Kiribati, South Pacific

My New Travel Plans: 27,000 Miles In 39 Days

Derek Bulgaria, Fiji, Transportation 100 Comments

Kiribati, South Pacific
One minute I think I’m staying in Bucharest for a couple of months in order to finish some projects I’m working on and the next minute I have seven flight reservations made, two of which will take me over the Atlantic Ocean and another two that will take me almost all the way across the Pacific Ocean as well.

And the fun begins this coming Friday, when I will pack my bag and hop onto a bus that will take me to the border with Bulgaria.

I’ll then be on the move, constantly, for about six weeks in total, after which I shall end up back in Bucharest, where I’ll probably seek out the most comfortable bed in the city and sleep for a solid nine or ten days straight.

Here’s my travel plan for the next month and a half…

  • Bucharest to Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria (5 hours by bus)
  • 7 days in Veliko Tarnovo
  • Overnight bus to Istanbul (8 hours)
  • 5 days in Istanbul
  • March 28 – Flight to NYC (11 hours)
  • 5 days in NYC
  • Bus to Boston (4 hours)
  • 3 days in Boston
  • Bus to NYC (4 hours)
  • 2 days in NYC
  • April 8 – Flight to Los Angeles, then to Fiji (25 hours total)
  • 9 days in Fiji
  • April 17 – Flight to Los Angeles, then to NYC (22 hours total)
  • 3 days in NYC
  • April 21 – Flight to Istanbul (10 hours)
  • 1 day in Istanbul
  • April 23 – Flight to Bucharest (1 hour)

So, that’s a total of around…

27,000+ miles of travel (43,450 kms)
54 hours of flights
21 hours of bus rides
16 hours worth of layovers

…all in just 39 days.

It’s tiring simply to look at those numbers but of course, I’m very much looking forward to the adventures that await, especially Fiji. It’s been 14 years since I’ve been to this South Pacific nation and this time around I’ll be traveling with Matt from ExpertVagabond.com, Ryan from PauseTheMoment.com and JD from EarthXplorer.com, on a press trip offered by Tourism Fiji.

As for press trips, this will be my second one (South Africa was my first) and I do want to say that I debated back and forth with myself for quite a while before deciding that it would be okay for me to accept such a trip every now and then.

The reality is, these days, blogging is a full-time job and combined with my other online projects, I’m currently working 40-50 hours per week on my laptop. And so I consider these press trips to be a bonus for my efforts, and they just so happen to provide me with an opportunity to experience and learn about certain countries without having to spend much money. It’s basically a perk that I’ve decided to accept on occasion after twelve years of working mighty hard to maintain this lifestyle and more recently, to maintain this blog.

And besides, just because these are sponsored trips, nothing that I write on this site will ever be influenced by any other person or organization. I’ll always talk honestly about my experiences, no matter where I am or how I got there. That’s a guarantee.

On another note, will anyone happen to be in Veliko Tarnovo (long shot I know!), Istanbul, NYC or Fiji over the next month or so? I’d love to meet any of you, whether it’s for beers, coffee, a jam session (with me on the air guitar), karaoke, the best falafel sandwich in town or anything else. Do let me know!


What’s the most you’ve traveled in any given month? Any crazy itineraries that had you bouncing all over the place in a short period of time? Any recommendations for Bulgaria, Istanbul or Fiji?

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Comments 100

  1. Pingback: Bulgaria: The Best Value Destination On The Planet? - Wandering Earl

  2. T.W. Anderson

    Bulgaria is a great choice 🙂 And Veliko Tarnovo is a spectacular town. I traveled to Bulgaria off and on for 6 years before living there for almost three years (before I moved my base of operations to Cancun in late 2011), and while I was based out of Sofia I spent at least three to four weeks per year in VT. Hands-down one of the best mountain resorts in Bulgaria in terms of tranquility and good food without the tourist crowds of Bansko.

    I know you’ve moved on, but next time through you should also spend time in Burgas, as it’s a much more local experience in comparison to Varna/Sunny Beach. Also some great vineyards around, plus it’s the headquarters of Burgas 69, one of the best brands of rakia in the country 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey T.W. – Veliko Tarnovo is a great place and my next post will actually be about that town….and I will definitely explore more of Bulgaria, including Burgas, as soon as I’m back in the region. I’d love to see as much of Bulgaria as I possibly can!

