2018: Where I’m Going, Where I Want to Go and What I Hope to Accomplish

Skogafoss Waterfall Iceland

Yes, it’s that time of year again for this particular blog post but wait, don’t start groaning. While some people may find the predictable end of the year/start of a new year posts a little formulaic, I always look forward to writing them and I hope they’re anything but predictable. For me, they’re a great way to organize my thoughts and to set priorities for the next 12 months. It’s far too easy to fall into familiar and comfortable routines, at least it is for me, but by starting out the year with a clear roadmap – or at least a solid set of goals – I feel that I’m able to break out of that routine and to achieve some real accomplishments. At least, that’s the idea.

Looking back at previous attempts at setting myself up for success, the results have been decidedly mixed. Some years were better than others, but at least I tried. At least I started out on the right foot mindful to make some corrections to my own life while also looking ahead at what opportunities might be out there. With all of this in mind, I once again want to share some of my personal goals; ways I want to improve, as well as some destinations I would love to visit. Some of these are confirmed, others are aspirational but I think it’s smart to have goals in mind and it’s always fun to see how far down the list I can get.

Red Rock Canyon Nevada

Confirmed Trips

Route 66
Driving The Mother Road has been on my bucket list for a very, very long time but 2018 is the year it’s finally going to happen. Working with Marriott International, I’ll be driving the entirely of this epic route starting in Chicago and ending in Santa Monica, CA. I’ve wanted to tackle this journey for a long time, to reconnect with my own country and to see quiet little corners of it completely foreign to me. Along the way are quirky roadside attractions, strange motels and national wonders that rank amongst the best in the world. Just as people did in the 1950s and 60s, I want to experience a great American road trip and to discover aspects to the American experience that I don’t even know exist.

Northern Iceland
Over the last few years, I’ve traveled to Iceland on average about once a year, each time deliberately focusing on a different part of the country. While not large, there’s a lot to see and do in Iceland and from the very beginning I knew I wanted to take my time and to get to know it more deeply than I do many other destinations. Well, there’s one last part of the country for me to explore and I intend to do it this year – North Iceland. I’ve left it for last out of laziness, it’s harder to reach than the other, more touristy areas and I’m not sure if there’s nearly as much to see and do as on the south coast for example. But it’s Iceland, so I’m positive that whatever is up there is both freakishly gorgeous and endlessly interesting.

Maybe India
India is one of those places that evokes a visceral reaction from people who have visited – they either love it or hate it, there is no middle ground. I have also been putting off visiting for fear I wasn’t ready for the experience. But now, I think I’m prepared and am excited to finally visit and see what the subcontinent is really like. I’ve said in the past though I would only visit if it was done in the right way, and I hope that by working with an expert operator I will experience the best this fascinating country has to offer. I haven’t confirmed my plans yet, but I hope very much that it will finally happen in 2018.

Table Mountain

Where I’d Love To Go

Central/South America
I’ve only been to South America a few times and Central America for 1 day, so it’s obviously a part of the world that I don’t feel like I know at all. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t interested me, it has and near the top of that interest list is Brazil. From the massive cities to rainforests and jungles and of course beautiful coastlines, Brazil seems to offer visitors a little bit of everything. But crime, high prices and difficulties in intra-country travel have put off many would-be travelers. I’m curious to visit Brazil and more places around the region to see for myself whether or not these are real concerns, or fake media-hyped problems.

Switzerland and Portugal
I’ve seen most of Western Europe but not all of it, which is why I’ve included both Portugal and Switzerland on this list. While I have visited Switzerland, it was for just 2 days and that’s it. If Instagram has taught me anything it’s that Switzerland appears to be both incomparably beautiful and full of cheese which are fantastic reasons to visit in my humble opinion. Add in vibrant cities, chocolate and fancy watches and I think it sounds like a perfect trip. Portugal on the other hand has completely eluded me and I don’t know why. I know many people who have visited, they all love it and I’ve never read anything negative about it. While I’m a little nervous about the food (I don’t eat fish or seafood) the pastries alone might finally lure me over in 2018.

