4 Weeks to Prepare for a 4-Year RTW Adventure. Oh crap.

That’s right, in just one month I will bid adieu to my house in Austin and embark on my longest and greatest adventure yet. No more ‘six weeks in this country’ or ‘six months on the road,’ this time it’s the infamous “sell all my possessions and buy a one-way ticket” scenario.

The wild part is that I only decided all of this only 96 hours ago.

But how? Why? Well as some of you many know, after returning from Central America back in 2011 I purchased my first house. Ever since the mortgage and other responsibilities have kept me either returning to the states every other country or limited me to doing sporadic USA road trips. It’s been fun, sure, but not as exciting as an open-ended adventure halfway around the world.

Now that I’ve sold my house it’s time to hit the road again, this time for good. Unfortunately this whole this is progressing a little faster than expected…

I only have a mere four weeks to plan an RTW adventure
that most usually spend six months or more organizing!

Hooray for me…??


That does not give me long to sell everything I own and come up with a rough plan.

Already I’ve started giving stuff away to friends and putting all my household items up for sale. I have two guest bedrooms, an office, kitchen, living and dining rooms, and then of course the master bedroom. Oh and the bathrooms and garage. Lots of stuff to spit-shine, photograph, and catalog for Craigslist, et al.

Yes, I plan on selling every last damn thing in my possession except for the foreign souvenirs I have accrued thus far in my journeys. Those will be sealed up in boxes and stored in a friend’s garage for the next few years, awaiting either my return or the order to ship them to whatever random country I’ve decided to settle down in and call home.

Whatever fits in this bag will be the only things I don’t sell.

My Trusty Backpack, aka "Big Bertha"
My trusty backpack, aka “Big Bertha”

So Where All Are Am I Going?

Only the first leg is for sure: I will be flying one-way to Asia where I will then slowly travel via land and sea only until reaching the Atlantic Ocean at Portugal. (The one big exception is North Korea, which requires that all Americans fly in from Beijing.)

Behold…the first leg of my RTW adventure!

The Rough Plan Is As Follows

After TBEX in Toronto I’ll be flying one-way to either Malaysia or Indonesia…I have not decided yet. From there I will progress up through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and China. At some point I will most likely pause for six months to a year and teach English while “getting my culture on” during the weekends. I will also be doing a side jaunt back to the Philippines to visit both old friends and new, as well as a guided tour from Beijing to North Korea followed by a more normal (and free) trip from Shanghai to South Korea.*

  Prior to entering North Korea your passport must be surrendered in exchange for a tourist card it. It is this card that is stamped instead of your passport. You must then relinquish the card upon leaving the country, at which time you will also receive your passport back. All of this is a smooth and normal process unless you have a prior South Korea stamp in your passport, in which case you will not be allowed to enter the DPRK. Wild, huh?

Longtime readers of this blog know that me and North Korea have a thing. A complicated thing. Last year the DPRK copied my blog and they still continue to torment me with their Hotel of Doom. I have to break this affair off but it must be done gently, in person. After all Kim Jung Un has already threatened to bomb Austin along with Washington D.C. What did the Live Music Capital of the World do to get singled out? Yeah, it was me. I apologize to any Austinites reading this ๐Ÿ˜‰

Next it is onwards towards Bangladesh and India, the latter of which I’m sure will end up spending a while exploring. India provides six month tourist visas but also offers 10-year visas (for Americans only). Since the six-month visas limit your stay to 90 consecutive days per visit (meaning you have to exit and re-enter the country), I may just get a 10-year one and then be free to spend a solid 6-8-10 months exploring India. If I like the country enough, that is. Then I can also freely return afterwards without having to worry about a new visa.

At some point around that time I’m also going to slip on in to Bhutan and Nepal. After there is no way I can pass that close to those two great nations and not poke my head in for a look around. Taktsang Palphug Monastery (aka Tiger’s Nest Monastery) has been beckoning for quite some time now and I really must investigate.

Tiger's Nest Monastery in Bhutan
Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan

Again, all of this is just a rough outline of my current itinerary…

There is no telling who I will meet and where the road will lead!