      Hopefully things are going well for you in Cancun…those white-sand beaches aren’t so bad either….

  3. Izy

    I want to go to Turkey so bad – I’m kind of jealous, but not so much as I know I’ll make my way there eventually.

    As for crazy itineraries… well I did NZ-> HK-> Uk->Belgium (antwerp by car) -> Netherlands – > France (paris and honfleur) -> Belgium -> NZ in two weeks… was too fast for me. That was like 60+ hours of flying, so kinda on par with your monthly total… though I’m small and quite enjoy plans (and airplane food, what’s wrong with me?)

    1. Earl

      Hey Izy – That is a bit much of an itinerary you had there…hopefully with all of that moving around you were still able to enjoy your stat in each destination and not want to sleep all day!

  4. Joe

    I currently live on the East End of Long Island, about 2 hours outside of the city. If you want to spend a day out in wine country, let me know. Though it might be hard to fit into the short time you’re there.

    1. Earl

      Hey Joe – Between NYC and Boston I’m not too sure how much free time I’ll have but I actually have a cousin that lives near the East End of Long Island as well, so perhaps I could put a trip together. If it does work out, I’ll be sure to let you know!

  5. Andrew

    Nice one Earl! And I thought I was a bit bat-sh!t crazy for flying to Brazil from the States and back up to NYC!

    Just read your Istanbul blogs yesterday, I’m headed there after NYC, can’t wait!

    There was a hotel you recommended, anywhere else you’d suggest that’s a bit more budget? (Will wait until you’ve been in Istanbul again).

    Cheers mate, see you in Brooklyn.

    Andrew

    1. Earl

      Hey Andrew – I do have a more budget recommendation. It’s called the Agora Guesthouse. I highly recommend this place as it is by far the best guesthouse I’ve found in Istanbul!

      1. Andrew

        Ah yourself and the man Niall Doherty (@ndoherty13) have both recommended the Agora.

        That’s reputable enough for me! (I’m glad neither of you have affiliate links for it, I wouldn’t be able to divide the cut!)

  6. OurPassportStamps~Karen

    We were in Veliko Turnovo in 2009 as part of our Bulgaria trip and fell in love with it! It’s just a great town for exploring and yet at the sametime a nice quiet place to decompress. We picked up some charming souvenirs there from the pottery shop on the main drag after we met the potter( a small vase and small bowl I put my earrings in on my nightstand) Next time you are in Bulgaria try to make it to Plovdiv and Rila Monastary if you havent visited already. Istanbul has become one of our favorite cities in the world and we love to returning again and again. BUT at the same time Capadoccia and the balloon ride was magical and one of our highlights…so at least TRY to pull yourself away from IST for 2-3 days. I promise you won’t regret it!!!!!! On your Fiji trip…will you be visiting the Blue Lagoon? Drinking Kava? We are looking forward to here all about it…My mom is still talking about her Fiji Trip and that was almost 30 years ago (see post above where I responded to Tash) Have a safe journey! Karen

    1. Earl

      Hey Karen – I’m sure I’ll be back to Bulgaria soon. I don’t like to cram too much into my travels as I prefer to travel very slowly which is why I only stayed in VT during the five days I had in this country. As for Istanbul, I don’t think I’ll make it to Capadoccia this time around but it’s on the list for sure 🙂

      And with Fiji, I don’t know the itinerary yet. I was actually there back in 1998 so I’m excited to experience the country again now that I’ve seen a great deal more of the world. I can imagine I’ll be talking about this upcoming trip far into the future as well 🙂

      1. OurPassportStamps~Karen

        Totally understand about cramming too much in….We try to strike a balance with the 30 days we have a year until we retire in about 15 years between seeing as much as possible and immersion. One thing that we have started doing more is layering our trips. (I’m sure there is another way of explaining it) but here’s the example. Being from California we are immersed in Spanish History. Last year we went to Spain and Portugal seeing as much as we could and delving into the culture, history, architecture…it added another dimension to the Spanish History we were taught in school and as adults have continued to learn (We were actually at the Museums of the Americas in Madrid, while a school class was in front of a California map being lectured. We smiled at each other and teacher caught us and asked us where we were from…we in turn were asked to speak to the class about California for an impromtu Q and A. The age of this students was the exact age we were learning about Spain in school!) This year we are heading back to Europe and wrapping up with a Canary Island cruise that stops in Madiera as one of our components of the bigger adventure. Then the next 3 years will be spent in South America..(former colonies of Spain/Portugal, as you know) Doing it this way seems to give us a version of slow travel and immersion as each of the previous trips are still fresh in our mind..so the history really seems to come to life for us more so than if each year we headed off to a complete different region of the world. Standing in at the Monument of Discoveries in Lisbon last year and then heading out to follow that map is just so cool to us…but we’re kinda geeky that way!!! 🙂 🙂

