It’s cheaper and there are so many places you’ve yet to see.

    • Alex
      September 5 2012

      Very true! If I return I’ll be sure to hit up The Philippines, Indonesia, Burma, and perhaps Northern Vietnam or Thailand’s Andaman Coast.

  • Lindsey
    September 5 2012

    Asia, Asia! Ahh, your plans sound like a helluva lot of fun. You should definitely spend those first months of 2013 in Asia though… I’d love to meet up!
    Lindsey recently posted..The Stonehenge Dilemna

    • Alex
      September 5 2012

      Looks like I have readers in both locations 🙂 Where ever I end up we will have to have a massive meet up!

  • Gaelyn
    September 5 2012

    I’d try skydiving almost anywhere, Hawaii would do. Will be living vicariously through your adventure.
    I’m planning Central America after the first of 2013.
    If you plan to visit the North Rim of Grand Canyon before the end of October let me know. Would love to meet and show you around my back yard.
    Gaelyn recently posted..My Friday on Tuesday at Grand Canyon

    • Alex
      September 5 2012

      Gaelyn, do you happen to know of any group tours to the Grand Canyon from Vegas? Sad to say I’m not able to rent a car so I’d need to do this one package style!

  • bristol
    September 6 2012

    Maybe you should go to vegas between hawaii and christmas to satiate your itchy feet.

    I would love to see Alex in Burma and Northern Vietnam. I loved Halong and Hoi An and despite your aversion to the south, I think you will like it too.

    • Alex
      September 6 2012

      That’s the plan! To head there in November… but we’ll see how things shake out. I’m definitely going to see Halong Bay before I die, I think I’ll love it!

  • Grandma Burr
    September 6 2012

    Enjoying all your travels while lazing in my easy chair. Dont stop entertaining me. Gram E

    • Alex
      September 7 2012

      I wouldn’t dare 🙂

  • Chantel
    September 7 2012

    If your going to Oahu, there is one place you can not miss out on. It is a must to do.You may have to break a few rules, but it is well worth the risk. Just do a little research and you’ll be fine. (DONT LISTEN TO THE FORBIDDEN POSTS!)

    Well here it is, are you ready?

    Stairway To Heaven

    The name says it all.

    Here’s a post I found that sums it up:

    http://www.honolulumagazine.com/Honolulu-Magazine/April-2012/Afterthoughts-Fence-Hopping/

    I’m a new reader of your blog, and just cant keep stop reading(a no no at work! opps)

    • Alex
      September 7 2012

      Thanks for the tip Chantel! That website seems like it will be a great resource. I’m a major rule follower but maybe with my friends in tow I’ll have the courage to skip past the signs 🙂

  • How exciting!!!!!!!!!! I love me some Hawaii. 🙂

    • Alex
      September 10 2012

      I’m so so so excited! I leave in a week — ahhhh!

  • Sky
    September 7 2012

    Sounds like an exciting next few months! I would love to go to Hawaii sometime.

    As for your adventure next year…I would totally recommend South America. Granted, I’ve never actually been there yet but I love the entire Latin American culture (I’ve been to Guatemala and Panama) and I’m sure adventures there are just as exciting as SE Asia. (But, then again…SE Asia is pretty sweet as well.)
    Sky recently posted..My Birthday Wish

    • Alex
      September 10 2012

      Ugh so hard to chose! I know how you feel… I haven’t stepped foot in SA yet but I feel like I’m already in love with latin culture! I have been to Central America three times, if that counts for anything 🙂

  • Sally Stetton
    September 8 2012

    Your travel plans are going to be an amazing adventure. I am looking forward to reading all about it and looking at your amazing photos. You are braver than me to skydive! I am very afraid of heights and I think they would have had to have a couple of people push me out of the plane! 🙂

    Sally Stretton

    • Alex
      September 10 2012

      I was talking to a friend about it this weekend and I said that I really hope they will take my word for it when I tell them to push me out of the plane! I don’t think I’ll get out otherwise…

  • Dita
    September 9 2012

    Please come to Indonesia, Alex..
    i can’t wait to see your post about my country. 🙂
    really wish to catch up with you.
    Let me know when you have a plan to come to Indonesia. 😉

    • Alex
      September 10 2012

      I would love to, Dita! Hopefully I will make up my mind soon…

  • Valerie
    September 9 2012

    You have to drive the road to Hana while you are in Maui! Definitely the coolest drive I have ever done. My friends and I drove one way, stayed in Hana overnight & then finished the circle the next day. Totally worth it to drive the whole loop instead of turning around at Hana, though it’s banned by rental car companies…oops!

