by Carmel on April 29, 2013 · 50 comments

I almost hesitate to post our potential itinerary because I know it will change so much from the minute I write it down all the way through the end of our year of travel. But since so many of my family members (and I have a lot of those) have asked where we’re going, here’s the very tentative schedule:

South Korea
A bunch of other SE Asia countries
Europe (looking at mostly eastern Europe, England and Spain)

Given that a lot of the friends I’ve made through reading travel blogs are either out on the road now or have come back, I’m learning a lot through their experiences. I do want to travel slowly, even though that limits the number of places we can visit. SE Asia is going to be hard since everything is seemingly so close together and “Why not visit [insert country name]…we’re so close!” But I know we need some breathing room in our itinerary to take opportunities as they come and to allow Shawn to write and for me to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I have no doubt this is highly subject to change. I do know, however, that come September 16th, we will be flying to Mongolia.


Why Mongolia?

Shawn spent two years in the Peace Corps in the early 2000s and hasn’t been back since. I’m desperate to visit the desert and see what the stars look like at night in true darkness. He still has a friend who lives there and we’ll be doing one of the tours through his business Manlai’s Budget Tours. I also want to see where Shawn lived for two years and see Russia (from across the border, of course).

How South Korea Made the Cut

Back in the early days of planning, I thought to myself, “We’ll just take a train from Mongolia to SE Asia!” And then I looked at the logistics of that. Now maybe I haven’t done enough research, but it looked like it was going to take multiple days, Chinese visas, and at least two transfers to do that. Given the cost of all that, besides the amount of time it would take to get from A to B, we decided to fly. And since we were flying, we might as well hit the Philippines. I grew up in Seattle and had a lot of Filipino friends. It was going to cost about the same for us to stop over in South Korea rather than just flying straight through, so we decided to stop. Since making this decision, I’ve done quite a bit of reading on South Korea and now I’m really excited to visit, if only to eat copious amounts of kimchi.

Down Mexico Way

I was reading a bit about extended travel in Europe and found out that thanks to a little thing called the Schengen Agreement, we’re not supposed to be in Europe for longer than three out of every six months. That kind of screwed up our plans to split our time between Asia and Europe. I am not the definitive authority on this, so if anyone has any useful information, please let me know. When I found this out, I told Shawn, oh well, we can just go to Mexico. And then that sounded pretty darn good. My mom’s family is from Mexico and we have plenty of contacts and after reading Sarah’s posts about living in Playa del Carmen…who wouldn’t want to go? From there, we could easily work our way northward visiting family in the southern U.S. along the way.

And of course, this will all probably change a million times before we actually step foot on an airplane.


{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Hannah May 1, 2013 at 3:18 pm

That’s the best thing about an itinerary; that it changes and evolves. It will lead you to adventures far greater than you could ever have anticipated. And hopefully it will allow us to cross paths at some point too! So excited to hang out with you somewhere on the road 🙂


Karen May 1, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Carmel, we are so proud of you both, the website is awesome, and will share with family so they, too, can watch and read about your travels. Awesome!!


Carmel May 1, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Thanks for your support!!! You and papa Norm are the best. We love you.


Tyrhone May 1, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Get rid of that question mark next to Mexico! You should definitely come out here. Oh and stick Cambodia in there too, Cambodia is one of the friendliest places I have ever been, and cheap. As you say that list is likely to change a lot, and that is the beautiful thing about what you guys are doing. Viva le Mexico…
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Carmel May 1, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Ok ok! I’ve been reading more on Cambodia and that definitely sounds up our alley. So many things to see!


Kim May 1, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Ahhhh… it sounds like such a wonderful plan!!! And we might end up in Mexico at the same time too. I am currently obsessed with Mongolia so I can’t wait to hear what you think about it.
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Carmel May 1, 2013 at 6:54 pm

I believe I told you and the rest of the Rickshaw Runners that we need to meet up in Mexico at some point in 2014, so that would be awesome. 🙂 I can’t wait to see what it’s like. We’re close to booking our Gobi desert tour, too!


Arianwen May 1, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Mongolia should be really interesting. I agree it’s best not to commit to a plan, although a bit of preparation can go a long way.
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Carmel May 1, 2013 at 8:49 pm

Oh, and I’ve been preparing! I have to stop myself a bit because I tend to be a natural planner. It’s exciting and good to be prepared, but I don’t want to plan myself into a corner.


