The Next Six Months


Earlier this year I outlined my travel plans for the next six months. I announced that from March until August I was going to be slowing down the travels, except I secretly wasn’t — I was hoping to but when it came to actually planning out where to go I couldn’t stop adding destinations to our route.

Unsurprisingly, exhaustion took hold within a few weeks of publishing that article and I finally managed to ease up on the fast-paced travel.

So let’s take a look at the previous few months…

My original plans involved spending a month in Malaysia, a month in Vietnam, a month in Myanmar, a week in Japan, two months in the US and then heading to Mexico with no further plans.

Yosemite National Park
Yosemite — a highlight of the past six months

How well did I do?

After expecting to fall deeply in love with Malaysia, I was disappointed to discover that it didn’t grab me as hard as other Southeast Asian countries do. I in no way hated the country but I didn’t love it either. I didn’t feel anything. Maybe it was just travel burnout after an overly ambitious road trip through New Zealand but I wasn’t feeling particularly excited about spending much longer there.

After ten days, I left. I took a bus into Thailand and a boat to Koh Lipe, an island I had yet to visit. From there, I briefly stopped off in Krabi and then spent two weeks on my beloved Koh Yao Noi. For a while I struggled with feelings of guilt that I was taking the easy way out. Thailand is easy, familiar, comfortable. There’s no challenge or comfort zone to struggle to get out of, it’s the country I’ve spent the most time in over the past few years.

But I needed Thailand. I needed to stop moving and recover from New Zealand. I needed to go somewhere that felt like home and write and work and catch up with the 600 emails that needed my attention.

And so, it was with both sadness and relief that I cancelled my planned month in Myanmar and spent that time in my previous home in Chiang Mai.

It was the right decision.

Koh Lipe beach
Koh Lipe, Thailand

From Thailand, I flew to Vietnam, basing myself in Saigon for a month. I had great ambitions to spend every weekend travelling all over the country and exploring new cities but in reality I was still burnt out and wanting a base. Dave surprised me with a trip to Hoi An for my birthday and that was the limit of my exploration.

Pricey Japan was also sadly cut from my itinerary as I took advantage of a few cheap flights I found online for the US. I arrived there a couple weeks early.

I was astonished to fall hard for the US and stayed right up until the last day of my visa, extending our original plans by a month. I arrived with slightly negative feelings towards the country and left filled with adoration. My west coast adventures saw me hitting up Los Angeles, San Francisco, Yosemite, Portland and Seattle. I then flew over to the east coast to spend time in New York City. We finished up with an incredible Southwest road trip that saw me driving through Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Texas.

The past few months haven’t completely been about cutting countries from my itinerary though — I had a couple of unplanned visits up to Canada, with stops in Vancouver, Whistler and Montreal.

And now, Mexico.

I’m so happy to be here.

 

So what do the next six months look like for me?

Surfing in Sayulita
Sayulita, Mexico

Sayulita, Mexico

I love my little beach town of Sayulita and it’ll be terribly hard to tear myself away when December rolls around. As much as I could easily spend six months here there’s so much more of Mexico I want to see.

With just over a month left, I’m going to spend my final few weeks eating at all the restaurants I haven’t yet tried, spending a lot more time on the beach and working harder than ever on my book.

Guanajuato, Mexico

I love vibrant, colourful cities, which is why I’ve added Guanajuato to my itinerary — it looks stunning! I’ll only be spending a few days here, but my plans mostly involve wandering down alleyways and taking photos of the beautiful buildings.

Oaxaca

Oaxaca, Mexico

Next up, Oaxaca, and I’ll be arriving just in time for Christmas! I’ll be living in Oaxaca for a month and given that it’s frequently said to be the food capital of Mexico my only plans are to eat, eat and eat. I’m also hoping to take a trip over to Hierve el Agua while I’m there — a badass series of rock formations that look like a huge waterfall.

