I quit — now what? Upcoming travel plans for 2015

So now that I’ve quit my job to travel and have all this free time, next comes the obvious question: Where do I want to go?

Even though I’ve been planning this new chapter for a while now, when the map is actually laid out before you, it gets a little overwhelming.

Do I spend extended time in the places that feel like home (Paris, Venice, London)? Do I take my favorite cities and explore more of those entire countries (Iceland, Scotland, Spain)? Or should I start hitting entirely new destinations and finally be able to see/do/eat the things on my bucket list?

Not to mention, what about all the friends and family I have scattered around the world whom I’d love to visit?

The world really is my oyster — and I have no clue where to start eating.

15Houses on the canal, Ghent, Belgium by Expat Edna

Trivia time: did you know that before this site became Expat Edna, I almost named it “No Fixed Plans”?

(Well no, of course you wouldn’t, unless you were my roommate Jillian who eventually helped me settle on the final name.)

The idea behind the alternate was based on my favorite travel quote:

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”

Which is something I’ve firmly believed in since I started traveling as a teenager and still holds true today. Buuut at the same time, flights get eye-wateringly expensive when you’re a little too unfixed.

So consider these my medium-fixed plans for the rest of the year. They change constantly — the version you see below is already like the 37th iteration — and it’ll probably get turned upside down again as soon as I post this.

But for right this minute, this is the outline — and if you have any suggestions or tips or couches to crash on, I won’t say no to a few reroutes along the way….

The light in my apartment at 8 am - Expat Edna

Farewell fixed life and beautiful spiral staircase!

June: Shanghai

First dilemma: my rent is paid up till June, so I’d ideally like to head out on the Grand Adventure on July 1 — but it ultimately depends on who I can find to take over my apartment. If a new renter wants to move in mid-June, then I’ll be out in mid-June.

But outside of that, I just need a couple weeks to pack my life into a suitcase and say goodbye to Shanghai (and have a couple farewell banquets with relatives on both sides of the family, those are very important!) and then we’re off to Europe.

Relatedly, if anyone knows anyone in Shanghai looking for a new place, please get in touch. Seriously.

Madrid, Spain by Expat Edna

July: Portugal, Paris, Spain

Some friends are renting a house in Portugal for 10 days at the end of June/early July, and if I can get rid of my apartment in time I’d love to join them. I’ve wanted to visit Portugal for ages (hello port and egg tarts) and still haven’t been.

Since we’ll be in Europe, I’d love to celebrate Bastille Day in Paris for a third year. Over time it’s unexpectedly established itself as one of my favorite holidays — but only when I’m able to celebrate in France! (Bastille Day in Shanghai was just flimsy.)

Previous celebrations, to see what I’m talking about: Bastille Day 2012, Bastille Day 2013

And plans are currently being made to spend a few days in Barcelona and Valencia with a friend who lives in Austria — who is really a friend of a friend I met once at my housewarming in Singapore five years ago.

(This is why I never delete acquaintances off facebook — you never know who will jump on a plane to Spain with you!)

12 pubs of Christmas a Paris - Notre Dame by Expat Edna

August: Paris, (??), New England, Iceland, London

Wedding!! Wedding in Paris! I love weddings and I’m so excited to finally experience a French one! And celebrate my dear friends’ love, of course.

After the wedding we have three weeks yet unplanned, which also includes Joe’s birthday — ideas so far have ranged from Greece to Wales, so who knows where we’ll end up.

After that is the only leg so far where we have actual flights booked: a week in New Hampshire with my boyfriend’s family, and a quick stop in BAHSTON (LOBSTAH! CLAM CHOWDAH!) before heading to Iceland for eight days.

Grand Canal, Venice by Expat Edna

September: Iceland, Venice, Vienna, Munich

I totally fell for Iceland when we visited in the heart of deep dark winter last year, but have no idea what the country actually looks like underneath all that ice. I’ll find out this trip, as we’ll be driving and camping around the whole island with Joe’s brother and sister-in-law.

Following that I have two extra days in Reykjavik, before flying to darling London! And staying as long as friends with couches will let me crash.

Also, the Rugby World Cup will be in full swing by then, and ENGLAND IS HOSTING AND THE ATMOSPHERE WILL BE AMAZING. (For new readers or anyone confused: I work in international sports, remember?)

The rest of September will be spent in Venice — pretty much our second home, after Paris — and we’d like to end the month with a return visit to Oktoberfest in Munich (but actually see more of the city and not just the beer tents this time around).

All going well, we might also pop into Vienna en route to Munich.

Pho in Hanoi by Expat Edna

October: Manila, Hanoi?

With Europe cooling down it may be time to head to Asia for the fall, especially as my boyfriend has business in the Philippines and needs to fly back every once in a while for work.

As much as I wouldn’t mind crashing in Manila and just hunkering down to write, a part of me wants to see what it would be like to live in Hanoi for a month. A couple of friends have relocated there and looove it, and I could easily live off pho and Vietnamese iced coffee for weeks straight.

