5 Dream Trips I’d Take This Year If Time & Money Were No Object

For the first time in my adult life I have more or less definite plans for the next 12 months. Almost all of them revolve around adventures, creative storytelling, and sharing knowledge, so I can’t complain.

Perhaps it’s in response to the existential tyranny of ‘future planning’, though, that I often find myself daydreaming about the trips I’d do if I hadn’t already made these plans!

Here are a few dream trips I’d take in 2014 if time and money were no object:

* * *

1. Walk across Armenia

Reminder of eternal anguish and suffering

Much of the back country of my adoptive homeland remains unexplored (at least by me). Given the elevation and the terrain – and the diminutive scale of the nation – it’d make a lot of sense to do it on foot. I’d begin from Georgia and avoid the roads, heading cross-country, taking a detour through Nagorno-Karabakh and continuing to the opposing border with Iran.

It’d be tough, but it’d be a fantastic exploration of the significant geography of the region – particularly the parts the Soviets couldn’t reach.

2. Bikepack the Caribbean

Sunset by the sea near Bir Ali, Yemen

Everyone I’ve mentioned this idea to over the last few years has made jokes about luxury yachts and pina coladas. It’s precisely this holiday-oriented preconception of the region that I suspect would be blown out of the water (sorry) by a back-road and off-road exploration of these former colonial islands.

(Yes, I’d aim to hitch-hike between islands on luxury yachts while sipping pina coladas. Why not?)

3. Paddle the Ganges

Packrafting preparation

It was a friend of mine who put this particular idea into my head. Thankfully he hasn’t actually gone and done it, leaving me free to steal his idea.

Canadian-canoeing the length of a river upon which a few hundred million people depend, through some of the most densely populated regions on Earth, could hardly fail to be a memorable experience, now, could it?

4. Cycle the Pamir Highway

Dirt tracks and switchbacks

Photo by Andy.

My original bicycle journey towards Central Asia was halted in Tehran (yet somehow ended up in Djibouti). I’d love to pick up that trail again and take a ride through the stunning mountainous regions of Central Asia. A couple of months would do it.

I’m attracted to this route not just for the yawning landscapes and ancient cultures, but because I’d be able to speak the local language and because with my Armenian passport I wouldn’t need any visas…

5. Hitch-hike to Australia

Thumbless hitching

I’m a sucker for hitching, and I’d love to see it have a renaissance. There seems to be a paradigm shift towards co-operation and sharing in the process of happening – about time, too – and it’d be nice to think that thumbing rides would make a return to the realm of social acceptability as part of it.

A demonstrative hitching trip from the UK to Australia (for example) might work well as part of an awareness-raising campaign of some kind.

# # #

Nothing too ambitious, then! (It’s OK to dream big.)

Got dream trips? Sure you do. Go on – spill the beans.

17 Responses to “5 Dream Trips I’d Take This Year If Time & Money Were No Object”

  1. Andrew Turner

    Top 5 would be…
    1 Cycle South America Toe to Tip – I’ve always been fascinated by the countries in the region and want to experience the people, sights and smells first hand
    2 Bike the UK coastline
    3 Walk across the Gobi Dessert, I know its been done but there is an element of fascination about the place, as there are other deserts to tag on I thought it could end up being A walk across Mongolia.
    4 Yukon Arctic Ultra by bike, a race I know, but everyone I’ve talked to who have done it, say its simply a survival exercise and once you realize that the ‘race’ takes on a new guise
    5 Swim the Bristol Channel, but at a much wider spot than most challenge’s, I quite fancy the challenge of a multi day swim from england to wales maybe Bristol to the Gower?
    Anyway there’s my top 5, logistically I’ll have to wait a few years, planning and cash, but they’re on the cards…

    Reply
    • Tom Allen

      Fantastic!

      I think crossing Mongolia on foot would be fascinating, cheap and entirely do-able. Looking forward to hearing about it 🙂

      (Regarding the Gobi having already been walked – who cares?)

      Reply
  2. Alex

    Of all the places I’ve been, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are the two places that I really pine to go back to. But be aware that once up on the plateau (east of Khorog) most of the people you’ll come across are Kyrgyz not Tajik – the Soviets did an atrocious job of drawing borders and there are thousands of Tajiks living in Uzbekistan and Uzbeks living in Kyrgyzstan too. Anyway, point is, you might not find as much Tajik spoken up on the plateau as you thought, but do look into it as I was speaking Russian across the whole of Central Asia.

    The Wakkhan Valley is all Tajik though and, if I had my time again and wasn’t cursed by stomach bugs, visa deadlines and silly ex-soviet bureaucracy, then I’d have linked that up with the Zorkul Nature Reserve to Murghab where you’ll have superb views over the Hindu Kush and greater Pamir all to yourself and a handful of herders. The main road to Murghab it’s all sealed and a little ho hum.