        1. Earl

          Hey Karen – That’s alright, every one of us travelers is a little geeky in our own way 🙂 And I like the idea of layering your trips…I think that any time we base our travels around an actual purpose or theme, we tend to have experiences that are far more rewarding. It gives us direction and something to get excited about if we are trying to do or see or learn about something specific in the countries we are visiting.

  7. Pingback: Some Cool Travel-Related Stuff From Around The Web | Wandering Earl

  8. Melyssa G.

    Have fun in Fiji! My daughter still talks about our trip there a couple years ago (she was only 5 at the time and it made quite an impression). Where in Fiji are you going?

    I am new to your blog (about a couple months now) and I imagine in another life this would have been me. If you are ever in Los Angeles, I would love to chat!

    1. Earl

      Hey Melyssa – I’m not too sure where in Fiji I’m going yet…still waiting to receive the itinerary. But I can’t imagine I’ll be disappointed 🙂

      And I will definitely let you know if I am in Los Angeles at all…it’s a shame that I will only have a few hours at LAX on my way to/from Fiji. It would have been nice to stick around LA longer but I couldn’t make it happen unfortunately.

        1. Earl

          Hey Melyssa – I do have a few hours to kill actually before my flight to Fiji. I think arrive at 3.30pm on the 8th…let me know if you’re around!

          1. Melyssa G.

            Darn! Unfortunately, that is Easter and I have obligations with the family.

            I look forward to hearing about Fiji and all the other places 🙂

  9. Brian

    Hey Earl, that sounds like it will be quite the adventure! Some friends and I did a month in Peru about 4 years ago that kept us constantly on the move. But in terms of miles traveled, Thailand this year takes the cake.

    Brief Summary if interested: Chicago to Tokyo. 20 hours in Tokyo with no sleep. Tokyo to Bangkok. 16 hours in Bangkok. Overnight train to Chiang Mai. 1 night Chiang Mai, 3 day hike by the Burmese border. Overnight bus to Bangkok. 12 hours in Bangkok. Overnight bus/ferry to Koh Tao. 3 nights in Ko Tao getting PADI certified. 2 nights in Koh Phagnan. 12 hours by ferries/busses to Koh Lanta. 3 days in Koh Lanta diving. Overnight bus to Bangkok. 12 hours in Bangkok. Unknown number of delirious hours flying back to Chicago through Seoul. Best trip of my life with too many stories to share here.

    Just stumbled upon your site yesterday and plan on checking back often. Until I become a nomad myself, I have dedicated myself to a new country every year. The adventures had are some of the most remarkable and rewarding times of my life and I also try to encourage everyone to travel as much as possible. I love the comment in a separate post about requiring young adults to travel. Universities requiring a year of study abroad would do wonders for society.

    If you’re ever in Chicago, let me know. Would love to buy you a beer, offer up a bed, or just chat about travel experiences.

    Safe travels.
    Brian

    1. Earl

      Hey Brian – How on earth did you survive that trip??? That is perhaps the most insane itinerary I’ve ever read about! Glad you enjoyed it all in the end! But next time, take it a little more slowly 🙂

  10. André Malenfant

    Whoa! That is a LOT of back and forth! Ever considered getting your licence and buying your own plane? I would fly AirEarl happily!

    We’ll be in Fiji, eventually, but in the next month it’s most improbable. We’re running must slower than you 😉

    Enjoy!

    1. Earl

      Hey Andre! Not a bad idea but believe me, I don’t plan to travel this much all the time. I wouldn’t survive more than 6 weeks with this kind of itinerary. But I do like the sound of AirEarl 🙂

      Let me know if you somehow end up in Fiji early!

  11. Jen

    question for you. I want to travel all over the world, anywhere and everywhere, but would like to travel with at least one other person. I guess my question is how did you find the people you travel with?

