Have you read my update about my big trip this year? There are only a couple of weeks left until the big adventure starts and today it is time to share more about our planned route. I get the most questions about this topic. Which countries are you visiting? Did you already book everything? As for the last question I can give you a very short answer: no. Apart from the first bus ticket and the accommodation for the first few nights, we haven’t booked anything. We want to have the freedom to decide during the trip whatever feels right. In this post I am sharing more about our planned route and I will also share some useful tips with you.
It took a while before we had a route in mind. First we had to think about how long we wanted to travel and how much money we could save. Budget determines the destinations. It seems like every long-term traveler goes to Australia or New Zealand. Sure, these are great destinations, but also expensive, more or less the same culture as in Europe and it attracts packs of tourists. I am more interested in the lesser known destinations with a completely different culture than the Netherlands. And these type of countries don’t have to be far away. Take a look at Eastern Europe: close, but still very much different. My boyfriend is a huge fan of Asia and that is how our plans were formed. We combined my love for Eastern Europe and his passion for Asia and created a long overland trip through Eastern Europe to Asia.
In advance we each prepared a wish list of countries we wanted to visit. On our lists were: Poland, Romania, Georgia, Iran, China, Vietnam and Myanmar. Next, we tied all these countries together in one overland route. Indonesia is the last large country in Asia before Australia. So it is the perfect final destination. My boyfriend has always had his eye on Bali and coincidentally, we live on the Bali Street in our home town. So, it almost seems like it is meant to be to go to Bali!
Looking forward to these kind of sunsets!
Nothing is 100% fixed
Good to emphasize – also note to self – nothing is fixed. We have a certain route in mind, but if we discover that a different route is more fun or convenient, then we can always adjust our course. The direction is fixed though: eastwards towards Asia. It is not the plan to get there as soon as possible. It is about the trip and the experiences and we want to spend as much time as possible in the countries that we have put on our list. It is not about collecting as many countries as we can. Quality above quantity! Who knows, maybe our final destination will change. We have set our eyes on Bali for now, but maybe during the trip we decide to end the trip in Kuala Lumpur or Jakarta. It is all fine!
Transportation = bus, train & boat
With the announcement of our plans I often got the question if we were going to buy a jeep with a roof tent and if we were going to drive to Indonesia ourselves. The car is often the vehicle people think of when talking about an overland trip. No, we are not going to buy a car. I feel that if you are going to travel this route with a car, you need to be an experienced driver with knowledge of cars. Since my boyfriend does not have a driving license, I haven’t driven a car for three years and we both don’t know our ways around cars, this is just not for us. We consciously choose the bus, train and boat. This is the most fun way to really connect with the locals and actually feel the distance we are going to cover. Moreover, it is cheap and a more sustainable way to travel.
Our overland itinerary
And then finally the route. The first two to three months we are going to spend in Eastern Europe. We are going to travel from the Netherlands to Bulgaria, but we are not going to do this in a straight line. For instance, we want to use our time in Poland to also visit Lithuania and Belarus. After that, we will go to Ukraine and Romania before finishing the Europe part in Bulgaria. We will take the ferry from Bulgaria to Georgia and then travel via Armenia to Iran. After exploring Iran for a few weeks we will take the ferry from Azerbaijan to Kazakhstan and cross this gigantic country to China. We will travel through China to the south and enter Southeast Asia. Then we will make our way down to Indonesia. When I sum this all up, it might seem like a lot. We have a year to complete this route, but as said, the route is flexible as well as our time. We quit our jobs and ended our lease on our studio, so we do not have to back before a certain date.
Over land and sea to Asia
Tips to help you plan a route for an extended trip
Are you also saving up for a long trip? Then these tips might be useful to you:
- Set your saving goal: your budget will determine your destination. We deliberately chose Asia and Eastern Europe, because these places are cheaper. In general, traveling in Australia and New Zealand is expensive, followed by North America and Africa. Traveling in Central and South America and Asia is cheaper. Not all countries in Asia have the same price level. Japan and China are more expensive than the Philippines or Thailand. Europe is also expensive, but the eastern part is more wallet friendly.
- Do your own thing: don’t be afraid to do something else. Maybe you don’t want to travel to Australia, but you want to explore more of Africa? Great, you do you! We don’t all have to do the same things. Also, you don’t always have to go far away! If you are based in Europe, you can also explore your own continent for a few months. Travel the entire coast line, drive from Amsterdam to Tehran or travel from the Baltics to Istanbul. There is more than enough to explore in Europe.
- You don’t always have to fly: you are going away for a long time. Why bother taking a plane? You have time! Travel overland and see the journey as an adventure. I get that for some routes you need to take the plane, but if it is not necessary, you can also travel overland.
- Read up on the seasons: we are no winter people. That is why we are traveling in spring, summer and early autumn in Europe and Central Asia and when winter is around the corner, we hope to be in Southeast Asia. We can probably not avoid the rainy season in Asia, but that is alright.
- Do a visa check: with my Dutch passport I can visit many countries visa-free, but there are still a number of countries that work with an e-visa, visa on arrival or tourist visa though the embassy. Please also note the additional costs: prices can vary from 25 to 90 euros per visa.
- Plan mini-breaks during your trip: traveling is fun, but it also means a lot of planning, taking care of stuff and dealing with stress. Plan every once in a while a mini-break to do absolute nothing. It is important to renew your energy!