I gave myself Thanksgiving Day as a deadline to pick a city and book a one-way ticket. That is only a week away and to be honest, I have already started to make excuses as to why I should put it off another month… or three.
There are so many places I want to see and things I want to do, how do I decide where to start? Should I start in Mexico since I’ll already be in Cancun for a wedding? Spring in Mexico is probably pretty nice and I’ve always wanted to learn Spanish! Should I start in Southeast Asia since that seems to be where all the long-term budget backpackers start? South America? Japan? Spain? Gahhhh the world is so big!
I started to research all the places I’m interested in and was like effff this- everywhere has potential to be awesome. I just need to pick a starting point. With that said, for no reason other than intuition, Bangkok it is!
I do not know much about Bangkok, Thailand, or Southeast Asia for that matter. Not much at all now that I think about it. I had to reference maps today when trying to determine how far and in what directions Chiang Mai and Phuket were from the capital city. (Ok, I guess I can name three cities in Thailand and know Bangkok is the capital, so that’s a start!)
I imagined the deciding process would start out with me listing my top ten dream destinations and cross referencing each one by weather, cost of flights, cost of living, work opportunities, activities and visa requirements. But I didn’t. No matter how much research I do, every place on the planet has pros and cons. FOMO (fear of missing out) will always make me think a place I didn’t choose would have been better. So I just picked a place to start. If I get to to Bangkok and hate it, I don’t have to stay.
Just because I didn’t do as much research as I’d planned doesn’t mean Bangkok came to me out of thin air. Since I started planning my open ended world travels last year, many things have pointed me towards Southeast Asia.
Southeast Asia’s Backpacker Trail
I can’t even tell you now where I first heard about the infamous “Backpacker Trail” in Southeast Asia. It’s been referenced in every blog and in every book I’ve read pertaining to long-term world travel over the last year and a half. Many of the long-term travelers I met in Europe and Australia told me stories about their travels through Southeast Asia. From cheap accommodations and delicious food to well mapped routes and beautiful beaches, Southeast Asia is well traveled by Western backpackers. From what I’ve read and the people I’ve talked to, it sounds like the place to get your long-term world travel “training wheels,” if you will.
Be My Travel Muse
When I first decided I wanted to to travel indefinitely, I searched the internet for other people doing the same thing. Kristin Addis of Be My Travel Muse was one of the first people I stumbled upon. I related to her instantly. She is from Southern California which isn’t far from my home in Las Vegas. She left her stable job, beachside apartment and a longterm relationship because she needed to travel the world. Her story is so relatable! Kristin started her journey with a one-way ticket to Bangkok back in 2012 and is still traveling!
Airline Miles Made Me Do It
Over the last several years I’ve mastered the art of using credit cards to collect airline miles and travel points. I can’t remember the last time I paid more than taxes and fees for a flight!
Anticipating this BIG trip, I have been saving up points on my Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa and my American Airlines AAdvantage Citi Master Card. For months the points have just been sitting there, waiting for me to book my flight!
Today, I realized my girlfriends and I dropped the ball on booking a hotel downtown for our ten year high school reunion (which I still can’t believe is next week). Prices skyrocketed! Knowing I had these points, more than I would need for a one-way ticket to anywhere, I used some of them to book us a hotel. Seeing the points I’d set aside drop for the first time, I panicked.
What if when I go to book my ticket I don’t have enough points? What if something unforeseeable happens and I have to use my remaining points on something else? What if none of these airlines fly to where I want to go? What if I never decide where to go? I was driving myself crazy with the ‘what ifs!’
So, I went ahead and booked a ticket.
Five Flights of a One-Way Ticket
Prior to today, I had a one way ticket booked to Cancun in March for my friends’ wedding. I contemplated staying in Mexico for awhile and eventually taking public transportation towards Central America. Another option was to fly to somewhere directly from Cancun. However, packing for both a wedding (where I’ll be doing hair) and a long-term backpacking stint was not appealing. Not to mention flights out of Cancun that weekend are astronomically high for some reason!
With my Chase Reward points I booked a flight from Cancun to Chicago. The best price was on Air Canada so I have a 10 hour layover in Toronto and plan to squeeze in something Canada-y! I will have a full 48 hours back in Chicago to unpack, repack and bid farewell to my friends and family.
For my flight from Chicago to Bangkok I used my American Airline miles. I will be stopping in Dallas, Texas and Hong Kong before finally arriving in Thailand. In less than one week I will take 5 flights and stop in 6 different cities in 5 different countries.
On April 5, 2018 I will arrive in Bangkok with no plans and zero expectations. Well, I expect to be really hot. Bangkok is really hot in April, I googled that today.
Stick with me to follow my adventure!