Chichen Itza Mexico

Choosing My Next Travel Destination… Help Needed!

Derek Personal Stuff 144 Comments

Chichen Itza Mexico

The time has come once again for me to leave Mexico. In only four days time I shall be on an airplane bound for the US. The ‘plan’, and I use that term ever so loosely considering that I really don’t have anything planned apart from boarding that airplane on Monday morning, is to perhaps spend a few weeks visiting family and friends.

After that, I shall head off yet again. To where exactly?

Well, I shall be heading towards my favorite of destinations, that intriguing and typically fascinating land know as, the unknown.

The reality is that, at this very moment, I have no idea where I’ll be going after the US.

And while it is true that only recently I announced my participation in the Ultimate Train Challenge, that 30-day train journey from Lisbon to Saigon that is taking place during the month of September, my ‘plans’, as they have so often done this year, have once again changed. I have chosen to back out of that adventure after a great deal of thought. I just felt that it wasn’t the best match for me at this time. (I still think it’s an excellent idea and I hope you will join me in following the four bloggers who will be embarking on the Ultimate Train Challenge, which begins in less than 20 days.)

So, it’s now time for me to go somewhere new and create my own adventure. The problem is that whenever I sit down to try and determine to which region of the world I should travel, I find myself unable to reach a conclusion.

At certain times I find myself thinking about a trip to South America, perhaps starting off in Colombia, a country I have never before visited and a country that such travelers as Dave from GoBackpacking.com, Troy from FoggOdyssey.com, Brendan from BrendansAdventures.com and Jasmine from JasmineWanders.com have spoken so highly of that I would be a fool not to place it on my list of possible options.

However, I also have moments when I start to feel as if I need a complete change of scenery right now. After all, I’ve spent such a significant amount of time in a Spanish-speaking, Latin American country over the past two years that it might be healthy to head for a completely different region such as Eastern Europe. I must admit that it is quite easy for me to start imagining myself wandering through such countries as Ukraine, Moldova, Romania and Bulgaria, countries that I have long dreamed of, yet have never gotten around to visiting.

Orchha India
Of course, my mind doesn’t stop there. Before long, that one country that I can never seem to get out of my head starts to take over my thoughts, leaving me wanting nothing else but to be walking down the streets of any of its cities, towns or villages. Naturally, that country is India and it’s been over two years since my last visit, which is the longest I’ve stayed outside of that country at any point during the past decade. Even now, as I type these words, I can picture myself falling to my knees outside of the arrivals hall of the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, and kissing the ground, so happy to be back on Indian soil.

But, wait a minute, what about Africa? There lies an entire continent that I have yet to explore. I must admit that the thought of traveling through countries such as Mali, Sudan, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Namibia is also as appealing a thought as is possible for a long-term traveler such as myself. On the other hand, that thought is also quite intimidating. There’s such a variety of countries to visit in Africa and I would have no clue where to begin.

I just don’t know where to go.

And the above are just a few of the regions of the world that have crossed my mind. Other options include a trip through the Caucasus region, where Eastern Europe meets Western Asia and countries such as Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan await. And far away in the western Pacific Ocean is that country of 7000+ islands known as the Philippines, a country I have often thought about visiting as well. Heck, I’ve even contemplated traveling to Yemen (sorry, mom…but I imagine you’re somewhat accustomed to me traveling to such destinations by now).

As you can see, this is no easy decision. So, even though I will be somewhere new at some point in the relatively near future, I cannot tell you where that will be at this moment.

Actually, the more I think about it, the more I realize that I should be asking you for advice. So, let me do that right now.

Are there any regions or countries that you would suggest I visit?

Or perhaps there’s a part of the world that you would like to see me travel to?

I know that second question sounds a little strange but I really do want to hear your ideas. And I certainly thank you ahead of time for any input you choose to give!