Sharon May 1, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Awesome! How very Eat Pray Love of you! I’m excited to see your adventures unfold.


Carmel May 1, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Thanks, Sharon!


Brianna May 1, 2013 at 8:34 pm

I lived in Baja for 6 months – Mexico is a wonderful (inexpensive) place to visit!


Carmel May 1, 2013 at 8:51 pm

I’ve only been to Puerto Vallarta, Jala and Guadalajara. My mom’s family is from there and I just love it. Thanks for following!


Sarah Somewhere May 1, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Love the plan! Plans are fun! You know they are going to change but it doesn’t matter, it’s all part of the journey, and so much fun looking at exotic locations when you’re meant to be working 🙂 September is going to roll around so quick, I’m excited for you!!!! I second the Cambodia recommendation, and also Indonesia (sorry, your list is growing!!!). I am glad I brainwashed you on Mexico, not that you needed it. Hope we get to eat together some day!!
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Carmel May 2, 2013 at 2:21 am

You are not helping.


Geoff May 1, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Schengen covers most of Europe not all – the crucial countries that are out are the UK, Turkey, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania. Morocco & Egypt are very close by and also outside – so if you want to spend six months in Europe and can find enough to do in the non-Schengen countries that three month limit becomes slightly more manageable.

Sounds like an awesome itinerary!
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Carmel May 2, 2013 at 1:20 am

Great to know. I realize we could hop around a bit and make it work…but even reaching Europe will depend a lot on money. I really want to make it happen, though. I’m already dreaming of Turkey….


Gillian @GlobalBookshelf May 2, 2013 at 1:59 am

Mexico seems to have its own gravitational pull lately. We, also, are thinking of Mexico in the coming year. See y’all there!
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Carmel May 2, 2013 at 2:18 am

It’s the food.


Sally May 2, 2013 at 2:23 am

Yay! So excited for you guys! Although, I do have to say I’m the teensiest bit jealous you’re going to Mongolia. I have ALWAYS wanted to go there ever since I saw some PBS special about it when I was a kid. I was really hoping I would get there when I was in China, but, alas, it didn’t happen. I guess next time!
P.S. Love the blog & layout. So spiffy! Can’t wait to keep up with your planning & travels.
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Carmel May 2, 2013 at 2:25 am

I guess you’ll just have to visit!! I’m ever so flattered you’re following ME now…you know, after all the time I spend internet stalking you.


Vicky May 2, 2013 at 3:15 am

Great itinerary! Good luck with the trip planning! South Korea is definitely highly underrated and we fully enjoyed our time there – we were there for 10 days in Oct 2012. let us know if you need any South Korea tips!


Carmel May 2, 2013 at 4:02 am

Oh nice! We are actually planning to be there around mid-October. I might have some questions as we get closer. Thanks!


Jessica J. Hill May 2, 2013 at 5:47 am

Good luck and congrats on deciding to make it happen! Great itinerary. You’ll fall in love with SEA, namely Thailand – I really am not sure how you cannot.


Carmel May 2, 2013 at 2:04 pm

That seems to be the consensus!


Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) May 2, 2013 at 7:38 am

I think this is probably one of the most realistic itineraries I have ever seen! Yes, it will certainly change, but while I always advocate dreaming big, you’re right that planning to hit 30 countries in 1 year would probably not result in the trip you actually want to take. I just hope you are planning to spend more than 3 weeks in the Philippines… you know you want to! 😉

As far as I know about the Schengen Zone, the 3 month issue only applies to certain countries… while it seems new countries are added every year, many Eastern/Central European countries are not part of the agreement, meaning any time you spent there would not count towards the 3 month total. Depending which countries you are thinking of hitting, the Schengen may not really affect your plans at all!
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Carmel May 2, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Oh, we plan on more than 3 weeks. Trust me, your posts have been very convincing!


Janessa May 2, 2013 at 12:31 pm

If you want some recommendations in the Philippines let me know hehehe!
Glad to see Spain on your list too, but of course why wouldn’t it be, Spain is awesome 🙂 Too bad you don’t start there as I’m planning to go back in September!
Now the waiting…is the hardest part, no?
Excited for you and will definitely keep up with your updates!
Good luck!


Carmel May 2, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Luckily, I’m very patient. Ok, I’m laughing at myself for even typing that.

September in Spain…that sounds amazing. This will be your second time, right?