Other options for this month include Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Kunming, depending on logistics.

Edna in Kyoto by Expat Edna

November: Who knows?

This month is totally up in the air. More time in Manila or Hanoi? Head back to the West Coast and visit friends in LA and Seattle? Drive to Vegas? Roadtrip across the US?


Edna in Edinburgh by Joe - Expat Edna

December: East Coast, New Orleans?, Edinburgh

I’m amazed at how much States time is on the cards this year — I don’t really miss the US so I don’t go back often. (Also because of health insurance reasons, but I won’t get into that here.)

However, my dad turns 60 in December and it’s been six years since I spent Christmas at home so for family reasons, I’ll be spending December on the East Coast; mostly Pennsylvania and Connecticut.

Since NYC is smack dab in the middle, a visit is obligatory. The last time I was in New York was in 2010 (so when I was 20 and not fun) and I suppose I should see what NYC is like as a proper adult. Plus half my Paris friends have since ended up there — so it’ll be holiday reunion time!

If time and budget allows, I’d also love to roadtrip through the South to New Orleans. It’s one of the only US cities on my bucket list and I’m aching to get my hands on some beignets and étouffées.

Finally, as a huge New Year’s lover, I’ll finally be able to complete the NYE Bucket List (having already celebrated in Reykjavik and Sydney twice) when we head to Edinburgh for Hogmanay!

The “Want to Go But Don’t Know Where It Fits In Yet” List

And the following are places I’d love to get to know better this year, but don’t quite know where they fit into the schedule…yet.

  • Amsterdam — I’ve only spent four days ever in the Netherlands and would like more stroopwafel, please.
  • Greece — Like Portugal, I’ve never been and have always wanted to visit.
  • Belgium — Because beer.
  • Copenhagen — I’ve only spent 12 hours in Copenhagen and would like to see the city when not pulling an outdoor all nighter, in the rain, in winter.
  • US: Portland, Chicago, Colorado, Florida — Because various friends live there and I love my friends and should probably see them.
  • Germany — Again, mostly because of friends, but also because I’ve still never seen Berlin!
  • Switzerland — Moar friends.
  • Not-north Italy — I’ve only ever been to Milan and Venice, and I’d like to eat my way through the countryside and southern Italy. Also, gelato.

January 2016: South America

So I suppose this is sort of a low-key announcement: I’ve never been to South America, and I want to move there within the next year.

During all of this travel I’ll be looking for gigs back in international sports, and if at any point along the way I’m successful, I’ll scrap all of the above plans in a heartbeat and immediately fly to wherever I’m needed (South America or elsewhere).

But short of that, if by January 2016 I’m still freelancing on the road, I plan on packing my bags, heading to Brazil and start knocking on doors there.

So that’s the plan! Are you anywhere along the way? Want to meet up or have any tips? Leave a comment or drop me a line!

And I’d love it if you followed all my oversharing on social media! See the adventures in real time on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat (@expatedna).

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  1. Edna this all sounds amazing and I will be living vicariously through you for sure! I’ll be in Europe (England and France) in July/August and who knows? OUr paths might just cross! I’ll keep my eyes peeled for you!

  2. Yeah, you better visit Taiwan if I end up staying here.

  3. Alecia Chen says:

    hey lady! ill be in paris july 22-24 then south of spain july 24-28 in case that matches your dates…would love to see you!

  4. Ever since we went to Iceland for our honeymoon I’ve been literally in love with it. We got stranded in blizzards and I was terrified beyond belief but it’s such an incredible, amazing place! When you’re driving round make a stop in Varmahlid just before you turn off to Akureyri and say hello to the people at the petrol/gas station there – they saved our lives when we were stuck in the snow and had nowhere to stay for the night. Such a wonderful place full of so many wonderful people! (PS – please come via Leeds on your way to Edinburgh or London!) xx

  5. South America rocks! I have been traveling round it since 2011. There is so much to see and do. And the food is great. More naturally grown there and the soil is high quality which helps. The poorer countries tend to be more organic because they can not afford pesticides.

    Brazilians are the friendliest people I know – 5 minutes after meeting one you will be invited to eat, party listen to music etc. But most Latin countries are friendly, it is just Brazilians are SUPER-friendly. Speaking Spanish helps and you can get by on English and learn as you go.

    Costs vary from Bolivia (about 1/5 of US prices) to expensive Chile and Brazil (about US levels)

    Amazing mountains, waterfalls, rivers, ancient ruins and modern cities. Definitely GO!