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Comments 144

  1. Andy

    Yes, Colombia is an absolute must-see. Been there 2 years ago and loved it. Since you enjoyed Mexico and already speak some spanish I’m confident you will not be disappointed. And the security situation is no problem if you use common sense. Actually Mexico is more dangerous these days. Colombia has it all – tropical beaches, snow-capped mountains, modern cities, remote jungles, outdoor sports, museums, history, ultra-friendly people, affordable prices, good cultural entertainment, great nightlife etc. The only thing foreigners don’t seem to like is the the local cuisine which is a bit bland and boring… just don’t tell the locals or they’ll be disappointed. 😉

  2. Tony

    Well, its good to hear that you’re considering travelling here in the Philippines. I am assuring you that you wont get disapointed. My country seems overlooked by traveller of Southeast Asia but certainly, pristine sands and crystal blue water of El Nido, Coron, Bohol, Boracay will surely amaze you. Countryside has a lot offer, you just have to discover the unspoilled places in my beloved country. (In case you will check my blog, there’s no article in it for ive just registered and still in progress of drafting my post.)

    1. Earl

      Hey Tony – The Philippines is always on my list of potential destinations and I’ll get there soon enough. I know I won’t be disappointed, especially after listening to so many other travelers talk about their experiences there 🙂

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  4. John Paskey

    Yo Earl …Yemen is spectacular ( http://wanderinground.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/jambiya-sellers-of-sanaa/ ).
    As an American traveling in Yemen, I can truly say they some of the nicest people I have ever met – probably second only to Syrians). It’s an amazing country. One of the only one’s I’ve found where you can truly feel like your traveling 500 yrs in the past in places. Simply spectacular. If your there, check out Oman also …another one thats off the tourist map but really interesting (and a bit expensive though).

    As for Mali …do it man. We actaully came in “through the backdoor”, driving up from Ougadougoo in Burkina Faso …I would almost consider it a must (along with Sudan and Ethiopia, as well as West Africa in general). Take a trip up the Niger by pirogue from Mopti to Timbuktu, Djenne, and don’t just plan on a day or two at the Bandiagara Escarpment …make it a week, it’s so worth it. I actually drove up from Douala, Cameroon into Nigeria (definitely recommended by not a solo trip for most …but you have more expereince than most), through Nigeria into Benin, Togo to Accra, Ghana …we drove up to Faso from there into Mali than off to Dakar, Senegal. West Africa is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. …actually started the trip in Istanbul. You HAVE to do the Sahara man. It is just spectacular.

    I’m also currently in the middle of a story on Sudan (from Wadi-Halfa to Khartoum) on my blog …check it out if you want. Another almost “must see” of the world. Again, spectacular people, stunning landscapes, no tourists.

    Whatever you do, have fun and keep on going,
    John

    1. Earl

      Thanks for all of that information about Africa and Yemen John! And the simple fact that you described so many wonderful experiences in Africa is exactly why I need to wait until I have a long enough period of time to spend there. I don’t want to pop in and pop out. I want to spend at least six months on that continent. As for Yemen, I would fly there tomorrow if I could. Unfortunately, they have stopped issuing tourist visas at the moment. There’s a rumor they might start up again on October 1st but no confirmation of that yet. Hopefully the visa ban doesn’t last long!

  5. Ekspotīcija

    Hey, Earl.

    Although Latvia has been mentioned already several times, we would like to suggest you try and visit Latvia (and other Baltic countries). Actually now it’s not so cold here in Riga, it’s still sunny (most of the days) and during the day temperatures get as high as +16..+18C, but it’s getting cooler every day and usually around mid November temperatures get below freezing and stay that way until March (with some exceptions). On the other hand, fall is on the way – with golden colors and cool foggy mornings. Beautiful time of year to be here.

    1. Earl

      @Ekspoticija: Latvia and the Baltic countries is definitely a region I want to get to but even 16 degrees is a bit cold for me 🙂 And the few friends I have who live in that area also keep suggesting that I visit them during the summer months so perhaps next summer will be the best time for me to make it up that way!

  6. Trajan

    Hi Earl,

    While it is very understandable that you would want to return to India, I think you must give India’s big neighbor a shot too. Then you would have experienced both of the two rising giants and be able to compare them. These two often feature in the news in such comparison articles, but spending a lengthy time in both would give you rare insights into these discussions. Go to China!

