So I have just submitted my request for a 5.5 month leave from work for the duration of May -> October. My boss said that they could probably accommodate it but its not for certain yet.
I might as well start planning on where to go for my first big trip. So many places that I want to see but I just cant decide on where to start.
I have originally planned on starting in SE Asia and maybe Hong Kong since that's where most of the noobs get their start. Its cheap, affordable, adventurous, great sights and noob friendly. Most people tell me SE Asia should be my first traveling point if I've never backpacked before.
I should be able to see most of what I want in 5.5 months however, I also had a strong desire to visit western Europe. I have a few friends in Europe i could hang with and going to Oktoberfest would be a blast. Ideally going to SE asia and Europe would be the best option but doing it in 5.5 months would feel rushed and flights could add up to alot since I hail from Western Canada.
A friend of mine also suggested I might want to travel to Central/South America or the middle east. There's definitely a lot of culture to see from all options.
My inclinations would be to do some trekking, see natural and historical sights, learn about the history of different people, relax on beaches and party some. Pretty much most things that are not of the ordinary compared to where I'm from. I'm not really that much into visit outback tribes, photography or going on family type tours.
Any ideas on where to start, and finish?
Do SE asia now and save Europe for another time? Rush both areas? Do western europe first and SE asia another time? Go somewhere else instead? or just flip a coin?
Sounds like you have near unlimited funds? Since summer is not a great time to see SE Asia, I would think Europe would be a much better destination. Translate for us old folk - "noob friendly"?
With the time you have you could really fit some of both in, but you're pretty much looking at a RTW ticket, so it depends on the cost. 3 months would be a good amount of time to see, say Hongkong/Thailand/Vietnam/Laos/Cambodia. Then you could perhaps choose 4 countries in Western Europe and spend 2.5-3 weeks in each for the remaining 2.5 months. It'd be at a fairly fast pace but not too rushed. It's definately worth considering if you may not be able to have another long holiday in the forseeable future.
SE Asia alone would be great though and 5.5 months is heaps of time for just SE asia so it would allow a lot of flexibility. So if you're feeling game you could tackle some less-noob places like India, Nepal, Burma, or China Or perhaps you could throw in some voluntary work for a month or something so you really get ingrained into a community. One bad thing is that you'll be in the rainy season (tends to be around June-September)
In terms of an adventurous, inexpensive, mind-broadening experience I'd definately rate Asia over Western Europe. But for famous sites (at least to Western populations and what we know), comforts and cleanliness then Western Europe would be more your thing. Consider the seaons though - going by this it'd be great to spend summer in Europe though, rather than monsoon in Asia. It'd also be extremely hot in the Middle East at this time.
I probably didn't solve anything for you, but the main thing is to keep up with the research, and take in advice from fellow travellers then go with your heart
The US economy could always use your money...hint hint
My advice to you is to go see your friends first
They'll make you feel a lot more comfortable as you get used to the lifestyle. They also possess the ability, as locals, to show you things that would never have been accessible otherwise. (this is gold here. trust me). They will take you out, introduce you to all of their friends and trust me. When you meet these people, they will be living at home (where they are from) in most cases and will be very interested in you which will make you feel a lot more comfortable.
I've found with travelling that its not necessarily always about where you go, but the people you meet and i'm sure a lot of people here can vouch for that.
Network with people you feel comfortable with (your friends around the world) and learn about yourself as a traveller and about everything else that goes with travelling before you go to some location by yourself as a first timer without any knowledge of what you are doing. There's a lot to learn about travelling and you're personality will change as you experience different things and its always good to start off slowly rather than jumping into the deep end right from the start. There's nothing worse than being half way around the world by yourself and running into problems without having any knowledge as to solving them.
This is just my advice of coarse! Good luck and safe travels!