    1. Earl

      Hey Jen – I’m usually traveling alone as I find it a lot more challenging to travel with other people all the time. But with that said, there is no shortage of other travelers out there to meet, many of whom I end up traveling with for a couple of days or maybe even a week at a time. And then we go our separate ways. I’m not sure if you’ve read my post about traveling on your own, but it might help you out…Please Don’t Be Afraid To Travel On Your Own

  12. Melissa Anderson

    Wow, that’s insane! Free/cheap travel is the best kind of travel. I’m working in the Yukon this summer so I won’t be able to travel anywhere ‘exotic.’ Turkey is one of the countries at the top of my list to visit. I look forward to reading about your adventure!

    1. Earl

      Hey Melissa – I fear that after I write some more about Istanbul (this will be my fifth visit to this spectacular city), you may be tempted to jump on a plane right away 🙂

  13. Dalene

    Wow Earl! That’s nuts! And we’re sad that we will likely miss you in Turkey, seeing as we are quite a distance from Istanbul. Glad you decided to go to Fiji though – after all the cold and snow you’ve dealt with lately, it will be a nice break for you!

    1. Earl

      Hey Dalene – Yes, it is a shame that I will probably not be able to visit while in Turkey, but we’ll keep in touch I’m sure and work something out eventually. And Fiji did seem even more appealing after being frozen for a couple of months up here.

  14. Ayngelina

    Holy crow Earl that is a lot of traveling. But Fiji is beautiful and you are in good company – although a male-only blog trip? Make sure you stay out of trouble 😉

  15. Jason

    Load up the iPod!

    Some serious miles there mate. You work hard at what you do Earl, and I for one don’t see any issue in you taking the odd press trip. Enjoy the Fiji sunshine, you’ve deserved it after that long hard winter….

    1. Earl

      Hey Jason – Thanks for that support. And after this Eastern European winter, there’s a very real chance that I won’t board that plane once the Fiji trip is over! Seems like a good place to live for a while!

    1. Earl

      Hey Nicole – I actually have family in the DC are who I haven’t visited for a while so I’m long overdue for a trip down there. Not sure if it will happen on this visit but if it does, I will let you know…and will take you up on that offer of a place to crash 🙂

  16. Ali

    Sounds like a great bunch of trips, even if it is a lot of flying around in such a short period of time. I’ll be in Istanbul in April with my husband (@groundedtravelr) but we’ll be there in between your two times there.

    Probably the most amount of travel I did in a short period of time was in November, I took a break from my round the world trip because I missed my husband. I booked a flight from Hanoi to Bangkok to Abu Dhabi to Frankfurt, and then a two hour train down to Freiburg where we live. Then two weeks later I flew Frankfurt to Abu Dhabi to Bangkok to Saigon to Melbourne. It took me 43 hours to get from home in Freiburg to the hostel in Melbourne, including two red-eye flights. Torture.

    Have fun, can’t wait to read about Fiji!

    1. Earl

      Hey Ali – Um…that would definitely classify as insane as well! 43 hours is no joke. And to do all of that traveling in just two weeks…you may have me beat 🙂

      But I’m glad you survived it all…it gives me hope that I’ll survive too!

  17. diana ¦ JustWanderlustBlog

    You’ve probably already been but if not, take a couple of days to go to Cappadocia when you’re in Istanbul! It’s unreal! If you’re not looking to leave Istanbul, I quite enjoyed sipping tea during sunset at the rooftop lounge on top the hotel that is in the same plaza/courtyard as Galata tower. You get some respite from the Istanbul crowds while watching the beautiful fiery sunset over the city.

    1. Earl

      Hey Diana – Interestingly enough, even though this will be my fifth time to Turkey, I have not yet visited Cappadocia. Every single time I get ‘stuck’ in Istanbul as that has become my favorite city on the planet. I can never seem to pull myself away. But I will make it to Cappadocia at some point, possibly this trip if I can force myself out of Istanbul 🙂

  18. Matt

    Awesome! I love crazy flight paths. Very cool places to visit. I agree with Pamela. Take the trips, enjoy but if something is not up to par say so.

    1. Earl

      Hey Matt – Well, this is the craziest set of flights I’ve ever been on! And you can bet that I will tell like it is on these trips…I would never write a positive post about something unless that’s absolutely how I feel.

  19. Abigail

    My best friend will be in NYC! You should come to Texas some time! Austin is fantastic and I hear San Antonio is really fun!