    Do remember to pack at least four times as much loo paper as you think you’ll need… and a spare pair of cycling shorts…

    Reply
    • Tom Allen

      Thanks for the info, Alex… wonder if there’s another border crossing at the far east Afghan end of the Corridor?

      Reply
  3. Beny

    Hey Tom!
    First, thanks for the blog, I’ve been following for a while, since coming back from my German-Danish bike tour this summer, it’s quite interesting.
    I was happy to see your first pick here was Armenia. I’ve been dreaming about Armenia & Georgia trip for a while, and this summer might be the right time. I would be happy if you have good online sources for planning (or just general info, like travelers’ logs) about both countries, both for hiking and cycling tours — I’ve yet to decide what’s my weapon of choice.
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Tom Allen

      I don’t, unfortunately – there’s a lack of good travel information for Armenia. A good argument in favour of simply turning up and seeing what happens 🙂

      Reply
  4. Oliver

    Hi Tom, first of all: I have been flabbergasted when I stumbled across your blog post, considering the fact the one I published today is called “What if money was no object ~ Alan Watts” , what a coincidence! I’m sure you heard of him before and probably have seen the video as well. If not so, take the 3 minutes and you won’t regret…
    In terms of dream trips, I would stick to some very ordinary ones (from small to big):
    ~ walking the West Highland Way
    ~ cycling the Hadrian’s Cycleway
    ~ cycling from Land’s End to John o’ Groats
    And after leaving Scotland again at some point in the future:
    ~ taking the Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian Railway
    ~ circumnavigating the Lake Baikal and spending the same amount of days it took in a cabin on its shore
    ~ cycling the
    ~ spending 365 days on a houseboat, cruising Europe while offering some “mobile couchsurfing”
    ~ being the first person crossing the “Bering Strait crossing” while non-stop blowing a whistle… 😀
    Well, the last one was obviously a bit too wacky. However I hope to do two of them this year already, saving the other ones for the future… 😉

    Reply
  5. Allysse

    They sound like five great trips.
    I particularly like your idea of hitch-hiking to Australia. I’ve always had an uneasy feeling about hitch-hiking because of all the time everyone around me has repeated how dangerous it is. But at the same time I find the idea of hitch-hiking very exciting.

    My top five would be:
    1. Walking/Cycling through Mongolia
    2. Crossing Russia with a train (not necessarily the Trans-Siberian)
    3. Cycling through Eastern Europe
    4. Walking the Camino de Santiago (starting somewhere in mid-France)
    5. Going to Antarctica

    Reply
  6. Tony

    Great idea for a blog Tom, I’m all for dreaming. We will be busy fulfilling one of ours this year cycling around Britain but there is always 2015. I agree with you about the hitch hiking. I used to hitch everywhere in the seventies and met some great people and experieenced wonderful kindness and generosity. I was only releived to get out of the car or truck on a couple of occassions and I’m still dining out on the stories!

    Reply
  7. shane

    Nice post !! 🙂

    Ironically I’m a little travelled out right now and very lacking inspiration. But if you put a gun to my head I think I’d go for a walk around Europe, at 20-30km a day I think it could take a life time to see everything Europe has to offer.

    In the mean time I’ll do a couple of Brompton trips in Europe this year 🙂

    Reply
  8. Heather

    Brilliant post! I’m all about the dreaming big…
    My big 5 would be (smallest to largest):
    – Walk the length of Scotland (south to north)
    – Walk/horse ride across Mongolia
    – Canoe the Amazon river (in a traditional dugout canoe with the addition of an outboard motor!)
    – Cycle without boundaries or aim for a year, just looking at a map and deciding where to go or where to aim for that next day/week/month…
    – and for the fifth option I wish I had thought of the hitch to Australia idea!
    First time I’ve read your blog and it is smashing, thanks so much for that!

    Reply
  9. SEA monster

    1) The length of Japan
    2) The Bicentenmial National Trail – Australia
    3) The Silk Road
    4) The length of the Andes
    5) The length of New Zealand

    Reply
  10. dave richmond

    Tom the website is brilliant i am grateful to you for putting it up.
    One of the most inspiring guys i came across is a british chap called mike ( id ont know his surname) i met him in the hebrides, we were both sheltering in a b and b from a summer lashing from the wind and rain. He was on a walk around the british coastline, i was cycling back to leeds. Over a couple of days, he told me various stories about his 7 year walk around (most of) the world (he took a job in Tanzania for a year or two which put paid to the final parts ) , he had also done other shorter walks, pan Canada, North Cape to Gibraltar etc. He had decided not to blog, or to write about it in any way, he was on a purely personal journey and I guess he valued his privacy. A chance encounter with a great guy and a true inspiration. the sort of personal encounter and memory that as you say lasts far longer than the view of the hills. Please keep up your web, its rivitting
    dave

    Reply

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