When it comes to our travel bucket list, there is never a shortage of destinations we want to visit, but deciding which ones to add to our list for 2017 is a challenge of its own.
This year we are taking a different approach to travel planning. Instead of choosing a few countries and exploring each one in depth, we have decided to focus our 2017 travels on experiences rather than destinations. Specifically, experiences that are best done without kids in tow.
We want to grow our little family in the next 2-3 years and while we plan to continue traveling with kids, we realize that our travel style will have to change once the little one(s) arrive. There are no plans to settle down anywhere or to move back home, but we know that we’ll have to move slower, and significantly alter the types of trips we can go on. In reality, it will probably take 2-3 years before our kids are self-sufficient enough to go anywhere with us.
So keeping that in mind, we are dedicating 2017 to us. To the experiences we want to do without kids and destinations we want to visit now vs in 2-3 years from now. We are calling it our Before Babies Bucket List….and here is what’s on it!
Panama (Likelihood – High)
Panama, specifically the islands around Bocas del Toro, were on our travel wish list in 2016, but Oksana’s injury forced us to push this trip further and further out until we hit rainy season (which started in November) and were told to postpone the trip until 2017. Alright, so we will. The reason for adding Bocas to our list is purely for diving. It’s one of the best and cheapest destinations in Central America for diving education and we are very eager to take our Advanced PADI Diving Certification to the next level with a Rescue Diver Course. We hope to travel to Bocas in late February/early March which coincides with the best diving conditions in the region.
Chile (Likelihood – High)
In March, we hope to go back to South America to explore more of this fascinating continent. First on our list is Chile, but more specifically the region of Patagonia where we hope to spend 3 weeks in March.
From Patagonia, we’ll move north to Central Valley where we hope to catch the wine harvest season and indulge in some wine tasting and maybe even catch a music festival in Santiago.
Bolivia (Likelihood – Medium)
Since Bolivia is en route from Chile to Peru, it seems fitting to spend a couple of weeks exploring a few non-kid friendly destinations here. On our itinerary in Bolivia would be the Salt Flats (Salar de Uyuni), Lake Titicaca, and the Amazon Basin.
Peru (Likelihood – High)
Peru is another destination that was pushed from 2016 due to Oksana’s injury, so it’s high on our list for 2017. We hope to make it to Peru in April to visit Machu Picchu and do one of the alternative hikes in the area, something we know we won’t be able to do with babies in tow.
Ecuador (Likelihood – Medium)
Our visit to Ecuador would mostly focus on the Galapagos where we hope to take a cruise around the islands, marvel at the wildlife that calls this area home, and experience diving in what many call one of the most incredible diving destinations in the world.
Visiting Ecuador is not a cheap feat, but we hope that with enough time and preparation we can find ways to see this part of the world for less.
Colombia (Likelihood – Medium)
We are loving our time in Colombia thus far and even though we are spending a total of 5 weeks in the country, we are realising how many cool spots we are not able to cover on this trip. So we have tentatively added Colombia to our list for next year in hopes that we can line up some opportunities to come back to Colombia and explore lesser known parts of this country including the Choco region and the rest of the Pacific coast as well as the Amazon.
Malaysia (Likelihood – High)
In July, we’ll be switching gears and heading East. One of Max’s close friends is getting married in Malaysia in July and we are using his wedding as an excuse to return to Asia. We don’t plan to spend too much time in Malaysia, other than for the week of the wedding, but might take an opportunity to check out the Cameron Highlands, Langkawi or Perentian Islands while we are in the area.
Indonesia (Likelihood – Low)
We love Indonesia, it’s one of our favourites countries in the world! We spent a good chunk of time in Indonesia in 2015, but we’d love an opportunity to go back for more. On our bucket list is a visit to Rampat Ajat, in Western Papua, a spot renowned for being one of the best diving destinations in the world.
The chances of this trip are rather low since Rajat Ampat is hard to get to and is expensive, but we want to keep it on our list just in case we can swing it!
Vietnam (Likelihood – Medium)
Vietnam has been on our bucket list for a number of years now. And while Max has had a chance to explore the southern part of Vietnam back in 2012, I have yet to step foot in the land of amazing street food.
While I would be happy to just spend 2 weeks eating soup in every little street food joint in Vietnam, our hope is to be able to explore the country on motorbikes. The details are still hazy, but since traveling on motorcycles is not something we can probably do with small kids, This experience fits well with our Before Babies Bucket List for 2017.
Papua New Guinea (Likelihood – Low)
We looked into a trip to Papua New Guinea a few years ago while we were still living in Australia but timing and costs prohibited us from being able to explore this off the beat path destination then. We added it to our Before Babies Bucket List because we know that if we don’t get a chance to go to PNG in 2017, it is unlikely that we will make it out there with children any time soon. PNG is still expensive and impossible to explore on your own but it’s a destination that offers some fascinating cultural experiences and more amazing diving, so we have to put in on the list and hope that stars (or more like partnerships) align and we are able to make it out there in 2017.
Mongolia (Likelihood – Medium)
We’ve heard the most amazing accounts of travels in Mongolia and would love to be able to spend a few weeks exploring this off the beaten track country in 2017. It’ll be fairly easy for us to explore thanks to Oksana’s fluency in Russian, so we are hoping that we’ll get a chance to traverse Mongolian countryside with local nomads by our side.
Tanzania & Kenya (Likelihood – Medium)
We’ve been dying to get out and explore East Africa and if things go well for us in 2017, we hope to finish off our year of travels exploring Tanzania, Kenya and the shores of Zanzibar. The draws of this region for us range from exploring the parks in search for the big 5, watching the animal migrations, climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, as well as getting out to experience the beaches in Zanzibar.
Uganda (Likelihood – Low)
Uganda’s appeal is an opportunity to trek with Gorillas, an experience we have heard is one of the most amazing animal encounters in the world. It’s another pricey activity on the list, which is why we are putting it in the Low Probability category, but if we manage to stay on track with our spending throughout the year and see consistent growth of our blog and our partnerships throughout the year, we just might be able to swing it.
This elaborate list of 14 countries will undoubtedly shrink throughout the year as we work on setting our travel plans in motion. We’ll keep things flexible as we go through the year to stay opened to opportunities and inevitable changes.
Costa Rica will remain the closest thing that we have to a home base. We plan on spending the months of February, June and maybe September bumming around on the beach near Playa Avellanas catching up on work, and giving ourselves a break from the road.
When it comes to the rest of our plans, we know for a fact that we won’t be able to make it to all of theses destinations and that a few alternate experiences will probably be added to our plans along the way.
All we can hope for as we start this exciting year of travels is good health as well as success for our blog and other online endeavours that allow us to keep up this lifestyle.
Let’s see where 2017 will take us!