I was recently inspired by a post over at Jack and Jill Travel in which they outlined not the countries they plan to visit but rather the experiences they want to have on their upcoming around the world trip.
I’m a planner at heart, and with our trip still 10.5 months away, I make it through some long days at work by daydreaming about the countries we’ll visit and crafting (then re-crafting) an around the world travel itinerary in my head.
Of course, the true reason we’re traveling isn’t so that we can sew more flag patches on our backpacks or put more pushpins in our world map. We’re traveling because we have an insatiable curiosity about the world. We want to learn about the world and our place in it by experiencing it firsthand.
So, taking a cue from Jack and Jill, here’s my list of experiences that I want to, umm, experience during our time of travel.
Can’t Miss Experiences on our RTW
1. Ride the Trans-Mongolian railroad from China to Russia
Oh how I’ve been dreaming about riding the Trans Mongolian, a branch of the Trans Siberian Railway. The Trans Siberian is the longest railway on Earth! The train stops at the largest and deepest freshwater lake on the planet! There’s lots and lots of vodka! We plan to board in Beijing and ride all the way to Moscow. You can learn all about the Trans Siberian here.
2. Learn to speak Spanish, at least a little
I took eight years of Spanish in high school and college and I know that buried somewhere in my brain is the little Spanish-speaking me just dying to get out. I’ve had dreams in which I’m fluently speaking and comprehending Spanish and then I wake up and no habla espanol. I want to immerse myself in a Spanish speaking country until I can solidly have a conversation with a local. I just know that if I spend the time immersed in the language those years of Spanish education will float to the surface.
3. Go on a silent meditation retreat
It dawned on me one day that there hasn’t been one day in my almost thirty-year existence when I haven’t shut the f up. So, I’m going to shut up and see what bubbles up out of the silence. Almost Fearless recently posted a great blog about silent retreats.
4. Trek in Nepal
Trekking in Nepal was the first thing that made it onto our must-do list when we committed to our RTW. Right now I’m dreaming about tea house trekking on the Annapurna circuit.
5. Overland safari in Africa
I’m not sure where we’ll do this in Africa but this post by Ryan Martin about his thirty-two day overland camping trip convinced me that it’s an absolute must-do experience. The company that Ryan used is a little too pricey for our budget so if you have any recommendations please send them my way.
6. Attend a European or South American soccer futbol game
I’ve played soccer my whole life and am a HUGE fan. I even introduced Brian to the sport and now we play on a team together. I have always dreamed of watching a soccer match live in a country that lives and breathes the beautiful game.
7. Drink beer around the world, especially in Germany
If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you know that Brian and I are big fans of beer (who isn’t?!?!). Our adopted home of Portland, Oregon has some of the best beer around but we’re excited to test it against beers all over the world.
8. WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms)
We’re really excited to volunteer through WWOOF, an organization that links people who want to work on organic farms with organic farmers that need help. In exchange for a week or two of work we’ll receive a free place to stay and free meals, but even more importantly, we’ll learn a new skill, meet other travelers and locals, and spend a little time tending to a piece of the planet.
9. Devote 2 hours a day to writing
There are two reasons we’re quitting our jobs and traveling around the world. The first reason is to, you guessed it, see the world. The second reason is so that I can take an honest-to-god-shot at writing for a living. I am so ridiculously excited to have the time and headspace to focus on writing. We’re going to be short on money but long on time and that sounds absolutely delicious. Right now, time seems like the greatest gift.
10. Do some good
It has not escaped me how selfish travel can be. I travel because each time I go somewhere I have never been I fall in love with life just a little bit more. Travel also helps me understand myself and my place in the world. However, travel costs money, and our RTW trip will cost a lot of money. When I think about how much good our RTW budget could do if invested in the right places, I feel a huge surge of guilt. So, Brian and I plan to volunteer while we travel. I’m not sure where or what exactly it will look like, but I want to make sure we are a positive addition to the places we visit, not just travelers passing through.
11. Haggle in a Marrakech market
I hear that there is no other place in the world like the vast, chaotic markets of Marrakech. I’m dreaming of spices, drummers, textiles and snakes in baskets.
12. Run around the world
Well, not literally around the world, but you know what I mean. I can’t wait to lace up my running shoes and pound the pavement, beaches, and forest paths of countries around the world. Running is one of the best ways to explore a new place and I plan on sniffing out, and writing about, the best running routes wherever we roam in the world.
13. Visit as many National Parks as we can
Some people are city people and others are people people, but Brian and I are both definitely nature people. I’m completely inspired by mother nature. A major goal of our trip (Pilgrimage? Sojourn?) is to see as much of this beautiful world as possible: to climb up the mountains, sleep under the stars, roam through the jungles and paddle the meandering rivers.
The other night I turned to Brian and said “can you believe that we’re about to go do everything we’ve always dreamed of?” And he said no, and then we giggled like children. Just a few years ago doing even just one of the things on this list seemed nearly impossible, yet soon we’ll be setting out to do them all. I feel so incredibly lucky to carry this dream with me and know I can make it come true.