Tasmania
I have been very fortunate to have spent a fair amount of time traveling around Australia and while I have much more to experience, I have been to almost every Australian state. Almost. One has eluded me and based on all of the photos I’ve seen, I know that when I finally do visit it’ll be love at first sight. Visiting Australia is always special, but Tasmania in particular has piqued my interest for years. Slightly remote, amazingly beautiful and somewhat different from the mainland, Tasmania is an intriguing place. Of all of these destinations, I really do hope that I can make this one happen in 2018.

Alta NorwayArctic
I love expeditionary trips, whether it’s to Antarctica, the Galapagos or some other far-flung place. I enjoy feeling like a real explorer and not just a tourist and while I’ve gotten close, a true expedition to the Arctic is high on my to-do list. There are many different ways to reach the Arctic through a few different countries, but no matter how I get up there I’d love to spend a couple of weeks exploring this hard to reach part of the world.

Back to Africa
Africa is infectious, of that there can be no doubt. I’ve been privileged enough to have visited several times and I once again feel the siren call beckoning. While I’d love to revisit places I know I love, like South Africa, I’d also like to visit new places and enjoy different experiences. As a lover of wildlife, a gorilla trek is near the top of my wishlist, whether in Uganda or Rwanda the promise of trekking amongst these gorgeous giants is almost too appealing to ignore.

Cairo Egypt

Resolutions

Talk to more people
Not long ago, I was asked to chronicle some of the people I met while traveling who made a difference in my travel experiences. The problem was I couldn’t think of very many, which worried me greatly. It showed me that I didn’t do a great job of getting out and chatting with people last year, one of the most important aspects of the travel experience. I need to get back to my roots in 2018 and take the time to engage with as many people as I can when I’m on the road.

Walk the road not taken
I think I’ve fallen into a travel rut, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not good either. In 2018 I need to make sure that I stop being so regimented, and put down the guidebooks and just go off and do my own thing. I think I’ve become so obsessed with documenting everything and making sure I don’t miss something “important” that I sometimes miss the most crucial aspect of travel – the spirit of discovery.

Be more patient
I know it’s a virtue, but it’s not a quality I possess in large abundance. This can be especially problematic while traveling. It starts at the airport for me, I hate waiting in lines and the security queue is when my patience first starts to falter. I get annoyed at the people who have no idea what they are doing and hold up everyone behind them in the process. This continues on to boarding the plane with the same confused people strolling aimlessly through the cabin. You see where I am going with this. I need to learn to take a deep breath and just relax. I will get to my destination and there is no reason to be upset. No matter what happens, nothing THAT bad will result, so take a moment to breathe and assess.

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By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer. Also follow Matt on Twitter, Facebook and

3 Responses

  1. Ann Lombardi of Trip Chicks

    Hi Matt! Love your blog. Have been roaming the world the past few years & now live in Germany but am back on Twitter at last. A little birdie told me hope to see more of Switzerland in 2018. I used to live in that beautiful country, have been there many times leading small group tours since my youth international exchange days in Switzerland, and would be glad to share Swiss tips with you anytime. Have a lovely Christmas season, a super 2018, and more wonderful travels in the year to come! Ciao, Ann Lombardi

    Reply
  2. Kirsten

    I am all for this list!! But especially your Route 66 plans. I did that all the way from Toronto many years ago with Spencer Spellman and it’s still one of my favorite trips that I’ve ever done. Let me know if you want some tips.

    Reply
  3. Cindy

    Many similarities to my wish list. I’m one of those that loved Portugal – so much that I went twice this past year. You can definitely live on pastries alone there, but not to worry, there are plenty of pork and other options to fish. Happy to share some suggestions/contacts if you go.

    Reply

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