Having quit my job and sold my house in the UK, I have set off travelling the world with only my first flight booked. I’ve been saying for months now that I don’t have a plan, “I’m just gonna set off and see where I get to”. Those people who gave me a look of fear and despair at the thought of me not having a plan/itinerary/hotels/emergency hotels/meeting points booked and set in stone can rest assured, because it’s not entirely true…
I arrived in Belize (my first stop) on Friday 15th September to a lovely woman at the airport who was handing out free cake to advertise Belize tourism (how did they know I fucking love cake!!).
After a few beers on my first night, and a day exploring the village I’m staying in, swimming in the sea and burning my ginger skin, I’m now sat in a lovely garden bar called Martineja (Martin-eh-ha) enjoying a chilled bottle of the local beer.
And I’m going against everything I said I would do…. I’m writing a plan!!!
Forgive me please! I truly do want to do this the right way and just see where I get to, but there are plenty of my close friends (adoring fans) who I’ll meeting up with along the way and I need to adhere to their flights times/destinations etc (they have jobs you see *rolls eyes*) 😉
So this post is about how I’m planning to not have a plan and I’m going to talk about what I know I’ll be doing, what I hope I’ll be doing and what I don’t know I’ll be doing (if thats possible)!!?
WHAT I KNOW
Volunteering in Belize
I’m writing this in Belize, so it’s fairly probable that I’ll be going to Belize. I’ve signed up to do 6 weeks working as an accountant for a conservation organisation called SACD. SACD are based in the northern town of Sarteneja and are concerned with the conservation of the local marine wildlife…..
I got my placement through an organisation called AFiD (accounting for international development – http://www.afid.org.uk/) who place chartered accountants around the world in both volunteered and salaried roles helping not-for-profit organisations to master their finances.
The remit of my time at SACD is to help their finance manager develop his understanding of basic accounting skills as well as to explore with them the opportunity to introduce revenue streams to help them become more self funded and operate more like a business. I’m really excited about my time with SACD, I’ve already met the executive director and he is really passionate about what they do and about me being here to help them. Hopefully it’ll allow me to apply my qualifications in a way that will challenge me and give me certain job satisfaction that I wasn’t able to attain in my career back home.
The charity provide me with accommodation and food (watch this space for “how to bankrupt a charity; with kyle sandham”) – jokes (i think). I’m staying at Myrahs Guest house…
I arrived in the dark of the night, and when I woke up this morning, I walked out the front door to be presented with this beautiful scene…. (I nearly wet myself with excitement). Instead of wetting myself I went for a swim.
(I’m not sure how that man has got to the end of the pier to go fishing. I didn’t dare try to walk over and ask him!)
Exploring Belize – while in Belize, my weekdays will be taken up working at the charities offices in the village, so I’ll be exploring this insanely beautiful country at the weekends and I’m going to try and tick off all of the following:
- The Blue Hole (though maybe I need to learn to dive to get the best out of this)
- RaggaMuffin boat tour (a weekend boat tour where they take you to remote sand patches, fishing for your food, partying on the sand and camping at night time)
- The Cayes (just over the otherside of the bay in which i’m staying there are loads of beautiful places such as Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, San Pedro. They are the most “backpacker-ish” parts of Belize so hopefully a good opportunity to meet other travellers).
- Shark Ray Alley (the charity already have a plan to take me here snorkelling for a day out – win!)
- Nohoch Che’en Caves (floating in a tube through a huge cave-river system!!! Yes please!)
- Belize Zoo (apparently even those opposed to the idea of caged animals approve of this humane and educational zoo.)
- Jungle Hike/Mayan Ruins (I’m hoping to do a trek into the jungle to see some of the less well travelled mayan ruins)
** Google the above places and let me know what you think!
So that’s Belize just about sorted…
Colombia with Frankie
My number one irish drinking buddy Frankie and his brothers are flying out to Colombia, arriving November 19th. So after my time in Belize I’ll be going to meet them in Bogota city. Frankie has obviously fully taken on board my extensive holiday planning skills I thrust upon him during our trip to Brazil and he’s pulled together a comprehensive itinerary. So I’m just going to go along with what he’s planned…..
…. As long as it includes ALL of what I want to do 😉
- Amazon trekking
(hope you’ve got all that Francis!)
Here we are in Rio.
Guatamala in Two Weeks
So…. I’ll have finished my placement in Belize early November and I don’t need to meet Frankie until November 19th. Since Guatemala neighbours Belize it makes sense for me to tick off this VERY exciting country before meeting Frankie rather than coming all the way back up to the top of Central America later down the line. Having invited the beautiful Shannon and Rob for tea in Leeds before I left, I then pinned them down and wouldn’t let them leave without their tips for Guatamala, here’s what they came up with…..