    • Alex
      September 10 2012

      Unfortunately I’m not even old enough to rent a car without paying nearly double the price in fees! My aunt and uncle live on the island though, so hopefully I can convince them to drive me 🙂 Thanks for the tip!

  • Heather
    September 12 2012

    SE Asia in 2013! Although I am completely biased because I’ll be there from Jan-June 🙂

    • Alex
      September 12 2012

      Oh my goodness… it really sounds like a big meet-up may be in order!

  • Fidel @IHarTravel
    September 17 2012

    Great plans. Hawaii is still a place I need to visit that I’ve passed on many times.
    My plans are what caused my brief hiatus. The Navy informed me that I’d be leaving Japan sooner than expected so that I could attend a school in Virginia. Since my ship isn’t paying for it, it means that I won’t be returning to Japan unless my new orders send me here.
    I leave Japan next week :-(. I had the Navy direct my flight to Seattle (a city I’ve never been) so that I could spent a few days in that part of the country before I go to my hometown of Columbus, Ohio, for two weeks. The school I am reporting to is in Richmond, Virginia. I’ll be in that area for Autumn which is great for landscape imagery. I’m looking at traveling to D.C., NYC, and maybe Philly on weekends I have off.
    Fidel @IHarTravel recently posted..Before I Say ‘Sayonara:’ Best Memories of Japan

    • Alex
      September 18 2012

      One of my favorite blogs, Young House Love (home improvement blog, strange I know) is based in Richmond! They do some great posts about local events and things to do in the area… you should check it out! Congratulations on heading back to school! What are you getting a degree in?

  • brandee
    September 20 2012

    I just found your blog while looking for info on cambodia/vietnam and came across this post! I live on the North Shore of Oahu and know you will have a great trip. It’s an amazing place and it feels like we are always on holiday! Hopefully you can fit Kauai into your plans…it’s definitely my favorite Island! Have fun!

    • Alex
      September 20 2012

      I’m heading to the North Shore today for SKYDIVING! So excited, can’t wait 😉 Unfortunately no time for Kauai on this trip… but I have a feeling already that this isn’t my last trip to Hawaii.

      • brandee
        September 20 2012

        I had a feeling you would head to Dillingham for that! It’s amazing up here right now. While you are on the North Shore definitely try Opal’s Thai Restaurant…the food is so good! It’s not the usual tourist stop so I have to mention it 🙂 Have a great time!

        • Alex
          September 22 2012

          My friend that I’m staying with mentioned that restaurant… will definitely have to try it out with two local recommendations!

  • Rohan
    May 5 2015

    Hey Alex

    Nice to see your travel plans but i love to see your enthu and passion for travel and i am alsways amazed by you pics.

    Do plan to come to Penang, I will be honored to host you as i am a CSer. Also please share your secret on how you post edit your snaps. Do you have any present which you can share wiht me. I always use Light room .

    Cheers
    Rohan

    • Alex
      May 5 2015

      Hey Rohan! Thank you for the generous offer. I edit my photos using a combination of Adobe Bridge and Adobe Photoshop. I love the NoiseNinja plugin and I play around with various free filter downloads. Hope that helps!

  • Scuba Scott
    February 2 2016

    Hi Alex,

    I stumbled upon your excellent blog the other by searching for something scuba diving or divemaster related, the actual thing escapes me now.

    After reading your divemaster series, I felt the need to start from the beginning of your adventures and have got to this point so far! Your travels have been awesome and I’m really jealous. I’ve had some adventures myself, but no where near as successful or fun as you!

    Just felt compelled to write you a quick note to say thanks (so far) before I dive back into the next post 🙂

    Cheers,
    Scott

    • Alex
      February 6 2016

      Hey Scott! Thanks so much for coming along on my journey 🙂 And for taking the time to comment!

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