    1. Earl

      Hey Trajan – Thank you for the suggestion of China! And while I definitely want to visit that massive land, it’s strange because it has never really been high up on my list for some reason. I’m not exactly sure why though, so perhaps I should rethink my list!

  7. ken stanphill

    If you’ve never spent much time in East Malaysia Sabah Kota Kinabalu I would go there keep you busy for a month or so.

    1. Earl

      Thanks for the recommendation Ken! I have not spent any time in East Malaysia and do plan to visit Sabah the next time I’m in SE Asia. I have no doubt I could stick around those parts for at least a month from what I’ve heard from other travelers.

  8. Jake Slade

    For someone who has many experiences in many different places, it seems (to me) that as big a departure from the norm is the way to go. I have never been, but Iceland has been enchanting my dreams for a few years now. The colors i have seen in pictures from that magical volcanic island look amazing.

    The the idea of extremems comes into the equation. Look into Ushaia in southern Chile (patagonia?) Pretty sure it is as far south as you can get (tierra del fuego) on the South/North American Continent.

    Think about it and maybe i will see you there.

    1. Earl

      Hey Jake – Thank you for the comment and Patagonia is definitely a good option. I am trying to get to Socotra (that island you mentioned), but at the moment, Yemen is not issuing tourist visas and the island is a part of Yemen. So if this doesn’t change, I’ll need some new plans!

    1. Earl

      Thanks Brendan! I’ll let you know as soon as I make a decision…which is naturally taking a bit longer than expected (as usual). And I hope you’re all settled in and enjoying life down there. Time to rest after your wild trip through Central America!

  9. Bindumadhava

    Hi Earl. I am huge fan of your blog. As I read your blog, one thing I realized is that you have not visited China. Great place and great people. My vote is for China

    1. Earl

      @Bindumadhava – Thanks for that recommendation. You are very right…apart from Taiwan and Hong Kong, I have not visited China. It is on my list though!

  10. Megan

    Earl,

    I just happened to stumble upon your site and I am so glad I did! I’m a college student majoring in International Studies, hoping that I can end up doing the exact thing you are doing with your life; traveling. You are a huge inspiration and I hope you continue to see the world and share your experiences! As for recommendations on new places to visit, I would have to recommend New Zealand. A group of friends of mine recently returned from a 3 month visit and they loved it. You can try things like bridge bungy jumping, swimming with wild dolphins, enjoying great food and wine and beautiful hikes. It seems like a beautiful place for an adventurous person such as yourself. Wherever you do decide to go, I hope you have a great time!

    Good luck and Cheers!
    Megan

    1. Earl

      Hey Megan – Thank you for visiting the site! And I can say that New Zealand is a wonderful destination. I have visited two times so far and have thoroughly enjoyed both visits. Everything your friends described is definitely true as NZ is like a playground for adults!

  11. Ryan

    Hey Earl, by your travel logs I assume you will get to everywhere eventually anyways.. but out of your options I would have to say the Caucasus countries (particularly Armenia) are certainly enchanting.. You can see how such beautiful cultures are slowly coming out of the wake of the USSR, and on such a budget.. when I was staying in Yerevan I was renting a flat for 100$ near the city centre and eating out at 3$ restaurants, beer included. Armenians are a hospitable people and the scenery and beautiful archaic monastaries are breathtaking

    1. Earl

      Hey Ryan – Thank you so much for adding your thoughts and I’ve actually wanted to visit Armenia for a long time. Last year when I was in the Middle East I hoped to head up there as well but I ended up staying in Syria for longer than expected and by the time I left, it was too cold for me to travel into the Caucasus region. But those prices you mention for a flat is amazingly cheap. If you have any contacts for apartments please let me know!

  12. Edgardo

    Hi Earl! I dont now if you have visited Costa rica, but it is a PARADISE! Costa Rica has beaches, volcanos, tropical rain forest and nice people. I am sure that you will love it.

