Sunday, November 13, 2011

New Horizons

I've been going over the numbers again for my trip and I came to a stunning realization..

I'm behind in my savings and not able to save as much per month as previously planned.

Add in to this is the shortened time period available, and I recognize I *might* need to change destinations... AGAIN. As it stands, Thailand is simply outside my upcoming budget. With the very expensive flight, the immunizations, a move to a different town to return to university, and a lack of a cash buffer like I originally planned, It's just not a feasible option at this time. Now, I'm not removing it entirely from my options, however, I am putting together a list of destinations that can fit into a 45-60 day trip.

The criteria:
  1. must be $1000 or less for a round trip ticket from the US (MCI or STL airports)
  2. Cannot be a country that shares a border with the US (no canada or mexico, unless mexico is only part of the trip)
  3. Prefer somewhere across the ocean, but if that's not possible, see bullet 2.
  4. Also prefer there to be a language barrier. I want to learn a new language and the best method is immersion.
  5. I need to be able to live on $50 or less per day as a low-mid range budget.
  6. (optional) Prefer somewhere slightly off the beaten path, or with options to see places that most non-backpacker tourists would avoid. Also would like to see the shoulder season or off season. Though it isn't a problem if its main season, I just want to see what the real life is like in the areas I visit.

I'm currently considering a trip down to Cancun, Mexico as a starting point for the Central America backpacker circuit. I'd catch a bus to Playa del Carmen, stay there a few days, maybe a week, and would then go through central america to Panama and catch a flight back to the US. Though I'm open to plenty of other options and ideas.

Since the price of a plane ticket to central america is cheaper by a power of 10, ($180 vs $1800) It opens up more options for travel within the region along with leaving more money available to do things. Plus I'll be able to set aside any remaining money when I return home. This option also opens up the winter/christmas break for a short trip unless I save every penny for a euro-venture the following summer. Once I graduate from NW, I'm going to take the trip to Thailand (if I don't do it this summer) and make my way through the area, hit up a few other countries, australia, etc. My ultimate goal is to make a full circumnavigation of the world by the time I'm 30, on top of traveling as a lifestyle.

In the off chance that I'm able to afford the trip to Thailand, I'll still leave it for later. The average suggestion from other backpackers and long term travelers is to leave it for when I have the time. I'm also looking into a short trip over winter break, maybe buck the trend and go north instead of south. That or grab my brother and some friends and take a short jump down to mexico, possibly baja. That's something for later though, right now I'm working out the summer trip and making sure I have everything set.