Starting a New Chapter on My 7 Country Backpacking Trip

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Today marks a new month, a fresh start. August 2014, when did that happen?? Like many other mid-twenty-somethings and recent graduates, I am lost in the decision making of “what do I want to do when I grow up”. Career decision making is a mystery to me. I don’t know what I want to do. I have never known what I wanted to do. I change my mind every other day.

It stresses out my parents to no end, and it is a constant worry. The voice inside my head is always saying “What is your career gonna be?” or “Just figure it out, alrighty!”. And to make it worse, I don’t know how to start figuring out what I want to do. I have been very lucky since graduating to have two “adult” positions with opportunities to build experience and skills. But they didn’t really feel right. Something was missing. And as countless people have told me, “You’re young. You’ve got all the time in the world to figure that out. Don’t stress about it now, and just do what you like.” But that doesn’t satisfy me. I want to know!

On top of the job stress, I’m feeling a little stir crazy and pent up lately. I need to get away. And looking at my bank account lately, I just decided, it is time to do something big. I am excited to announce that I am on to bigger and better things this month. I am officially done with work at both Shopbop and L’Occitane. Although I’m feeling bittersweet about leaving these two positions and all the wonderful people that I work with, I need to take some time for myself over the next few months.

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So in classic Megan fashion, I decided to just run away to exotic destinations and forget about all of those “adult decisions”. Those sound like problems for future Megan to figure out. I have this knack for just hitting the road when I’m lost or going through a transition period. I did this in college twice, and again in 2012. I find that my decisions are made better abroad. Or maybe its just easier to avoid them abroad… Either way, I have a love for travel and it’s ability to clear your mind and reestablish your values. So that’s what I’m doing this autumn!

For the next three months, I plan to travel to 7 different countries through Europe, Africa and Asia. What’s unique (for me) about this trip, is the wide array of traveling that I will be doing. I will be traveling with family & loved ones in Turkey & Greece to celebrate my Dad’s retirement. My Dad is chartering the Dolce Mare Gulet for 3 full weeks! Surrounded by family, colleagues and close friends, we will be visiting a variety of the Greek Islands, including Mykonos, Santorini, Kos, & Naxos. Prior to boarding the boat, Sam & I will be spending 5 days exploring the beautiful and historic Istanbul, Turkey. And en route back from the gullet, we will be making a long layover in Athens. This is sure to be a fun time for all, and I am especially excited to spend time abroad with my extended family.

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I will depart from family & Sam in Athens, and will continue on solo for 2 months. On the next leg of the trip, I will be traveling with a tour company, Intrepid Travel, to Jordan & Egypt. This is a new experience for me. I have never traveled with a tour company as an adult. I did so as a student with People to People and International Student Volunteers, both of which were excellent and formative experiences in my youth. So those experiences encouraged me to take a risk, and try out Intrepid. Reviews online raved about this company, and its focus on sustainable tourism initiatives.

It will be a mix of English speaking adults in the group, and right now, there are 6 other individuals signed up for my itinerary. More may sign up as the date approaches, but right now, we will spend 22 days traveling through the “Jordan & Egypt Uncovered” itinerary together. This trip is focused on cultural and historic sights. Stops along the way include Petra, Luxor, the Pyramids of Giza, and Alexandria. But we will also have amble opportunities for adventure travel, including camping in Wadi Rum and the White Desert. This is a part of the world I have never traveled to. And I am certainly nervous considering recent news out of the region, but I believe that working through a tour company that is reputable like Intrepid will be a great way to explore the historic sights of this region safely.

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Once the tour completes, I will be taking a long layover in Dubai on my way to Nepal. All the flights from Cairo to Kathmandu stopped in the UAE, so I decided, why not stay for a few extra days! Knowing myself and my values, I will probably be disgusted by the capitalist opulence of Dubai, but it is one of those places I just have to see for myself. I don’t have really any plans there besides just exploring the city and going to the top of the Burj.

