A couple of days ago, I dropped several bombshells.

I’ve left Lisbon.

I’m in search of a long-term home.

And I’m going travelling for six months.

Bam! 

I’ve been keeping this off the blog for over four months now, choosing instead to spend that time giddily throwing darts at a map and making serious plans. This could be the last time I find myself without a home to return to between adventures, so I need to make the most of this upcoming journey.

Lauren in the Azores

I’ve published my future travel plans in six month iterations since the inception of my journey, and they’ve fast become one of my favourite posts to assemble. I relish the opportunity to take stock of the previous half-year while looking ahead to the travel joys that hopefully lay ahead. When I shared my previous itinerary back in April, I hoped to delve into the following destinations:

In April, Southern Portugal/Denmark: I spent the month in Portugal and visited Denmark in September instead.
In May, Northern Portugal/San Marino/Liechtenstein: I took my planned trip to Porto, but skipped the microstates.
In June, Tanzania/Rwanda/the Congo: Check! This was one of the best trips of my life.
In July, a European summer: I spent July in the UK, but I was originally planning on exploring the Balkans then.
In August, the UK/Ireland: I went to the UK in July instead but ran out of time to see Ireland. I spent August in Lisbon.
In September, the US for the fall colours: Check! I fell in love with New England on this trip. 
In October, Portugal/Brazil: I was too fatigued to visit Brazil, so spent my time in the US and Portugal.  

This year, I gave myself permission to say no to plans, and subsequently felt no shame in missing several destinations I’d originally hoped to explore.

One of the greatest struggles I’ve faced in making the transition towards part-time travel is managing my ambitions. It’s all too easy for me to sit down and reel off an endless list of destinations I hope to visit soon, not taking into account my alternate desire to concentrate on activities that don’t involve travelling for eight months of the year. I long to create a home life that’s as rich and fulfilling as the one I have on the road, to focus on friends and family as much as I do climbing the next volcano, to work on my business as hard as I do my list of dream destinations, and to take as much care of my mental health as I do my passport.

It’s something I need to work on in the future in order to ensure I don’t continuously create optimistic goals I can’t healthily achieve. Setting targets is worthwhile, but building them so high that they’re unreachable results in nothing but feelings of failure. I subsequently allowed myself to cancel several of my planned trips this year without punishing myself for choosing something else over travel.

Next year, once this upcoming trip is over, I plan to travel less. I’ll be focusing on returning to loved destinations rather than seeking out the new, ensuring I have enough time at home to safeguard my health, prioritising writing about everywhere I’ve visited before leaving to experience somewhere new, and turning my attention towards helping others achieve their dreams rather than living so self-indulgently.

Speaking of self-indulgence, the next six months! This could be the last time I take a trip of this length, so I’m hopeful this period will result in a journey I’ll cherish for years to come.

November: Italy and Japan

The last week of November, when I’m writing this, is clearly going to be all about the food.

Thanks to yet another Secret Flying deal that soared across my radar (€300 return from Rome to Tokyo!), I jumped on the opportunity to work an Italian layover into my first leg of my journey. During my last visit to Rome, over a decade ago, I was so anxious about being overseas that I saw very little of the city. This time around, I’m excited to actually explore Rome through its food and architecture. I’ll be aiming to take my first steps in Vatican City, to eat as much pasta as my stomach will allow, and to wander the ruins with a greater appreciation of the history they grew from.

And then Japan! Japan has long felt like one of my biggest travel oversights, as well as a destination where I’m certain to gain weight, so I’m excited to eat, eat, eat my way around the country.

We’ll kick off our time there embracing the chaos of Tokyo before taking the chance to recover with views of Mount Fuji while we’re relaxing in Hakone. Our next stop will be Shibu Onsen, which is home to the famous snow monkeys — easily the thing I’m most excited for this month, if not this year!

December: Japan and Australia

December will bring even more Japan goodness, and I’m confident I’ve planned the perfect two weeks for our first visit to the country. After falling in love with the snow monkeys, we’ll be travelling across the country and hitting up Kanazawa, Takayama, Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Kobe, and Osaka. We have so much crammed into these two weeks, but I’m already feeling confident I’m going to never want this trip to end.

When our time in Japan does draw to a close, we’ll be flying south to replace the snow with sunshine.

One of the big constants in my life of travel is alternating Christmasses between my family and Dave’s. And while our trips to Australia are typically focused on family and food, I always try to make the most of my time there by wandering through new areas of the region while I’m in town.

This year, I’ll be heading to the Great Barrier Reef for the very first time!

Yes, I’ll be basing myself in Cairns for a full week and will be spending that time exploring the rainforests, taking a scenic flight over the reef, and then stumbling on to a liveaboard to explore the coral below.

The Great Barrier Reef is dying, I know, but that’s been the fuel for my desire to see it now before it’s gone for good. By opting for a liveaboard, we’ll be able to reach parts of the reef that are still flourishing and bleach-free. That’s the hope anyway. Stay tuned for a post where I undoubtedly get seasick, stung by jellyfish, and swear off future snorkelling trips for real this time. I really hope that won’t be the case, though, because I spent a lot of money on this trip.

At the end of the month, we’ll be flying into Melbourne to spend Christmas with Dave’s family and friends. This cool, hipster city is my favourite spot in Australia, so I’m thrilled to be heading back once more.