Mandy Swehla May 2, 2013 at 3:19 pm

WOW! I am so excited for you guys! We need to come visit and pick your brain this summer for sure. We have the travel bug too. Miss you!


Carmel May 2, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Yes you do! Miss you too!


Mandy Swehla May 3, 2013 at 10:25 pm

We are headed to Puerto Rico tonight so I will text you when we are back and we can work on a date/time to come visit. Enjoy the weather!


Elizabeth May 2, 2013 at 5:58 pm

I definitely recommend ending your trip in Mexico and stay awhile. We lived in Puerto Vallarta for 5 years going home to Canada over the hot summer months. We still have our condo and go down every winter for about a month. Would love to live there again. There is so much more I would like to see in Mexico.
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Carmel May 2, 2013 at 9:52 pm

That sounds just about perfect! Although I’m sure after living there for 5 years, a month just doesn’t cut it.


Ali May 4, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Definitely a good idea to keep things open and be willing to change plans as you go. SE Asia has a lot to offer, so many great places. Remember that even places that seem close can take soooo long to get to if you’re traveling overland because the roads aren’t so good and the routes aren’t necessarily a straight shot. Turkey is AMAZING, I want to go back so badly. Sounds like you have a great tentative plan for your trip!
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Carmel May 4, 2013 at 3:19 pm

That’s a really good point. I think, coming from the US, it just seems like everything is so close.


Jess May 5, 2013 at 8:33 pm

I’ve never heard of the Schengen Agreement! I guess they figure that after three months, you’re less ‘traveling’ and more ‘moving in.’

I love the planning stage of a trip, especially right after I book tickets. I’ve spent the past couple days having a brief dance party at my desk every time I look at my email and see the conformation reminder for my next Alaska trip.
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Carmel May 5, 2013 at 9:48 pm

That’s funny because when I feel down at work, I look at our ticket confirmation. Helps give me a little more endurance.


Marisol@TravelingSolemates May 8, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Hi Carmel,
I’ve known you from the comment pages of Sarah Somewhere, Hannah and other blogs we mutually follow. I just want to wish you the best in your journey.
I’m so pleased you included Philippines in your itinerary. It’s my home country (I live in NY now) and I hope you will enjoy the beautiful things it has to offer. It’s a really lovely country but the best things about it are the people.
Have a wonderful journey and I look forward to following you along.
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Carmel May 8, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Thank you! Any tips or things not to miss in the Philippines are always appreciated.


Maddie May 26, 2013 at 3:57 am

Just reading through your latest posts is making me remember the great nervous excitement before a big trip, so excited for you both to start this journey and can’t wait to read all about it. Your rough itinerary has some wonderful places on it 🙂 P.S Steph is totally right about the Philippines!
Maddie recently posted…Our visit to elephant heavenMy Profile


Michele June 10, 2013 at 5:09 am

Good luck on your travels. We are in the saving and selling stage of our planning…like you we are trying not to make too many plans


Carmel June 12, 2013 at 7:19 pm

The saving and selling feels like it’ll take forever sometimes, but it sure does speed up once you’re counting weeks! Good luck with all your planning.


Peter Lee July 26, 2013 at 12:20 am

Great post ! A good itinerary. You guys must be very exciting. Do share your views regarding your well planned trip. I would be looking forward to your post, so, that I could take some tips from you.


Carmel July 26, 2013 at 6:55 am

We’re very excited…although it’s hard to be too excited when we still have so much packing to do in our house. But it’ll get done.

I came up with the tentative itinerary originally, but Shawn was definitely on board from the start. We’re both pretty open to changing things up, though. We’ve received a lot of good advice to not get too attached to our plans.

Are you planning on traveling soon?


Peter Lee July 28, 2013 at 10:48 pm

Yes, I am also planning on travelling with my family.


Maria B. September 14, 2013 at 12:27 pm

Thanks for posting, Cuz! You know the family is infinitely curious about this adventure! I’m so happy and excited for you and Shawn to make this journey. When I make it back to Asia someday, South Korea and Thailand are definitely on my list as well. I’m hoping that my grand plans to visit South America and our dear cousin in Australia work out. Who knows, maybe it’ll work out for us to be in AU at the same time. I’ll be following you closely!
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Carmel September 14, 2013 at 12:37 pm

That would be amazing. Right now we’re anticipating March/April for landing in Australia, but who knows what will really happen. Would love the chance to meet you somewhere out in the world. Might be trouble with you, me, and Elissa, though. Mwahahahaha.


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