    1. Earl

      Hey Abigail – I’ve actually never been to Austin. Looks like I won’t make it on this trip but I do want to get there at some point!!

  20. Pamela

    I absolutely think you should feel ok with taking press trips. It’s part of your job. The most important part is not letting who pays for the trip impact you opinions and it clearly sounds like they won’t. Enjoy your cross-world travels.

    1. Earl

      Hey Pamela – Thanks for that comment and I would definitely never accept any press trip that would require me to write only positive posts no matter what I experienced. I genuinely want to experience these places and be able to share what I’ve learned with the community here on this blog. And what I share will always be honest…

      Hope all is well over there in Washington!

  21. Shane

    An attractive city is Veliko Tarnovo, or Benko the Hobo as we used to say in our unfunny cyrillic alphabet inspired humour. It’s possible we still own a business there (on paper anyway) as we had to set up one when we came ‘this’ close to buying a home there. Enjoy yourself.

    1. Earl

      Hey Shane – I’m looking forward to Verliko Tarnovo as my introduction to Bulgaria. If I like it enough maybe I’ll have to take over your business!

  22. Patricia GW

    It sounds like a busy schedule, but I hope you enjoy every destination. You have been on the road a long time by your own means, it seems like a nice treat to have a press trip cover your expenses every once in a while. How did you get involved with press trips, and how do you handle requests from third-party sponsors? I’m turning myself into a permanent nomad too, and would like to know how to make these options possible. Looking forward to reading more about your time in Fiji 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey Patricia – I actually haven’t actively sought out such things as press trips or sponsorships. I’ve simply been contacted by the PR companies that represent these countries and invited to participate. My best advice is to focus on the content of your blog as the better the content. the more readers you’ll attract and the more readers you attract, the higher your rankings. And the higher you’re ranked (Alexa, blog ranking sites, page rank, etc.) the more opportunities that will come your way.

      Of course, you could also actively seek out press trips and sponsorships but I’m not sure the best way to proceed with that as I haven’t gone that route.

      1. Patricia GW

        Hi Earl, thanks for the follow-up. I wasn’t sure if you had pitched the idea of a press trip, but I see now how natural it would be for the tourism boards to seek you out instead. I understand that the quality of one’s blog and the relationship with your readers is the first priority. I admire how you’ve traveled the world for so long, and want to do my best to learn from your experiences so I can have many years of adventures ahead of me too. Cheers!

    1. Earl

      Hey Matt – What a coincidence indeed! Let’s definitely see if we can find time in our schedules for those drinks. You’ll be able to find me wherever there are hammocks. (See you soon!)

  23. gloria@gbradleypublishing.com

    i thought you were going to Oahu. I have been to Istanbul five time from the 70s to two years ago. Big changes from only men in black seen on the streets, not a single woman to current modernization. However, last time at Hagia Sophia, a Turk slammed a woman in our group up against the wall. simple anti US hate. But next day I went alone to visit friends who live on the Bosporus and felt perfectly
    safe in the non tourist residential area.

    1. Earl

      Hey Gloria – Istanbul sure has changed from what I’ve heard. This will be my fifth time there I believe and I personally find it to be one of the most rewarding cities on the planet.

  24. Someday I'll Be There - Mina

    such trips are always fun! tiring but so much fun! do keep us updated though 🙂

    and for press trips, i don’t see anything wrong about them as long as you write your real opinion of things, which I’m sure you do anyway 🙂

    enjoy your trip 😉

    1. Earl

      Hey Mina – You have my word! I will always write my honest opinions no matter what. And I shall definitely keep everyone updated on this trip as always 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey Maria – That’s a very good question. It was actually a combination of being invited on the Fiji trip, having to leave Romania on the 16th because of my visa, wanting to visit a friend in Istanbul and wanting to spend my birthday in NYC with my closest friends. Incredibly, it all fell into place and I’m able to do all of it. Although, as you have seen, the result, in terms of travel time, is a bit intense 🙂

  25. S to the K

    Hey Earl, I would love to catch up. I got some exciting things on my end as well… Not sure if your aware, but I’m in Fairfield, CT now… Any chance you could make it this way just let me know. See ya, Sam

    1. Earl

      Hey Sam – Sounds good…perhaps on my way up to Massachusetts I can stop my Fairfield. It would definitely be great to catch up this time around. Once I’m back in the US I’ll let you know!

