WARNING: Long read ahead. Grab an eggnog or a whiskey and stoke the fireplace, will ya?
WOAH. It’s Christmas. (-ish). While that hallmark date certainly has a tendency to sneak up each and every year, 2017’s iteration has me feeling a particularly intense rush of that childlike joy that December 25th once regularly evoked; I’m about to unwrap what I hope and suspect will be the literal adventure of a lifetime. I thought I’d take a moment to share some details about my plans and itinerary.
I’m particularly excited to ring in the New Year on steps of the iconic Sydney Opera House with Sarah and Kenzie. One could do worse than a view like this to kick off a year abroad – if I’m gonna be in Oz on December 31, I might as well do it right — right?!
Once the hangover’s worn off and I’ve had a week to bask in Sydney’s beautiful January summertime, it’ll be time to move on to New Zealand – quite possibly the single country I’m most excited to see in all of 2018 (Though on any given day I might tell you it’s Japan or Norway or Thailand… but that’s later). I’ll have a full month to explore the north and south islands in all of their jaw-dropping splendor (Seriously, LOOK AT THIS PLACE. I want to cry). As one of the foremost adventure capitals of the world, I’ll be exploring New Zealand by way of bungy jumping, skydiving, hiking, kayaking, swimming, trekking on glaciers, rafting, rappelling, sailing, and drinking a pint or three in Hobbiton for good measure.
If my heart rate ever deescalates from all that adrenaline, early February will be the perfect time to hop back across to Australia, where I’ll have week in Melbourne, the Nation’s buzzy cultural capital (and purveyors of particularly excellent wine and coffee). On the tail end of that week, I hope to take a little overnight roadtrip along the fabled Great Ocean Road, one of the world’s best drives – but I’ll have to get back in time to catch my plane to AYQ – Ayers Rock Airport.
Situated in the middle of Australia’s iconic outback, this is ground zero for Uluru, an inconceivably massive sandstone monolith in the middle of the Northern Territory’s ‘red center’ that’s revered by aboriginals as a sacred place. As I explore the outback for a few days, I’ll be open camping under the southern hemisphere’s astounding night skies, witness to the milky way spilling its brilliant guts across the pitch black canvas above. BBQ Kangaroo ‘round the campfire, anyone?
Once sleeping outside has lost its luster, I’ll make the obvious transition to sleeping on a boat (as one does). The last bit of February will see me hop another plane to Cairns, gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. Time to scratch a LONG-time bucket list itch; I’ll be getting PADI certified to Scuba dive after 2 days in a classroom and another 3 on a liveaboard boat, gliding through blue waters amidst the world’s largest coral reef system (and in fact, the world’s largest living thing). I’m excited to do this while I have the opportunity, because make no mistake: the reef is dying – the very real consequence of a very real problem. Despite an obstinate disbelief on behalf of a particular administration, climate change ain’t fake news, folks. But this isn’t about politics, is it?
After Cairns, I expect to say farewell to Oceania, and while I’ll undoubtedly be sad to leave behind such an astonishing corner of the world after an impossibly brief 2-month stint, I’ll be incredibly eager to transport myself to another world entirely when I’ll visit otherworldly Asia for the first time (where I plan to promptly eat myself to death). My itinerary from here out is not yet quite as refined – so I’ll give a more high-level snapshot of my expected gameplan (which is, of course, COMPLETELY subject to change).
March through May should bear witness to my travels across Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal, Vietnam, Singapore, and Indonesia. As part of this leg of the trip, I’ll take on the single task I’m most excited about on the entire trip when I trek to Everest Base Camp, a staggering 17,600 feet above sea level. Casual. I’ll be writing about this experience in great detail, to be sure.
Once Southeast Asia starts to experience it’s notorious monsoon season, I plan to head West for the summertime and explore Europe for a bit. I have lots of homework left before I’ll have the cadence worked out for this region, but destinations highest on the wishlist include Norway, Iceland, Italy, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, and gorgeous cities like Istanbul, Prague, and Budapest.
Clearly, I’ll have my work cut out for me in determining how to best fit as many of these places into my itinerary as I can before the leaves start to turn, because come September/October, there’s nowhere in the world I’d rather be than Japan. I want to take my sweet time exploring the land of the rising sun, and plan to spend at least 4-6 weeks exploring the madness of Tokyo, the gorgeous peaceful landscapes of Kyoto, thriving Osaka, and the many incredible corners of this island nation unlike any other. Given time, I’ll make a stop in South Korea, as well – Seoul’s legendary nightlife beckons.
For those of you still with me, thanks for sticking it out through this little blog novel – I hope I was able to convey just how excited I am to kick things off, and give you a glimpse into what I anticipate the next year of my life will look like. Many of you have asked about meeting up, so my hope is that this snapshot, vague as it may be beyond months 1 and 2, will give you a rough idea of where you might find me and when. I would love to see some of you out in the world!
As I make my way through the year, you can expect lots of photos, thoughts, and honest dialog from me to document my trip. With a little luck, I hope to inspire some of you to see new places or take big leaps of faith (I also plan to do some writing about how I made this happen and how you can make it happen too). I’d love to hear from you guys to understand whether there’s anything particular you’d like to see me write about, any FAQs to address, etc. – this will be my main means of communication with all of you while I’m away, after all.
For now, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and thank the countless numbers of you who have inspired me, supported and encouraged me, and introduced me to the people and places I’ll see along the way. Leaving behind all of you who I’ve ever known is not an easy task – but I think it’s going to be well worth it for the journey ahead.