Many of my friends and followers have asked me over the past few months how I started planning my trip around the world. My trip started off with my decision to volunteer abroad somewhere. I started looking up volunteer abroad programs, and came across International Volunteer Head Quarters, and decided that they seemed like the best volunteer program to go through. IVHQ had a lot of countries and programs to apply for, and I wanted to try and do programs that were more related to what I went to school for (Environmental Science). All of this research started in April 2015 and originally was just going to be a two week trip. I applied for an Environmental volunteer program based out of Italy for 2 weeks, was super excited to do it and put down my registration fee to ensure my spot – only to find out that they just changed the program length to a minimum of 4 weeks. At that time, I only planned on taking 2 weeks from work off, and decided I couldn’t do the 4 week program, so IVHQ allowed me to choose another destination instead for that 2 week period (which was scheduled for the beginning of May 2016). Instead of Italy, I opted for a 2 week Environmental Research program in Mexico.
Even though I booked that part of my trip almost a year in advance, come August I decided that I wanted to do more than just those 2 weeks. At that point, I decided I wanted to travel for several months and experience the world before I start making major life decisions – like buying a house. While I was researching other volunteer options from the Italy placement, I had found several other programs that sounded awesome, like Sea Turtle Conservation in Bali and Sports Development in Fiji, and the initial Italy program. I decided to reapply to the Italy program, and also applied for programs in Bali and Fiji. Since I planned to still start off in Mexico, I came up with an initial itinerary of how I planned to travel the world. I would start off in Mexico and then make my way towards Oceania for my Fiji placement, then head over to Bali from Fiji, and then head to Europe after Bali. The only placements I had back to back were Fiji and Bali, each of the other placements had 2-3 weeks in between the next placement start date. Since I had certain weeks that I knew I needed to be in Mexico or Italy or Fiji or Bali, I decided to pick destinations to stop at along the way in between each start date.
Between the Mexico programs end date, and the Fiji start date, I had 3 weeks to plan for. I decided since I have to fly all the way to Fiji, I might as well stop off at Hawaii first to split up all of the extremely long flights a little bit. And since Fiji and pretty close to Australia, I decided to spend a week in Australia before making my way to Fiji. That planning brought me up to the middle of July, when the Bali program would end. I had 2 weeks I needed to make plans, and knew during those 2 weeks I would need to make my way to Europe in order to get to Italy for the Environmental program. I had a lot of back and forth ideas on what I wanted to do after Bali – should I stay in the South East Asia area and check out a couple of the major cities out there, or should I just fly over to Europe and eventually make my way down to Italy from where ever I fly into? After much debating, I mostly chose the latter, but added Bangkok in as a 36 hour destination before flying to Europe.
Once I decided to spend 2 weeks in Europe, before being in Italy for 4 weeks, I did a lot of debating on where in Europe I wanted to go. I found a decently cheap direct flight from Bangkok to Stockholm, Sweden. I’ve never done much train traveling before, so I decided to purchase a Eurail pass and looked up what cities I could hit on my way from Stockholm where I could spend a couple days in each city before taking a train onto the next. From Stockholm, I decided to head to Malmo, Sweden and then to Copenhagen in Denmark. I was trying to figure out where I wanted to go after Copenhagen, because there were just so many different cities I wanted to see, but only had a couple days to be in each city.
While I was debating where else to go, Ryan told me he would fly out to Europe and meet up with me for a week. So I started researching areas of Europe that would be the cheapest for him to fly into and what would be the easiest for me to get to to meet him. In the end we decided to meet in London since we found a decently priced round trip ticket from Boston to London, and I was able to get a cheap flight from Copenhagen to London. While we were discussing where we should go while together, he had mentioned wanting to go to Amsterdam someday and I wanted to go to Paris. There is a Rail and Sail option to go from London to Amsterdam, where you take a train from London to a nearby ferry port, take the ferry to the a port in Holland, where you then get onto a train and can get to Amsterdam from there. The ferry is overnight, which saved us from having to book another night in a hotel, and we’d be doing all of our traveling at night, giving us more time to explore during the day. From Amsterdam, we are going to take a train to Paris, where we will stay for a few days before Ryan has to fly back to London to catch his flight home and I have to catch either a train or a flight down to Naples, Italy for my last volunteer placement.
I didn’t want to go straight home after my last volunteer placement either, so I started looking up options of where else I could go from there. I wanted to hit Greece, but there were just too many things in Greece I would have wanted to do, so I decided to save that for it’s own trip someday. So instead of Greece, I opted to head to Croatia for a few days, where I can hopefully check out a few of the Game of Thrones filming locations! I knew I also needed to make my way down to Morocco to visit one of my best friends, Mariah, is stationed for the Peace Corps. I found a cheap flight from Rome to Marrakesh, so I decided to take a ferry from Croatia back to a port on Italy’s Eastern Coast in a city called Bari. Since I will be spending 4 weeks on Italy’s Western Coast, I thought it would be nice to spend a few days on the Eastern Coast and see how to two compare to each other before heading back towards the Western Coast to catch my flight out of Rome.
I’m interested to see what Morocco has in store for me. Mariah has been stationed in Morocco now for over a year, and will know a lot about where we should and shouldn’t go by the time I go to visit her. I haven’t really made any plans for out there yet for accommodation since she has her own apartment, where I know I can stay, but I’m not sure if she plans to have us go and check out some other areas of Morocco or if we plan to just stay around Marrakesh. Either way, I’m still excited to see what we end up doing while I’m there, and definitely know that a camel ride will definitely be in store!
Flights are pretty cheap to go in and out of Marrakesh from certain placed in Europe, so before heading home I decided I’d catch a flight to Barcelona where I will be staying for a couple days before finally making my way back home. In total, I will be visiting 15 countries and least 19 cities in the course of 20 weeks! I can’t believe how fast it is all creeping up on me, and hopefully my plans for how to travel around the world will work out perfectly!!