This is an exciting time for me: I’m in the process of planning fall travels. Our peripatetic lifestyle usually has us living in Anchorage for about three months from February to April. Although I am not a huge fan of Anchorage, it does have a library with a massive travel guide section and these cold winter days are a great time to sit down with a cup of coffee and plan our next adventure. In October, our work contract will be over and we will have two months to travel. This has been our life the last 10 years, and it is awesome.
As we research our next adventure, we have what we call a Plan of the Day. Basically, since we change our mind every other day until the plane tickets are bought, we don’t really talk about where we are going much, and if we do, we preface it by saying this is the current plan, or Plan of the Day.
[Mom, if you are reading this, you should probably click away now.]
This year, we want to go somewhere really off the beaten path. We have been researching places like Iran, Ethiopia, Somaliland, Uzbekistan, and Bangladesh, countries that are actually surprisingly safe but sound a bit scary. Our Plan of the Day is to go somewhere like this, a place with fewer tourists and more adventure.
Below, I have created a Power Ranking of the places we are thinking of visiting this year. We will be traveling from the first week of October to mid-December, so weather and price are big factors. Sorry Europe, but that excludes you, unless we could find a cool housesitting gig. Anyone out there need us to watch their place this fall?
2015 Travel Plans Power Ranking
If I had to pick right now, we’d go to Ethiopia. The weather is perfect in October and there are a staggering variety of things to do, from hiking in the Simien Mountains to visiting centuries-old rock hewn churches; Ethiopia is loaded with things to see and do. Plus, it is dirt cheap, has a variety of fascinating cultures and has hellish bus rides. I’m really not sure why I haven’t gone already.
I know it sounds really scary (I really hope my Mom isn’t reading right now), but Iran is supposed to be a very safe place and very hospitable to Americans. Here are some links to assorted blog posts from travelers who have been recently:
Travel to Iran as Americans – from the Uncornered Market
79 Reasons to visit Iran – Joao Leitao
Iran is loaded with the sorts of things we like to see – ancient ruins, towering mosques, friendly people and stunning mountains. Plus, October is a great time to visit.
The only downside is that as Americans, we have to go on a tour or travel with a guide. This makes it more expensive and cuts down on our flexibility, but I have also read that the guides are fantastic.
3. Northeast India, Calcutta and Sikkim
India is our favorite country. We have a couple of years remaining on our visa and a big goal of ours is to get back before those expire.
This time around, we are interested in the Northeast States, the region that dangles off to the east, surrounded by Burma, Bangladesh, China, Bhutan and Nepal. There are many diverse cultures and unexplored areas in the region. Moreover, the tiny Himalayan province of Sikkim is accessible from this area, and I really want to go there.
Bangladesh looks like India but maybe even crazier with far fewer tourists, which sounds great.
Okay, so Nepal doesn’t qualify as off the beaten path, but doing a trek in the mountains is on my to-do list. I’ll have to talk the wife into that one though.
I really want to get back to Cuba before it opens up to Americans. Cuba was the place where I became interested in photography. I was not only drawn to the photogenic cities, beaches and mountains, but I also wanted to document how cool it was for my friends and family back home.
As sort of a back up plan, Mexico waits patiently south of the border. Many Americans go for the beaches and sunshine, but I am intrigued by the Mayan ruins, colonial cities, the Copper Canyon and festivals.
Still in the running
7. Egypt, Jordan and Israel (Kind of depends on war in the area)
8. Eastern Turkey (Don’t really want to bump into ISIS there)
9. Bolivia and Argentina (I went in 2005 and want to return badly)
10. Serbia, Bosnia, Bulgaria and the other Balkan states.
There are a handful of places that I’ve been researching that have been eliminated. Whether it be weather, expensive visas or war, I’ve crossed these off my list for this year.
- Yemen (the new war is a deterrent)
- Oman (too expensive)
- Pakistan (terrorism)
- Philippines (typhoons during Oct-Dec, went to Indonesia last year)
- Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan (weather, visit in summer someday)
- Georgia (weather, too cold)
- Armenia (see Georgia)
- Azerbaijan (see Armenia)
- Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands (weather in Galapagos)
- Guyana (someday, but not this year)
In effect, as I research different places to go, countries, regions, states and cities get crossed off the list, not unlike the March Madness basketball tournament. I think this bracket illustrates where I stand right now, of course this bracket is subject to being torn up and thrown in the trash.
What are your 2015 Travel Plans?
Do you have any advice for the off-the-beaten-path places we are considering?
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