The lagoon in Aitutaki, the Cook Islands. It definitely has to be the prettiest place I've ever visited

Aitutaki, in the Cook Islands

January: South Pacific Dreaming

After three weeks of coffee-drinking, street art-spotting, and brunch-eating in Melbourne, we’ll be ready for a change of scene.

It’ll be no surprise to long-term readers to discover the next destination on my itinerary is New Zealand! We’ll be kicking off our time in the South Island with a few days of relaxation in Hanmer Springs, the summer hotspot for locals and where Dave’s parents have a holiday home. While we’re there, we’ll be bathing in geothermal hot springs, hiking in clean mountain air, soaking up sunshine, and definitely not overpaying for food, cough.

Once my week in the Land of the Long White Cloud is up, Dave’ll be settling into his parents’ place in Ashburton to spend his days hiking the South Island with his dad, while I’ll be flying east for yet another one of my South Pacific island-hopping adventures. This part of the world is easily the one that enthrals me most, so I’m overjoyed about spending a couple of weeks exploring another handful of islands.

I’ve made the decision to only focus on one country this year, so that I don’t get too drained from moving location every couple of days. I haven’t finalised my plans yet, but I’ve narrowed it down to Tonga, Fiji, and Vanuatu. Tonga because it interests me the most, Fiji because it likely interests you guys the most, and Vanuatu because I need more volcanoes in my life.

West coast of New Zealand

February: New Zealand and Thailand

After my South Pacific jaunt is done and dusted, I’ll be flying back to New Zealand to join up with Dave’s family for a couple of weeks of chilling out, eating, and drinking. We most likely won’t be doing anything super exciting over this time, but I’m still hoping to check out some new parts of the country with Dave over those two weeks.

When mid-February rolls around, I’ll be changing things up and heading north to Southeast Asia.

It’s been several years since I was last in one of my favourite parts of the world, so I’m ridiculously excited to soon be delving back into some familiar spots.

I’m kicking off my trip with two weeks back in Chiang Mai. Stop it — I can hear your eyes rolling from here.

But a trip to Southeast Asia is never complete without some time in Chiang Mai. After learning my friend Diana is going to be in town, I immediately made plans to meet her there and spend some time catching up in the city we both used to live in. I have no doubt Chiang Mai isn’t the place I used to love, and I know for the fact there’s a whole new crowd of travel bloggers I don’t really know, so it’ll be interesting to see how our time there goes. Either way, I already know it’ll be full of great street food, cute coffee shops, and lots and lots of catching up with friends.

March: Vietnam and Laos

When March rolls around, I’ll be jetting to Vietnam — probably my favourite country in Southeast Asia — to eat, eat, and eat.

Rather than holing up in Saigon for a month, as we usually do, we’ll be trying somewhere different on for size this time around. Da Nang is often overlooked in favour of nearby Hoi An, but has recently started attracting digital nomads and sounds like the kind of city we’d love. We’ll most likely spend the first two weeks of the month here, then head across the border in search of adventure.

Laos is one of my least explored countries in Southeast Asia — I only spent a week there back in 2012 and while I didn’t have the best experience there, I still left itching to see more of the country. I’ve never even been there with Dave before! We’ve planned and cancelled multiple trips to Laos over the years together, so now it’s time to make good on our promises and finally head back.

 

And that’ll be the second half of March! We’ll likely spend our two weeks exploring the northern parts of the country, but I’ve spent enough time in Southeast Asia to know that it’s just as likely we’ll head to the south instead. Or, um, to the Thai beaches.

 

April: More Asian Adventures

April will be all about exploring the parts of Asia I’ve always dreamed of visiting.

Up first, Bhutan! This little-visited country has always been off the cards for me, due to price. It’s impossible to visit Bhutan as a budget traveller, given that there’s a tourist fee of $250 a day at the absolute minimum. Well, these days, my business is doing well and as long as something terrible doesn’t happen to my site between then and now, I should be in a good financial position to comfortably afford a two-week trip within the country.

I’ll then be rounding off my time in Asia with my first ever visit to Borneo! On the agenda will be taking my first steps in Brunei, hiking Mount Kinabalu, trekking through rainforests, relaxing on beautiful beaches, and spotting wild orangutans!

Lauren in a clog

May: Our New Home?

Six months is a long, exhausting time when it comes to continuous travel, so Dave and I are fully expecting to be burnt out and desperate for a break by May. We discovered over the past 18 months in Portugal that having a place to return to between trips is integral for keeping us sane, even if we only spend a few months in it each year.

We’re keeping our plans fluid for much of the previous six months.

If we find I’m having panic attacks from three months on the road, we’ll cut out Southeast Asia and find a home. If Dave and I discover we’re struggling without regular access to a gym and kitchen, we’ll cut down on travel and live in a Southeast Asian city for a month or two. If we simply find that we miss having a community, we’ll look for where we have the most friends and travel to hang out with them.

And who knows! If we fall back in love with nomadic travel, maybe we’ll put off having a home. That looks super-unlikely given that we’ve discovered we want to be around family over the coming years.

And as for where that home may be? Stay tuned to see how our upcoming research goes! We have a shortlist of family-containing destinations in the world and we’re ready to make a decision.

What do you make of my upcoming trip? Are you still shocked we’re going to be hitting the road again? Where do you think my future home should be? All of the questions! And please do let me know if you have any kickass recommendations for anywhere I’m going to be checking out!