Many people have asked me how I could just leave my job and seemingly travel perpetually. How can I afford it? How do you find places to stay for free all the time? How do you find places to volunteer? All questions I’ve received by email, and now I’m sharing the secrets in a series of posts about how The Happy Nomad Tour Rolls and what things are like behind the scenes.
Picking Places To Visit
Traveling is a passion of mine so you’d think that picking places to go and see is the most important aspect of my journey.
I base my decisions on where to go almost purely on my volunteering opportunities.
This has meant skipping amazing things like Lake Atlitan and Tikal in Guatemala, the Honduran Caribbean, all the touristy things/places in Costa Rica and Mexico, etc.
I’ve already done the touristy kind of tourism and this trip is about the people and volunteering.
That said, when I’m moving from place to place, I definitely stop and appreciate places. And countless places I’ve visited have been a result of breaking up transportation, visiting a friend, or a place having a particular interest to me. But given my limited funds, I don’t usually make costly detours.
An exception to this would be my touristy adventure in the Colombian Caribbean the week before Christmas on my way to Venezuela – culminating in the amazing experience at Tayrona National Park. I had a volunteering experience in Cartagena, Colombia that fell through due to it being summer vacation. All but this one organization said they’d be closed for the holidays and in the end it fell through too since they never answered/returned my phone calls. So I became a tourist.
Going forward, I am sure this will largely stay the same. My favorite experiences from the trip so far have been very far off the beaten path and I achieve these experiences through volunteering.
In terms of how I made the route for The Happy Nomad Tour in the beginning, that’s a different story.
After quitting my job in Denmark, I flew home to the US to spend some time with my family before starting this trip. I knew I’d start in Mexico because I’d be close by, I’ve never visited Latin America, I wanted to improve my Spanish, and I wanted to get to know my neighbors. I am flying as little as possible, and starting in Latin America made sense since I could bus my way there.
Given how much there is to see in Brazil and Argentina, and the fact that I need a $160 visa to enter Brazil, I decided to postpone eastern South America until a future trip. Plus, out of all the countries I will visit on this trip, I am most looking forward to Peru and India. So visiting the western side of South America made more sense.
As for Asia, I had to decide whether to start in Indonesia or Vietnam. I picked Vietnam because Indonesia just seems like a nightmare when it comes to internal transportation. Plus, I’m American. I want to know the country my country so gravely harmed and give back however I can. From there I’ll head west to India.
I need visas for a few of the countries on the way to India, so I don’t know if I’ll bite the bullet and pay for visas for places like Bangladesh and Myanmar or just skip them. I would like to enjoy the amazingness of Nepal and Bhutan though.
Then from Pakistan I have a similar quandary. To get to the Middle East, I could go via Iran directly, I could visit Afghanistan, or I could go north into the “stans” that I know nothing about (Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, etc.). The only bad thing about the Stans is that I’ll need to pass through a tiny strip of China, meaning I’ll need a visa. Oh, and I’ll have to pass through Kashmir, ground zero for bad India-Pakistan relations.
So, as you can see. Often there are fewer answers than questions. But I figure things out along the way and I organized my route in a way that makes sense to me. Whether it makes sense in reality, let’s see. But I’ve already changed the route once in an unexpected way, and I’m sure it’ll happen again.
If you have any more questions, put it in the comments below and I’ll either answer your question there or write a new post covering it.