    1. Earl

      Hola Edgardo! I have actually been to Costa Rica, about 3 times I believe. And I will agree with you…that country has a lot to offer travelers! It will always be one of my favorite destinations.

  13. lindsey

    hey earl,

    I just stumbled upon your blog and find it so inspiring. I think traveling is so important and wish to somehow incorporate it into my life once i graduate. As far as my travel experience goes, I spent a month in Denmark doing an internship this past summer and if you have not been to Scandanavia i definitley recommend it. Copenhagen is a really cool city and the people are so friendly. I tried to make it to Norway while i was over there but the oppotunity didn’t really arise… It seems like a beautiful place (on my list for sure) if you are into natural wonders. Anyway, hope this helps… Good luck on your future endeavors!

    1. Earl

      Hey Lindsey – Thank you for the comment and suggestion! I have spent a good amount of time in Norway and Sweden (both of which are indeed absolutely beautiful destinations) but have yet to make it to Denmark. Although I think I’ll have to wait until the summer for a visit to that region 🙂

  14. Angie

    I too highly recommend Colombia. I absolutely loved it! I loved it so much that I decided to live there for 6 months! Colombia is a beautiful country that will not disappoint a well-traveled person such as yourself. In fact, it was named Off Track Planet’s top destination in 2010 (http://offtrackplanet.com/inspiration/otps-top-10-backpacking-travel-destinations-for-2010/) and in 2009 Frommer’s magazine voted Cartagena, Colombia as one of the top 12 tourist destinations of the world. I predict that in a decade (or much less) Colombia will be a HOT spot and very trendy location. People are just starting to discover its rich beauty, history, gorgeous architecture, delicious food and not to mention the beautiful locals!
    I would say, judging by your lifestyle that you so generously share with us, your goal is to one day see the whole world. So why not finish up with South America and then dedicate a long, lonngg time in Africa before making your way up to eastern Europe and then heading back to the states.
    Whatever you choose, best of luck to you. I am so thrilled I found your website!
    -Angie

    1. Earl

      Hey Angie – Thanks for adding your recommendation! Colombia is one of those countries that travelers seem to fall in love with so quickly. I’m waiting for one negative comment about Colombia but I’m quite certain that it won’t happen. So naturally, it is high up on my list of places to visit. I’m just trying to work out whether or not I want to spend more time in Spanish-speaking countries right now or if I would prefer to travel to a region with a different language/culture for a while. It’s a tough call.

      Anyway, thanks again for the comment and welcome to the site!

  15. Andrei

    Romania will dissapoint you and Bulgaria, Ukraine and Moldova even more. Excepting Transylvania, there is almost nothing interesting in the territory, only some boring monasteries. The towns and cities are extremely depressing, with hideous Communist appartment blocks. There are some natural attractions but heavily damaged by pollution, deforestation etc. The people is also very closed-minded and unfriendly.

    You can come to convince yourself.

    1. Earl

      Hey Andrei – Thank you for your comment although I personally believe that the rewards of travel have nothing to do with actual sights to see. I’m more interested in meeting people and learning about the culture than I am about going around to famous places. And so far, I haven’t really been to a country I haven’t enjoyed so I’m sure I would find a way to enjoy Eastern Europe as well!

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  17. Ella Claire

    Seeing as NOBODY has recommended Malaysia and after trawling through your posts I think you’ve only been to Malaysia once a long, long, long time ago, I completely and wholeheartedly recommend Malaysia! We’re tropical, summer all year round and not to mention darn cheap 😉 We’re the base of AirAsia so flight tickets here aren’t too expensive, and our food alone should be enough to attract you! 😀 Not to mention the potluck of different cultures, the historical sights.. everything and anything!

    1. Earl

      Hey Ella – You are right, you are the first person to mention Malaysia! I have actually been to Malaysia 3 times (the most recent being this past March) but I still have not explored too much of the country. Usually I get stuck eating Indian food in Penang and find it hard to leave that island 🙂

      But yes, your country is always an excellent choice for a destination and you’ve done quite a outstanding job of promoting it. Consider Malaysia added to my final list of options!

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