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

After spending a month inland I’ll definitely be ready for some more beach time. However, this time I’ll be heading over to the Caribbean coast, where I’ll be basing myself in Playa Del Carmen for a month and taking day trips all over the Yucatan Peninsula. High on my list are the Mayan archaeological sites Chichen Itza, Uxmal and Coba, and I’m also keen to take lots of snorkeling trips in cenotes and the ocean.

tulum featured

Tulum, Mexico

I’m probably most excited about my planned month in Tulum. If at this point I’ve somehow managed to conquer my phobia of diving then I’d love to dive either here or on the nearby island of Cozumel. Otherwise, this month will be spent doing much the same as the previous month — exploring ruins, snorkeling and lots and lots of beach time.

Cuba

In the middle of March my Mexican visa runs out  so I’ll be hopping on a plane and flying to Cuba, a country I’ve wanted to visit for well over ten years. It’s true — I distinctly remember being 13 years old and creating a “bucket list” because a friend at school told me to. That bucket list consisted solely of only “Do a backflip. Go to Hawaii. Go to Cuba.” Time to make my dreams come true!

Knowing how bad the quality of the Wi-Fi is in Cuba, I’m probably going to be disconnecting for the 2-3 weeks that I’ll be in the country. Unfortunately, with all of my work being online, I can never do this for too long so I won’t be able to visit for as long as I would like. Still, it will be a pretty great introduction to a country that has always fascinated me.

Where will I go? I’m hoping to experience city life, the countryside and gorgeous beaches by spending time in Havana, Vinales, Cienfuegos and Trinidad.

The Caribbean 

Trying to work out travel logistics for the Caribbean as an independent traveller is tough.

Which is why I haven’t done it yet.

With planes and ferries only going to and from certain islands on specific days of the week or month if at all, it’s going to be tricky to figure out where to go and how to get there. I’m hoping to visit two islands over as many weeks — I just need to decide which ones!

Belize

In mid-April, I’ll be starting my Central America adventure, beginning with Belize! My plans are now rather vague in terms of time and destinations but I’ll definitely be spending a bit of time on Caye Caulker, snorkeling, sailing and maybe even diving (unless I’m still avoiding that). It won’t just be about beaches, however, I’m also keen to explore rainforests and ruins as I make my way west towards Guatemala.

 

And that takes us up to May! As always, I’m sure what I actually end up doing will look a little different as plans change and itineraries evolve. 

I think this is a good plan though, and it doesn’t feel daunting. I finally feel like I’m hitting a balance between travel and work that suits me, especially now that I’ve finally realised I need to move much slower than I have in the past.

And now I’d like to hear from you! What do you make of my travel plans? Do they sound great or terrible? Do you have any recommendations for where I’ll be going? I’d love to hear any tips or advice! :-)

And what happens after Belize?

At the moment, my vague plan is to work my way down through Central America over the space of four-ish months and then head into South America for the rest of the year — hopefully finishing off 2014 with a trip to my seventh continent, Antarctica! Yes, I just can’t seem to stop planning.

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54 Comments

  1. November 8, 2013
    Reply

    What a great roundup! I’m glad you were able to slow down. Your photos from Mexico are absolutely gorgeous and I can’t wait to see more. I’m happy you enjoyed your time in the states. Being from California, I’m particularly fond of the West :)

    Happy travels!

    • November 9, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Lauren! California was definitely one of my highlights :-)

  2. November 8, 2013
    Reply

    Six months from now…”I went back to the UK, ate a lot of cheese, then returned to Thailand, after some Mexican fish tried to kill me in Playa del Carmen.”

    I love how your plans change, because mine change too, so I’m not the only one who has to write, “Well I was *going* to go here, but….” type sentences to start their posts. Georgia, Armenia, Africa (!) and Canada (a return trip) have all received the chop from me this year.

    • November 8, 2013
      Reply

      I’m so predictable! It’s true, fish in general seem to hate me.

      I prefer having my plans change rather than sticking to something completely. I’ve discovered a lot of amazing places that way :-)

  3. J from Travel on Inspiration
    November 8, 2013
    Reply

    It sounds like you have an amazing 6 months lined up, I can’t wait to read all about them. Especially looking forward to your Chichen Itza post. I would love to visit there one day.

    • November 8, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, J! I have a feeling Chichen Itza is going to end up being one of the highlights.