  26. Jeff Titelius

    Wow!! What a journey….and Fiji too!! Oh, how I want to visit the South Pacific. Hope your journey of 27,000 miles is filled with adventure, a few pleasant surprises and fun!!!

    1. Earl

      Thanks so much Jeff! And perhaps once I write about my Fiji trip, that will be the final push to get you to the S. Pacific yourself 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey Roy – Much appreciated and I definitely feel lucky to have been invited on such a trip. I hope things are going well for you over there at that Muay Thai Camp!

  27. Asli

    Merhaba Earl,
    How u say “Hi” in Turkish 🙂

    Wow! This’s a crazy schedule..The first time I read about your “amazing journey” was in a Turkish newspaper about a month ago. Since then I have been following your blog. I haven’t read too far back, you might say I’m still catching up with all the adventures, and enjoying it very much..And I cant believe that you are coming to Istanbul! It would be great to meet up for coffee or beer? Hopefully the weather will be warmer by the time you arrive in Istanbul, it has been raining like crazy..

    Safe Travels, and Look forward to meeting you..Take care!

    Asli

    1. Earl

      Merhaba Asli – I’d love to meet up during one of my visits to Istanbul! Just send me an email through the Contact link at the top of my page and we can organize a time/day to grab that beer 🙂

  28. Jeff Dobbins

    Hey, Earl,
    Sounds like an amazing trip! Love Istanbul, and Fiji sounds like paradise. It would be great to meet while you’re in NYC. Let me know if there’s anyway I can help with your NYC plans.
    Safe travels

    1. Earl

      Hey Jeff – Thanks for the offer of assistance! I should be okay with NYC planning as I go quite often…my family and most of my friends have lived there for years. But if you want to meet up, let’s try to organize something. Just send me an email through the Contact link above and we can make a plan!

  29. A Bulgarian guy : )

    Hi Earl! This really is a lot of travelling : )

    I’d love to meet you, but I live in Sofia (the capital city of Bulgaria). I hope you’ll come over here in another trip maybe : ) If you have any questions about Bulgaria, I’ll do my best to answer them, so feel free to email me!

    Veliko Tarnovo is a great city, there are many things to see there. Make sure you visit the old town! Bulgaria is a great country for tourism – it’s small, but the nature is amazing! We have sandy beaches (and unfortunately, cheap alcohol and many Europeans come here just to get drunk… : ( ), snowy mountains and greeny plains!

    Wishing you all the best! : )))

    1. Earl

      Hey Bulgarian guy 🙂 I will definitely make it to Sofia on another trip, especially since I will be back in the region after all of this crazy traveling is over. And I’m looking forward to seeing Veliko Tarnovo. I’m sure after this visit, I’ll want to explore more of Bulgaria as soon as I can. I’ll be in touch if I have any questions!

  30. Fabian

    Fiji, eh? Sounds like the kind of press trip I’d probably accept, too! 😉
    Have a great time Earl, and don’t get crazy with all those flights!

    1. Earl

      Hey Fabian – It’s definitely a hard trip to turn down…especially when they mentioned hammocks in the initial email 🙂

  31. Audrey

    Hi Earl!
    That is definitely a lot of moving… I’m new to your blog and haven’t read too far back, so you may have already addressed this, but I was just wondering if you ever fall in love with a place to the extent that you constantly compare your new experiences with it. I’ve spent a few months in New Delhi in the past year, and I’ve completely been won over by the people, the culture, the food, the languages, everything. I honestly wouldn’t mind spending the rest of my life there. Right now though, I’m studying abroad in a tiny town in the Eastern Cape of South Africa (Grahamstown, I doubt you visited it because it’s super isolated). I like South Africa, but I am continually comparing it to India and I feel that it’s bringing me down. Have you ever had any similar experiences? And if so, how do you deal?

    Thanks and safe travels,
    Audrey

    P.S.- I’m studying abroad again next semester in Istanbul, so after you go, I’d love to hear any recommendations you have about cool things to do there! I have a friend there now and she recommends ordering the Dondurmali at a place called Dondurma & Waffle. But only if you like sweet things.

    1. Julian

      Hey Audrey,

      I can’t answer for earl, but my fiancee and I spent some time and India. Now we’re in SE Asia in the midst of a six-month trip. We absolutely LOVED India. The food, the places, the people… chai. We both had really high hopes for this trip, but I think we have been disappointed by a lot of things and have been comparing this trip to India all along. Good luck yourself and I’m excited to read what Earl has to say.