- Guatamala City (to be avoided apparently)
- Antigua (colonial town with volcano trekking and rooftop bars)
- Lake Atitlan (beautiful lakeside towns, Jennas B&B is the place to be and a trip to Jai Balito for the day)
- Semuc Champey (tubing/caving/jungles)
- Flores (for the Tikal Ruins)
Sounds pretty perfect to me!
Costa Rica/Nicaragua for Christmas and New Year
The aforementioned Shannon and Rob are flying out for Christmas & New Year and with them are our equally amazing newly weds Lottie and Alex! Did I mention I made their wedding cake 😉 (see my blog post on it)
I can’t wait for this. Not only to see these four heroes, but I’ve never spent Christmas away from home and I’m actually really excited. It might be hard to be away from the family, but at least I won’t have to watch my baby brother cry when I beat him at monopoly (he’s 28). And I actually really like that dry old turkey bird.
With these things it’s best to leave the plans to our Shannon. Easier that way, isn’t it Rob 😉 With her being such a seasoned traveller I fully trust her expertise and in all honesty Shannon has been in many ways my inspiration for travelling as much as I have over the years; I just quite simply can’t wait for us all to be together – it’ll be blast!
I know for sure that I’ll be heading to Peru/Bolivia/Chile/Argentina and back to Brazil. I’ll be seeing my ex-colleague Paul (who also left work to travel – yes it was that bad where we worked). It’ll likely be in Peru that we meet up.
Machu Picchu in Peru has been a massive must-see for me for years and I can’t wait to go. I am going to explore the idea of doing a activity trek up to it where you kayak/cycle/hike your way through the jungle to the top rather than doing the traditional Inca trail.
Having been to Brazil before, I am simply looking forward to going back and seeing more of what is so far my favourite country!
As for all the other destinations, there are already plenty of things I know I want to see and do, but it’s fairly far down the line (four months from now at the earliest), so I’ll likely just take those countries as they come and explore.
WHAT I HOPE
The Panama Canal – I’m a bit of a geek and there is real appeal to me in seeing this feat of engineering – I think it’s so impressive than mankind managed to cut through an entire country to build a canal. Having looked at flights, Panama is the hub of Central America for flying in and out so perhaps somewhere between Colombia/Costa Rica I might be able to squeeze it in.
John & Ruth – my oldest and dearest school buddy John and his wonderfully fun and boozy irish wife Ruth are hoping to meet me somewhere in South America for a holiday – and I truly hope that this comes off! It’ll be the reunion of a lifetime!
Machu Picchu with my Dad – for years my dad has wanted to visit this site and it would make my year if him and my mum were able to join me for what I’m sure will be one of the landmark experiences in South America.
Friends & Family – there are so many opportunities for me to meet up with people as I make my way round the world, whether it’s seeing my number one’s Adam & Emily at Easter, Mark and Sarah in Australia, my brother Jamie and the lovely Laura coming out to meet me, Krystal bringing her unique party style to South America or living it up with Juicy Lucy. It’s just exciting to think of what could happen without knowing the details.
Finding myself – (you’re bloody big enough, how can’t you find yourself I hear you scream!) Now I know this a bit of cringe cliche, but the entire reason I’ve made this decision to quit my life and travel is in the hope of figuring out what I want to do with my life, so here’s hoping having this time away will help me realise that.
WHAT I DON’T KNOW
Australia/New Zealand – Definitely on my destination list, but at this point it’s hard for me to know when I’ll be there. I’m going to take the most of Central/South America bit by bit, so who knows how long it’ll be until I’m ready to head to a different continent.
Returning to Asia – having already travelled to Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia it’s not high on my priority as a region to travel to. But at the same time I’d really like to return and visit those areas in more detail. But I’m not sure when or in what form.
I’ve seen that it’s possible to travel from Vietnam back to the UK entirely by train – that sounds like something worth investigating!!
Africa – South Africa, the Pyramids in Egypt and doing a Safari are the things that have most appeal to me, but I’ve always envisaged them as places to holiday/vacation in the future on a 2 or 3 week basis. At the moment I’m not sure if/how I’ll fit them into my plans.
Where I’ll be a year from now – how exciting is that!!!
So, that’s my plan for travelling without a plan! There are a few set dates and itineraries in there but all in all it’s fairly open ended, and that’s what amazing, if not a tad overwhelming!
What do you think of my “plan”? Any must see’s that I can’t afford to miss? Let me know your thoughts in the comments or email me.