Next it is onward to the seven -stans. This will be the most difficult aspect of this voyage as each of these countries will require a pre-approved visa, jumping through various hurdles, and learning to pat my head while rubbing my stomach. No easy task, to say the least. Have you ever tried?

I’ve talked with a travelin’ buddy who passed through the region recently and apparently I am not missing out on much. However I don’t see any bloggers postings pics from the ‘stans so that just makes me all the more eager to visit!

Next Comes Iran (Maybe)

Currently Iranian visas are offered to Americans for seven days only, however even with a visa entry is not guaranteed. As of publication the best option is to apply with the Iranian Interests Section at the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, D.C. and then keep your fingers crossed.

  Since I expect it to be about a year and a half from now before I get to this stage of the journey, hopefully the current travel policies have loosened a bit by then as life in the country normalizes. But like so much else on this trip this aspect will be decided “on the fly” depending upon the current situation.

If worse comes to worse I will cut north around the Caspian Sea and then down through Georgia into Turkey.


Of all the places I have yet to visit, Turkey ranks #2 on my obsession list, beaten only by the infamous DPRK. In fact my friend Natalie runs the fantastic Turkish Travel Blog, one I would definitely recommend — especially for anyone planning to visit this impressive and historic country.

…And Then There Is Istanbul!

Yup, Still Need To Check That One Off The Ol’ Bucket List Sometime Soon ๐Ÿ˜‰

Istanbul has been a pivotal and iconic city for many many centuries and such is rich in both history and culture. Napoleon Bonaparte famously said “If the Earth were a single state, Istanbul would be its capital.” Personally I just cannot wait to gaze upon this beautiful city with my own eyes. Something tells me I may hang around for a minute too. Good thing Turkey is one of the easy countries for Americans to visit, even if it has gotten more expensive in recent years.

Rumelihisari Castle
Rumelihisari Castle (photo from Natalie’s 14 Famous Landmarks Of Istanbul post)

Onward Into Europe!

No straight lines here. I plan to zigzag my way through as many different countries as I can. Eastern and Southern Europe primarily. The route will depend upon the backpackers that I meet in the hostels along the way. However, given how easily distracted I am, it’s safe to say that I’ll be trekking a pretty windy course.

  Countries on my list include: Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France, Andorra, and Spain.

Eventually the road will come to end in Portugal once I hit the Atlantic Ocean. From there I will re-assess my finances and goals and bounce down to Morocco while I determine the next leg of this grand RTW adventure.

Down through Africa?

Over To South America?

What About Oceania?

So many places, so little time.

What Does This Mean For The HoliDaze Blog?

This trip marks the beginning of my serious travel blogging. Up until this point I’ve gone at it halfheartedly because I never planned to do it as a career, I was in it solely for fun. That’s why my posts are so sporadic and many of my adventures have yet to be written about. All that is about to change though. Now travel blogging will soon become a job.

That means you can expect a least a couple posts from me every week, as well as a deluge of new and interesting photos. I’ve never bothered to share many of my photographs or join in FriFotos, so that will be fresh sight around here. And one that I am kind of excited about!

And now if you will excuse me, I have to get back to work in the real world preparing for the grand adventure. Thank you for stopping by and reading about my plans, make sure to subscribe to my RSS feed to stay updated on my progress. And if my posts and tweets should ever suddenly stop, please send help to whatever location I last wrote about ๐Ÿ˜‰ Seriously though. Y’all are my lifeline.

  For more exciting updates from my RTW adventures join me on   Facebook or   Twitter and subscribe to the   HoliDaze Offbeat Travel Newsletter to never miss a beat!


What are your thoughts?

Ever planned a rush trip like this? Am I destined for failure by rushing in so fast? Have any RTW tips or advice you would like to share?

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About Derek Freal

"Some people eat, others try therapy. I travel." ย  Cultural enthusiast. Adrenaline junkie. Eater of strange foods. Chasing unique and offbeat adventures around the world since 2008. Derek loves going to new destinations where he does not speak a word of the local language and must communicate with hand gestures, or places where he is forced to squat awkwardly to poo -- supposedly its healthier and more efficient. For more information (about Derek, not squat pooing) including popular posts and videos, check out his bio.