After 3 days in Dubai, I will continue on to meet up with friends in Nepal. A close friend from Semester at Sea, Jason, is from Nepal and is currently living and working in Kathmandu. I have always been a mountain lover, and Nepal has been at the top of my travel list for years now strictly for it’s geographical beauty. But as I continue to read more about this land-locked nation, I am becoming increasingly more excited to explore the historical and cultural sights as well. With a local to help show me around, Nepal might be the destination I am most excited for. I will also have a friend, Maryam, who will be meeting me there. So this leg of the trip will be semi-open ended. With two friends by my side, I’m just going to go with the flow and see where we end up.

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For the final leg of the trip, I hope to take an overland route across the Himalaya mountains into China and Tibet. This is visa & permit pending, so I won’t know for sure until I arrive in Kathmandu if I will be able to accomplish this leg of the trip. But right now, the plans stands to link up with a overland & trekking tour company who takes tourists from Nepal into Tibet, with stops at monasteries, Everest Base Camp, and mountain towns along the way. If I am successful, I plan to take 10 days crossing the Himalayas into China, and then fly home from there, via Lhasa & Shanghai.

Here is my itinerary as it stands now, as well as a map of it above. As with all of my life, this is subject to change depending on my moods and whims, but hopefully it will look something like this:

  • August 9th-August 14th: Istanbul, Turkey
  • August 15th: Ephesus, Turkey
  • August 16th- August 30th: Greek Isles
  • August 31st- September 3rd: Athens, Greece
  • September 4th-September 12th: Amman, Jordan & surrounding areas
  • September 13th-26th: Egypt, including Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, & Siwa
  • September 27th-Sept 30th: Dubai, United Arab Eremites
  • October 1st-21st: Nepal, including Kathmandu, Pokhara, Bhaktapur, & Chitwan
  • October 22nd- November 2nd (tentative): Overland tour into Tibet
  • November 3rd (tentative): Return to US

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This will be such an exciting, nerve-wrecking, adventurous and exploratory time in my life. It hasn’t really sunk in that it is really happening yet, but as it continues to approach (only 9 days away!!), with each coming day I get more and more excited about the endless adventures I am about to endeavor on. I plan to blog and document the trip the entire time, but that is obviously dependent on internet access. With a myriad of social media outlets, hopefully any and all who want to follow my trip will be able to do so. Wish me luck as I start this next page in my life story!

To join me on the trip, I’ll be sporting this pair of Toms that my sister gave to me this spring. They are still unworn. I’ve been saving them for this trip! I want their first steps to be on foreign soil. They feature a hand painted map and compass pattern, thanks to the lovely Etsy shop shop my sister got them from. To me, these shoes are indicative of the journey I’m about to embark on. New and shiny, these have a blank slate to fill with memories and new experiences. They also have a lovely quote about adventure on the sides. These next few months are sure to be exciting and different, and I’m truly looking forward to every minute of it. With these comfy shoes along the way, I’ll be exploring all the places!! Keep your eyes peeled for all the streets and stops these shoes will be making. I’ll be posing pictures along he way on Instagram!

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Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date about how my 90 day backpacking trip is going!

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Author: Megan Arz

I am a travel and food obsessed Midwesterner living in Chicago and dreaming of the world. I work as a full-time program manager for Greenheart Travel, but I am also committed to integrating the travel lifestyle into my every day routines. I am passionate about ethical travel, meeting new people, creating unique memories and eating local cuisine!

3 thoughts

  1. What a wonderful plan meg, I envy you. We wish you the best of luck and safe travels. I look forward to reading about your experiences. Lee liked Dubai but he was there before all the building.Take care. Love ya. Lee and Adrienne

    1. Aww thanks Adrienne!! I’m really looking forward to everything about the trip, and I think it will all be super interesting and exciting. Dubai should be eye-opening in many ways! I will try to keep blogging and emailing as much as I can so you guys can stay up to date on everything :)

  2. Congrats, that is very exciting! Sometimes getting away is the only way to figure out what to do next :) I had no idea what my “adult” career would be after I finished university, answered a Craigslist ad one day, and ended up in a field I had no training in nor ever considered but now LOVE. These things have a way of sneaking up on you and working themselves out!

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