  4. November 8, 2013
    Reply

    If you haven’t conquered your fear of diving by then, head to Roatan after Belize and I’ll teach you how to dive :)

    • November 8, 2013
      Reply

      Thank you so much for the offer, Rika! I just might take you up on that :-)

  5. Yvette
    November 8, 2013
    Reply

    I don’t know if you’ve looked into this (and not sure how easy it is to do from Cuba directly) but your best bet in the Carribean is to look into some of the Leeward Islands- say fly into St Martin and use that as a base for Anguilla/Saba/St Barts (last one is REALLY expensive tho!), which is doable because the ferry from Anguilla to St Martin is a mere half hour or so… plus St Martin is two countries/ Anguilla is British, so all a little different. Other option I can think of is Virgin Islands which are relatively close together, and have reasonable ferries accordingly.

    Happy planning!

    • November 8, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Yvette, that’s super-helpful! Looks like it could work out nicely too. I’ll do more research :-)

  6. November 8, 2013
    Reply

    If you’re still think about where to go in the Caribbean, my favourite islands were St Kitts, Dominica and St Martin!

    • November 8, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, George! I’ll do some research on those. Still thinking about it — there are far too many options!

  7. Lauren
    November 8, 2013
    Reply

    This is all so exciting! Can’t wait to read about your adventures in Latin America!

    • November 8, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Lauren! I’m so excited to start exploring a new region of the world :-)

  8. November 8, 2013
    Reply

    Get it girl! I so wish I could do what you are doing! How did you like NYC? It’s my favorite place in the states! Thailand looks gorgeous! Can’t wait to read about the next leg of your trip.

    ~Ashley @ A Cute Angle
    http://acutelifestyle.blogspot.com

    • November 9, 2013
      Reply

      I liked New York a lot more than I did the first time I visited… although I still didn’t love it. I’m not really a city person at all, so it’s always going to be a struggle to fall in love with huge cities :-)

  9. Jennifer
    November 8, 2013
    Reply

    I have to say I’m not happy about your travel plans because I won’t get to see you in South America !! Nah I’m delighted that your taking things slow, sounds like your having a great time. I just heard about the storms and stuff in the Philippines recently and the fact the the chocolate hills are no longer there so got me thinking of our time there so said I’d check in on ya. Cuba is on my bucket list too , I’m afraid though by the time I get there it will have changed lots as people are saying it is so I will be looking forward to hearing your stories, ok well chat soon xx

    • November 9, 2013
      Reply

      I know… I’m sad I’m going to miss you! Still, plans change so maybe it will work out after all :-). I can’t believe everything that’s happening in The Philippines at the moment — it’s so upsetting :-(

  10. November 9, 2013
    Reply

    Love love love Belize! Enjoy it!

  11. November 9, 2013
    Reply

    Wow. Awesome plans. You are having quite the adventures Lauren! You are quite inspiring. I am still working towards becoming location independent.

    • November 9, 2013
      Reply

      Thank you, Michael! Good luck with the location independence — it’s a lot of hard work but the freedom makes it all worthwhile :-)

  12. Sky
    November 9, 2013
    Reply

    Ah, Guatemala. My favorite country. LoveloveloveloveLOVE it there! My favorite place is a little town called Joyabaj that’s up in the middle of nowhere – small but the people are so incredible and the hotel I always stayed at was fantastic. I miss being there so much!

    • November 9, 2013
      Reply

      I’m very excited about Guatamala. Joyabaj sounds amazing! :-)

  13. Leah
    November 9, 2013
    Reply

    I’d love to hear the details as you work out your visit to Antarctica. That is the number one destination on my list, and any tips/advice on how to get there would be helpful!

    • November 9, 2013
      Reply

      Absolutely! At the moment our plan is to simply turn up when we want to go and try and find a cruise that still needs passengers for half-price. Apparently you can do that. We’ll see… :-)

  14. November 9, 2013
    Reply

    I hope you get over your fear of diving in time! It can be a bit intimidating at first, but a few minutes in the water and you’ll get comfortable quickly!

    Looking forward to reading about your adventures around South America! So exciting!