29 thoughts on “4 Weeks to Prepare for a 4-Year RTW Adventure. Oh crap.”

    • Thanks exactly what I am hoping for! For me the best part is just the freedom of it all. Where do I want to go today? What village will I wake up in tomorrow? ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. Congratulations Derek, exciting news!! I wouldn’t worry too much about only having 4 weeks to prepare, it sounds like you have already given it a lot of thought! In fact you have more of an idea of what you will do over the next four years than I do over the next four months ๐Ÿ™‚

    I look forward to hearing about your travels along the way and who knows, maybe even meeting in person if we end up at the same place

    Good luck ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks Kellie but I don’t know if I’d call it ‘thought’ so much as daydreaming but either way… ๐Ÿ™‚ What concerns me most is that I have never been a good budget traveler. I like to do everything, eat everything, see everything, visit everywhere, and that always tends to add up faster than expected. If I go wild and crazy and end up destitute six months into this trip then that’s no good!

      Given all of that I will definitely be focusing on writing / blogging more consistently and well, to be honest, more seriously. Besides, a few hrs here and there at the hostel working on the HoliDaze means I won’t be out and about town spending money. I am no longer in any sort of a rush to see things fast because I can take as long as I want. After all, it will definitely be nice to kick back and relax periodically as I pass through any hidden gems ๐Ÿ˜‰

      And yes, definitely, we’ll have to cross paths somewhere along our journeys. I’ll keep in touch Kellie, have fun on your current journey as well!

  2. WOW!!! Good luck!!! I found the process of sorting through our lives and selling everything to be such an emotional one! Digging up memories from my childhood right through all my kiddos lives! But I feel stronger for it! We had a few months and we now have important stuff stored at my brother’s house in boxes, ready to hit the Aussie road full time. Good luck on your journey can’t wait to read about it, and I hope your stuff sells easily and on time ๐Ÿ™‚ hopefully see u in Oz one day ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Appreciate the well wishes, I’ve got my fingers crossed that this process continues as quickly and efficiently as possible. The hardest part is determining what is worthy of keeping. Four years from now, what items will still be important and yes even relevant to that future date. For example, no point in leaving behind any electronic equipment or kitchen accessories. My home office with multiple monitors, all that’s got to go. That technology will be outdated in a year let alone four. Simply throw any important files and photos on an external hard drive and sell the desktop, keep the laptop.

      Beyond that it’s a question of “well, what is worthy of being sold?” Some of the stuff costs next to nothing brand new — ice cube trays, wine corkscrew, a lone new light bulb left out of a six-pack, box of rubber-bands, unopened box of paper lunch bags, etc. No point in even wasting the time and effort to attempt selling those for mere pennies on the dollar, might as well just donate ’em to friends. Clothes will probably go to donation, which is one thing I’m actually a li’l sad about. There’s a lot of expensive clothes in there, great for fancy dinners or nights out on the town but not exactly compatible with the backpacker lifestyle.

      But look at me rambling on here when I should be working…talk to you more soon, and yes, I’ll definitely make it to Oz at some point in this great journey. If all goes well I don’t see myself returning to the USA for a long time ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Most definitely! I have wanted to visit Turkey even before I started following your blog…now I *need* to visit. Maybe we can cross paths whenever I pass on through…? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Definitely Nate, I’m sure our paths will cross at some point.

      You know I actually added a few countries to that list b/c of you and your adventures (such as Slovakia and the Czech Republic) ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Congratulations, Derek! Though I’ve never been on a RTW trip before (but who knows what the future may bring? ๐Ÿ™‚ ), I wouldn’t worry too much about planning: if it’s in your heart, then everything should go smoothly. Besides, I see you already have a pretty good idea of what you will be doing the following years.
    I wish you safe trips, memorable adventures and the best of luck!
    Take care!

