2018 Travel Goals
I know this is a little bit late, but 2017 is now part of history, and 2018 has just started. For billions of people around the world, that means it is a chance to start over, improve yourself either mentally, physically, or emotionally, or learn something new. In addition, a new year means there are more opportunities for more travel to far-flung, unique, and exotic locations.
When I look back at my travels in 2017, I am quite pleased and extremely fortunate. Ever since I started traveling seriously in 2011 in an effort to visit every country in the world, I have kept track of all the countries I have visited. The number of countries visited each year varies, but on average, I have visited 10 countries per year over the last 6 years. I am very happy with that.
When I was younger (around 17 or 18), my goal was to live a life that was a little less ordinary from everyone else, and while my career is quite regular by most standards, I have the opportunity to do something that many people will probably never be able to do, and it is always my hope to never lose this opportunity. These travel opportunities as an expat are things I am extremely grateful and thankful for. It really is a dream come true and a once in a lifetime experience, so I certainly want to continue to travel and see as much as I can before it is no longer possible.
In retrospect, 2017 was definitely a year of "firsts," particularly in the beginning of the year. My proudest travel milestone was that 2017 was the year that I finally visited South America with stops in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Chile. South America is a place I had always been curious about, and when the opportunity presented itself, I knew I had to take it.
As is the case in life, the South America trip almost did not happen. My original plan was to spend about 1 month or so in the southern part of South America learning Spanish and traveling, but visa and immigration issues in the country I live in resulted in long delays, and I was not able to leave the country until about 1 month later. As a result, I had to do a shorter trip to South America, which meant I could not explore as thoroughly as I would have liked, but that was alright. I still got there eventually. Despite the travel plans changing, I enjoyed South America so much that I have actually considered the idea of possibility relocating to maybe Uruguay or Argentina one day in the future, but that requires a lot more research and deliberation. Only time will tell if that actually happens.
Aside from South America, I also continued to visit more of Europe. In 2017, I visited Ireland and Northern Ireland (and tore my pants in the process at the Cliffs of Moher), and then later in the year, I finally visited Luxembourg and Portugal. These were two countries that had been on my list for a long time, but for one reason or another, I could never bring myself to visit because other places always took precedent. However, when I visited, I certainly was not disappointed. For being such as a small country, Luxembourg is packed with all kinds of things to see, and there are still things I want to see there. As far as Portugal is concerned, I definitely want to return and explore the northern part of the country in more detail. While in Portugal this time, most of my time was spent in Lisbon and the surrounding areas.
Most recently, I was able to travel to Singapore and the Maldives (blogs on those to follow) to close the year. They are both amazing countries with much to offer a visitor or even a possible immigrant or expat. I would strongly recommend visiting them if given the opportunity. Overall, 2017 was a wonderful year for travel, and I hope that I get to continue my journey, and I also hope that you the reader get to travel to places far and near in 2018 as well.
Of course, now that 2017 is over, it is now time to start figuring out travel plans for 2018. While I want to see the entire world, I cannot do that in one year. Instead, this year, I have narrowed down my travel goals to three particular areas.
1) Caribbean/Central America/South America
This is a massive region, and there is no way I could do all of this even if I had an entire year of free time to travel. Currently, I am torn between trying to focus in on one particular region or trying to visit a small part of each region. This requires a lot more work, but I am confident I will be able to figure something out that will make for an unforgettable experience. In order to do this area, I have even considered the possibility of doing a cruise that will make stops in several Caribbean island nations. The only problem is that the cruise would not really hit any Central or South American countries.
Since it is not particularly easy to get to this region from where I live in the Middle East, I am leaning toward trying to get a taste of each region since I only get maybe one chance per year to be in this area. Therefore, if things go the way I anticipate, I would ideally like to visit Costa Rica and Panama in Central America, and then I could visit maybe a couple Caribbean nations. To finish up, I could then hit maybe one of two of the northern South American countries. If all goes as planned, I could conceivably hit maybe one or two countries of each region, and I could be content with this.
Once again, this is a massive continent, and I am looking to try to do maybe three or four countries of this region if possible. While I have done a few countries in Northern Africa (Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco), I've been deliberately holding off on more central and southern parts of Africa because I currently lack the required documents for some of these places.
I actually had the opportunity to get those documents last year, but because I misunderstood the directions, I lost my chance. Therefore, I will try again this year, and once I get those, I am looking to try and explore a bit of Southern Africa first since the countries in that area of Africa seem to a bit more developed and easier to get around than other parts of the continent at the moment.
3) Central Asia
For many people, Central Asia is the "Last Frontier of Travel" because these are rather remote places which tend to lack a good tourist infrastructure, and they are places where English is not commonly spoken, so a visitor has to either know the local language or Russian. In addition, these countries are located in rather questionable areas in terms of security, so I do not know of many people who have been to these countries, but that just makes them more interesting since that means there is a lot to discover.
The Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan have been on my travel radar now for awhile. However, the security situation in Afghanistan does not currently lend itself to travel and getting visas for Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan does not seem to be particularly easy. That means those three will have to probably be delayed for a little bit. However, getting visas for the other three are easier (visa on arrival/E-Visa), but I have been holding off on visiting these until the spring or summer months since I am not a particular fan of cold weather, and I would prefer to see these places in warmer weather. If I do get a chance to visit these places, the most likely ones would be Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistsan due to relatively easy access. However, I would be content if I only got to visit one or even two. I don't need to visit all three at one time although that would be convenient. If I have to be 100% honest, this is the region that I really want to try to visit in 2018.
Those are my main travel goals for 2018. Will I actually get to these places this year? I have no idea, but I certainly hope to. I know I will not be able to get to every place I would like this year, but I will be perfectly content if I can get to at least one or two countries from each region this year. If anything, it will help me become familiar with the area, and that will make it easier the next time I return.
Of course, I know sometimes things happen and plans change. During my time traveling, I have learned that when plans change, they can sometimes change suddenly. While frustrating, that often can lead to other things that might be just as good or better, but it never hurts to have goals and plans. The key is to always be optimistic.
What are your travel goals for 2018? I'd love to hear where you would like to visit.