  6. All of your plans sound absolutely amazing! I am so excited to follow along through your blog and social media. Many of those places are also on my bucket list so I can’t wait to se pictures and read about your experiences. You mentioned you quit your job to write more. Is that because you are focusing on your blog? Or what are you doing for a writing job? I just quit my job too! I’ve worked as a graphic designer in corporate for the past 5 years and I’m ready for a change. I want to diversify my skills and travel. My last day is June 12 and then I fly to Dublin June 16 for 6+ months doing social media and digital marketing. I’m thrilled and scared. How do you find jobs for the olympics? Is there a certain company/organization to focus on? I know Brazil is hosting in 2016 so it will be AWESOME to be there! If you come to Ireland, look me up! I’ll be working in tourism and living at a hostel. ;)

  7. Greece, Greece, Greece! Totally worth a trip. Also, if you end up going further south than Milan in Italy, let me know, there are so many overlooked towns in Umbria (everywhere, of course, but I know Umbria and Lazio best) and tons of great ruins and food as you head south. Good luck!

  8. I’m so excited to follow your new adventures! You should definitely do Greece, Croatia and Russia! And I see you’re already planning to discover South America – that’s my favourite part of the world :) Best of luck on your travels xx Christina

  9. brianne says:

    We loved Valencia when we went last September. We stayed at a great Airbnb. If you don’t already have plans on where you are staying when you are there, hit me up and I’ll send you the place.

    We are going to China/Hong Kong in September to visit Brian, looks like we will miss you!

    Can’t wait to read about all your adventures!!

  10. You’re going to Portugal! Do you want me to send you a doc with food and restaurant recommendations? And you do know that I insist on you stopping by Göttingen on the way to Berlin right? It’s only a two hour train ride! :)

  11. Sounds like a great rest of the year. I quit my job recently and plan to do something similar. I think I’ll be in Vienna and Munich in September too… if our dates overlap it would be fun to meet for a coffee or beer!

  12. Hey!! Your plans sound so exciting, I hope everything goes well for you. I moved to Edinburgh from mid-England last September (it was my first year at university of Edinburgh) but I missed Hogmanay last time. Hoping I’ll go this year – it’s supposed to be epic!!

  13. This sounds amazing! I love how you are zig-zagging all over the place, it really mixes it up. I also would recommend Greece wholeheartedly, it truly is one of the most stunning countries in the world. Head to some of the less touristy islands and you won’t find better food anywhere else!

  14. Amazing plans! I lived in London for 6 years and am dying to go back to Europe – it’s been 2 1/2 years since I was there last. I have 3 1/2 weeks left in my contract job in Sydney and will be hitting the road for a year of travels. I will be going to Alaska, British Columbia and Hawaii, coming back to Sydney for a 3 weeks stint to visit my fiance then 10 days in my home country of NZ followed by Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Hong Kong, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka from November for 7-8 months. If we end up in Asia at the same time I would love to meet up!

  15. Exciting stuff, Edna! It doesn’t look like our paths are going to cross as I plan to stay in northern Europe for the summer and then head south in the fall, but who knows. Plans always change!

    Enjoy your family banquets and eat some xiaolongbao for me!

  16. You gotta tell me when you’re in Munich!! The couch is quite the fight during Oktoberfest, but let me know when you’re coming as it may be free!

  17. lostnchina says:

    Hey, Edna!

    Congrats on the *life change*. You work too hard, and you’re like what, 18? Hope you’re enjoying life and safe travels, wherever you!

  18. That is an amazingly intense year you have “planned”! I’m literally in awe of how much you’re going to travel. If you do make it to South America, I highly recommend the region of Buzios, Brazil! It is BEAUTIFUL! Safe travels!

  19. If you suddenly end up in Mexico (Yucatan) let me know ;)

  20. Hey girl! Just stumbled across your blog and I personally think we would get along so well :) I’ll be in Scotland from September 2015 – August 2016 so I’d love to meet up!!! xo

  21. Okay, first let’s talk about the fact that you just namedropped Wales – my homeland. <3 I really do miss it (Even though I won't be moving back there) and I hope you do make it there too. I can send you some recommendations of places.

    Second of all, moving to South America!!! Latin America = My everything! (And *psst* I'm heading there after Korea too ;) ) Your year looks incredible, girl. I can't get over how many places you're going to be visiting. (Actually, yes I can because this is YOU. Haha) I do hope our paths cross at some point over the next year or two.

  22. Hurray for travel plans!
    Seems you are bouncing back and forth to many places. I adore portugal and can see myself living there one day!
    Venice! I just spent 3days roaming around without a plan. I imagine september is way better than the summer. There were more tourists than locals but thankfully when i got off the main streets, they were empty. Where do you stay? Love to hear your recommendaions!
    Bon voyage!

  23. Gabriela Freitas says:

    Hi! I just found your blog and I’m loving it! And what was my surprise when I saw you´re coming to Brazil for the Olympic Games in Rio, my city! I love to travel but did not visit as many countries as you. In Brazil we have the right to 30 days of paid vacation per year, so it’s easier to travel and keep a steady job. But that does not mean I do not have the desire to leave all behind and go travel the world. I hope you enjoy your stay here and feel free to make contact if you need!


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