    • Good to know I don’t have to worry much about planning b/c that has never really been my strong suit…I am so easily distracted that I just tend to go with the flow. Turns out that is a great way to have fun and unexpected adventures while traveling but it’s a bad trait to have when trying to blog. So we’ll see how all this goes….fingers crossed!

    • Oh I will definitely be stopping by Amsterdam at some point. That is another city that really intrigues me. However for the first leg of this trek I wanted to avoid the big tourist cities and stereotypical sites and return to my favorite corner of the world…Asia!

      I’ll keep in touch though my nomadic friend, that is for sure. And BTW congrats on getting your site back online. Having to deal with virus and other digital complications like that is never fun. I know, I currently still have a tech in India trying to find the root cause to an error I’ve been having with the HoliDaze…no fun ๐Ÿ™

  4. Wow!! Awesome trip idea and brilliant places on the go..It’s really nice to hear about selling your possessions to do this trip..
    Am currently based in Mumbai..Do shout out once you enter India!! I am sure you would opt for the 10months here out of 6-8-10months.. ๐Ÿ˜€
    Who knows, if time permits, I might join you for a short trip across our country.. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • No worries Kat, I don’t plan to miss out on Africa altogether (or South America, as a cpl other ppl mentioned on Twitter). In fact over the last cpl yrs as I’ve heard more and more good things about Africa my curiosity has definitely been piqued. This whole Indonesia to Portugal trek, that’s just the first part of my RTW adventure. After that I will head to Morocco and from there plan the next leg of the trip depending on how much money I have left and how I feel. Ideally it would involve visiting a large portion of both Africa and then South America (Chile to Alaska, or something like that), although nothing there is 100% certain yet. However one thing that is certain is that I do not intend to miss out on the beauty of Africa ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for keeping me on track!

  5. I remember counting down the days to our own RTW – so much excitement and so many things to do!! I’m very excited for you! Looking forward to the stories and photos that will follow.

    • You know the funny thing Jill is that I have been so busy selling all my possessions and dealing with the house/paperwork issues, not to mention preparing for TBEX next week, that I’ve totally lost track of the time. Turns out I don’t have much time left at all, WOWZA! Now I really wish I had been counting down the days… Oops.

      Truth be told I have not yet had time to do any real planning, let along write any further status update posts. However you can expect those soon…followed by a series of posts documenting how woefully unprepared I am ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks again for stopping by my humble li’l blog, stay tuned for more exciting adventures coming up after this quick commercial break! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. hi Derek! You are going to live what most travel bugs can only imagine and dream! Don’t hesitate to let me know if you’re heading near the Philippines, i will gladly help you plan your travels around the islands ๐Ÿ™‚ remember that its not much about the destination but the journey! im sure you’ll have an awesome time! Cheers to your adventure! ๐Ÿ™‚ keep safe!

  7. Dude, this is SO GNARLY!!! 4yr journey?! Wow! What kind of moolah are you bringing with you if you don’t mind me asking? I’ll be headed to SE Asia in November like I’ve mentioned and planning on teaching English in Thailand for 6 months-year and exploring ALL over. And I’m hoping by then to have a steady online income from something so I can just travel for a few years.

    Btw…I’ve ALWAYS been intrigued by North Korea. Can you just book a ticket or what is the process? Facebook me mate, I’m dying to know!

    • How much moolah? Well not enough, I’ll put it that way. Counting on an increase of online revenue over the next few years to help offset the money I am spending. Fingers crossed there LOL.

      Brother we are definitely crossing paths in SE Asia! I’ll be here on into 2014 myself. Actually just found a house in Jogja (errr Yogyakarta, as it’s officially known) and will probably be using that as my home-base for future travels around both Indonesia and the rest of SE Asia. You’re more than welcome to crash here if you decide to pass on through.

      As far as North Korea goes, as Americans we must relinquish our passport in Beijing and take a plane into Pyongyang. And of course be part of a tour group, as all other visitors to that reclusive country must be. This is the one destination I am not 100% certain if I will make it to. But dammit I am certainly going to try! I too have always been intrigued by the DPRK…some might even say obsessed ๐Ÿ˜‰


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