    • November 9, 2013
      Reply

      I hope so. I signed up for taster dive days multiple times in the past and every single time I’ve cancelled them at the last minute. I always regret it but damn, it terrifies me! I think it’s about time I try and conquer this fear :-)

  15. eyeandpen
    November 9, 2013
    Reply

    The beaches look amazingly beautiful! I want to spend a lifetime just soaking up the rays!

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      I’m probably most excited about the beaches! :-)

  16. November 9, 2013
    Reply

    I get what you mean when you say you needed time out – travelling constantly is exhausting and with no real base, you need to make one for yourself sometimes! Glad to see you’re enjoying some down time. Looks like an amazing 6 months ahead.. can’t wait to read about it :)

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      Absolutely. I much prefer travelling slowly and forming bases around the world as I move :-)

  17. John
    November 10, 2013
    Reply

    Good luck to your coming adventures! Mexico is a heavenly place and anyone will surely enjoy roaming that country. I would love to hear more of your stories!

  18. November 10, 2013
    Reply

    Looks like an exciting 6 months ahead. We’ve done Tulum and it is incredible. Don’t be too concerned about driving. We did it and it was fine, even if the car was falling apart…

    In the Caribbean I recommend Barbados, Curacao and Aruba as being well worth a visit :)

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      Great to hear good things about Tulum! We don’t know too much about it, aside from seeing dozens of gorgeous photos! Thanks for the Caribbean tips too :-)

  19. November 11, 2013
    Reply

    Sounds like an awesome few months ahead! I really need to do some more exploring in Mexico and the Caribbean, too. Not to mention in Central/South America…. ahhhh, so much of the world left to see!

    Super jealous that you’re going to Belize for a while. I loved Belize (and Caye Caulker especially), and really would like to get back there soon myself.

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      You sound like me — I start listing all the places I still have left to visit and end up with a list of around 500 places! I can’t wait to get to Belize!

  20. November 11, 2013
    Reply

    I just got back from Belize, and I feel in LOVE with Belize I can’t wait to get back and hopefully soon! I will be in Antigua Guatemala in January and I can’t wait!

    I can’t wait to hear what you think about Belize, it was my first time there and I feel INSTANTLY in love. Happy Travels!

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      That’s great to hear! I can’t wait to get there now :-)

  21. November 12, 2013
    Reply

    Wow – sounds like you have some awesome plans ahead of you! enjoy!! I have heard amazing things about Belize and Cuba :)

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Zara! I’ve heard amazing things about pretty much everywhere we’ll be visiting — I don’t know where I’m most excited to go!

  22. Hogga
    November 12, 2013
    Reply

    sounds perfect

  23. Jeff
    November 13, 2013
    Reply

    I have heard about Sayulita, Mexico and its amazing Beach. Can’t wait to hear your version too.

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      It’s pretty great :-)

  24. Scarlett
    November 14, 2013
    Reply

    Ahh this sounds amazing I’m SO jealous of your plans!! xx

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Jen! You should come join me :-)

  25. Dani
    November 17, 2013
    Reply

    I would be surprised if you really end up in Antarctica at the end of next year ;-) But your plans sound fabulous! We spent six months in Central America and could’ve stayed much longer (we rushed through Panama in the end). The snorkeling in Belize is still one of our all-time travel highlights – you can swim with sharks and touch a sting ray, you will love it ;-)

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      Ah, Antarctica is our one definite point on our itinerary that we know we’re going to do. Dave wants to visit all seven continents before he’s 40 so we’ll definitely be doing it next year :-)

      I’m not so sure about the shark swimming and sting ray touching though! :-D

  26. December 16, 2013
    Reply

    must’ve ran into you somewhere in SE asia. i was there the same time you were… but anyway, kind of crazy how your plans somehow came to fruition considering they rarely do when traveling.

    • December 18, 2013
      Reply

      Ah, nice! It feels strange to have been away from Southeast Asia for so long…

  27. January 30, 2014
    Reply

    I have been fascinated by Cuba, too! Excited to see pics and hear stories about your travels there (and everywhere else, too!)

    • February 2, 2014
      Reply

      I’ve unfortunately had to cut Cuba out of my travel plans because it was so expensive to get to! :-(

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