I never thought I’d be sitting here again, typing up a new travel list for 2018.
But here I am, writing said list whilst listening to Slovenian electronica and staring constantly occasionally with want at the empty bottle of port on my desk as the winds howl and the skies darken (additionally, I’m doing dry January, *smacks head,* so I can’t even go out and buy another bottle to drown my current sorrows). Yet don’t get me wrong, although I adore and spend hours researching different countries, their people, their cultures, their sights and exactly why I should visit, I thought I’d had it down for this year. I thought that I had actually planned 2018, and quite well at that. I had believed I was organised and successfully ‘adulting’ in life, rather than what I did in 2017 which, although it included amazing visits to amazing countries such as India, Portugal and Cambodia, was generally unexpected and very hurriedly ‘prepared.’
Because from as early as June 2017 I was determined to have preparations in place for the following year, because I knew that after my two months in South East Asia in November I couldn’t afford to travel for free anymore. I’d already spent a good chunk of my savings on these unprepared trips and my bank accounts were yelling at me to ‘get a fucking job otherwise you won’t be able to eat let alone travel.’
So because of this I found a job as an English teacher, meaning I could earn money and continue to travel! My long-term dream! I had my phone interviews in Thailand at the beginning of September and found out I had been accepted for a position only a week later whilst I lay in bed at the most beautiful lodgings in Koh Lanta. This was it! I was going to be a teacher in South America – Colombia, in fact. I was exultant, and upon my return from Asia in November threw myself into relearning basic Spanish, watching Narcos, listening to more Latin American music, eating coconut rice, etc. etc.
I. Was. Pumped.
Nine months of teaching, earning money and learning Spanish before travelling the rest of South America!? Hell yes.
But then the job offer fell through. And I wasn’t informed of it until the 29th December, three to four weeks before I was due to fly out and start a new life.
I won’t go into details yet, but I suddenly found myself without a plan, and this, Colombia, had been my plan for three months already! Shit.
I panicked because I didn’t have a job because I thought I was going abroad, I panicked because I had very little money dedicated solely to travelling, and I panicked because I just didn’t have a sense of direction as to what I was doing or where I was going in my life.
But fast forward a few days, an NYE party, a short depression and many coffees later, and I’m calm. Well, calm-ish. If I could have the time of my life travelling without planning last year, surely I can do it again this year, even if I do have to pay a bit lot more attention to finances. Regardless however, it was whilst I was looking at my map of the world and going on my favourite travel blogs that I began to feel excited again, really, truly excited, because despite having no idea what I’m doing, I’m having a great time examining countries and I can already feel the butterflies fluttering in my stomach, letting me know that they are cheerful and thrilled and raring to go, and my heart is alongside them in every way.
Last year I (somewhat) managed to fulfil one of my travel goals, which was to smoke weed, eat space cake and drink coffee in Amsterdam. However, whilst most of this didn’t actually take place in Amsterdam and was actually accomplished in the beautiful cities of Utrecht and Haarlem, I adored the quick-witted, friendly locals and the stunning architecture I encountered during my five days. Yet despite this, because Holland is a tiny country with fantastic transport links, I was actually pretty pissed that I hadn’t planned to spend at least two weeks there, which would have afforded me enough time to visit other cities including Edam-Volendam and Rotterdam. Here’s hoping to visit in April/May though, when the tulips The Netherlands is famous for are in full bloom!
The Middle East
Falafel, tabbouleh, baba ghanoush and more, food is half of the reason I’m determined to get to some countries in this region including Lebanon, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Alongside gaining an understanding of the various cultures, religions and customs practised in these states, (as the Middle East is an area I know almost nothing about), I’ve heard great things about the region in terms of beauty, history and style. I can just imagine, for example, sitting at a rooftop café in Jordan, drinking strong black coffee and eating sweet baklava whilst gazing over aged biblical cities and salivating over the street fashion.
Or more specifically, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. To be honest, I may as well just throw in Bangladesh and the Maldives and just try to visit all of the Subcontinent, because from the tiny bit of it I saw in 2017 when I was in Rajasthan, India, I need to see it all. I fell in love with the contrasts (think quiet deserts to chaotic cities, bright lights to complete darkness), and I fell in love with the food – oh God, the food – colours and jewellery. When I was in the hippy town of Pushkar in February drinking ‘special lassis’ I made a decision to one day return and travel around the whole of India, because with so much to see, two months really wasn’t long enough. And hey, if I’m already in India, it makes sense to surely go to the countries which surround it, amirite?
Laos and Vietnam
Surely you managed to guess by now that I have all of the money in the world and apparently all of the time too, considering I’m wanting to visit at least 12 countries and there’s only 12 calendar months? Well, that’s a lie. I have dwindling funds and the same amount of time as everyone else, but this is my dream list, damn it, and if it remains a dream with only a few of these or none of these coming true, then so be it! However, ignoring the lack of money and time and bringing optimism to the forefront, I would love to return to SE Asia and visit Laos and Vietnam because, having visited Thailand and Cambodia last September and October, I’d heard amazing things about the scenery and vibes of these other two popular backpacking countries!
Or Austria, I’m not really fussed, because I would just quite like to make this the year I finally get to one of the infamous Christmas markets. Gingerbread and Gluhwein? Yes please!
I’ve a few other goals too – I would like to volunteer at a refugee camp, live abroad for at least four months and somehow manage to find a job that would allow me the ability to continue to travel. I do also need to sort out getting a TEFL certificate, and, long story short, that may involve me going to Poland to complete my scholarship, which, looking at the cheaper airlines, I could afford to do this month if I put my mind to it. So although I’m still panicking, and still worried and still nervous and still watching the entirety of RuPaul’s Drag Race and Will and Grace to ignore the fact that I’m not at work and that I do not have any travel plans, I still have hope and I still have excitement.
…But damn, I could use that bloody drink!