by Niall Doherty

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller

I’m almost halfway through my four-month stint in Cork. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ll be moving to Spain on May 3rd. I haven’t really elaborated much beyond that though, so here’s a post revealing my loose plan for the next four years.


I’ve decided to try living in Burgos in Spain, a city of 180,000 people in the North of the country. My main reason for moving to Spain is to become fluent in Spanish, so I wanted to live in a city that wouldn’t be full of English-speaking tourists. Burgos sounds like it will fit the bill.

Also, I’ve heard it’s not too hot there in the summertime, which is fine by me. After spending the last three years in New Orleans, I’ll welcome not sweating through my clothes all summer.

In early June I’ll be leaving Spain for a week and taking a trip to the US for some world domination.

Early in September, I’ll leave Spain for good and head back to Ireland for my cousin’s wedding. So yeah, that only gives me four months to become fluent in Spanish. I’m trusting I can pull a Benny and make it work.

Touring Europe

As you may already know, I’m not very well traveled. Spain will be just the fifth country I’ll have visited (after Ireland, England, the USA, and Italy). I plan to have a bunch more stamps on my passport by the end of the year though. After my cousin’s wedding I’ll take off on a whirlwind European tour.

I have no fixed plan on where I want to go yet, but I’ll aim to be in Greece by December and hang out there for a few weeks. It would be nice to spend Christmas on a beach for once 🙂

The journey East

My next target after Greece will be India, and I expect I’ll travel there via Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. I’d like to spend at least a couple of months exploring India and Nepal, before traveling further East to check out a few countries like Myanmar and Thailand.

I’ll be heading towards Vietnam. I plan to settle there for four months, arriving no later than July of 2012. I don’t know a hell of a lot about Vietnam, except they once had a war there and it’s full of Asian chicks 😛

China and Japan

I’ll finish my stint in Vietnam in October/November of 2012, then jump over to Hong Kong to see what the story is. I’ll also try to get a glimpse of Shanghai before I move to Japan in time for the new year.

I expect I’ll stay in Japan for four months or so, which would bring me up to May of 2013. I’ll be 31 years old by then.

Towards New Zealand

After I’ve had my fill of Japan, I’ll take my time moving South through the Philippines, Indonesia and Australia. I’d like to be in New Zealand by September of 2013, even though I hear they have lousy Internet. I’ll hang around there for a few weeks, going for long walks while I wait for my email to download.

Back to the USA

Late in 2013 I want to return to the USA. I may fly from New Zealand to Mexico first to see if my Spanish still works.

My original plan for my return to the US was to do a big three-month road trip and see all the bits and pieces I missed before, but I realize that winter may not be the best time to do that so I’ll just play it by ear. Regardless of how that bit shakes out, I intend to be back in New Orleans by the end of February 2014 to soak up the Mardi Gras festivities.

Brazil for kicks

Assuming I survive my time in N’Awlins, I’ll then dive down through Central America. My next big stop will be Brazil. The World Cup will be happening there in June and July, so I’d like to arrive in one of the host cities no later than the first week of May and get myself set up with an apartment. Ideally, the city I end up living in will be Rio, since the final game of the Cup will be played there. Should be one hell of a party.

And beyond…

That’s about as far as I’m looking ahead for now. I may end up touring a lot more of South America after the football has finished.

And then there’s that whole African continent to explore. Man, lots of world out there to see.

The why and the how

Above I’ve told you what I want to do for the next four years. The why is pretty simple: I believe travel is an unrivaled growth experience. I crave to explore other countries and cultures, connect with people much different from me, gain a better understanding of the world, its inhabitants, and myself.

Plus, my whole plan sounds completely unrealistic, so naturally I want to give it a shot 😉

And that brings me to the how. The biggest challenge will be earning enough money from the road to sustain my vagabond lifestyle. Then there will be all the visa regulations and such to figure out, plus language barriers, and the inevitable periods of loneliness. I don’t know how I’ll manage all that, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out somehow. I follow many so-called location independent professionals (or digital nomads, if you prefer) online, people who are out there making their own travel adventures a reality, and I’m pretty sure they don’t have anything I don’t have or can’t learn.

Opportunity cost

I told a friend about my plan last week. She sees many guys my age (28) settling down, starting families, planting roots. She wondered if I’d regret missing out on any of that.

I don’t think too much about what I have to lose by spending four years traveling the world. There’s always an opportunity cost, that’s just the way life works. You can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything at the same time.

I prefer to instead focus on what I have to gain by embarking on this epic adventure of mine. I keep in mind all the things I’m likely to learn, all the friends I’m likely to meet, all the sights I’m likely to see, all the stories I’ll have to tell.

Plus, I’ll only be 32 years old by the time I complete my full lap of the planet. Lots of life left to live. I’m sure I can go lay down some roots then if the mood strikes me.

Plans can change

I should note here that the plan I set out above is just a plan, and plans can change. It will serve as a rough guide for the next few years of my life, but I’m free to deviate if I find it no longer resonates with me, or if some of the challenges prove too great.

Maybe I’ll be in Greece next Christmas when I get a sudden yearning to see South Africa. If I can’t shake that feeling, I’ll allow myself to go down there. Or maybe I’ll find myself penniless in New Zealand and unable to afford the airfare to Mexico. No worries. I’ll hang with the Kiwis until I can get my funds up.

In fact, I expect I’d end up disappointed if everything on my trip did go according to plan. Where’s the adventure in that?

Living life on your own terms

My mother isn’t a big fan of my plan. She’s been pointing out all the birthdays and holidays I’ll miss while I’m away. Being an Irish Mammy, she would of course prefer I settle down nearby with a nice local girl. I’m sure that wouldn’t be a bad life, and I know many guys my age are aiming for nothing more than that. More power to them.

But it’s not for me. I feel that itch in my soul to get out there on the road and experience the highs and lows of the vagabond lifestyle. So that’s what I’m going to do.

What about you? Are you living life on your own terms, embarking on your own epic adventure? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

If not, now would be a good time to start.