      1. Audrey

        Oh man, I could use a good cup of chai right about now. Yeah I’ve been spending a lot of my free time in South Africa trying to figure out when/how I can get to India again. When what I should be doing is enjoying where I am now. I’m sure Earl will have some insight, but I think that maybe learning to love a place without comparing it to another place (especially India) is an acquired skill. I’m still working on it. I wish you and your fiancee happiness and health in your travels (I looked at your blog, hopefully you don’t get too familiar with foreign hospitals), and I hope we’re all able to get back to India someday soon! 🙂

        1. Earl

          Hey Audrey – What you said is right, it does take a while to learn how to lose the comparison mentality. I love India more than any other country I’ve ever visited and that’s why I kept going back every year for so long…eventually I realized that other countries offer their own unique and rewarding culture but if I wasn’t fully open to experiencing it, I would never enjoy the benefits. Of course, you could just go back to India as well…which is what I tend to do when I miss it too much 🙂

      2. Earl

        Hey Julian – I know the feeling. I miss India all the time, but as I just wrote above in response to Audrey, it does take some time in order to stop comparing other destination to a place that we absolutely fell in love with. You just need to come to the realization that the rest of the world has plenty to offer and plenty of places to fall in love with as well…but you have to be fully ‘present’ for that to happen. But at the same time, if you love India, you could go back to India…there’s nothing wrong with that as well. It’s your travels and therefore you should be visiting the places you are drawn to the most, even if you’ve been there already!

    2. Earl

      Hey Audrey – I’m not sure if you saw my other responses yet but yes, I do know that feeling very well. I could live in India too and I know that I would love it, which is why I have already spent over 2 years in total in that country. As for your situation, just start off by being as active as possible in your current setting. Try and participate in as many activities, see as many things as you can. Over time you will realize that while you will always love India, you are able to thoroughly enjoy other countries as well. You’ll get there! It’s just that after such a life-changing experience as India provides, it takes a little longer to adjust to other destinations.

      As for Istanbul, this will actually be my fifth time there and I can tell you that it is an incredible city. And I’ve tried those waffles your friend told you about…they are quite a delicious treat but as she said, you REALLY need to have a sweet tooth.

  32. Angelo

    Earl, that’s quite a plateful!! Got me wondering about the fact that you will not be alone on any single leg of that journey (in terms of transportation)… Carbon footprint each day must be astronomical. In more uplifting news, I thought we might meet again when you turn up in Istanbul. There’s a low-key gozleme (yumm!) diner right on Istiklal St. in Taksim that I just tried, afterwards a beer or two? Hopefully dry season and some sun turn up early for your arrival!

    All the best,
    Angelo

    1. Earl

      Hey Angelo – Yes, the carbon footprint will be a little high with this one but it’s definitely not my normal way of traveling. As for meeting up in Istanbul, absolutely! And the gozleme place you mentioned sounds more than ideal. I’ll actually be staying over by Taksim as well. Let me know what day/time works for you and we’ll make it happen!

  33. Tash

    Wow, that is some crazy flight path!

    I am a little surprised that a little developing country like Fiji would do a press trip, but I guess tourism is the lifeblood these days, isn’t it! I look forward to following your travels over there.

    1. Earl

      Hey Tash – Some countries are starting to realize the benefits of these blogger press trips way before others. And it’s great to see Fiji as part of that group. And in the South Pacific, just as in other parts of the world, tourism is often the main source of income by far.

    2. OurPassportStamps~Karen

      Actually this isn’t unheard of..My mom who is in her 70’s retired from American Airlines in her 30’s when she had kids. She became a travel agent and about 25 years ago. Fiji hosted her and 20 other travel agents for a Fam Trip…all expenses paid for 2 weeks. I believe they stayed at the Sheraton. I know she did a Blue Lagoon Cruise, met the owner of Turtle Island, drank Kava and rubbed noses with a Fijian chief. So, while this press trip that Wandering Earl is going on might seem surprising to you….my mom was blazing this trail long ago!!!
      🙂 🙂

      1. Earl

        Hey Karen – It’s definitely not unheard of as media trips have been happening for as long as there have been newspapers, magazines, travel agents, etc. What’s a relatively recent occurrence is inviting travel bloggers instead of traditional print journalists to participate in these media trips.

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