My Dream Backpacking Itinerary

So for one moment, let’s just imagine that I have unlimited money, my cats are cared for (by a friend who wanted to move to New York for a year, of course, duh), and I was going traveling for a year. I posed this scenario to myself and then I thought: Where would I start and where would I end?

Let’s take a fantasy trip, shall we?

Let’s start at the very beginning: I think I’d start my adventure with Scotland. I know – it’s a random place to start. But I’ve never been to Scotland and I really want to go to Edinburgh, followed Galway, maybe, and then I’ll make my way down to Leeds, Manchester (I’ve heard there’s great theatre there), Liverpool (for obvious reasons, duh), Cardif (I’d like to see more of Wales than where I boarded the ferry to Dublin), and Brighton before hopping over the English Channel to mainland Europe.

Europe: I’d start at the tip so I’d go to Portugal and spend a few days in Lisbon and Porto, hop on a plane to Marrakech, and then back to Europe and since, time and money aren’t an issue, I’d go to Madrid for a day and then Barcelona for a day. To be quite honest, I’ve never had much of a desire to go to Spain but since it’d be on the way, why not, right? I’d stop in Marseilles or Lyon in France while making my way to Zurich, Frankfurt, Brussels, Luxembourg (how can I skip such a tiny country?!), and Cologne.

Next up I’m hitting Hamburg (I’m not really sure why, to be honest), Berlin (I’ve wanted to revisit it ever since I first visited in 2008), and Prague (same as Berlin). Then I’d go to Lodz, Wroclaw, and Bratislava and get really, really excited because I’m back in Eastern Europe!

There is so much history – and like, really, really old history – in Eastern Europe that I can’t get enough of it. And it’s SO CHEAP. I’d start in Ljubljana, then go to Zagreb, Split, and Dubrovnik (I love this name so much and I have no idea why). One of my friends once told me Sarajevo is absolutely amazing, too, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since.

I’d definitely stop in all the major cities in Albania, Macedonia, Serbia, and Bulgaria, before FINALLY (!!!) going to Greece. How I haven’t been to Greece by now is beyond me. Well, actually, it’s not. It looks like very, very beautiful water-front properties where you can sunbathe until you die, but unfortunately that has never been on my itinerary when I travel (or even when I’m home in New York City). I would likely go to Mikonos and then Athens and call it a day.

I’d fly to Bucharest after that, which I’ve read has a huge tourism industry now, and it looks gorgeous (sensing a theme here?). I have a friend who’s family is from Romania and he said not to believe any of the bullshit you hear on TV about it not being safe.

How can I not go to Ukraine after that? I’d likely spend several days there, or maybe a week. The top of my list there includes Kyiv and Lviv.

Let’s pretend I wouldn’t have to go through a lengthy visa process and that I could just hop on a plane to go to St. Petersburg and Moscow. Despite the fact that Russia controls the guy in the White House currently, the architecture and HISTORY (!!!) in Russia is fascinating to me.

Middle East: Yes, I’m aware that the Middle East is not a continent. Next up: Istanbul. My parents would have an absolute stroke if they heard I was going to Turkey (I mean truth be told, they almost had strokes when I told them I was flying through the AIRPORT in Istanbul to travel to and from Budapest). But Istanbul looks absolutely beautiful and I bet it’s unlike most other places I’ve been.

Africa: Lastly, I’d hit up Cairo before leaving the region. The rest of the Middle East doesn’t really interest me. (Should it? Let me know why – I’m totally open to learning more!)

A must for me: A safari in Africa. I don’t know exactly in which country this is done but put me in a jeep that will get me safely to the nearest lion and I’m a happy camper (but I wouldn’t actually camp because camping is gross). And I guess I’d go to Cape Town in South Africa and Madagascar (just give me all the monkeys so I can hug them, k?).

Asia: I think my first stop in Asian would have to be India. I’d HAVE to go see the Taj Mahal in India. Duh. Then I could likely spend a few days in Beijing. China is super interesting. I’d be refreshed after a solid few days of dumplings to hit up the touring theatre scene in Seoul, South Korea (as well as the many other interesting things that there must be to do there). I’d visit the North/South Korean border and then head to Japan to go to Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hiroshima (I’m open to suggestions for other must-visit places in Japan but that’s off the top of my head!).

I’d head down to Thailand, Laos, Vietnam (and maybe Cambodia?) after that before ending my tour of Asia’s major cities like a Crazy Rich (White Girl) in Singapore.

Australia: I’d recharge with a week at a yoga retreat in Bali and then jet off to Australia. My must-sees are: Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, and Brisbane. And anywhere that would allow me to hug a koala. 

I’d spend a few days in Auckland, New Zealand and then take a First Class flight to South America.

South America: South America is a continent that I’ve never really thought much about visiting. It seems like it’s always pretty hot and a lot of the activities that people do are outdoors and that’s just not my style. BUT if I had to I’d pretend I was Evita in Buenos Aries in Argentina (minus the anti-semitism), San Paulo in Brazil, and Lima in Peru.

North America: I’m almost home! How can my (fantasy) trip be almost over already?! On my way back north, I’d hang out with the local community cats in San Juan, Porto Rico, visit San Jose, Costa Rico, hang out in Mexico City, and then fly to Vancouver, Canada. I’ve been meaning to visit this city but I just haven’t yet.

I’d hit up Salt Lake City for the LoveLoud concert, Las Vegas because why the hell not, Boulder, Colorado, Flagstaff, Arizona, Austin, Texas, Des Moines, Iowa, Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin, St. Louis, Missouri, Louisville, Kentucky, Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee, Savannah, Georgia, Charleston, South Carolina, Charlotte, North Carolina, Cleveland, Ohio (Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!), and finally Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (to say hit to a friend who lives there and apparently there’s a great food scene there).

All before finally returning to the center of the universe: New York City. 

Looking at a map and seeing all the places I want to travel to was fun. I’d highly suggest you take a break from reality and have a little adventure – even if it’s just in your head. Where’s the first place you would go if money and time didn’t matter?

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