When I first commenced planning an itinerary for twelve months of travel I was quick to realise that there was no way I could fit all of my travel dreams, hopes and aspirations into this time frame. While twelve months may seem like a long time, in order to do justice to the places I wanted to experience I knew I shouldn’t try to cram too much in. This was very difficult, with so many places on my bucket list. However, the benefits of quality, slower travel far outweigh the quantity, just skimming the surface travel I would have to commit to if I wanted to fit everything in. I also figured I’d need some places to look forward to after I had finished this trip! So after much deliberation, here are the 9 goals that I built my dream trip around.
1. Paris for a month
I wanted to choose one city in Europe in which to spend a month. Paris was a frontrunner from the start, and although I’ve already been there (albeit only for 2 days) I’m so excited to get to know this city in depth. Learning to make macarons, discovering less visited arrondissements, visiting many museums and galleries, window shopping, cycling to Monet’s gardens at Giverny, and, finally, eating my body weight in baguettes and cheese. Cliché? Yes!
One regret I’ve had from my time living in London was not making the journey to Poland, where my Grandfather was born and where I have family I have never met. I’m looking forward to my Mum joining me on this part of the journey, to meeting these family members, and to creating my own “Who do you think you are?” experience.
3. Medina’s of Marrakesh
The colours, flavours and scents of northern Africa have captured my imagination for a long time. After crossing the Strait of Gibraltar from the most southerly point in Spain I’m looking forward to discovering the blue hued town of Chefchaouen, the narrow winding medina’s of Marrakesh and the oasis’ and people of the Atlas Mountains.
4. Galapagos Islands
Long have I dreamt of sailing around the Galapagos Islands with like minded travellers. Snorkelling with seals, sharks and turtles, photographing blue footed boobies and marvelling at the 100 year old Galapagos tortoise. It’s a wildlife lover, and photographers dream.
5. Iguazu Falls
There are many great waterfalls in the world and I’ve been lucky enough to visit two of the grandest, Victoria Falls and Niagara Falls. Both left me awestruck, the powerful intensity of the water both magnificent and scary. I’m looking forward to experiencing Iguazu Falls from both the Argentinean and Brazilian side.
6. Travel by slow boat down the Mekong in Laos
South East Asia is one of my favourite regions in the world, and long have I wanted to visit Laos. Based on many accounts I’ve read, it’s a slower more relaxing pace than neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam, and I intend to take advantage of that. I hope to cross into the country in the north of Thailand, over the border and then spend 2 days sailing down the Mekong to Luang Prabang.
7. Six day hike to Cuidad Perdida
I first read about the Cuidad Perdida trek in Colombia on a travel blog about ten years ago. I was immediately inspired and intended to travel there a long time ago. This trek is often described as the Colombian version of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, with the emphasis being much more on the journey rather than the destination. Wading though river crossings, sleeping in hammocks and fighting mosquitoes, I can’t wait to finally achieve this travel dream.
8. Learn Spanish
These last two goals are not destination goals but rather skill goals. I hope to come away with a much better understanding , and speaking knowledge of the Spanish language. Having commenced beginner Spanish classes at least 3 times over the last 10 years, I’ve found that it’s the time spent in Spanish speaking countries that will really assist in finally realising this goal. I intend to spend six months travelling from Colombia and down the west coast of South America to Argentina, so let’s hope I can speak some decent Spanish by the end.
9. Create inspiring travel photos
The other skill goal I hope to achieve is to continue to improve my photography. From my first point and shoot film camera I travelled with 15 years ago, through to my first (film again) SLR which I never learnt how to use properly, to recently upgrading to my third DSLR (Canon 70D), my photography has improved in leaps and bounds. My 2012 solo trip to Myanmar was a real turning point, and I used the whole trip as my own personal photography tour. I hope to continue to improve and inspire others with my photographs.
These are some fairly lofty goals and aspirations and I hope to achieve them all. However, as another goal is to remain flexible and open to new suggestions, if something comes along that sets me on a different path, well then I may just need to re-visit these and come up with some revised goals!