My ideas for my new country for the year


All this talk about me helping you decide where your next “new country” trip is going to be rather sidesteps the slightly uncomfortable fact that I myself don’t actually know where my own “new country” trip is going to be.

I consider myself an experienced traveler, both domestically and internationally. So I know how to plan a trip, I know how to save up for a trip, and I know how to execute a trip. So I feel like I have all of the tools necessary to do this.

And yet, even I am a little bit stumped. So in the spirit of openness, let me show you my thought processes, in hopes that it might help you with your own decisions.

Looking back

Let’s start with the past. How did I figure out my new country to travel to?

In 2013, Japan bubbled to the top of my list because of a simple desire to the see cherry blossoms in bloom. South Korea came along for the ride because the ticket (purchase using frequent flyer miles) allowed me a free stopover.

In 2014, the plan very much fell into my lap, as I had some friends move to Sweden (a country I hadn’t been to), and some other friends and I decided to go visit them. I ended up visiting three new countries, because we swung through Norway and Denmark as well.

In 2015, I knew I was planning to take my mom to London, and I also knew about a way to get to Europe for half the usual number of frequent flyer miles (Boston to Dublin on Aer Lingus), so since Ireland was new to me and close to England, I routed my trip through Dublin.

This year, there is a small chance that I might fly to Germany for work reasons, so if that happens I could swing over to Belgium or Luxembourg while I’m there. It’s not a particularly inspiring plan at first blush, but it would get me there, and something interesting would surely come from it.

Iran (so far away)

You may feel like the news is not necessarily the best source for travel inspiration, but in one instance, it certainly piqued my curiosity.

I have long been fascinated by Iran. Not just because the country and its history is so fundamentally misunderstood by nearly everyone (Iranians are not Arabs, for one), and not because it’s been a taboo place for Americans to visit for most of my entire lifetime.

It’s because every time I talk to someone who’s traveled to Iran, they always rate Iran as their favorite destination, or one of them. The first time this happened, I noted it as an oddity, but it keeps happening. Apparently this is a corner of the world worth knowing more about.

And at the beginning of this year, I read that the US had finally lifted sanctions on Iran over their nuclear program. Maybe this meant that Americans could start traveling to Iran with less problems?

But this is an evolving situation, and there’s no rush to get in. Persian culture dates back thousands of years, and it’s not like WalMart or Starbucks have moved in yet. (Though we are monitoring the situation closely.)

Just passing through (China)

It’s an ordeal to get a Chinese visa. While not so difficult, there are certainly hoops to jump through, much like the Indian visa I got a number of years ago.  I’m not adverse to doing it, but I’d need to have a good reason to go to all that trouble.

Or not! Because it turns out that as of the beginning of this year, China now offers six day transit visas on demand. Basically, they will let you into the country for six days without getting a visa in advance, but only in certain cities (and from certain countries), and only when you are traveling onto a third country. You can’t go there and then go right home.

So perhaps I could have a six day holiday in China, before traveling onto, well, anywhere. I already know that getting to China is relatively inexpensive from my home airport. It could work!

Save the date

So even though I don’t quite know where I’m going, I’m still planning for it, date-wise. From here, it looks like the fall of this year is going to be time for this trip to happen. This gives me a little bit more time for me to see if the “right” destination will fall in my lap, or whether I will just pick a place to go…and just go.

But enough about me. Where are you planning to travel to next?


  1. saulofhearts

    How about the Transsiberian railroad for your China trip? That’s on my list!

    • Mike @ Unlikely Radical

      Oh wow, that’s such a great idea! I had forgotten about that, but it would be such a great experience.

      Though at six days of train travel from Vladivostok to Moscow, it would dwarf my travel record of 2.5 days of Greyhound from San Francisco to New York. I’m not sure if that’s a record I’d want to try to beat!

Comments are closed.